A Stony Brook University professor pilfered more than $200,000 in cancer-research money from the National Institutes of Health and the college to help cover the mortgage on his Long Island home, federal prosecutors alleged Thursday.
Geoffrey Girnun, an associate professor in Stony Brook’s Department of Pathology and its director of Cancer Metabolomics, was charged in a seven-count Brooklyn federal indictment with stealing state and government funds, wire fraud and money-laundering.
“Professor Girnun’s alleged theft of federal and state grant funds earmarked for cancer research can be explained in two words: pure greed,” stated United States Attorney Richard Donoghue. “He will now be held to account in a federal courtroom.”
His arraignment was set for 2 p.m. Thursday in U.S. District Court in Central Islip, L.I.
According to prosecutors, Girnun allegedly submitted bogus invoices for research equipment to SBU via fictional shell companies created to cover up his financial finagling.
The phony companies were invented between 2013-17 and dubbed “Atlas Metabolomics, LLC” and “Empyrean Biosciences, LLC,” with both purported to provide Girnun’s cancer research with equipment, goods and services used in his work.
Stony Brook was then provided with sham electronic invoices from the companies to cover the non-existent transactions, with the university using grants from the school and the NIH to pay Girnun’s phony businesses, the feds alleged.
The pilfering professor instead transferred the money into his personal back accounts to cover his bills, including the mortgage. If convicted, the 48-year-old Woodmere resident faces up to 20 years in prison.