A man formerly employed by the University of Pennsylvania as a cancer researcher has been charged for crimes related to the embezzlement and theft of federal grant money and property, according to the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The researcher allegedly funneled money and research equipment purchased with federal grants into a private business that sells DNA research materials while he was employed at the university. An estimated total of $ 656,000 were given towards the man's research through the grants, but the indictment did not state how much money the man allegedly stole.
According to the Department of Justice, the researcher used some of the funds he received from a Department of Defense grant to purchase DNA kits through the university's School of Medicine. He then processed the kits with the school's equipment and shipped them to customers. He has been charged with eleven counts of theft and fraud.
The researcher will likely seek the assistance of a criminal defense attorney in this case, as he will potentially face very severe penalties if he is convicted of the charges as they stand. The maximum penalties for the current charges include 210 years of imprisonment, a fine of up to $2.75 million, and a three-year period of supervised release. A conviction would also severely affect the defendant's ability to find further work with scientific institutions, especially if they receive federal funding.
A criminal defense attorney might attempt to cast doubt on the legality of any procedures used to collect evidence against the defendant, including the legitimacy of any warrants acquired for the investigation. The attorney might also seek to arrange for a plea bargain with the U.S. Attorney in order to reduce some of the charges or secure a minimal sentence.
Source: The Daily Pennsylvanian, "Former Penn cancer researcher indicted for stealing federal funds", Kristen Grabarz, May 31, 2014