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Jury: College & Faculty Member Committed Fraud



A federal jury has found that Cornell University’s Weill Medical College school and professor, Wilifred van Gorp, have committed fraud by submitting false claims pertinent to a grant from the National Institute of Health (NIH) from 1999-2001.  Congress had created a fund specifically designed for HIV/AIDS research which backed the NIH grant.  Van Gorp had applied for the grant under the premises that he would teach and train post-doctoral fellows in the neuropsychology of HIV/AIDS.

However, according to Dr. Daniel Feldman, a fellow at Cornell, the grant was not used for the purposes specified.  Firstly, Dr. Feldman found that the original grant application, which outlined a curriculum heavy in HIV/AIDS research and classes, did not reflect what actually occurred during the fellowship.  Many of the plans highlighted on the original grant application never took place—some classes were not taught, faculty associated with the grant were not introduced to the fellows, and the fellows were not exposed to much HIV/AIDS related research.  Additionally, Dr. Feldman found that in order to keep the grant for future years, progress reports were falsified by van Gorp.  Feldman testified that while some fellows spent their time on HIV/AIDS research the program devoted as much time, if not more, to medicolegal research.  Furthermore, of the 160 patients that the fellows saw during the grant period, only three were HIV positive.

Judge William H. Pauley III will assess the cost to be paid by Cornell and van Gorp. In a former ruling, Judge Pauley claimed that the damages will equate to the amount of money that the NIH paid to fund the program (several hundred thousand dollars).  Depending on the verdict, under the False Claims act, this amount may be tripled.  Dr. Feldman will also receive his “relator’s share” for being the whistleblower.  He may also receive reimbursement to cover the costs and fees of his attorneys.

Source: Salmanson Goldshaw, P.C. as per PR Newswire. PR Newswire. “Federal Jury Finds Cornell University’s Medical College Committed Fraud.” 29 July 2010.



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