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Other People Just Take Pens From Work

A former University of Pennsylvania cancer researcher has been sentenced to a year in prison for using federal funds for a for-profit business, Philly Confidential reports.

Steven Johnson worked at Penn's medical school for more than 10 years, studying cancer and gene expression. But, unknown to his bosses, in 2005, he started a company selling validated human, mouse, and rat primers. According to Philly Confidential, Johnson bought thousands of unvalidated oligonucleotide primers using federal grant money and used lab equipment at Penn — also bought with federal grant money — to validate the primers, which he then sold through his company.

"Johnson used federal grant money, awarded for ovarian cancer research, to fund his own for-profit business. This is obviously egregious conduct," US Attorney Zane David Memeger says in his sentencing memo, according to Philly Confidential. "Research funds are limited, and tax dollars are for public purposes, not private enrichment. … Moreover, the fraudulent use of tax dollars breeds public cynicism and distrust for the government."

Johnson pleaded guilty and was also ordered to pay $69,379.02 in restitution.

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