Northwestern to pay nearly $3M to settle grant fund claims - Chicago News and Weather | FOX 32 News

Northwestern to pay nearly $3M to settle cancer research grant fraud claims

Posted: Updated:
CHICAGO (Sun-Times Media Wire) -

Northwestern University will pay $2.93 million to settle claims of cancer research grant fraud by a former researcher and physician at the university's Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Center for Cancer in Chicago, the U.S. Attorney's office in Chicago announced Tuesday.

Northwestern agreed to the settlement in a federal False Claims Act lawsuit that was unsealed Tuesday after the government investigated the claims made by a former employee and whistleblower who will receive a portion of the settlement.

Northwestern allegedly allowed one of its researchers, Dr. Charles L. Bennett, to submit false claims under research grants from the National Institutes of Health, according to a U.S. Attorney's office release. The settlement, which will be paid to the U.S. government, covers improper claims that Bennett submitted for reimbursement from the federal grants for professional and consulting services, subcontracts, food, hotels, travel and other expenses that benefited him, his friends and family from Jan. 1, 2003, through Aug. 31, 2010.

The allegations were made in a civil lawsuit filed under seal in 2009 by Melissa Theis, a former employee of the Lurie Cancer Center, who will receive $498,100 in settlement proceeds, the release said.

Northwestern, which fully cooperated during the investigation, did not admit liability as part of the settlement. Northwestern agreed to pay the settlement within 14 business days.

The agreement covers allegations that the university submitted false claims to NIH for costs that Bennett incurred on his grant-funded research projects involving adverse drug-events, multiple myeloma drugs, a blood disorder known as thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura, and quality of care for cancer patients. Bennett allegedly billed those federal grants for family trips, meals and hotels for himself and friends, and "consulting fees" for unqualified friends and family members, including his brother and cousin. At Bennett's request, Northwestern also allegedly improperly subcontracted with various universities for services that were paid for by the NIH grants.

Under the federal False Claims Act, defendants may be liable for triple the amount of actual damages and civil penalties between $5,500 and $11,000 for each violation. Individual whistleblowers may be eligible to receive between 15 and 30 percent of the amount of any recovery.

Follow Us!

Share Your Photos & Video

  • HealthHealthMore>>

  • Losing the weight without cutting the butter

    Losing the weight without cutting the butter

    If you're trying to lose some weight, or lower your blood pressure, you may be trying to cut the fat out of your diet. Dietician Sylvia Melendez Klinger says some fat is good for you, even butter!
    If you're trying to lose some weight, or lower your blood pressure, you may be trying to cut the fat out of your diet. Dietician Sylvia Melendez Klinger says some fat is good for you, even butter!
  • Dr. Mona: Kids and codeine

    Dr. Mona: Kids and codeine

    Dr. Mona joined us on FOX 32 News at Noon to talk about what codeine is used for in children and why it may be dangerous.
    Dr. Mona joined us on FOX 32 News at Noon to talk about what codeine is used for in children and why it may be dangerous.
  • Drug samples may lead to more expensive prescriptions

    Drug samples may lead to more expensive prescriptions

    Have you ever received free samples of medication at your doctor's office? Dr. Mona Khanna talks about an eye-opening study about how doctors are influenced to prescribe expensive medication.
    Have you ever received free samples of medication at your doctor's office? Dr. Mona Khanna talks about an eye-opening study about how doctors are influenced to prescribe expensive medication.
Powered by WorldNow

205 N. Michigan Avenue
Ground Floor
Chicago, IL 60601
Station Operator: (312) 565-5532
Newsroom: (312)565-5533

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Ad Choices