Former Hershey Medical Center Research Technologist Sentenced For Making False Statements About Cancer Tests
HARRISBURG – The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that Floyd Benko, age 62, of Palmyra, Pennsylvania, was sentenced today to 15 months’ imprisonment by United States District Court Judge Yvette Kane on false statement charges in connection with his performance of flawed genetic diagnostic tests for 124 cancer patients.
According to United States Attorney David J. Freed, Benko, a former Research Technologist at the Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, Pennsylvania, was indicted in July 2015, and charged with one count of health care fraud and two counts of making false statements in health care matters. Benko performed DNA gene mutation tests (known as Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR), KRAS gene mutation (KRAS), and BRAF gene mutation (BRAF) assays) for 124 advanced stage cancer patients at the Hershey Medical Center in 2013 and 2014. These genetic tests help physicians diagnose a patient’s particular type of cancer so specifically tailored treatments can be administered to the patient.
Benko failed to perform the assays in the manner called for by Hershey’s standard operating procedures. Subsequent retesting of the patients during summer 2014, revealed that 60 of the 124 patients had assay results discordant with results obtained by two outside laboratories.
Benko pleaded guilty in July 2017, to one count of making false statements in health care matters before Judge Kane. Benko admitted he lied to administrators at the Hershey Medical Center on April 11, 2014, about the manner by which he performed the genetic assays. Benko concealed the fact he did not follow Hershey’s standard operating procedures, procedures Benko co-authored, in performing the assays by failing to use a device known as a NanoDrop 2000 photo spectrometer to quantify the DNA and by failing to preserve the patients’ leftover tissue and DNA samples.
Judge Kane ordered Benko to serve three years of supervised release following his release from prison and to make restitution in the amount of $69,742 to the Hershey Medical Center for refunds Hershey paid for the flawed assays and for outside laboratory re-testing. Judge Kane also ordered Benko to surrender to the Bureau of Prisons for commencement of his sentence on January 22, 2018.
The case was investigated by the Harrisburg Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kim Douglas Daniel and Joseph J. Terz prosecuted the case.
# # #