Federal prosecutors are pursuing a former Michigan State University employee suspected of faking the theft of a dangerous mutant strain of pig bacteria last fall as a ruse to hide the alleged misuse of $750,000 in research funds.

Revelation of the probe came during hearings last week before the House Appropriations subcommittee, and took Michigan State University executives by surprise. The school had been holding off on its own investigation out of deference to an ongoing federal inquiry, Robert Huggett, Michigan State's vice president for research and graduate studies, told The Scientist.

In her debut statement before Congress on Feb. 26, US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Inspector General Phyllis K. Fong revealed that the virulent strain of pig pneumonia bacteria that was reported stolen from the laboratory of Martha Mulks last September never existed, a fact revealed in a joint investigation by Fong's office, the FBI and university police....

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