Senior NIH researcher pleads guilty

Federal prosecutors may now set sights on another senior scientist for alleged ethics violations

Ted Agres
Dec 10, 2006
Pearson "Trey" Sunderland III, former chief of the Geriatric Psychiatry Branch of the National Institute of Mental Health, pleaded guilty Friday (Dec. 8) to violating federal conflict of interest laws in connection with unapproved consulting for Pfizer Inc. It was the first criminal conviction emerging from more than two years of investigations by Congress and other government agencies into financial conflicts of interest at the National Institutes of Health.Sunderland, 55, faces up to a year in prison and $100,000 in fines from the single misdemeanor charge, but prosecutors have agreed to a plea bargain in which he would escape jail time and receive two years supervised probation, forfeit $300,000 in consulting fees and other outside income, perform 400 hours of community service, and pay a fine to be determined by the court. Sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 22."Dr. Sunderland violated the fundamental rule that government employees cannot accept...

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