Genetics, art profs indicted

Buffalo grand jury deliberations end with fraud allegations for ordering two bacteria

John Dudley Miller(johnmiller@nasw.org)
Jun 30, 2004

A federal grand jury has issued fraud indictments for a Buffalo art professor who uses bacteria in his exhibits and the Pittsburgh genetics professor who supplied him the organisms.

On Tuesday (June 29) the Buffalo jury returned four counts each against Steven Kurtz, an associate professor of art at the State University of New York's Buffalo campus, and Robert Ferrell, a professor of human genetics at the University of Pittsburgh. Each count carries a maximum sentence of 5 years. The pair will be arraigned in Buffalo July 8, and both will enter pleas of not guilty, their lawyers said yesterday (June 30).

The men are charged with mail and wire fraud in connection with Ferrell's purchasing supplies of two common bacteria, Serratia marcescens and Bacillus atrophaeus, for Kurtz's biotechnology-oriented performance art projects. B. atrophaeus is considered harmless, according to researchers' descriptions of it, and both materials can be worked...

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