Former Hershey Medical Center research technologist will serve 15 months for performing flawed tests
HARRISBURG — A former research technologist at the Hershey Medical Center who pleaded guilty performing flawed genetic diagnostic tests on 124 cancer patients in 2013 and 2014 will serve 15 months in federal prison after being sentenced this week, according to the office of U.S. Attorney David J. Freed.
Floyd Benko, 62, of Palmyra, pleaded guilty to making false statements in connection to the flawed tests. He 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. Investigators said he performed DNA gene mutation tests, KRAS gene mutation and BRAF gene mutation tests on 124 patients suffering from advanced stage cancer in 2013 and 2014. These tests help physicians diagnose a patient’s type of cancer, so specifically tailored treatments can be administered.
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. He 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.
Benko was also ordered 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.
He also was ordered 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.