A Hershey Medical Center laboratory technologist from Palmyra pleaded guilty in U.S. Middle District Court last month to lying about lab testing he conducted as a key component for treating cancer patients.
Floyd Benko, age 62, was a research technologist at the medical center for nearly 20 years. But 3 years ago staff physicians began to suspect there was something seriously wrong with the gene mutation testing Benko had conducted on at least 124 cancer patients. The fraudulent testing is believed to have started in April 2013 and continued until November 2014, according to police.
Gene mutation testing is important because physicians use the results to diagnose the exact kind of cancer patients have, so they can prescribe a specific course of treatment.
Benko actually assisted Hershey doctors in the development of the cancer testing protocol. The procedure requires a machine called the NanoDrop 2000 spectrophotometer and then – in follow-up – carefully preserving patients’ tissue samples after testing.
But when medical center physicians noticed that patient profiles were not matching Benko’s results – and that he was failing to preserve tissue samples at all – they knew something was seriously wrong. So without telling Benko, they had 2 other laboratories retest all of the tissues. The results proved Benko had been routinely lying about many dozens of patients’ cancer results.
At first, Benko denied any deliberate wrongdoing. But when half of his 124 test results were proven wrong, he confessed that he had not followed protocols and then lied about it.
Bogus Benko gave no reason for his scam. He was fired from Hershey Medical Center in October 2014, and now faces 5 years in federal prison.