Researcher who stole funds from US universities sentenced to play the piano for elderly people

15 October 2018, 13:08

Pianist playing the piano
Pianist playing the piano. Picture: Getty stock image

By Elizabeth Davis

Alexander Neumeister, a former neurological researcher who admitted stealing research funds, was given an unusual sentence last week in New York.

Neumeister was ordered to play the piano for ‘indigent elderly people’ in Connecticut instead of serving prison time.

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The former researcher had worked at institutions including Yale and New York Universities specialising in improving treatments for people with post-traumatic stress disorder.

In November 2017 he was arrested and in June this year he pleaded guilty to the theft of $87,000 (£66,000) from New York University and other grant programmes between 2012 and 2014.

He spent the money on flights, hotel rooms and dinners, despite earning more than $200,000 a year (£152,000).

US district Judge Analisa Torres said she decided to hand down the unusual musical sentence after reading in the pre-sentencing materials that he was a trained pianist.

She ruled that Neumeister must play the piano at least twice a week over the next three years at locations in New Haven, Hartford, Waterbury and Bridgeport.

The former researcher apologised for what he called his “unbelievable short-sightedness and poor judgment,” while his lawyer asked “how could someone so gifted… do something so clearly wrong, so stupid, frankly?”