News Briefing

News Briefing

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AIDS whistleblower compensated

Dr. Daniel J. Feldman, who accused Weill Cornell Medical College and one of its faculty members of filing false claims when seeking funding for AIDS research, has been partially compensated for his whistle-blowing efforts.

In December, Feldman received $267,484.43 from the U.S. government for his efforts, he said. In November, Feldman also received about $23,000 from Weill Cornell as partial compensation for his out-of-pocket expenses incurred during the litigation.

In 1997, Weill Cornell faculty member Dr. Wilfred G. van Gorp applied to the federal government for an AIDS-research grant, promising to train post-doctoral fellows at Weill Cornell in the neuropsychology of HIV/AIDS.

As a post-doctoral fellow at Weill Cornell, Feldman participated in the program from September 1998 to December 1999.

He soon became concerned that the program wasn’t being administered properly, he said.

In 2003, Feldman sued in federal court under a federal whistle-blowing statute known as the False Claims Act.

In 2010, a federal jury in New York found that the defendants submitted false claims to the government on three separate occasions from 1999-2001.

U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley 3d ordered Weill Cornell and van Gorp to pay $887,714 in restitution.

The defendants appealed the jury verdict, but on Sept. 5, 2012, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the verdict.

Feldman expressed gratitude for the partial compensation, but noted that the 13-year ordeal has taken a toll on him both personally and professionally.

“It’s been challenging,” Feldman said. “But at the end of the day, I have no regrets, I would do it over again. I have my integrity, and that’s worth more to me than gold.”

He also expressed gratitude for his attorneys, Michael J. Salmanson and Scott B. Goldshaw.

Feldman, 44, holds a Ph.D. in clinical neuropsychology.

He’s preparing to relocate to San Francisco, where he plans to continue his consultation business to the pharmaceutical industry and develop a practice in wellness and neuropsychology.

Hearing scheduled in church dispute

A city review board is scheduled to hold a hearing Feb. 22 on the fate of the old Church of the Assumption, which was formerly owned by Siloam, a local HIV/AIDS agency

Siloam sold the building to developer John Wei in July, and he wants to demolish it.

The city’s Board of License and Inspection Review will convene at 2 p.m. Feb. 22 at 1515 Arch St., 18th floor, to consider Wei’s demolition request.

The church, built in 1849 by Charles Patrick Keely, is located at 1123-33 Spring Garden St. in the Callowhill section of the city.

Siloam owned the church for several years prior to selling it, and two adjacent buildings, to Wei.

Siloam continues to operate in one of the adjacent buildings.

The Callowhill Neighborhood Association wants the church preserved as a tourist attraction, noting its ties to two local saints, Katharine Drexel and John Neumann.

But Carl S. Primavera, an attorney for Wei, said the building is in danger of collapse, and should be demolished.

“There have been too many delays,” Primavera told PGN. “By necessity, [the church] has to come down. It’s a dangerous building. We can’t risk the public safety because people want to hold on to the past.”

Andrew S. Palewski, a neighborhood activist, said the church doesn’t pose a danger.

“This is more of the standard rhetoric that has played like a broken record for four years now — first from Siloam and now from the developer, John Wei,” Palewski told PGN. “The assertion that the building is a danger is baseless and is merely an effort to elicit fear and sympathy from the Board of L&I Review and from the courts.”

The matter also remains pending in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court.

— Tim Cwiek

Wash. West to look at property taxes

The Washington Square West Civic Association will host City Councilman Mark Squilla for a question-and-answer session on the Actual Value Initiative that is overhauling the city’s property-tax system.

The meeting will be held at 7 p.m Feb. 28 at Jefferson Alumni Hall, 1020 Locust St.

City Councilman Jim Kenney and Board of Revision of Taxes representative Carla Pagan will also be present.

—Jen Colletta

Student filmmakers get their chance

College students interested in having their short, LGBT-themed films featured at Philadelphia Q Fest will have the chance to submit their work to the QFest Student Film Competition.

Submissions, which can be in any genre, are due April 1, and students can submit multiple films. The works must have been produced in 2012 or early 2013.

Q Fest will run from July 11-22, and a prize will be awarded for best student film.

All submissions should be in DVD format or through an Internet link. Interested candidates can submit their work to Philadelphia Cinema Alliance, 234 Market St., fourth floor, Philadelphia, Pa., 19106 with attention to Raymond Murray, QFest Student LGBT Film Competition. Submissions can also be made at www.phillycinema.org/qfest-submission-entry-form.cfm.

Q Fest will also host a free screening of “Latter Days,” a romantic drama about a closeted Mormon missionary, 8 p.m. March 21 at the URBN Annex Large Screening Room, 3401 Filbert St., on the campus of Drexel University. The screening is free to all students with a valid school ID.

For more information, visit www.qfest.com.

— Angela Thomas


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