A star Hunter College psychology professor who quit amid claims he threw out-of-control parties and snorted cocaine at school events has admitted he used federal grant money to fund his lavish lifestyle — including scuba diving trips in the Caribbean.
Jeffrey Parsons, a former leading sex and drug researcher at the school, will now have to pay $375,000 back as part of a civil-suit settlement agreement with the Department of Justice filed in Manhattan federal court on Monday.
The public college will also repay $200,000 in funds that had been earmarked for its Center for HIV Educational Studies and Training, known as CHEST, which Parsons headed before he quit in July 2019.
The center received funds from the National Institute of Health, which Parsons and Hunter misused from 2010 to 2018, according to federal prosecutors in Manhattan.
Parsons, once a prized faculty member, used the grant money to square his personal expenses, including international flights for his family, a tropical birthday celebration and scuba trips to locales such as the Cayman Islands, Costa Rica and Belize.
In 2019, The Post reported Parsons was being probed by the college over claims he hosted raucous, alcohol-soaked parties that he dubbed the annual “CHEST fest.”
Staffers said the 2018 bash, held at the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, went off the rails as Parsons encouraged attendees to drink and lifted the shirt of a co-worker, exposing his chest and humiliating him.
“It was as if the host of a dinner party came down and had taken a pee on a pot roast,” a former worker told The Post at the time. “That’s how shocking it was.”
Hunter hired a former Department of Education employee to probe the allegations, and a report issued at the end of the probe determined Parsons “engaged in the use, and in the distribution, of illegal drugs (cocaine) at CHEST events.”
As part of the settlement, Hunter admitted it deposited funds into an account that Parsons — who earned the title “distinguished professor” in 2012 — used “for expenses for alcohol at CHEST-related events,” according to federal authorities.
Parsons “obtained these funds under false pretenses, then used them to cover his personal expenses and for other purposes totally unrelated to research,” US Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement.
“Hunter College improperly used NIH funds to pay undisclosed bonuses to Parsons and for other expenses unrelated to NIH-funded work,” he added.
In a statement, a Hunter spokesperson said the school “swiftly removed Jeffrey Parsons from campus when allegations of his misconduct surfaced.”
“While we are proud of the life-saving research in which our faculty engages, we continue to strengthen protocols that advance accountability and transparency,” the rep said.
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