A former prominent neurological researcher at Yale and New York University avoided prison time Wednesday for stealing research funds, but a judge said he must play piano for indigent elderly people in Connecticut to make amends, per the AP. The unusual sentence for Dr. Alexander Neumeister was handed out Wednesday by US District Judge Analisa Torres. Neumeister must play piano an hour at least twice weekly for the next three years at group facilities in Bridgeport, New Haven, Hartford, and Waterbury, the Manhattan judge said. Torres said she saw in pre-sentencing materials that Neumeister is a trained pianist. In June, Neumeister pleaded guilty to theft of government funds. He admitted stealing $87,000 from New York University and various grant programs from 2012 to 2014.
Prosecutors said he also was required to repay $76,000 after stealing money while he was at Yale from 2004 through 2010, though that was not part of the criminal case resulting in his plea. Assistant US Attorney Christopher Harwood said Neumeister was earning more than $200,000 annually while he was spending pilfered money on flights, hotel rooms, and dinners for himself, his family, and others. A tearful Neumeister apologized for shortsightedness and “poor judgment” and said his November 2017 arrest led him to confront his psychological demons. Neumeister, a resident of Hamden, Connecticut, said he was committed to regaining “the integrity I have lost,” telling the judge, “I cannot help others if I do not help myself.”