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Stephen E. Breuning, a prominent researcher in the area of drug-treatment practices for mentally retarded children, has been indicted for falsifying research.

Mr. Breuning gained national attention last year, when a panel of federal scientists concluded that he had fabricated many of his studies. (See Education Week, May 27, 1987.)

Mr. Breuning, who currently serves as director of psychological and behavioral services at the Polk Center in Polk, Pa., denied the panel's charges.

His indictment by a federal grand jury in Baltimore is thought to represent the first time that criminal charges have been brought for scientific fraud.

The grand jury on April 15 indicted Mr. Breuning on two counts of submitting false data to win a federal contract and one charge of lying to a government investigative panel.

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