Federal Officials Close Investigation into Deaths of Veterans at Local VA Health Facilities
PITTSBURGH - United States Attorney David J. Hickton issued the following statement today:
“Today, we announce that no criminal charges will be brought in connection with our investigation related to the tragic illnesses and deaths of veterans from Legionnaires Disease at our local Veterans Administration health facilities.
“The investigation has been a high priority of my Office and federal law enforcement for the last nine months. We conducted the investigation jointly with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Veterans Administration - Office of Inspector General. It must be noted that our jurisdiction is limited to determining if any federal criminal statutes were violated. The focus of our work was not to determine exactly how patients contracted the disease, but rather whether there was evidence of any material false statements by VA officials or employees, and whether there was evidence justice had been obstructed in any way.
“Senior members of my staff and experienced FBI and VA-OIG agents conducted a thorough and independent review of this matter. Approximately 30 interviews were conducted. The interviews spanned high level hospital officials, maintenance workers and outside contractors. The investigative team analyzed and reviewed more than 250,000 internal VA emails. They studied volumes of records, including logbooks of maintenance performed on the systems used to combat the Legionella bacteria and purchase orders for parts related to such maintenance. Test results were examined, along with the detailed reports of the Centers for Disease Control and the Health Inspection Division of the OIG.
“Our investigation revealed no basis for charging any individual or any entity with a federal crime. Accordingly, no prosecution is warranted in this matter based upon our thorough review.
“While the federal criminal investigation has concluded, consideration of the many issues raised by this tragic event will surely continue in other forums. If any new or additional evidence emerges, today’s assessment does not prevent the U.S. Attorney’s Office from reviewing such evidence and reopening the investigation if the facts warrant.”