ROBERT LEVY. Washington County jail photo.

DAK Kees, U.S. attorney for the western district of Arkansas, announced this afternoon that Robert Morris Levy, the former chief pathologist for the VA in Northwest Arkansas, had been indicted on 31 charges including wire fraud, mail fraud, making false statements and three counts of involuntary manslaughter.

KNWA reports here on the news conference, which Kees had announced following Levy’s arrest over the weekend. He’s accused of misdiagnosing a number of cases and working while impaired before he was fired in 2018. The case spurred public meetings, a VA inspector general’s review and the criminal investigation.

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Kees said Levy is accused of defrauding the VA by concealing his substance abuse and thus being paid while being impaired. Relative to the manslaughter charges, Kees said that on three separate occasions Levy entered inaccurate and misleading diagnoses. In two cases, he falsely said a second pathologist had concurred with his initial assessment.  His actions caused those patients’ deaths, Kees said.

Kees also said his office hadn’t completed its investigation of health care at the VA.  But he said the three manslaughter charges filed today were the “most prosecutable” found so far.

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Quoting from the indictment, the Washington Post reported further on the deaths:

“Diagnoses rendered by Levy and the information he entered in patients’ medical records largely influenced decisions about the course of medical treatment” for patients at the Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks, the indictment said.

“Doctors and other medical providers at [the medical center] relied upon the accuracy of the diagnoses,” prosecutors charged.

Kees said part of his scheme was using his knowledge to ingest a substance that produced a feeling of intoxication in a manner that enabled him to avoid detection.

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He continued to work after colleagues cited erratic behavior and he had one DUI arrest, though that charge was dismissed.