The federal prosecutor filed three counts of involuntary manslaughter against an Arkansas pathologist who supposedly caused the death of three veteran patients of the Armed Forces in that state, since it presented “incorrect and misleading” medical reports.
Although one of the people in his care had prostate cancer, the doctor said he was completely healthy and that is why he did not follow proper medical treatment, according to the indictment filed in the Western District of Arkansas of the Department of Justice (DOJ).
Robert Morris Levy, 53, was head of Laboratory and Pathology Medical Services at the Fayetteville Veterans Medical Center in Arkansas. In 2016 he was suspended for a couple of months for working under the influence of alcohol and they rehired him because he completed a sobriety program.
But a federal investigation found that when Levy returned to work he presented his employer altered toxicological reports between June 2017 and until his dismissal in 2018. To avoid detecting his deception, Levy ingested the chemical 2-methyl-2-butanol (2M-2B), which allows a person outwit alcohol and drug use tests, according to prosecutors.
Because of that addiction he did his job inappropriately. The criminal complaint indicates that the doctor not only gave erroneous information to his patients, but at least twice falsified medical records to indicate that another pathologist had agreed with his diagnosis.
"The accusation alleges that Levy's incorrect and misleading diagnoses caused the death of three veterans ”, warns a statement from the Department of Justice.
"These charges send a clear signal that any person in charge of veterans care will be called to account if they are put at risk for working while disabled or for other misconduct," said Michael Missal, inspector general of the Department of Veterans Affairs (GOES).
More than 3,000 wrong diagnoses
The pathologist also faces 12 charges of electronic fraud, another 12 of postal fraud and 4 more of making false statements in certain matters.
The investigation conducted by the Department of Veterans Affairs for 18 months reviewed more than 30,000 cases under the supervision of Levy. So he found 3,029 errors or wrong diagnoses. The report concludes that this specialist could have caused at least 15 deaths, some due to cancer.
Veteran Michael McCoy was a retired sergeant from the US Army and was attended by Levy. His wife, Kathy, said in an interview with the CBS network that he went to the Fayetteville Veterans Medical Center in 2014 for severe leg pain.
“I had constant pain. He reached the point that he could not walk, " McCoy told that media and stressed that Levy gave her husband a wrong diagnosis. "They kept saying it was arthritis."
Michael McCoy had a blood clot in his leg and passed away at the end of 2018, said his widow.
Levy's lawyer, Darren O'Quinn, told CNN that his client is innocent and claimed that his conduct has been subject to "Wrong statements" in the media. "A formal accusation is just an accusation and we are reviewing the accusations and collecting evidence," said the litigator, who stressed that "vigorously" will defend the doctor.
Levy received a medical license in the state of Mississippi in 1997. In 2005 he was hired by the Fayetteville Veterans Medical Center.
In 2015 he was interviewed by an administrative investigation panel by reports that he worked under the influence of alcohol. Levy denied the accusations, but a year later they confirmed that he was drunk in work schedule.
As a result, the authorities suspended his license and he finally acknowledged that it was "due to a non-professional conduct related to a high blood alcohol content while on duty." In July 2016, the pathologist voluntarily entered a three-month sobriety program that he completed in October of that year.
He also signed an agreement with the Medical Licensing Board of the state of Mississippi in which he promised to “completely abstain from the consumption of (…) alcohol and other substances that alter mood” and undergo routine toxicological examinations. In it he accepted that if he did not comply with it, he would be fired immediately by the VA and lose his medical license.
These measures allowed him to practice medicine again and he returned to the center of Fayetteville in October 2016. Two years later he was kicked out for not keeping his word and continuing to drink.
If convicted of all charges, Levy faces a sentence of up to 524 years in prison and a fine of 7.75 million dollars.