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Whistleblower says crimes covered up at Miami VA hospital

 

A VA police officer says administrators at the hospital in Miami where he works are covering up crimes at the facility, including evidence of physical abuse of patients and drug dealing.

Thomas Fiore, who still works at the facility, told Fox News’ Eric Bolling on “Hannity” that drug dealing among patients at the hospital is a “regular occurrence,” and he felt he had to come forward because attempts he made to investigate or report wrongdoing fell on deaf ears.

"I actually prepared a written plan, if you will, pertaining to an undercover operation so that we can at least identify who our targets are for the drug sales," he said. "And I presented that in an email and I'm still waiting on a response. I submitted it about two years ago." 

Fiore earlier told the Miami Herald that the breaking point for him was a March 2013 report on the facility’s residential drug rehab program, which charged the program failed to adequately monitor patients or stop illicit drug use.

The report highlighted Nicholas Todd Cutter, a 27-year-old Iraq war veteran who overdosed on drugs shortly before he was set to graduate the program. Fiore told the Herald Cutter’s death “could have been prevented.”

"There are just so many things that have occurred that are just an absolute disgrace," he said. 

Fiore told the newspaper that when he tried to report drug dealing among patients, patient abuse or missing drugs from the pharmacy he was either ignored or his attempts to investigate the incidents were thwarted.

“I was told that the police reports were to stop,’’ he said, “and they would notify me if something important came up.’’

Fiore told the Herald he was eventually reassigned to a clerical position.

“I was reassigned because I continued to bring things up to the director, and he continued to ignore it,’’ he said. “They just needed to get rid of me.”

Miami VA Healthcare System spokesman Shane Suzuki told the Herald Fiore’s claims have no evidence to back them up.

“Miami VA leadership has every intent of holding employees who mistreat our veterans accountable for their actions,’’ Suzuki said in a written statement. “We will fully investigate any allegations that we do anything less than treat our veterans with the respect and honor they have earned.’’

The allegations in Miami are only one example of a storm of controversies plaguing the VA.

The Department of Veterans Affairs Inspector General's Office said Tuesday that 26 facilities are now being investigated nationwide over allegations of manipulated waiting times and other issues.

Click for more from the Miami Herald.