Health
1:51 pm
Thu November 21, 2013

U.S. Attorney: No Federal Charges Warranted in Legionella Outbreak

The U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania says he does not think charges are warranted in relation to the deadly Legionella out break at the Veterans Affairs Pittsburgh Healthcare System.

Twenty-two veterans who were treated in 2011 and 2012 at the Pittsburgh VA were sickened by Legionella.  Five of them died.

U.S. Attorney David Hickton called the situation “tragic” but feels no charges should be filed by his office.

“The investigation has been a high priority of my office and federal law enforcement for the last nine months,” Hickton said in a written statement. “It must be noted that our jurisdiction is limited to determining if any federal criminal statutes were violated.”

The investigation focused on whether there was evidence of any “material false statements” or attempts to obstruct justice by VA officials. It did not look at how patients contracted the disease. 

Hickton says the investigation included about 30 interviews with individuals ranging from top administrators to maintenance workers and outside contractors.

Beyond that, the statements said, “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.”

Michael Moreland was the regional administrator overseeing operations at the Pittsburgh VA at the time of the outbreak. He has since retired and has been temporarily replaced by Gary W. Devansky.

It is possible that the U.S. Attorney’s office could once again become involved in the case.

“While the federal criminal investigation has concluded, consideration of the many issues raised by this tragic event will surely continue in other forums,” Hickton said. “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.”