FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA) — New details have emerged in the investigation of a former Fayetteville VA pathologist charged with manslaughter in the deaths of three patients.
Robert Morris Levy, 53, was indicted on 12 counts of wire fraud, 12 counts of mail fraud, four counts of making false statements in certain matters, and three counts of involuntary manslaughter.
Attorney Monte Sharits of Odom Law Firm is representing several victims.
Two of his clients have filed federal tort claims.
His clients goal for doing so is to make sure the next generation of veterans get better care than they did.
“Veterans certainly deserve better, everyone does, but veterans most importantly. I mean, these are people have fought for this country,” Sharits said.
Levy is accused of going to great lengths to conceal his substance abuse, while veterans lives were in his hands as the Chief of Pathology and Laboratory Medical Services at the Fayetteville VA.
“We’re all wondering what steps are being taken to correct the problem. Who is responsible? It’s hard to believe that no one knew what was going on.”Monte Sharits, Attorney at Odom Law Firm
According to documents revoking his California medical license, in March 2016 Levy’s privileges were suspended due to reporting to work with a blood alcohol level of .396.
He then successfully completed an in-patient substance abuse program and a 6-week recovery track, and his clinical privileges were thus restored.
“Upon his discharge from the inpatient program, respondent was diagnosed with alcohol abuse disorder, severe,” the document reads.
The same documents show that on October 13, 2017, Levy reported to an 8 a.m. tumor board meeting at the VA, where colleagues were concerned about his cognitive state.
“Respondent was witnessed appearing drowsy, having slurred speech patterns, repeating nonsense words and phrases, and having an unsteady gait. Respondent denied being ill and was unaware he was impaired,” the documents reads.
Results of a lab test for alcohol and drugs were negative, but employee health performed a mini medical status and found him unfit to continue working.
Records show he purchased a substance called 2-methyl-2-butanol numerous times.
It’s a lethal substance that achieves the feeling of intoxication without showing up on any drug tests.
Documents show staff continued to report observations of impairment.
On one occasion he had trouble walking and was sent home.
In another instance the police were called to his home where they found him possibly intoxicated.
He was fired in April 2018.
Sharits, a veteran himself, says going forward he’s pushing for change in the system that failed.
“Now every veteran is going to wonder, are they going to make a misdiagnosis with my tissue?” he asked. “For people that have always wanted to do something for veterans, now is the time to do that. That something is calling your congressman and demanding that this never happens again, that the right policies and procedures, the oversight is there to ensure that this never happens again. That these veterans are taken care of.”
The federal indictment shows one veteran died of prostate cancer after Levy diagnosis’ said his biopsy was negative, when in fact it was “obviously cancerous.”
Levy held medical licenses in Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana and California.
KNWA looked into the status of all of those licenses.
His license expired in Louisiana in 2016.
He voluntarily surrendered his Florida license this past April.
Mississippi revoked his license in June 2018.
California followed suit this July.