• Senator: Hey, Did FBI Investigate Reports Of VA Patients Selling Prescription Drugs On The Street?

    GOP Sen. Ron Johnson wants to know if there’s any truth to the allegation that the FBI did nothing when informed that Tomah VA patients made bundles of money selling prescription drugs on the street.

    According to Heather Simcakoski, the wife of now-deceased Marine Corps veteran Jason Simcacoski, who died last year after dutifully taking a fatal combination of drugs prescribed to him, the FBI apparently did nothing in response to Jason’s attempt in 2013 to alert the FBI over text and voice message about patients taking advantage of the hospital’s loose prescription policies and selling copious amounts of drugs on the street.

    Johnson, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, wants to know what the FBI did with the warnings, if anything, Military Times reports.

    Johnson wrote FBI director James Comey a letter Monday asking for more information regarding Jason’s contact with the bureau and what the bureau did upon receiving the tips. He wants a response by Sept. 28.

    “Some patients were making so much money that they had saved enough … to put a down payment on a house,” Heather Simcakoski testified in March. “I would like to understand who was responsible for [Jason’s] reports, where they are and why no one did anything.”

    Tomah has long held a reputation for dispensing drugs at a whim, which was only bolstered when the facility hired psychiatrist Dr. David Houlihan as chief of staff. Houlihan quickly garnered the label of “Candy Man.” An investigation in January discovered that pain prescriptions jumped by five times from 2004 to 2012, with a notable bump appearing after Houlihan joined the facility.

    Opiates like oxycodone, hydrocodone, methadone and morphine exploded from only 8,370 in 2006 to 24,135 in 2014.

    An inspector general report released in early August determined that Simcakoski died Aug. 30, 2014, because of systematic and avoidable failures at the medical facility. Staff prescribed him a lethal mixture of depressants without discussing potential side effects. Nurses did not attempt resuscitation upon discovering him. They also failed to use the emergency call system and only injected him with reviving drugs 30 minutes after finding him in his condition.

    The committee, led by Johnson, is casting a wide net of suspicion on federal actors involved in the facility. For example, the committee is taking a much closer look at the work of the VA inspector general and scrutinizing the Department of Justice.

    Follow Jonah Bennett on Twitter

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