According to one of the top leaders of the Veterans Affairs, VA officials involved with the deadly Legionnaires’ disease outbreak in Pittsburgh may be able to escape punishment if they quit before disciplinary action is taken.
“It is their right to resign,” the VA Undersecretary of Health, Robert Petzel, told the House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Health Oversight.
David Hickton, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Pennsylvania, said his office conducted investigations which found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing. According to Petzel, during these criminal investigations the VA was “forbidden” from punishing any employees or officials.
“There is no way to hold them accountable when people die because of their failures?” asked Rep. Tim Huelskamp, during a hearing to air concerns about the VA avoidance of discipline.
However, Petzel, who has stated his intention to retire September of this year, said “if somebody wishes to retire or resign, we cannot prevent that from happening.”