VA hospital police chief under investigation

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DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. - Channel 2 Action News has confirmed the United States Department of Veterans Affairs has launched another investigation into allegations of wrongdoing by a high-ranking Atlanta VA Medical Center leader.

Channel 2 investigative reporter Aaron Diamant learned this time the case isn't about patient care, but what the hospital's police chief may have been doing on his computer.

This is the latest black eye for the embattled DeKalb County hospital just six weeks after Channel 2 Action News first uncovered federal reports that blamed mismanagement by leaders there for patient deaths. After a lot of digging, Diamant finally confirmed one of the rumors his sources had been telling him for weeks -- a new investigatio into the Atlanta VA's chief of police, Jeff Garrett.

Late Thursday night, an email sent to Channel 2 Action News by the Department of Veterans Affairs Southeast regional office confirmed the investigation, saying it "has launched an external investigation into the allegation of inappropriate computer use by Atlanta VAMC police chief Jeff Garrett."

The department's regional director, Charles Sepich, recently ordered the investigation, but neither Sepich nor his staff would give any specific details about the allegations.

Weeks ago, Diamant's sources also told him about a previous VA investigation into Garrett's alleged computer use.

When Diamant pressed VA leaders for answers on that, Diamant got an email earlier this month saying, "VA takes allegations of inappropriate computer use very seriously and has policies in place to ensure employee compliance with departmental standards. Allegations of inappropriate use of a government computer by Atlanta VA Medical Center Police Chief Jeff Garrett were thoroughly reviewed several years ago."

Sources told Diamant the latest investigation into Garrett began after Channel 2 Action News started asking questions about the first one.

So far, the VA has refused to tell Diamant how that earlier investigation ended. Diamant found no record of any disciplinary action in Garrett's personnel file.

However, the file does show Garrett got a bump in pay, plus expenses, for a temporary top-tier leadership assignment at a VA hospital in Alabama that ends next month.

Diamant tried to reach Garrett several times Friday by phone and by email, trying to get Garrett's response to this ongoing investigation.

So far, none of Diamant's messages to Garrett have been returned.



Channel 2 Action News

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