UPDATE: Department of Veterans Affairs Responds to Employee’s Charges

V.A. responds to employee's charges

Augusta, GA- “As a result of the indictment announced today by the Department of Justice, VA today immediately terminated Cathedral Henderson’s access to all of VA’s systems and placed him on administrative leave. Additional administrative action may be taken based upon the indictment.

Secretary McDonald and Deputy Secretary Gibson have repeatedly said that where wrongdoing is confirmed, disciplinary actions will be pursued.

In this effort, VA appreciates the work done by VA’s Office of Inspector General and the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate this issue and present the evidence needed to take appropriate action.”

 

Augusta, GA – A 50-count indictment, unsealed Friday in federal court, has charged a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) employee and the former Chief of Fee Basis over non-VA Care at the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center in Augusta, Georgia, with crimes related to his alleged falsification of the medical records of numerous VA patients.

The employee has been identified as 50-year-old Cathedral Henderson.

The indictment alleges that Henderson terminated unresolved consults – medical appointments that had not been scheduled or completed – by falsely stating in VA patients’ medical records that “services have been completed or patient refused services.”

United States Attorney Edward Tarver stated, “The crimes alleged in this indictment are troubling.  Our VA officials and employees are entrusted with the health and welfare of some of the most honorable and vulnerable in our nation – our veterans. Patients, doctors, nurses and hospitals rely heavily upon the truth and accuracy of our permanent medical records.  The intentional falsification of veterans’ medical records is a serious offense and will not be tolerated.”

Assistant Inspector General for Investigations Quentin G. Aucoin stated, “The VA Office of Inspector General (OIG) vigorously investigates allegations regarding VA employees who alter medical records with false statements in order to conceal unfulfilled consults for medical procedures. These alleged actions give the appearance that medical care was rendered or, in some cases, the appearance that veterans declined medical care. Alterations of medical records and false statements in these records needlessly expose patients to harm and also undermine the integrity of VA data relied upon by VA decision-makers, who oversee and manage operations.”

Henderson has been charged with 50 counts of making false statements.  If convicted, Henderson faces a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each count. An indictment is only an accusation and is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is entitled to a fair trial, during which it will be the Government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

The case was investigated by Special Agents from the VA-OIG’s Office of Investigations, with assistance from clinical staff in the VA-OIG’s Office of Healthcare Inspections. Assistant United States Attorney Lamont Belk is prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.

Friday, U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, issued the following statement in response to the announcement by the Department of Justice that charges have been filed against a former Department of Veterans Affairs employee in Augusta, Ga., for alleged falsification of the medical records of numerous VA patients.

“While I regret that the alleged criminal actions by this indicted VA employee ever took place, I am pleased that the investigation we called for in the wake of the Phoenix scandal is being done and people are being held accountable for manipulating medical appointment records when they should have been giving our veterans access to the care they need and deserve,” Isakson said.

The Department of Justice unsealed a 50-count indictment against Cathedral Henderson, the former Chief of Fee Basis over non-VA Care at the Augusta VA. The indictment alleges that Henderson falsified the medical records of numerous veterans to make the records show that the veterans had received medical services or refused medical services.

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