12 OYS: Augusta VA employee hired in midst of fatal drinking and driving investigation

By: Jerome Collins Email
By: Jerome Collins Email

News 12 at 6 o'clock / April 9, 2014

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- "I'd hoped that during this hearing we could be discussing the concrete change that VA had made," said Jeff Miller, chairman of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

Instead on Wednesday during a congressional hearing in Washington, D.C., lawmakers focused on what they call a continued lack of accountability following three deaths at Charlie Norwood VA Hospital due to a lack of adequate medical care.

"Despite the myriad of patient safety incidents that have occurred at VA medical facilities in recent memory, that status quo is firmly entrenched," said Miller.

While a congressional probe continues in the nation's capitol, 12 On Your Side is investigating yet another controversy emerging involving the VA hospital.

We have obtained documents showing the hospital hired a former employee at a Mississippi VA Hospital who was arrested following a drinking and driving incident. During that incident the police report says Fillingim's co-worker fell from the vehicle and died.

The police report shows in 2010 Jed Fillingim admitted to drinking and driving. His blood alcohol level was .03 which is below the legal limit in Texas where the incident happened.

Last week Chairman Miller again demanded accountability from the veterans administration.

"Why isn't drinking and driving a government vehicle on VA business a fireable offense, why would VA hire an employee still under investigation," said Miller. On Your Side wanted to know too, as well as other questions about the decision to rehire Fillingim.

"Who decided to hire Jed Filingim? Why did they rehire him and what is VA currently doing in response to this incident," said Miller. That police report states that there was not enough evidence to charge Fillingim with any crime in the death of his co-worker.

We contacted the VA to find out why Fillingim was hired and who made the decision to rehire him. We have not heard back but we will have more on this story as we continue to investigate.

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