Dartmouth Psychiatrist Facing Dept. of Justice Charges

The Dartmouth news reports that "The U.S. Attorney’s office also filed an 11-count civil complaint against Weeks on Friday, including six counts of conflict of interest, four counts of false claims and one count of “breach of fiduciary duty.”  Most of his time has been spent conducting research and administering multiple VA programs.

If convicted, Dr. Weeks faces a maximum possible penalty of one year in prison and fines of up to $100,000 for each criminal count, as well as a maximum possible fine of $1.3 million in penalties for the civil complaint, according to the press release.

Prestigious academic institutions are finding that faculty members in the department of psychiatry are becoming a liability–their misconduct and sometimes erratic behavior undermines the institution’s reputation.

Posted by Vera Sharav

The Dartmouth DMS prof. faces federal charges

William Weeks, a Dartmouth Medical School professor of psychiatry and community and family medicine, is facing federal conflict of interest charges for his involvement with contracts between the Department of Veterans Affairs and the College, according to a U.S. Department of Justice press release.

Weeks, a physician at the VA Medical Center in White River Junction, Vt., was charged Friday with five federal misdemeanor counts by acting U.S. Attorney Paul Van de Graaf, according to the press release. Van de Graaf and assistant U.S. Attorney Heather Ross will prosecute the case, Van de Graaf said in an interview with The Dartmouth. Van de Graaf declined to elaborate on the nature of the charges filed against Weeks.

Weeks could not be reached for comment by press time.

A Dartmouth spokesperson, when contacted on Saturday, said the College would not make a statement on the matter until Monday.

The VA Medical Center’s Public Affairs Office declined to comment while litigation is pending.

The U.S. Attorney’s office also filed an 11-count civil complaint against Weeks on Friday, including six counts of conflict of interest, four counts of false claims and one count of “breach of fiduciary duty,” according to the press release.

If convicted, Weeks faces a maximum possible penalty of one year in prison and fines of up to $100,000 for each criminal count, as well as a maximum possible fine of $1.3 million in penalties for the civil complaint, according to the press release.

Weeks was involved with five fixed-price contracts in 2003, both initiating the contracts on behalf of the VA and monitoring them on behalf of the College, according to the press release. By concurrently filling both roles, Weeks was responsible for ensuring that the work was performed and for regulating the funding. The U.S. Attorney’s office contends that “a significant amount” of the contract money was deposited into a reserve account at the College associated with Weeks, rather than being used for the contracted work. The College, the VA and the U.S. Attorney’s Office have not elaborated on the terms of the contracts or specified what kind of work they were intended to fund.

Documents obtained by The Dartmouth indicate that Weeks had previously filed suit against the federal government on April 9, alleging that his chances for promotion were greatly diminished when his offices at the VA Medical Center were illegally searched, and that information about the ongoing federal investigation had been improperly shared with his superiors.

Court documents also state that Weeks tried to commit suicide after failing to secure a promotion, The Rutland Herald reported.

Weeks has been a physician at the VA Medical Center since 1992, and since 2003, has spent most of his time conducting research and administering multiple VA programs, including the VA Quality Scholars Fellowship Program and the Veterans’ Rural Health Initiative, according to the DMS web site. He has published extensive research on patient safety, medical practices at businesses and the economics of health care. Weeks received the National Rural Health Association’s 2009 Outstanding Researcher Award for his contributions to health care for rural veterans on May 7, according to a DMS newslette