A former chief pathologist at an Arkansas veterans hospital accused of causing the deaths of three patients was sentenced to 20 years in prison Friday, federal prosecutors said.
Robert Morris Levy, 54, of Fayetteville, was also sentenced to three years of supervised release and ordered to pay more than $497,000 in restitution to the Veterans Health Administration, a spokesman for the US Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Arkansas confirmed to The Post.
“This sentence should send a strong message that those who abuse their positions of trust in caring for veterans will be held accountable,” VA Inspector General Michael Missal said in a statement. “Our thoughts are with all those harmed by Dr. Levy’s actions and we hope they find some small measure of comfort from what happened here today.”
Levy, who served as the chief of pathology at the Veterans Health Care System of the Ozarks in Fayetteville until he was fired in 2018, was arrested in August 2019 on charges including three counts of involuntary manslaughter and 12 counts of mail fraud.
He was sentenced Friday on one count each of mail fraud and manslaughter after pleading guilty in June. The remaining charges were dropped as part of a plea agreement, federal prosecutors said.
Hospital officials previously said Levy was caught drinking alcohol on the job in 2016. The pathologist’s blood-alcohol level was .396 — or nearly five times the state’s limit of .08 — leading to the suspension of his medical license and being mandated to spend three months in rehab.
Levy returned to work later in 2016 and then passed two years of blood and urine tests – 42 in all, according to reports — by drinking a mix of methyl and butanol that wouldn’t show up in routine drug screenings.
An ensuing probe by the VA that looked into nearly 34,000 cases Levy oversaw since 2005 then found more than 3,000 errors, improper diagnoses or other irregularities — including three that prosecutors say led to three patients’ deaths.
Prosecutors said Levy declared one patient free of cancer, but the man later succumbed to prostate cancer. In two instances, Levy falsified medical records to indicate that a second pathologist concurred with his diagnoses, court documents show.
The patient whose death led to the manslaughter conviction was not listed in court documents, but he was identified by ArkansasOnline.com as John Ray Gibbs, a 61-year-old Air Force vet from Bentonville who died in 2014 five months after being misdiagnosed with the wrong type of cancer by Levy.
Gibbs’ daughter testified Friday she moved her wedding up that year so she could be married in her father’s hospital room. She still does not display wedding photos in her home because of the pain of her father’s death, the outlet reported.
Levy had faced up to 28 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.