$163K payout to ex-head of Tomah VA angers Wisconsin American Legion leader


TOMAH, Wis. - The former head of the Tomah VA Medical Center was allowed to resign and given a settlement after allegations that painkillers were being overprescribed to patients.

Mario DeSanctis was fired from the hospital in 2015. But a USA Today investigation found he fought his dismissal and reached a deal in which he was allowed to resign. He and his attorney were paid $163,000.

In a statement Thursday afternoon, Wisconsin American Legion leader Commander Laurel Clewell called the payout "an abomination and a high insult to veterans, their families and the good people who work in our VA hospital system."

Clewell added that the resignation and money are a slap in the face to veterans.

"Incompetence and, one could argue, willful neglect should not go rewarded with a corporate-style golden parachute," Clewell said.

The Tomah VA hospital was rocked in January 2015 by reports of inappropriate dosages of narcotic pain killers and retaliation against employees who questioned the practice.

DeSanctis did not return a phone message left by The Associated Press on Thursday.

Jason Simcakoski was a Marine who died in 2014 from a fatal combination of drugs. His widow, Heather Simcakoski, told the La Crosse Tribune the settlement was "really disappointing."