Dr. Swango was discharged by by the Sioux City, Iowa VAMC in 1992 when his past conviction was discovered. Despite having been fired by the Sioux City VA, he was hired by by the Northport NY where he killed several veterans. There is no clearer case of how the medical system in general, and the VA in particular turns a blind eye to the past problems that medical providers have had.
VA Northport New York manages to hire Michael Swango despite the fact that the Sioux City, Iowa VAMC had fired him a year earlier and his license to practice medicine had been suspended in Ohio in 1985.
Read the complete indictment:Swango-Indictment
VA OIG Report on the Capture of Michael Swango
For 7 years, VA OIG agents and healthcare inspectors, along with the Office of the U.S. Attorney and the FBI worked to put Dr. Michael J. Swango permanently behind bars. On September 7, 2000, Swango pleaded guilty to the murder of three veterans in his care at VA Medical Center (VAMC) Northport, NY. He wassentenced to three consecutive life terms without the possibility of parole for the VAMC murders.
The Ohio Murder and Assault
Michael Swango graduated from the Southern Illinois University Medical School in 1983 and began the internship program at Ohio State University Hospital upon his graduation. As spelled out in the indictment, while working as an intern at Ohio State University Hospital in January 1984, Dr. Swango murdered Cynthia McGee by injecting her with a lethal dose of potassium. In February 1984, he assaulted his patient, Rena Cooper, by injecting her with a poisonous substance.
She survived the attack. After that assault, Ohio State University Hospital removed Dr.
Swango from the residency program, and in 1985 Ohioauthorities commenced a murder investigation into his activities. Although that investigation did not result in
the filing of charges against Swango, he did learn of the investigation and concealed the fact that he was investigated for murdering patients from the other hospitals that subsequently hired him. Adams County Ambulance Service
In 1985, Swango began employment at the Adams County, Illinois, Ambulance Service as an emergency medical technician. According to the indictment, he poisoned several of his co-workers there with arsenic. They later recovered and he was tried and convicted of aggravated battery. He was sentenced to a 5-year term of imprisonment.
Northport Murders and Assault
Several years after his release from an Illinois prison, Swango sought admission to several medical residency programs. In 1992, he was hired by the University of South Dakota and assigned to work as a resident at the VAMC Sioux Falls, South Dakota, after he falsified facts about his prior criminal conviction. Swango was discharged from the program after hospital administrators became aware of the facts surrounding his conviction and his activities at Ohio State University Hospital. In 1993, Swango applied for and obtained a position as a medical resident at the State University of Stony
Brook Medical School, which ran a residency program at VAMC Northport. During the application process, he misrepresented that his criminal conviction in Illinoi stemmed from a barroom brawl; a false statement that ultimately led to his conviction and incarcerationon Federal charges.
Thereafter, Swango murdered George Siano, Aldo Serini and Thomas Sammarco, while all three were patients at VAMC Northport. Swango killed all three patients by administering injections of toxic substances. In addition, Swango also injected a poison into another
patient at the hospital, Barron Harris. Mr. Harris survived the incident. In October 1993 Swango was discharged from his residency at VAMC Northport, and was later charged with making a false statement to Federal officials and improper use of controlled substances in connection with his employment there. Before those charges were filed
VA OIG, FBI and Federal Prosecutors speak to the press outside the U.S. District Court House in Central Islip, NY following the conviction of Dr. Michael Swango for the murder of three veteran patients at the Northport VA Medical Center.however, he fled the United States and was hired as a physician at the Zimbabwe Association of Church Hospitals.
The Zimbabwe Assaults
On May 14, 1995 and July 7, 1995, respectively, Swango administered injections of toxic substances into his patients Kenias Mueaza and Virginia Sibanda, both of whom were under his care at Mnene Hospital in Zimbabwe, Africa. Both survived Swango’s attacks. Swango was suspended from practice at Mnene Hospital in July 1995. Saudi Arabia
In 1997, as a result of false statements, Swango obtained employment as a physician through KAMA Enterprises, Inc., an employment agency in Portland, Oregon, and was assigned to work as a physician at the Royal Hospital in Dharan, Saudi Arabia. In June
1997, Swango was arrested in a Chicago airport on his way from Africa to Saudi Arabia, to begin his employment there. He was arrested for the false statement and controlled substance charges that had been filed in the Eastern Judicial District of New York.
Making the Case
While Swango was imprisoned on this charge, VA OIG investigators and healthcare inspectors, FBI agents, and U.S. Attorneys had limited time to find the evidence to make the case for the three deaths which happened in a federal facility. Extensive review of records, laboratory studies, and interviewing witnesses in the United States and Africa took thousands of hours. In that effort, the team received the full cooperation and
support from the management and staff at VA Medical Center Northport, NY.
The Guilty Plea and Sentence
Faced with the possibility of a death sentence, Swango pleaded guilty to the murder of the three veterans in New York and was sentenced to three consecutive life terms without parole. VA IG Richard Griffin and U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch “Through a web of lies and deception, Michael Swango inveigled his way into the confidence of hospital administrators across the country and the world. Once in their trust and employ, he utilized his skills to search for victims and take their lives. This case is the result of the hard work and diligent efforts of not just this office but of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General, who were determined that Swango be held accountable for his actions and not be allowed to victimize others. I thank both of those agencies for their dedication and determination in investigating this matter, across the years and the globe. We extend our deepest sympathies to the victims and their families.”
Loretta E. Lynch
United States Attorney