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Comey Says FBI Opening Criminal Probe of Delays at VA Hospitals

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June 11 (Bloomberg) -- The FBI has opened a criminal investigation into delays in medical care at hospitals run by the Department of Veterans Affairs, FBI Director James Comey said today.

Comey disclosed the investigation in response to a question at a House Judiciary committee hearing. He didn’t elaborate beyond saying that “our Phoenix office has opened a criminal investigation.”

The FBI was asked by federal prosecutors to initiate the probe, said a Justice Department official, who requested anonymity to discuss the investigation. Prosecutors in Phoenix and the Justice Department’s criminal division in Washington are overseeing the probe.

“We’ll follow it wherever the facts take us,” he said.

The disclosure comes two days after an internal audit revealed that 57,400 veterans have waited more than three months to see a doctor.

The audit broadened the scope of the VA’s failings, which has ignited a maelstrom of controversy that resulted in last months’s resignation of Eric Shinseki, the secretary of the department. The VA, which has a $160 billion budget, is the U.S. government’s fifth largest agency.

The Senate reached an agreement to vote this afternoon on passage of a bipartisan measure that would spend more than $1.5 billion, providing money to lease 26 new medical facilities and hire more doctors and nurses.

To contact the reporter on this story: Del Quentin Wilber in Washington at dwilber@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Steven Komarow at skomarow1@bloomberg.net Joe Sobczyk

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