Gene Wamsley, a 41-year-old respiratory therapist at the Seattle VA Medical Center, is now on leave from his job and facing charges of theft of government property in the U.S. District Court in Seattle. Seattle VAMC employees reported that a number of bronchoscopes and ventilators, crucial for treating patients with severe COVID-19 symptoms, had gone missing. VA personnel found those same missing items listed for sale online in nearby Bonney Lake, Washington, and investigators were able to connect the suspicious listings with Mr. Wamsley.
According to the press release from the U.S. Attorney’s office, law enforcement officials executed a search warrant on Wamsley’s apartment on June 9, and seized both medical supplies and eBay sales records. Commenting on the case, U.S. Attorney Brian T. Moran said: “Right now, respiratory support equipment is critical in medical care for those suffering with COVID-19 infections. To steal and sell equipment needed to care for our veterans is a shocking betrayal.”
The charge against Wamsley, theft of government property, carries a maximum sentence of ten years in prison. However, the harm caused by his alleged actions goes far beyond mere theft: by selling off critical medical equipment, Wamsley endangered the lives of all Seattle-area veterans who might need VA care if infected with COVID-19. Our firm is deeply saddened to witness another incident of VA corruption in our local community, and will be following the proceedings of this case closely.