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Rural Doc Settles Federal Charges

Cora Nucci, for HealthLeaders Media, November 17, 2010

Here's the tale of a New England psychiatrist and advocate for rural and veteran's health, who has settled a series of claims and counterclaims with the federal government.

William Weeks, MD, a professor known for his expertise in rural healthcare, has agreed to leave the Veterans Administration and will receive a settlement in excess of $469,000 following his acquittal on federal charges of financial improprieties last month.

Weeks, a Department of Veterans Affairs psychiatrist for 18 years and a Dartmouth College professor, was accused of directing federal research funds to his personal accounts "while acting as both a VA representative and as Dartmouth's principal investigator" on five contracts totaling $1.5 million, according to the Associated Press. 

A report in the Boston Globe last April described the prosecution's case: "Taking advantage of a policy that lets Dartmouth researchers keep surplus contract funds in personal faculty accounts, Weeks allegedly kept secret from his VA bosses the deal he had struck with Dartmouth to get the leftover funds. He hired fewer people than originally planned to do the work and at lower rates, and more than $567,000 was deposited into an account in his name at Dartmouth."

Weeks pleaded not guilty. His lawyer, Robert O'Neill, argued that Weeks operated within Dartmouth's rules.

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