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Army hospital ex-official investigated

Feb. 20, 2007 at 11:52 AM

WASHINGTON, Feb. 20 (UPI) -- A criminal probe has been opened into a former official at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington.

The investigation follows allegations by current and former staff members that Michael Wagner, who for three years worked to distribute donor funds to needy wounded soldiers, used his position at the hospital to solicit funds for a new charity he founded in Texas, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.

Maj. Gen. George Weightman, the commander at Walter Reed, said the Criminal Investigation Command investigation "reflects the seriousness with which we take these allegations."

Col. Samuel Smith, Weightman's legal adviser, said Wagner's alleged actions "would clearly be a conflict of interest" in violation of federal law, Army regulations and Defense Department ethics rules.

Additionally, some family members that dealt with Wagner said they found the man callous and difficult to receive assistance from.

"We had many family members who came to me because they couldn't get a respectful and compassionate response from Dr. Wagner," said Peggy Baker, director of a charity that helps wounded soldiers, Operation First Response.

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