- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 19, 2002

A federal grand jury has returned a 20-count criminal indictment on corruption charges against three doctors formerly employed by the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Salem, Va., the Justice Department said.

The doctors, Benedict A. Profera, Daniel D. Semko and Suzanne Haritatos Semko, were charged with wire fraud, bribery and theft in connection with their conduct while employed at the Salem facility. The indictment was handed up Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Roanoke.

Dr. Profera served as head of the podiatric department and its residency program at Salem. The other two were residents in the one-year program for the 1997-98 term and worked under Dr. Profera's supervision.

The indictment said that from March 1997 through March 1999, the three doctors engaged in a scheme to defraud the Veterans Affairs Medical Center and the government by allowing Dr. Semko to receive credit and a salary for participating in the residency program when he was rarely present.

Instead, according to the indictment, Dr. Semko spent almost all of his time running his private practice in Indiana and did not meet the requirements of the program.

The indictment also said that the residents influenced Dr. Profera to participate in the corruption scheme by paying him $25,000 the month before starting their residency program. The doctors characterized the payment as an interest-free loan with no interest, repayment schedule or collateral.

The Justice Department's Public Integrity Section of the Criminal Division and the FBI in Roanoke are handling the matter.


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