Feds open criminal investigation into Loretto Hospital's COVID vaccinations

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Saturday, November 6, 2021
Feds launch crimnal investigation into Loretto Hospital COVID vaccines
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Federal authorities have launched a criminal investigation into how Loretto Hospital administered COVID-19 vaccinations.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Federal authorities have launched a criminal investigation into how Loretto Hospital administered COVID vaccines.

The investigation follows admissions by the hospital that it provided shots earlier this year to people who were ineligible for them at the time.

READ MORE: Loretto Hospital apologizes for vaccinating judges, spouses out of turn

Documents obtained from the Illinois Department of Public Health show federal investigators first issued one subpoena for records about Loretto back in the spring. That investigation prompted a second subpoena for even more records.

The first subpoena was issued May 27 to IDPH indicating there was an "official criminal investigation" into people vaccinated at Loretto. The feds sought information on 107 people, whose names were all redacted, who got shots at the hospital on March 10 and 11, 2021.

"There usually needs to be a basis of belief that there is something relevant, so prosecutors just don't wake up one day and start rattling off grand jury subpoenas because they're curious about this or that, there's something there," said Jeff Cramer, former federal prosecutor. "Call it smoke; if there's fire, we don't know."

Loretto CEO George Miller admitted in March that he authorized 72 people to be vaccinated at Trump Tower on March 10 and 11, 2021, mostly West Side residents who work there.

RELATED: 72 Trump Tower employees mistakenly vaccinated by Loretto Hospital

In mid-September, federal investigators apparently interested in those vaccinations issued a second grand jury subpoena seeking records of any vaccinations administered by Loretto at any location on those dates in March.

"As far as I'm concerned, that should be a very thorough investigation, and if there is wrongdoing we need to, you know, find those people out and they need to be held accountable," said Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker.

Loretto Hospital has declined to comment.

The documents requested by the grand jury were to be turned over to the FBI, which also declined to comment on the investigation.

State Rep. La Shawn Ford, a former Loretto board member who resigned after the scandal came to light in the spring, said leadership should be concerned.

"It's unfortunate that during the pandemic, that this problem has occurred and it has a shadow of a safety net hospital in the Austin community," he said.

But Ford said he does not believe there was any criminal intent on the part of the hospital in who was vaccinated. He characterized what happened as a lapse of judgement.

The Better Government Association is also digging in to the investigation.

David Kidwell with the BGA highlighted the fact that the vaccines designated to the Austin hospital were meant to go to neighborhood residents.