Friday, September 22, 2000
Suspicions followed doctor across globe
Former doctor Michael J. Swango has been investigated in several states and at least one country in the suspicious deaths of patients under his care.
A chronology of major events in Mr. Swango's troubled medical career:
1983: Mr. Swango graduates from Southern Illinois University's medical school in Springfield and begins a one-year surgical internship at Ohio State University's hospital.
1984: After Ohio State denies his request for a residency in neurology, he returns to his hometown of Quincy, Ill., to work as a paramedic while awaiting medical licensing in Illinois and Ohio.
1985: Mr. Swango is convicted of the nonfatal poisonings of five fellow paramedics in Quincy. He is sentenced to five years in prison. The case prompts Ohio authorities to investigate the deaths of at least six Ohio State hospital patients under his care during 1983 and 1984. No charges are filed because of a lack of evidence. Mr. Swango's medical licenses are revoked in Illinois and Ohio.
1987: After serving two years, Mr. Swango is released from prison.
1989: Mr. Swango is investigated in the nonfatal poisonings of three co-workers in Newport News, Va. No charges are filed.
1990: He is certified as a paramedic in Virginia after trying to get jobs in several states, including West Virginia and North Dakota, and in Washington D.C.
1992: The University of South Dakota's internal medicine residency program dismisses Mr. Swango after officials discovered he had lied about his criminal record.
1993: The State University of New York at Stony Brook accepts Mr. Swango into its one-year psychiatric residency program at the Veterans Affairs Hospital in Northport, N.Y. He then disappears amid lawsuits alleging he fatally poisoned three patients at the hospital. A federal investigation fails to link Mr. Swango to the deaths.
1994: Mr. Swango begins working in Zimbabwe and Zambia. Authorities in New York issue a warrant on a fraud charge, alleging he lied about his criminal past on a 1993 Stony Brook job application.
1995: Zimbabwe authorities suspend Mr. Swango from practicing medicine at the Mnene Mission Hospital, where he is suspected in the deaths of five patients.
1997: Mr. Swango flees Africa and is arrested at Chicago's O'Hare Airport en route to begin a medical stint in Saudi Arabia.
1998: Mr. Swango, now charged in Zimbabwe with killing five patients, pleads guilty in New York to the fraud charge and is sentenced to 42 months in a Colorado prison.
July 2000: Just days before he is to be released, Mr. Swango is charged in a nine-count federal indictment with the 1993 murders of the three patients at the New York veterans hospital. The indictment also accuses him of a history of patient assaults and homicides, including the 1984 death of a 19-year-old gymnast at the Ohio State hospital and the nonfatal poisoning of another patient there the same year. He pleads innocent.
Sept. 6: In a plea deal, Mr. Swango pleads guilty to the murder charges in exchange for a sentence of life in prison without the chance of parole. He could have faced the death penalty.
Sept. 21: Mr. Swango is indicted on charge of aggravated murder in the Ohio death.
Source: Associated Press research.
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