The district attorney's office in Los Angeles has launched a preliminary investigation of Roger Peeks, M.D., medical director at beleaguered Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center, after county auditors found he allowed illegal payments to hospital staff and misled officials looking into other allegations of misconduct.
Auditors contend that Peeks allowed illegal payments to a contract radiologist and provided him with a free dorm room, according to documents obtained by the Los Angeles Times.
Peeks denied the allegations against him Thursday.
King/Drew paid $1.3 million from March 2004 to March 2005 to a temporary agency for the services of contract radiologist Harold Tate, M.D. The doctor said he worked an average of 20 hours a day, seven days a week, during one six-month stretch, invoices show. According to the audit, Peeks allowed Tate's agency to be paid $225 an hour for periods when the radiologist slept and took breaks. That was a violation of Tate's contract and the state Constitution, which bars gifts of public funds, the audit found.
The audit also concluded that Peeks deceived investigators by not telling them that he had provided a free private room in the medical residents' dormitory for Tate's use, also an illegal gift of public funds, according to the audit.
Tate said he worked all the hours he billed and did nothing wrong. He said he needed the dorm room near the hospital so he could shower while working such long stretches.