VA Rehires Employee Involved in Drunk Driving Tragedy for $100K Job

Concept Photo/

A Veterans Affairs Department employee who was driving a government truck after a night of drinking when a co-worker fell out of the vehicle and died was re-hired at the agency after initially resigning, according to a report.

Jed Fillingim was on official travel to Dallas with two colleagues for a conference for federal employees when the incident occurred, reported WRC-TV, the Washington, D.C.-based NBC affiliate. All three workers had been drinking and while they were driving from a bar, Amy Wheat -- a VA employee based in Mississippi -- fell out of the truck and died.

Wheat suffered head injuries and a severed leg in fall, WRC-TV found in police reports. Fillingim, who was driving the truck, was arrested immediately following the incident on suspicion of “intoxication manslaughter,” but was not charged with any crime after police found his blood-alcohol content was at 0.03 -- below the legal limit. The test was administered nearly six hours after the incident, however, and 12 hours after Fillingim said he entered the bar.

Fillingim and Chad Barney, the third VA employee in the truck, purchased more than a dozen drinks on their credit cards at the bar, including jaeger bombs, beer and vodka.

Fillingim resigned from his position as VA’s Jackson, Miss., medical center manager in November 2010, five months after the incident. VA rehired him in a supervisory position in Augusta, Ga., in March 2011, however, and he is making more than $100,000 per year.

The department confirmed to Government Executive Fillingim is employed by VA, but said it could not get into further details due to privacy concerns. A spokesman said when hiring someone in Fillingim’s position, a Veterans Health Administration selecting official determines the best qualified candidate “with sole regard to merit and fitness for the position.”

Fillingim’s re-hiring occurred after a General Services Administration inspector general report found he and Barney had operated the government vehicle “outside policy guidelines, including driving (a vehicle) intoxicated,” according WRC.

The report was not originally released, and only obtained by the NBC affiliate through a Freedom of Information Act request. The full document spells out details of the day of the incident, but many names and locations are redacted. The report shows two individuals purchased 14 beers, 12 jaeger bombs and two vodka drinks. One individual was “acting inappropriately toward female patrons and staff” and was asked to leave.

After leaving the bar, the three went to a gas station and then Hooters, before Wheat’s death.

House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller, R-Fla., is looking into the incident. 

(Image via Concept Photo/

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.