David Houlihan, former chief of staff of the VA medical center in Tomah, Wis., has agreed to permanently surrender his license to practice medicine in the state. Credit: Public Facebook page

The former chief of staff of the Tomah Veterans Affairs Medical Center has agreed to permanently surrender his license to practice medicine in Wisconsin, closing a two-year investigation into his narcotic prescription practices.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs already had fired David Houlihan after he was exposed as the “Candy Man” in a January 2015 investigation by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting. We reported that veterans treated at the Tomah VA showed up to appointments stoned on painkillers and muscle relaxants, dozed off and drooled during therapy sessions, and burned themselves with cigarettes.

One of Houlihan’s patients, 35-year-old Marine Corps veteran Jason Simcakoski, died of an overdose inside the hospital’s psychiatric ward in 2014.

Following his dismissal from the VA, Houlihan opened a private practice in La Crosse.

In its investigation, the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services found that Houlihan “failed to provide appropriate medical care to at least 22 patients” between 2005 and 2014. Government investigators found, among other things, that he “routinely prescribed opioids in direct contradiction of written recommendations by other, more qualified providers.” They also documented eight cases in which Houlihan abused his authority.

The agreement brings to a close one of the last lingering threads from the controversy that erupted following Reveal’s report. The hospital’s leadership team has been replaced, and nationwide, the number of narcotics prescribed by VA doctors has plunged.

In July, President Barack Obama signed into law a sweeping narcotics reform named for Simcakoski. It fundamentally changes the way the VA dispenses and monitors dangerous and addictive opiates.

Aaron Glantz can be reached at aglantz@revealnews.org. Follow him on Twitter: @Aaron_Glantz.

Aaron Glantz was a senior reporter at Reveal. He is the author of "Homewreckers: How a Gang of Wall Street Kingpins, Hedge Fund Magnates, Crooked Banks, and Vulture Capitalists Suckered Millions Out of Their Homes and Demolished the American Dream." Glantz produces journalism with impact. His work has sparked more than a dozen congressional hearings, numerous laws and criminal probes by the Drug Enforcement Administration, FBI, Pentagon and Federal Trade Commission. A two-time Peabody Award winner, finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, multiple Emmy Award nominee and former John S. Knight journalism fellow at Stanford University, Glantz has had his work has appear in The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, NBC Nightly News, Good Morning America and PBS NewsHour. His previous books include "The War Comes Home" and "How America Lost Iraq."