Navy Secretary John F. Lehman Jr. censured three officers responsible for hiring a surgeon charged with manslaughter in the deaths of four patients at the Bethesda Naval Hospital, a Navy spokesman said. Letters of censure were issued Aug. 12 to Commodore James Quinn, Capt. Leon Georges and retired Capt. John Fletcher, the spokesman said. A letter of censure is regarded as a severe reprimand but does not require a reduction in retirement pay or other punitive measures. The three officers were responsible for hiring and appointing Cmdr. Donal Billig. Billig faces general court martial on charges of involuntary manslaughter in the deaths of four open heart surgery patients at Bethesda and 24 counts of dereliction of duty.
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