DENVER -- A member of Congress has asked the U.S. Department of Defense to open a formal investigation into a major drug-testing company after a FOX31 Problem Solvers expose Wednesday night.
In a letter to the acting Inspector General overseeing the Department of Defense, Congressman Mike Coffman, R-Sixth District, cites revelations made in the undercover investigation as the reason.
The investigative unit caught a Quest Diagnostics employee in Thornton falsifying pre-employment drug tests in exchange for cash. That employee bragged that he had helped military personnel on drugs pass their screenings.
Quest Diagnostics fired the employee and initiated its own investigation. Coffman sits on the House Armed Services Committee, the Veteran’s Affairs Committee and is a retired member of the military.
In his letter to Glenn Fine, Coffman wrote: "Although I do not know the extent or even the veracity of the Quest employee referenced in this story, I believe the situation merits further investigation. I therefore ask you to identify the entity within the Department of Defense that holds this particular contact with Quest Diagnostics and direct the Inspector General of that organization to immediately conduct a careful and complete performance and compliance audit to ensure the integrity of the entire drug screening process.”
“I think the Department of Defense, the military is going to have to take a real serious close look at this particular problem,” Coffman said in an interview. "Not only will they do it, but there will potentially be criminal referrals out of it to the FBI.”
Coffman also addressed concerns about another aspect of the investigation: The growing market for synthetic urine, a product that was found to successfully beat lab drug screening tests during blind sampling.
“It’s a real concern,” Coffman said. “And I think it’s something we’re going to have to get on top of to see. Something I’m going to raise in the Armed Services Committee is to say, 'Do we have to redo these tests in any way?’ To prevent this, do we need to enhance monitoring. What do we do?”
A Quest Diagnostics spokesman denied its employee helped active duty military personnel pass drug tests.
“While it is possible that current Reserve service members were collected by our former employee, any such collection and test would have been on the behalf of the service member’s private-sector employer and not related to their duty status," Quest said in a statement.
"While we do perform testing for U.S. Government employees in testing designated positions such as Customs and Border Patrol or the U.S. Treasury, our records indicate that the rogue employee did not collect any specimens for federal employee testing.”
In addition to the federal investigation, the Problem Solvers have learned a local, criminal investigation has been opened. Thornton police detectives confirmed Thursday they are looking into allegations against a former Quest employee accused of falsifying urine tests.