Fallout Continues After Firing Of Former Oklahoma VA Investigator


Tuesday, March 24th 2015, 6:45 pm
By: Dana Hertneky


The fallout continued Tuesday over the arrest and firing of an Oklahoma Veterans Center investigator. Steven Pancoast was charged with three felonies that include Perjury and Impersonation of a Police Officer. More questions surfaced about what happens now to his former cases.

James Laughlin, an 85-year-old Korean War vet, and resident at the Norman Veterans Center died back in October from what the medical examiner has ruled blunt force trauma to the head.

“I knew he was going to be dying,” said his widow Joan Laughlin. “But not like that, he could have died in peace, you know.”

Joan had been working with Steve Pancoast from the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs for the past five months on the investigation into what happened to her husband. Joan said she found out Pancoast had been fired when she called the agency looking for him.

3/23/2015 Related Story: Oklahoma Veteran Affairs Investigator Charged With Impersonating Officer

“Nobody notified me or called me about my case or what was going to happen or anything,” she said. “I was just thinking ‘What do I do now? Who do I depend on?'”

A representative with the Cleveland County District Attorney's office said they were working with Pancoast on Laughlin's case. They don't have their own investigators so will have to wait until the ODVA assigns someone new to the case.

But the ODVA said the AG's office is now handling all of Pancoast's investigations. The AG's office said they have allocated additional resources to take over the cases that they were already involved in but Laughlin's one isn't one of those.

So Joan, who's spent months fighting to get answers about her husband is now only left with more questions.

“Who's going to help me? Who's going to make this right?” She asked. “There was actually a crime committed there and somebody needs to answer for it.”