Upstate chief of staff resigns over disputed account of Afghanistan bombing, other claims

Upstate University Hospital (CNYCentral File Photo)

A top official at Upstate Medical University resigned Monday while officials review his account of a deadly April 2011 bombing in Afghanistan and other disputed claims that were first reported by an Albany newspaper.

The Albany Times Union reported Sunday that Sergio A. Garcia, Upstate's chief of staff, described in a videotaped lecture last year how a three-vehicle vehicle convoy delivering books to an all-girls school in southern Afghanistan was disrupted when a bomb killed many of his colleagues, including Anne Smedinghoff, a young foreign service officer.

"She was 23 years old, from Pennsylvania... Her first posting was in Afghanistan, which was a little unusual, but that's where she wanted to go... I was in the third car, the bomb went off on the first car and, you know, a lot of my colleagues, civilian and military, were killed," Garcia said, according to the Times Union.

The Times Union reported that U.S. State Department records and interviews with people familiar with the incident said that Garcia actually wasn't at the bombing scene. There are no public records indicating that he was even assigned to the mission or ever worked with Smedinghoff.

The newspaper reported that other claims made by Garcia have also been called into question.

Upstate Medical University said in a statement to CNYCentral Sunday evening that Garcia had been placed on leave. The university told CNYCentral on Monday afternoon that Garcia's resignation is effective immediately.

Read their full new statement below:

After an expeditious review of the troubling accusations made against Upstate Medical University's chief of staff, and at the request of Upstate President Danielle Laraque-Arena, MD, FAAP, Sergio Garcia has resigned, effective immediately. The allegations are contradictory to Upstate's shared values of being open and honest, and the president and her leadership team will work together to confirm these values are instilled at every level of the organization.
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