In the case of Prof. Thomas, the ORI’s (Office of Research Integrity) findings reduce to this: she falsified results.
Yes, this is a serious academic offense. Yes, she might endanger patients through the medical aspects of her research. But these are not the reasons ORI investigated the case.
The ORI exists to be a whistleblower, or to act on suspicions of whistleblowers, for certain projects. Those projects are funded by federal grants. The Office does not act as a general policing presence for research integrity, only for those funded through taxpayer dollars, or at least the appearance of those dollars.
Does this mean that the ORI should not exist? Certainly not. Exploiting the government grant-making machines for positive results is less ethical than manipulating results.
Perhaps the most important aspect of ORI is the public-ness of the case studies. Offenders cannot hide from what they did; such is the nature of offenses against the government. The public shaming, though ethically questionable, will last longer than the ten year probationary period, and will likely have a stronger effect.