gettyimages 463402010 Strap in, the new highlights report from the VA Inspector General is a doozy

(Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

By Jonathan Kaupanger

Blackmail, criminal sodomy and sexual abuse of an incapable victim. And that’s just page one of the September highlights of investigative work from the VA’s Office of Inspector General. Let’s take a quick look, shall we?

A former VA vendor is pleading guilty to blackmail. Beginning in April 2014, the vendor took a little over $125,000 for unnecessary maintenance work.  The vendor then gave $39,000 in kickbacks to a former St. Louis VA supervisor and about $20,000 to his step-father, who was a VA employee at the time.  So far the estimated loss to the VA is almost at half a million dollars.  This investigation is ongoing.

A VAMC physician assistant (PA) from Kansas was convicted of aggravated criminal sodomy, aggravated sexual battery and sexual battery for sexually assaulting patients while performing physical exams.  The PA admitted to over-prescribing narcotics and administering unnecessary and excessive genital exams on multiple male patients.  The defendant had served as a primary care provider for 750 to 1,000 patients during Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

A veteran was sentenced to 100 months incarceration, lifetime probation and mandatory participation in a sex offender and drug treatment program after pleading guilty to sexual abuse of an incapable victim. Both the victim and defendant were inpatients at the Lexington, Kentucky VAMC.  The defendant waited until the victim received sleeping medication, then went into her room and sexually assaulted her on several occasions.

Another case resulted in a San Francisco veteran being sentenced to twelve months incarceration, three years supervised release and an order to pay $142,474 in restitution to the VA. The investigation uncovered more than 700 false claims to the California VAMC as a way to get more beneficiary travel pay.  The defendant claimed to drive over 500 miles a day to the medical center, 4 to 5 times per week, for several years.  It was discovered that the veteran actually lived in an RV much closer to the facility.

Up next, it’s a family affair of fraud after a veteran, his wife, his father and his mother were all indicted for healthcare fraud, wire fraud and false statements. The charges allege that the veteran owned and operated several companies all while claiming he was unemployed due to his service-connected disabilities.  It is also alleged that the vet was receiving VA Individual Unemployability benefits while he was employed. The wife, mother and father also submitted fraudulent claims on behalf of the veteran and were instrumental in the alleged fraud scheme.  In total, the loss to the VA is about $175,000.

Another veteran claimed that he couldn’t walk or even stand for a few seconds without falling. The defendant was observed—and even recorded—walking, driving, climbing ladders, mowing his lawn and engaging in other physical activities.  He’s being charged for fraudulently receiving compensation benefits for the loss of the use of both his feet. The VA lost about $157,000 on this.

The daughter of a deceased VA beneficiary plead guilty to theft of government funds and was sentenced to three years’ probation and ordered to pay the VA restitution of $179,466. The defendant admitted to forging VA documents and using the funds for personal expenses.  The woman stole the Dependency and Indemnity compensation benefits after her mother’s death.  In a separate case, another daughter of another deceased VA beneficiary got four months incarceration, four months home confinement and five years’ probation and was ordered to repay the VA $147,557.

If you’re interested to find out more on these and other investigations, you can go here to read full reports from the VA Inspector General.

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