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VA thieves never learn


Last updated 9/22/2021 at 10:09am | View PDF

Criminals just can’t seem to help themselves when it comes to stealing from the Department of Veterans Affairs. What they haven’t figured out is that they will eventually get caught.

In a despicable scheme, a New Jersey man has admitted to helping steal and then sell $8.2 million in HIV drugs. One of his theft partners worked in a VA hospital pharmacy and was discovered via surveillance footage. The thefts happened over the course of 27 months. How, we would like to know, could someone be allowed to walk out with $8.2 million in drugs in her bag without being stopped by security?

In Georgia, a VA employee pleaded guilty to stealing $1.9 million in medical equipment and then reselling it. Using his VA credit card, he bought hundreds of items and sold them to a company in another state for eight years.

The U.S. Attorney had a big day in arresting 16 people in a massive kickback-and-bribery scheme that included vendors and employees at two Florida VA hospitals. The $20 million in thefts started in 2009 and wasn’t discovered in audits. Their methods of theft and the charges were numerous and varied: inflating the cost of goods sold or shorting the orders, paying kickbacks, making purchases with VA credit cards, receiving bribes, healthcare fraud and ordering from companies that didn’t exist. The last of the band of thieves was recently sentenced.

In a smaller but equally important scheme, a Washington landlord admitted to scamming $16,000 for HUD-VA housing for a homeless veteran. Not only was he billing the government for the monthly rent, but he was collecting from the veteran as well, a clear violation of the HUD-VASH program. For this he will get nailed for three times the amount he stole. The formerly homeless veteran will share in this and get a settlement of $4,000.

The one big beef I have is that none of these criminals ever go to jail for very long.

(c) 2021 King Features Synd., Inc.


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