Tuesday, June 17, 2008



Illinois attorney Edward Bates

earned the thanks of many vets for helping them

obtain benefits. But, the VA has a different view.

The story below paints just part of the picture.

You will want to read the report from the Hearing Board of the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission from July of last year. Full report is here... http://www.iardc.org/05CH0048HB.html

The report is long and involved, but worth taking the time to read. In it you will find this:

Respondent's Testimony Concerning the VA Accreditation Proceedings

Respondent became concerned when some of the veterans he represented told him that the Chicago regional office was destroying their medical records. (Tr. 516). Respondent had approximately 300 cases at the Chicago regional office and he noticed that frequently medical records he had submitted to the office on behalf of his clients were missing from their files. (Tr. 516-7). Due to the pervasiveness of the problem, Respondent suspected that VA employees were destroying evidence so that they could get credit for closing files. (Tr. 517).

To address this issue, Respondent filed 50 writs of mandamous with the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims requesting that the next procedural step be taken for each case he filed a writ. (Tr. 518). He also informed the Chicago regional office that that he had filed the 50 writs and would file 200 additional writs if the cases did not advance. (Tr. 518). Additionally, Respondent called the VA regional counsel, Mr. Morgan, to inform him that Respondent's requests for his clients' files were not being complied with and that he suspected someone was destroying evidence in the files. (Tr. 518-9). A couple months later, five IRS criminal investigators came to Responent's house and he lost his accreditation to practice before the VA. (Tr. 519). The IRS investigators told him they had been sent to his house by another government agency. (Tr. 520).

Makes you wonder...doesn't it?

Story here... http://www.suntimes.

Story below:


Vets' ally, or just cashing in?
VA Lawyer who helped win disability benefits may lose his license

Staff Reporter spatterson@suntimes.com

Edward Bates could have practiced any kind of law, but he chose to spend his career helping injured veterans secure disability benefits.

It's the kind of work that has earned him stacks of letters and pictures from vets, thanking him for the effort.

But now that effort could cost him his law license, as he stands accused of violating a decades-old rule that prevented veterans from directly paying an attorney to help them appeal a ruling on benefits.

That rule has since been lifted, but state legal officials are pushing for disbarment after complaints were made by the Department of Veterans Administration about the years of work Bates did.

At issue are VA rules allowing a "disinterested third party" to pay an attorney on the vet's behalf, but prohibiting the attorney from taking payment directly from the vet or sharing in the benefits secured on the vet's behalf.

The VA accused Bates of violating that rule, and a hearing officer recommended a five-month suspension of his law license. But the Illinois Attorney Registration Disciplinary Commission is now appealing, pushing for disbarment.

"I thought someday my daughter would be able to look back and say how much I did for people," the 65-year-old said. "Now, they'll only remember these proceedings. I'm not going to be able to undo any of this."

Attorney Thomas McGarry is fighting to help Bates keep his license, calling the VA rules archaic and insulting to veterans.

"They tell vets, 'You don't need a lawyer, we'll look out for your best interests,'" he said. "[Bates] represented them, did stellar work for them and is now accused of committing a crime that reflects adversely on the legal profession."

Bates suspects he made himself a target because of the national reputation he earned by winning so many benefits for injured veterans.

But VA and ARDC officials contend Bates reaped in those earnings, as well. While VA officials declined to address his case, they said the rules were clear and that Bates violated them.

And while the ARDC acknowledges in court filings "it may well be that the veterans' benefits system is flawed," the answer can't be to allow attorneys to skirt rules while they're in effect.

Bates, they say, "built a personally lucrative practice on the backs of those he professed to serve ... his misconduct was dishonest and illegal, and it was undertaken to enrich himself."

A decision by a legal panel is expected this summer.


posted by Larry Scott
Founder and Editor
VA Watchdog dot Org

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