Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Litttle Rock Veterans Home a mess

LITTLE ROCK - In less than three months three top ranked administrators have left the Arkansas Department of Veterans Affairs, and they each have left scandals behind them.

On Friday, Deputy Director Lawrence Pickard was fired because the VA says he collected almost $600,000 in illegal maintenance fees from veterans at the Little Rock Veterans Home.

Newly-appointed Director Cissy Rucker fired Pickard after he admitted to knowing he was collecting excess fees since December 2010.

"Because he did not take immediate action he was terminated," said VA spokesperson Kendall Thornton.

Former Director David Fletcher resigned last month after an audit revealed $200,000 in funds that were improperly logged. Janet Levine, a former VA Home administrator, was fired in April for misappropriating nearly $600,000 at the Little Rock Veterans Home, according to the Arkansas VA.

"We're going through transitions and we have a new state director that's been in place to correct these issues and to make sure that it does not happen again," said Thornton.

At the center of it all is the Little Rock Veterans Home, where the VA claims Levine and Pickard have collected a combined $1.1 million in illegal fees to veterans living there.

"The Little Rock Veterans Home was collecting fees from residents who had a disability rating of 70 percent or above after a federal rule change ended that practice in 2009," said Thornton.

She says the affected veterans will receive their money back over a period of time that has not yet been determined.

Still, one advocacy group isn't satisfied and they're letting the department know.

They recently created a YouTube video entitled "Swindling Arkansas Veterans" that blasts the troubled the state Department of Veterans Affairs for its recent money mismanagement.

"Our goal was to create a higher level of accountability and transparency," said Teresa Oelke, State Director of Americans for Prosperity - Arkansas Chapter. "Hard-working Arkansas taxpayers and especially our v eterans deserve better," said Teresa Oelke

The VA believes its new director will restore credibility to the department.

"We are working every single day hard to make sure that this does not happen again and that we are going to rebuild the trust of the veterans of Arkansas," said Thornton.

Criminal charges against Pickard are unlikely, according to the VA.


Why are charges unlikely?   Where is the  Attorney General  or the States Attorney General, if veterans were stealing the money they would be prosecuted, so why are not officials who used their position to steal money not being prosecuted?   Send them to jail and demand restitution, the same that would happen to a veteran or their spouse or child who stole from the government, in this case these were government employees stealing from disabled veterans, by the power of their position, there is nothing lower in my opinion. Then to tell us the veterans community that they won't even be charged  is a double whammy, hold them accountable.

Sphere: Related Content