Three Palo Alto VA employees indicted for bribery Around Town, posted by Editor, Palo Alto Online, on May 12, 2011 at 10:33 am
Three employees of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System and a contractor have been indicted by a U.S. grand jury in San Jose on bribery charges, federal prosecutors announced Wednesday.
Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, May 12, 2011, 9:12 AM
Posted by Arch Conservative, a resident of Menlo Park, on May 12, 2011 at 10:33 am
This is a darn shame.In my many visits to the PA VA Hospital,I received nothng but the finest consideration and care from the professional staff there. Let us hope that these sleaze balls do not contaminate a great organization- about the only Fed operation that I have any respect for.
Posted by Alfred E Newman, a resident of Atherton, on May 12, 2011 at 10:53 am
Good work by the Feds in nailing these thieves. Arch C: thank you for your service to our country.
But check out this comment: "In my many visits to the PA VA Hospital,I received nothng but the finest consideration and care from the professional staff there."
Why, Arch C, how touching.
Shouldn't we do the same to the VA as we are proposing for MediCare? Privatize it and hand out coupons for use in going out in the free market and purchasing private insurance from for-profit insurance companies?
Let's get our seniors AND vets off the BIG GOVERNMENT handouts!!!
Isn't that the arch conservative, small government approach?
Or are our promises to seniors and vets more important than ideology and funneling public money to for-profit insurance companies?
Posted by Arch Conservative, a resident of Menlo Park, on May 12, 2011 at 12:31 pm
Dear Mr Newman- Did not realize that Mad Magazine had moved it's offices to Atherton. Welcome to the Peninsula!
Handing out coupons will be fine, as the Vets are the only group that actually gave of their time and lives for the US. The Seniors have "given" to Social Security most of their lives (I started at the age of 13 as a newspaper delivery bike boy). THe Feds have just about depleted the SS funds by giving it to other programs and to people who have never contributed a dime. Our promises to seniors and Vets are more important than giving it to for profit insurance companies, but our Congress is always looking toward reelection and welcome all contributions. Only they lcan change the law- but won't.
The VA is probably the most honest and cost-effective department in the government, as contrasted to HUD, HSL, DOE,Labor, Education, Commerce, Interior, State and Defense.
Posted by Mike Alexaner, a resident of another community, on May 12, 2011 at 7:02 pm
This story isn't about entitlement programs, it's about simple corruption. I think it shows the need for oversight (audits and whistle-blower programs), especially in government, but also whenever people are handling other people's money and business.
It's sad for these men, whose selfishness has caused deep shame for themselves and their families.
Posted by va employee, a resident of another community, on May 12, 2011 at 7:04 pm
If the charges hold up then people will have to pay for their bribes. I do have experience with Aero Drywall and Jack Stringer and they have far better construction techniques than most of the companies this V.A.Medical Center uses. The reality is that all these companies have to do to is have a disabled female veteran of color on their board, or as an officer in their coporation, to receive priority on construction projects. I would be very suprised if the initial complaint did not come from one of the substandard construction companies who are connected like Haliburtons. Their is just too much stimulus money being thrown around for any V.A. project management to have proper oversight. A real reform would have the local authorities with jurisdiction to be responsible for permits and construction and not have project planning.
Posted by KT, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on May 12, 2011 at 9:40 pm
As a VA employee, we take hours upon hours of ethics and moral training modules each year and agree to terms that we are not allowed to take bribes or gifts (nothing over $5.00)! Out of the thousands of people who work for the VA there are a few bad seeds....and perhaps more. But, I have to tell you that they really do try to remind us to be moral and ethical in all aspects of our jobs!!! The VA is a great place to work!!! It's a community of people who love this country and care for those who protect it. Three really greedy individuals were dishonest and got caught....a lesson learned, I hope!
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of the Midtown neighborhood, on May 15, 2011 at 6:24 am Walter_E_Wallis is a member (registered user) of Palo Alto Online
In the interests of efficiency, contracting officers are given leeway in the handling of smaller jobs. This reduces overhead but increases the opportunity for graft. By far the majority of contracting officers are meticulously straight in their dealings.
As for Alfie's screed, You are welcome to the gravy train - all it takes is a few years of your life and a skirmish or so with an armed enemy.
Posted by W.J. Spies, a resident of another community, on May 17, 2011 at 6:42 pm
I use this Palo Alto facility for my primary and my specialist medical care. I have no means for any other medical care. Our veterans in general have given more than anyone but only true veterans will know, or can actually realize. As a veteran of 2 1/2 years in the Vietnam theater, I know exactly how hard it is to come back home after spending several years -- three consecutive tours -- in a war zone.
Negligence at the hand of federal bureaucracy deeply annoys me, always, and without exception. It is especially hard and hurtful to read about the Palo Alto VA Hospital and its Medical Center being under attack from unscrupulous profiteering such as this, and by these nasty people.
It may be this was a somehow innocent "grease-the-wheel" process that is often expected and practiced within government contracting circles; I've seen such things happen elsewhere in my life. But this being the VA -- a sort of post-war holy grail and healing alter for many war veterans -- I am livid reading about it. That the ultimate people affected by such ugly shenanigans are unflinching war veterans, some of them have given more than any of these contractor and bureaucratic morons could possibly understand, I hope they all spend long terms in prison, and all are forced into some meaningful community service after prison.
With ever growing political wrangling about such programs as Medicare, the VA, and Social Security benefits, etc. all on the chopping block by affluently supported Republican-Conservative interests in our government, these kinds of criminal acts do nothing to keep well needed essential programs like these services in place.
Shame on these people. I hope it serves as a strong lesson to any such bureaucratic imbeciles, ready to profit from the VA at the cost of our country's veterans.
Posted by VA employee, a resident of another community, on May 17, 2011 at 7:37 pm
This is no surprise. Anyone who works that at VA Palo Alto Health Care System (VAPAHCS) has had to have had the feeling for some time that things were not right here. The place is constantly under construction with no end in sight and with apparently no real plan.
Areas of buildings are extensively remodeled, then remodeled again just a few years later. Entire buildings are refurbished only to be demolished a few years later. It seems the management here is very good at getting money from congress for this type of thing and there are construction contractors (both honest and dishonest) making their fortunes off this place. This all seems to have accelerated after the current president took office and the stimulus programs started.
These 3 employees who have been charged with these crimes where supposed to be the ones who watch out for the taxpayers money but instead were in it for their own gain. Not only have they brought shame upon themselves and their families as another reader has mentioned, but also upon all the other employees working here, the vast majority of whom are hard working and honest. I personally hope that the court throws the book at these folks and makes an example of them. However, it is unlikely that these few are the only ones or that this could happen without the complicacy of their superiors. These 3 VA employees and the contractor were dead wrong and should face justice but itís also possible that there are also some systematic problems at VA that should not be overlooked.
Yes, my compliments to the DOJ, FBI, and VAIG on this case but donít stop there,
Posted by Jade Cortez, a resident of another community, on May 18, 2011 at 8:27 am
why did the FBI wait so long to come forth with this. Is it because at least one person would have retired next year and the Gov. doesnt want to pay for her retirement. We know they are hurting for money and will do anything to get out of paying retired personel. I know from experience with and many other formal personel that worked for the Gov. that got screwed out of their retirement pentions. Either they got hurt on the job or some sort of bogus charge came up with their name in it and got fired right before their retirement. Take a long look at what May be the real story. They don't want to pay, they pay enough for all the higher power crooks in our Government that take more then this. Take a long look at how many lower paying personel are loosing their Gov. jobs just to pay for the bigger crooks in office. They had to come up with something to get a great worker out, so lets connect her with all thats going on and we don't have to pay retirement and pention for 20yrs of loyalty to the VA Hospital (GOVERNMENT) As they say Don't Steal Government Hate Compitition....
Posted by W.J. Spies, a resident of another community, on May 18, 2011 at 7:12 pm
Small Point of Order
Re: post by "VA employee"
The money earmarked for the current (extensive) VA Palo Alto construction programs came from the former (Republican) administration. I actually had prior knowledge of the newly planned construction, now underway, at least a year before the last presidential administration left office.
But that said... I agree completely about the ever-present, never-ending, construction projects -- ongoing -- at the VA Palo Alto.
Just before the old Rec. Center and swimming pool were demolished for the new Center, coming in the spring of 2013, the gymnasium was completely resurfaced -- a brand new floor and new surface installed. This happened only about 9 or 10 months before the demolition of the old building began to make way for the newly planned Center -- which is now under construction. All the while hardly anyone ever used the gymnasium; it was often empty and deserted -- the staff discouraged nominal outpatient use by creating a special "buddy rule." You had to be accompanied by a "workout friend" to gain entry. And who really has the luxury of doing that?
To me the 'refurbish it and then immediately demolish it' was either clear mismanagement of the VA's fiscal resources, or a blatant bureaucratic foul ball -- the kind of "business as usual," and "that's the way it goes" thing that goes around typically in the VA system.
When I mentioned my misgivings about this situation to the Rec. Center's manager I was politely given the bum's-rush, or heave ho -- a sort of classic line (or guise) of shortsighted bureaucratic ignorance that's apparently always in place at the Palo Alto VA. My comments and questions were never about making trouble, not one time, they were logical and they were plainly honest. However, no one wanted to address them, which made my questions troublesome.
In the same period of time, if you used the swimming pool's showers you had to wade through about an inch of filth and sludge on the shower room's slippery floors (I have pictures) before finding a clean spot to shower after a swim. When I complained, I promptly got the persona-non-grata treatment from the same Rec. Center's manager. In mentioning the problem perhaps once too often, I was treated more or less like a trouble-maker. The manager in question even attempted to enter such into my VA medical record (I have the copies). In other words, how dare I question this manager's authority? ...and the price for that was being unilaterally classified as a problem child.
My medical records were eventually expunged later, but I had to take the whole thing over this woman's head -- not to just her immediate supervisor, but to her boss's boss, thus finding proper resolution and an apology.
The net result! was the showers still remained filthy, the pool water often maintained poorly and ineffectively (regular maintenance practice snafus almost every week) and building's janitorial services were nonexistent, right up until the day the building was closed for its scheduled demolition.
Posted by RAZ MA TAZ Mc GILLACUTY , a resident of Portola Valley, on Dec 10, 2012 at 4:57 pm
RECENTLY I WAS TOLD BY A MOBILITY SCOOTER CONTRACTOR EMPLOYEE THAT IT COST $250.00 FOR TWO BATTERIES FOR A SCOOTER, BUT IF YOU GO TO SANTA ROSA AREA THE SAME TWO BATTERIES COST ABOUT $800.00 ALL FROM THE SAME PURCHASEING AGENT. I KNOW IT A LONG WAY TO SANTA ROSA AND YOU HAVE TO CHARGE MORE FOR SHIPPING BUT THAT SEEMS A LITTLE MUCH FOR POSTAGE.
I TRIED TO QUIETLY CHECK THIS OUT BUT I WAS TREATED AS IF I HAD MONTAZUMAS REVENGE. (PLAGUE)
THIS SCOOTER EMPLOYEE MAY BE TRYING TO GET BACK OR LIEING ABOUT THIS PERSON AND I DON'T WANT TO SCREW UP SOME PERSONS LIFE WHO IS JUST TRYING TO DO A GOOD JOB. I DON'T KNOW HOW TO ACCESS PAPERWORK OR INVOICES TO CHECK THIS OUT. ANYONE WHO KNOWS PLEASE HELP BUT BE RESPECTFUL OF ALL INVOLVED AND DON'T SCREWS SOMEONE LIFE UP FOR NO REASON.