Several Central Alabama Veterans Healthcare System employees who engaged in unethical — and in some cases criminal — behavior were still employed as of Nov. 12.
Over the course of several months, the Montgomery Advertiser obtained documents that showed five employees had taken advantage of VA patients, destroyed government property and lied to officials about misconduct.
And now, months later, VA records show several of those individuals are still receiving paychecks. Although information on an employee’s disciplinary action isn’t available to the public, employment status is.
The vocational rehabilitation specialist who brought a recovering veteran in the drug treatment program to a crack house is no longer employed, nor is Andre Hall, the prosthetics health technician who was charged with sexually abusing a veteran patient in December 2013.
But three others still are.
A CAVHCS employee who crashed a government vehicle, failed to report the accident, fabricated evidence and lied to police is still employed more than a year-and-a-half after the incident, records show.
The employee caused more than $5,600 in damages while driving in Barbour County in April 2013. VA police later discovered that the employee wasn’t there on business, and that the employee asked a witness to write a false statement about observing a deer running in front of the car to show he wasn’t at fault, according to the police report.
A VA Police investigation said the employee violated state law by not reporting the accident, violated multiple policies by not properly reporting the accident to the VA, made false statements to investigators, misused government resources and property for personal gain and damaged government property.
The police report also shows that an “enormous” amount of trash, food containers and VA retail store receipts on the floor of the vehicle showed that it wasn’t being properly inspected by the employee, his supervisors or VA employees responsible for maintaining the vehicles.
Court records and VA documents leaked to the Advertiser show that the employee also has a long history of felony arrests and driving violations, even though driving is required for his job.
His job as a vocational rehabilitation specialist in the mental health department requires him to work with a team that helps veterans with disabilities to overcome psychological, developmental and cognitive health barriers so they can get jobs. The position often requires driving veterans to jobs and appointments.
Between 2009 and 2013, the employee was twice charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, possession of marijuana, public lewdness and several moving violations, including speeding and failing to stop at a stop sign.
His salary is $49,520 and he works on the Tuskegee campus.
Another employee, Jason Garrette, who pleaded guilty to criminally negligent homicide after his involvement with a fatal car crash last December, is still employed. He was also charged with driving under the influence of alcohol in connection with the accident, court records show.
A Macon County grand jury indicted him for the homicide Sept. 12, and he pleaded guilty Sept. 25.
Garrette is also a vocational rehabilitation specialist, which requires driving veterans around in government vehicles. His salary is $49,520.
A third employee who police said misused, accepted and assumed control of a Tuskegee VA nursing home patient’s personal funds is also still employed.
The employee was assigned to be the patient’s “guardian angel,” which is part of a VA treatment program. The employee allegedly convinced the 49-year-old patient with dementia to trust her with conducting the patient’s financial activities.
A VA police investigation found that nearly $6,000 of the veteran’s money was withdrawn during a 15-month period and is still unaccounted for. There wasn’t enough evidence to press criminal charges, but police said the employee’s actions were considered patient abuse, and were described as reckless, uncaring and unapologetic toward the veteran.
The report said the employee became the patient’s guardian angel after finding out that the veteran was receiving compensation for her service-related disability. The employee also knew the veteran had been recently divorced and had limited access to family and friend.
The reports didn’t say whether any administrative action was taken, although the case was referred for administrative review.
via VA employees accused of misconduct still not fired.