Arlington, VA — Today the United States Attorney’s Office, in conjunction with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) OIG, charged three Little Rock VA employees with conspiring to steal prescription medications, including opioids, over six months after they became aware of the misconduct. The employees were also charged with conspiring to distribute those drugs, under a federal indictment.
The VA OIG received a report in June 2016 that large amounts of unaccounted for prescription medications were charged to VA accounts. The investigation revealed a cost to the VA of approximately $77,700 dollars, an estimated street value of more than $160,000 in oxycodone, hydrocodone pills, and more.
Concerned Veterans for America Policy Director Dan Caldwell issued the following statement:
“It took over half a year for the VA to respond to clear evidence of employees stealing and distributing drugs that were intended for veterans who legitimately need them. Unfortunately, this type of egregious employee misconduct and slow, bureaucratic response from the department is far too common. Under current law, it still could be incredibly difficult to fire these Little Rock employees if they are found guilty – even though they wasted thousands of taxpayer dollars and endangered the lives of veterans and civilians alike. This sort of criminal behavior should have absolutely no place in an institution with a mission to serve veterans with quality care. We need stronger accountability measures so we can fire people like this quickly and end the toxic culture at the VA.”
Earlier this year, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) reintroduced the VA Accountability First and Appeals Modernization Act, which would make it easier to fire bad VA employees, cap bonuses for senior VA executives, reform the VA’s broken disability benefits appeals process, and strengthen whistleblower protections. Currently, it can often take over a year to fire a bad VA employees – including those who have engaged in criminal acts.
CVA continues to urge members of Congress to pass the VA Accountability First and Appeals Modernization Act.