VA Fraud Waste and Abuse

Posted: July 2, 2012 in Uncategorized
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Little Rock AR – 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 1 JUN, 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 veterans 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. [Source: KATV-7 Matt Johnson article 5 Jun 2012 ++]

Mobile AL — John Theodore Reutckem, 57, accused of faking a stroke and then giving a phony name and Social Security number to Springhill Medical Center has pulled a version of the scam nearly 2 dozen times before, according to Mobile police. Cpl. Christopher Levy, a spokesman for the Police Department, said investigators from Florida recently contacted Mobile authorities following news reports of the arrest of Reutckem on charges that he ran up tens of thousands of dollars in unneeded care. Two days before he checked into the Mobile hospital, Levy said, he got out of Baptist Hospital in Gulf Breeze under then name John Kraft. Levy said Reutckem incurred some $56,000 in health costs after complaining of a stroke. Reutckem presented hospital officials with a phony health card from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and claimed to be the owner for Kraft Foods, Levy said. Levy said federal authorities opened an investigation in Florida after learning of the arrest in Mobile. “Now, the kitchen sink is being thrown at him,” he said. Reutckem remains at Mobile County Metro Jail, facing charges in Mobile County District Court. But Levy said police have referred the matter to the FBI for possible federal prosecution. Rick Yelverton, a lawyer appointed to represent Reutckem, said he had not yet had a chance to talk to his client.Levy said Reutckem has been treated at Veterans Affairs hospitals at the following locations: New Mexico; Fargo, N.D.; Cheyenne, Wyo.; St. Petersburg, Fla.; Miami; Denver; Loma Linda, Calif.; Montgomery; Tennessee; Portland, Wash.; Puget Sound, Wash.; San Diego; Sheridan, Wyo.; South Texas; Los Angeles; and West Palm Beach, Fla.; and Charleston and Columbia in South Carolina. A representative with the Department of Veterans Affairs in Florida referred calls to the department’s Office of Inspector General. Spokeswoman Cathy Gromek said she could not discuss specific cases but added that the agency does get complaints of patients “doctor shopping” for drugs and fraudulently obtaining health services — even when the patient is not actually sick. “We’ve investigated these issues before,” she said. [Source: Press-Register Brendan Kirby article 8 Jun 2012 ++]

Pickens County SC – Megan Nichole Hanson Mosteller, 26, was sentenced 8 JUN for fifteen months on fraud charges for using her deceased husband's name to collect his military benefits. She was convicted earlier this year and sentenced in federal court for theft of government funds. Evidence presented by the government established that Mosteller had married Jeremy Mosteller, a Marine. But Megan and Jeremy separated just a few months after their wedding, Nettles said. Jeremy Mosteller died on March 7, 2008. Three days after his death, Megan Mosteller filed for Survivor's Benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs. Nettles said Megan Mosteller had claimed to have lived with Jeremy continuously until his death. Five months after Jeremy died, Megan Mosteller married David Redding, Jr. and the couple purchased a home in Easley. After marrying Redding, she continued to use the name Mosteller to hide her new marriage. She continued to collect VA benefits during this time, Nettles said. She also applied for, and received, Education Benefits from the Department of Veteran's Affairs. Two and a half years after Mosteller began receiving the VA benefits, an investigation was launched after someone reported Mosteller, Nettles said. The benefits were stopped after the fraud came to light. At that time, Mosteller had already received $37,000, Nettles said. He said if her fraud had not been detected, she would have received over $800,000 in benefits. United States District Judge Terry L. Wooten sentenced Mosteller to 15 months imprisonment, three years supervised release, and ordered her to pay $32,718.15 in restitution. [Source: EasilyPatch Jason Evans article 8 Jun 2012 ++]

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