Home Vocational Rehabilitation VA Voc Rehab Counselor Gets 11 Years Prison, Defrauded 88 Disabled Vets

VA Voc Rehab Counselor Gets 11 Years Prison, Defrauded 88 Disabled Vets

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One VA employee working as a Voc Rehab Counselor was sentenced Friday to 11 years for defrauding 88 disabled veterans in a $2 million bribery scheme.

James King is guilty of fraudulently steering 88 clients into poorly performing vocational rehabilitation training programs in exchange for bribes. King orchestrated the schemes with at least two schools that paid King to steer veterans into their schools.

This is the most significant prosecution of a VA official I have seen in years. Tragically, this fraud impacted veterans relying on counselors to treat them honestly and fairly.

The VA Vocational Rehabilitation & Employment program provides training and support to disabled veterans with employment handicaps that impact their ability to find and keep suitable employment.

In a statement, U.S. Attorney Jessie K. Liu of the District cited King’s betrayal of public trust for those he was to serve as a mentor and counselor. “Instead of helping our veterans, he lined his own pockets by taking bribes to send them to three sham schools that brought them only pain and frustration,” Liu said.

RELATED: Voc Rehab Counselors Pushing Veterans Out Of Voc Rehab Early

The sentence was less than the one recommended by the U.S. Attorney. In court, King admitted to his crimes. He also asked for forgiveness due to a high caseload of 250 veterans resulting in him not following up on schools.

“I can’t say I am not responsible for it because I am, and I am sorry,” King said.

Judge John Bates, a Vietnam War veteran, said King ignored requests from veterans about their training goals and instead misled them to receive $155,000 in kickbacks and bribes.

“This was a lengthy, broad and callous bribery scheme and financial scheme, for which you bear the primary responsibility,” Bates said.

RELATED: Quick Facts When Applying To VA Voc Rehab

His voice rising, Bates said, “People need to know that that cannot continue at VA. We cannot allow people in public office who are being bribed to send money to companies.”

Over the past ten years, I have heard many accounts from veterans reporting that their counselors strong arm them to participate in retraining programs that are inappropriate for their goals.

The best way to handle rogue counselors is to document their pushback on paper with repeat emails and letters when seeking to either change your plan or protect your existing trajectory.

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12 COMMENTS

  1. This one incident is just the tip of the iceburg. When you find rat shit in your kitchen cabinets it’s usually a sign there’s more than one rat.

    • I just wrote a statement last week about my counselor in Los Angeles.
      It’s so similar I wonder if they work together. I was told I didn’t qualify for full pay w VRE but since I had signed the 1905 with full pay and the counselor asserted it, the VA paid me full pay. Then, 6 months later it was stopped and reduced w/o notifying me. After my statement was turned in last week funny thing happened. All of a sudden some old reg popped up and said as long as I had one day left on Chap 33 I qualified for full pay, then back pay. Oh, there’s more but not enough room here. Thanks for posting the article while the ink was during, I’ve been waiting for this report!!!!

  2. Here’s another VHA healthcare employee who got to retire instead of going to prison!
    In December, 2017 Young hit another car carrying two children.
    Even this article, Dec 2018, says Young was impaired. Possibly too impaired to drive. So, why did the court system drop the charges? In my opinion, the VA paid a bunch of people off!
    Also, how many of y’all have nueropathy? Do y’all receive medicine for it?

    ——————————————————-

    VA Opthalmologist charged with DUI.
    Charge: Neuropathy Disoriented Me
    By Erin Murray Orlando
    PUBLISHED December 7, 2018 @4:02 PM

    ORLANDO, Fla. — A day that haunts Charlie Young is December 26, 2017. In a red folder, there is a series of documents that include a work review, months of court filings, medical records, and finally the dismissal of DUI charges.

    Charlie Young still haunted by day he was arrested for alleged DUI
    Although charge was cleared, he said neuropathy made him disoriented
    Young said a medical evaluation was never done arrest
    “When I think about it, it, it was terrible,” Young said. “My memory stops at 7:30 in the morning.”

    Young is an ophthalmologist, and last December worked for the Orlando VA Medical Center.

    He had volunteered to work the day after Christmas, but when he got to work that day, he said he didn’t feel well and became disoriented. Staff supported a decision for him to go home and they even helped him get to his car.

    “They said, ‘Do you feel like you will be OK to get home?’ And I only live a couple miles from where I work, and I thought so,” Young said. “One of (my coworkers) walked with me to the car to kind of see whether they thought I was OK. They thought I was OK to go.”

    But he was not — Young hit another car and was arrested for DUI by an Florida Highway Patrol trooper. The DUI was not for alcohol, instead the arresting trooper believed his disoriented behavior was because of prescription drugs, which Young admitted to have taken the day before because he suffers from neuropathy.

    “I never would take those drugs on the day I was working. It has a short half-life, runs out of your system in four to six hours — low dose stuff,” Young said.

    Young Evaluated

    Young complied to a breathalyzer and blew zero each time. He also did a urine test, and FHP said the results showed he had hydromorphone in his system. It is the same prescription drug Young takes for his neuropathy.

    FHP told Spectrum News that they did not send the urine sample to be quantitated, because this was a misdemeanor DUI charge.

    Troopers said in fatal crashes where drugs are positive in the driver’s system, they would have sent it to the University of Florida for analysis, of whether the driver was operating a vehicle with the drug within or over a therapeutic range.

    FHP maintains Young showed definite signs of impairment that day. Officials explain that when a trooper makes a DUI arrest, they base that arrest on the driver’s appearance and driving pattern (or if they have caused a crash), and the trooper will evaluate that driver for signs of impairment.

    FHP also says they want people to know that they can be charged with DUI, even if they are legally taking a prescribed medication. When a trooper makes a DUI arrest, they base that arrest on the driver’s appearance and driving pattern (or if they have caused a crash), and the trooper will evaluate that driver for signs of impairment.

    A blood sample nor a medical evaluation was never done during his arrest, which was a problem for Young. He firmly believes his disorientation that day was from a medical event and not his prescription.

    “(It was) most likely a type of ischemic vascular event that causes temporary amnesia,” Young said. “Considering how disoriented I was, and that I have no memory of it.”

    Charges Dropped

    Young was checked by three doctors, who all believe he suffered from an ischemic event too. To add to this, those same doctors checked his system for any drugs as well.

    “They had me evaluated by their neurologists. They did their own independent drug testing, which was a day later I guess, but (it) showed absolutely no evidence of any legal or illegal medications,” Young said.

    That evidence is what that led to the case never going to court and the charges being dropped. But that day keeps coming back for Young.

    “People today look you up, and they Google you. And if they find out what they can about you, and what they found out about me didn’t look very good,” said Young. “Once it goes out there, you can’t get it back. It’s got a life of its own.”

    He also wants to urge more law enforcement agencies to make sure medical reasons are more thoroughly addressed in arrest cases.

    “We have an opioid crisis, but we also have an aging population, and I think it behooves our first responders to keep that in mind,” Young said.

    Young did return to work at the VA after they did their own investigation, and they also did not find drugs in his system. He returned to work in a research role, but then chose to retire in August 2018 to enjoy retirement!

    • Why didn’t the VA call a cab for him if he needed help to his car. The bars are responsible for drunk drivers leaving their bars. The bars have to call Taxis for their customers, right. So the VA should have been more responsible and called a Taxi, right?
      When I had a reaction to aspirin at General Dynamics they wouldn’t let me drive home. They called my husband to take me home.
      This is how responsible employers act to someone who is incapable of driving themselves.

      • The article also states he was on “hydromorphone”! This is an opioid medication.
        There’s many “side effects”!
        Your 100% correct in saying he should not have been driving. The Lake Nona VHA should have acted more responsibly by calling him a taxi!
        Lastly, “hydromorphone” is for pain, not nueropathy!
        There is no medication directly connected for nueropathy! I know this because I have had “periferal polynuerapathy of all four extremities”! Not one nueralogist has given me a med for it! They can only make life bearable by taking away the pain!

    • This is from a law firm here in Florida. It explains how a DUI is considered a misdemeanor or a felony.
      It’s directly from the state statute.
      My question to the VA, FHP, and court system is, “Are the two children, in the car hit by the VHA healthcare employee while impaired, going to be ok!?
      I bet it cost the taxpayers lots of money to let that asshole get out of trouble!
      ———————————————————-

      If you’re facing driving under the influence (DUI) charges in Florida for the first time, you may be wondering, “Is DUI a misdemeanor or a felony?” DUI is what’s called a “wobbler offense” because it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the facts of the case.

      In Florida, the offense of DUI is covered under Section 316.193 of the Florida Statutes. Under Sec. 316.193, a driver can be charged with DUI if they drive or are in “actual physical control” of a vehicle while under the influence of alcoholic beverages or any chemical substance, which includes illicit street drugs, lawfully prescribed drugs, and over-the-counter medications.

      A driver’s blood alcohol level does not have to be at 0.08% to be prosecuted with DUI – their BAL can be lower than the legal limit. All that matters is that the state can prove that the defendant’s ability to operate a motor vehicle was impaired by the introduction of drugs or alcohol, or both.

      When is DUI a Felony in Florida?
      Generally, a first or second DUI without any “aggravating factors” is prosecuted as a misdemeanor offense. For a first or second DUI to be charged as a felony, usually the impaired driver would have to cause serious bodily injury or death to another person.

      Penalties for a first misdemeanor DUI in Florida:

      DUI probation.
      DUI School.
      A fine not to exceed $1,000.
      Up to six months in jail.
      Up to one year driver license suspension.
      If you are facing DUI charges for the first time in Florida, as long as no one was injured or killed, you should be charged with a misdemeanor. That said, let’s take a look at the four ways DUI can be charged as a felony in Florida:

      1. Third DUI Within 10 Years If a person has a third DUI within 10 years of a previous DUI conviction, they are guilty of a felony of the third degree, punishable by up to five years in prison, and by a fine not to exceed $5,000.

      2. Fourth DUI Offense Anyone who is convicted of a fourth DUI offense, regardless of how long it’s been since their previous conviction, is guilty of a felony of the third degree, punishable by up to a $5,000 fine, and up to five years behind bars.

      3. DUI Involving Serious Bodily Injury If while committing the offense of DUI, the impaired driver causes serious bodily injury to another person, including their own passenger, the offender is guilty of a felony of the third degree, punishable by a fine not to exceed $5,000, and by up to five years in prison.

      Additionally, the defendant could be ordered by the court to pay restitution to the victim to cover his or her medical expenses, rehabilitation, property damage or loss, and lost income.

      To learn more about restitution in Florida, click here.

      4. DUI Manslaughter When an impaired driver causes the death of another human being or an unborn child, he or she commits the offense of DUI manslaughter, a felony of the second degree, punishable by up to 15 years in prison, and by a fine not to exceed $10,000. Like DUI with serious bodily injury, the defendant may be ordered to pay restitution, but in the case of death, the offender may have to pay the victim’s funeral-related expenses.

      Are you or someone you love facing DUI charges? If so, you should have a fairly good idea of whether the charge would be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or felony after reading this post. Even if you end up facing misdemeanor charges, you still want to avoid a conviction if at all possible.

      Why is it so important to fight? Because, a criminal conviction for DUI would have long-lasting consequences. It would affect housing, employment, professional licenses, college scholarships, and auto insurance premiums. To minimize the consequences of your DUI charge, contact us today.

  3. Too sad for veteran’s and Too bad for the VRC. I am just dumbfounded when I see all the inconsistencies in the way veteran’s benefits are managed or should I say mismanaged. When I was an Administrative Specialist in the Air Force (I won the PACAF administrative Award) the big emphasis was on CONSISTENCY! First, you identify a process or item by the designated word or term. This allows for immediate understanding and thus efficiency and expediency in carrying out what ever task was at hand. In addition, you utilize only one way to process a regulation. Not this wishy-washy I’ll do what ever I feel like today or if I like you I’ll give you selective treatment. In my experience, this has been the biggest obstacle in creating a smooth and proficient agency.

    With that being said, what you have occurring today is all this confusion on both sides, the VA and the veteran, due to people doing what they please without having to worry about any consequences. The VA has all this bickering, malice and corruption going on with in and the veteran is caught in the middle of this maelstrom. As a result, the veteran is victimized by the system due to being proactive in pursing their VAD benefits and medical care and expecting ethical treatment. Due to this attitude of “I’ll do whatever I want” and by not following the Code of Federal Regulations, the veteran is then ostracized, demonized and marginalized. This double-bind situation (Damned if you do, damned if you don’t; Catch 22; hate you if you’re clever and despise the fool) bottlenecks the system and very little is achieved. Hence the modern day VA with all it’s problems. Just saying.

    Peace Out

  4. I had a voc rehab counselor tell me “I am not paying for you to go to that college”, to which I replied “Are you going to pull out a checkbook and pay for my schooling out of your own pocket?”. This back and forth was because I was proactive and DID my own research, spoke with different universities and he did not like that. Ultimately, because he was an idiot (you will understand how so in a second),our conversation got to the point where I looked at him and told him that “I had two choices, the first has me in jail and the second has me walking out that door. I choose to be the bigger adult here and I am leaving”. He ended up sending me a life-threatening email, to which I offered to come back so we could actually have this specific conversation face to face, and CC’d his boss (as well as the politician who was then helping me out). I did not hear from him again. That place, in VIRGINIA was known to be corrupt and filled with complete wastes of oxygen. So glad our politicians hold VA management accountable.

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