VA Travel Pay Clerk Embezzled Nearly $500,000 Before Termination

VA Travel Reimbursement Claims Clerk Embezzlement

A former VA travel pay clerk at Philadelphia VA Medical Center pled guilty to embezzling nearly $500,000 over four years while working for the agency.

Bruce Minor of Philadelphia created a fraudulent travel reimbursement scheme that he ran for many years apparently without detection. He used the names of at least three other VA employees to create fraudulent bank accounts he controlled. He then moved money through those accounts.

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Minor initially admitted to stealing $13,000 in travel funds. A subsequent investigation revealed he stole an estimated $487,000 between December 2015 to September 2019.

VA Office of Inspector General conducted the investigation that led to prosecution by the Department of Justice.

Travel Claim Scheme DOJ Press Release

From Justice.Gov:

Former Philadelphia VA Hospital Employee Pleads Guilty to Stealing Almost $500,000 in Government Funds

PHILADELPHIA – United States Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams announced that Bruce Minor, 46, of Philadelphia, PA, entered a plea of guilty today before United States District Court Judge Chad F. Kenney in connection with his scheme to embezzle money from his former employer, the Philadelphia Veterans’ Affairs Medical Center (VAMC).

In April 2022, the defendant was charged in a one-count Criminal Information with theft of government funds stemming from his theft of $487,000 in Veterans Affairs travel reimbursement funds, which he helped administer as part of his official duties as an travel clerk. In order to perpetrate the theft, Minor created fraudulent travel reimbursement claims in the names of at least three other VAMC employees and then diverted the fraudulently obtained funds into bank accounts he controlled. According to court documents, in an email to VAMC management, the defendant admitted to stealing approximately $13,000 in travel funds, though subsequent investigation showed that he stole upwards of $487,000 between December 2015 and September 2019.

“Injured veterans – and all Americans – deserve public employees who do their jobs honestly, without gaming the system to line their own pockets,” said U.S. Attorney Williams. “While the VA was focused on providing high-quality care and programs to the men and women who served our country, the defendant selfishly took advantage of his position to perpetrate this fraud scheme and cheat the taxpayers who fund these services.”

“Today’s guilty plea should send a message to those who would use their position to steal taxpayer dollars,” said Special Agent in Charge Christopher F. Algieri of the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General’s Northeast Field Office. “This greed wastes precious funds that could otherwise be used to provide care and benefits to our nation’s veterans. The VA OIG appreciates the commitment of the U.S. Attorney’s Office throughout this investigation and will continue to work closely with our law enforcement partners to hold wrongdoers accountable.”

The case was investigated by the Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Christopher Diviny.

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13 Comments

  1. The VA Administration has pulled the “TRAVEL REIMBURSEMENT” off of the Check In Screen when a Veteran checks in.
    This is wrong to take this away from Veterans. Many older veterans do not possess computers, or get confused on a form and then have to mail it in.
    I think this is a way to get more money. I hope not.

    KW Hatley

  2. Here’s my travel clerk story:

    I kept my C&P exam appointment that my VARO had requested be at a distant VAMC.
    When I finished, I went to the travel clerk for reimbursement (including toll charges).
    She paid me mileage, + 1 toll charge, but not the return toll charge.
    When I asked for the return toll, she refused, saying: “How do I know you’ll return home by the same route?”

    As for the comments above on VA “stiffing” veterans out of benefits, here’s my stiffing story, in 2 parts:

    1. The VA General Counsel himself materially represented to my Senator the record of my case, and on materially erroneous premises, denied I was eligible for the benefit I sought.

    The General Counsel cited as additional “proof” of my ineligibility for any benefit, the opinion of the Director of my VAMC (but see #2, below).

    2. A VAMC DRO at my VARO referred my C&P exam to a different VAMC, on the basis that it would be a conflict of interest for my VAMC to evaluate my medical record. Nevertheless, the Director of my VAMC DID evaluate my medical care at “his” VAMC, and declared everything had been fine, and the issues I had raised about my care were without merit.

    In 10 years of my trying to get VA to review its own records, they have never once done so.

    All they ever did was “top sheet” me.

    1. As An Employee At The Dallas V.A. I Was Told That My Comp And Pen Should Have Been Conducted At Another Location.
      I Was Told That Someone Filed A Travel Voucher In My Name Because, As A Retiree I Was Eligible To Recieved Travel Pay. (None Of The Other Employees Had Thier Evaluations There. So, They Reassured Me That Something Was Wrong.
      Also, I Went To My Regional Office To Appear Before A Board Which Was About 200 Miles Away.
      When I Went To The Window To Collect Travel Pay: I Had Barely Made It To The Window Before He Said “You Are Not Eligible For Travel Pay”.
      When

  3. cheyenne vamc travel clerk is in a 1 deep position. October 2021 he took the whole month leave to go hunting. The claims piled up because nobody there to process.

    I still have not been paid for October travel to this day. No denial letters, nothing. The clerk, mr. pike assures me I will get paid. He stated that the system is back-logged 7 months.

    THERE NEEDS TO BE A MAJOR INVESTIGATION FOR MASSIVE CORRUPTION AT THE cheyenne vamc!!!!! Treating Veterans poorly by denying care, lack of intelligence and professionalism by care-givers and the list is very long.

    I went to the chaplain years ago and they also treat the Veterans like crap. They ask you what the provider told you while looking at notes and back up the criminality! I told the EVIL ROTTEN MONSTERS chaplins to “NEVER talk to me or have anything to do with me EVER again!!!!! I don’t want your supposed help!”

    1. Check this out;
      *”https://www.military.com/daily-news/2022/06/01/florida-va-denied-dying-veteran-emergency-care-because-staff-couldnt-confirm-his-service.html?ESRC=eb_220602.nl”*

  4. Hey Ben and follow Veterans,
    There are VHA Directives for everything including Beneficiary Travel see:
    -Department of Veterans Affairs Veterans Health Administration Washington, DC 20420
    VHA DIRECTIVE 1601B.05 Transmittal Sheet January 20, 2022
    BENEFICIARY TRAVEL

    With regards to your article Ben and how this employee was able to perpetuate this scam is representative of the VA’s failure to follow there own directives. This employee will be held accountable, but VA officials that failed to perform their jobs and allowed this theft to go undetected for so long will have no accountability.

    The problems I and other Veterans have experienced at the Roseburg VA in Oregon with Beneficiary Travel’s Supervisor Mary McKain have been ongoing for years. Travel Claims are wrongfully denied for no stated reason and blanket denial letter is issued.

    As usual, I have repeatedly addressed these problems via phone calls, emails and secure messages including a face to face meeting with Ms. McKain.. I even addressed with Roseburg’s Information Officer Richard Weber and provided him with examples of these blanket denials which he promised to follow up on – yeah right- still waiting.

    Item 10 of the above VHA Beneficiary Travel Directive states: 10. APPEALING THE DENIAL OF A BENEFICIARY TRAVEL CLAIM
    When a beneficiary travel claim is denied, the claimant and accredited representative must be provided written notice of the decision. Staff are provided specific procedures on developing appeals in accordance with the Veterans Appeals Modernization and Implementation Act of 2017.

    The Responsibilities of VA personnel responsible goes all the way up to: “a. Under Secretary for Health. The Under Secretary for Health is responsible for
    ensuring overall VHA compliance with this directive.”

    At the Roseburg VA, Director Keith Allen is responsible: “f. VA Medical Facility Director. The VA medical facility Director, or designee, is responsible for ensuring VA medical facility staff comply with this directive.”

    My current ongoing denial for travel for an Upright MRI which was initially ordered by my VA Oommunity Care Orthopedic Spine Surgeon was denied it was then clinically approved by My VA PCPs and was again Administratively denied by Allen and his OCC.

    My Orthopedic Surgeon submitted through my BCBS insurance and was able to have the MRI performed at Eastbay Upright MRI in Hayward, CA (Oakland) as there are no Upright MRIs in the State of Oregon.

    All of the criteria, per VHA directive having been met, Mary Mckain, contrary to the VHA directive denied travel even though medically authorized and documented in my medical records.

    Hope this information is useful.

    Chicago Mike

    1. Thanks Again Chicago! Good Info!

      The VA’s Administrative Officials are members of the worlds oldest profession and ply their trade on Veterans with no accountability. The recurring problems at the Roseburg VA you continually write about and expose indicates there are some real “Pros”in Roseburg, who deny care and collect bonuses off the backs of veterans without even giving them the courtesy of a reach around.

      Got Your 6

      1. Thanks “6”, The Roseburg VA is “whats wrong with the VA” on steroids.

        I am only scratching the surface with what I have written about. The VHA directives exist only to satisfy the requirements of Title 38. so, On paper the VA looks great and that they are taking care of Vets. In reality, the Roseburg VA is not following their own directives.

        The systemic problems and failure to address can be placed on a failure of Patient Advocacy-Patient Advocates who ignore the VHA Directives and fail to file the Patient Advocate Tracking System (PATS) reports. These reports are, by design, intended to alert upper echelon VA officials to problems and a “root cause analysis” is to be performed to fix the broken system.

        By not filing these reports, the same problems that affect one Veteran perpetuate and continue to affect other Veterans. I have numerous Roseburg VA systemic examples that document this.

        When I am able to fix things and get care, like the upright MRI or diabetic foot care or medical screenings, for example, these are individual successes. The systemic problems continue for other Veterans, some who are not even aware they should be receiving this care.
        Chicago Mike

    2. I have ongoing issues, of which I have been denied since 1972… The V.A. system is totally irresponsible. Exonerat, themselves because the mass majority of us poor vets., have a lack of education. So, they take the advantage of us…

  5. Notice how the greed wasting public money and stiffing combat veterans in the process is never connected with the examples of greed wasting public money and stiffing combat veterans in the process is an example set at the very top of DVA: Director, and his director: POTUS.

    Until we connect the links between our votes and their rot, their rot continues governing.

  6. Hey Ben,
    Here’s a real fubar by the Gainesville Florida VA hospital!
    *”https://www.military.com/daily-news/2022/06/01/florida-va-denied-dying-veteran-emergency-care-because-staff-couldnt-confirm-his-service.html?ESRC=eb_220602.nl”*

    A 60 year old veteran is dead due to the incompetence of VA employees!

  7. Not the first. Sadly won’t be the last. Good that he got caught. Since the article did not mention a conviction or sentence – – – let me say that I hope he receives a minimum of twenty years (No time off) for his crime. American citizens at their finest. Not!

    1. *”https://www.military.com/daily-news/2022/06/01/florida-va-denied-dying-veteran-emergency-care-because-staff-couldnt-confirm-his-service.html?ESRC=eb_220602.nl”*

      Another great example from the VA employees!

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