Former Phoenix VA Chief Gets Probation, No Penalty For Dead Veterans
Sharon Helman was sentenced to two years probation for fraudulent disclosure of lobbying gifts but received no penalty related to any of the dead veterans from the wait list.
In April, Sharon Helman pled guilty to filing false disclosures that she submitted to the federal government. Those disclosures contained false information about yearly gifts she received from a lobbyist. If a normal civilian did the same, it would amount to a fraudulent misrepresentation and possible jail time.
The gifts allegedly included a car, a trip to Disneyland, a trip to wine country, and tickets to a Beyonce concert for her and her family.
The lobbyist involved in the scandal was named Dennis Lewis. He formerly worked at VA and had a close relationship with Helman who was a subordinate of Lewis’. As a revolving door type lobbyist, Lewis repeatedly gave gifts to Helman that were later claimed to be personal in nature. Lewis was immediately terminated from the lobbying firm Jefferson Consulting.
RELATED: Lobbyist Fired Immediately For Unethical Gifts
When was the last time you gave a friend a car, trips to Disneyland and of course Beyonce tickets? What kind of quid pro quo do you think may have been at play in the apparent gift scheme?
SHARON HELMAN SCANDAL BACKGROUND
Helman is the former director of the Phoenix VA Medical Center from 2012 to 2014. At the helm of the facility, Helman allowed problems resultant from scheduling fraud to fester like a boil. That boil eventually burst in 2014 and an investigation found that veterans died while waiting for lifesaving care as a result of the scandal.
Prosecution of the scandal was botched by VA, as it failed to adequately submit evidence of the wait list fraud related to her discharge. Likewise, VA OIG issued a whitewash of the scandal some months after the matter erupted in the news media.
RELATED: Helman Sues To Get Job Back
Nonetheless, Helman was apparently convicted for fraud, albeit of a lower seriousness of fraud than what those in the veteran community had hoped.
Phoenix VA is reportedly moving forward from the event. Three weeks ago, they held a pow-wow for whistleblowers who supported the agency’s moves over recent months to move forward. At the end of the meeting, all Phoenix VA whistleblowers allowed at the meeting signed a letter of support.
VA excluded certain whistleblowers from the meeting including counselor Brandon Coleman to apparently allow a fictional display of support without any discomfort.
Think the veterans who died while waiting for health care so some bean counter could get a fraudulent bonus would approve of the penalty or the antics of later administrators?
Most administrators know their careers are over if they get terminated from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Shortly after her termination, Helman sued to get her job back but was apparently shot down.
This makes me wonder what she will be doing for the next 15 years of her career as an ex-VA employee completely disgraced in the national news media. What do you think?
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Attorney general should call the FBI and go after him and any other VA employees related to this matter.
This guy is greedy.using veterans to line his pocket and a lot of others and not the veterans.
Lead gang member.
What do I think? She might end up in the back office of a lobbying firm, shuffled off to administer some small hospital on a reservation with the Indian Health Service, or running a free clinic somewhere.
She knows the lobbying game, and had to take the fall to protect many others. That’s it.
If they had truly investigated the wait time scandal and blatant bonus fraud because of that manipulation, there would be many other directors being investigated, with far too many witnesses to substantiate the fraud. In the end it would show a massive federal agency as thoroughly corrupt.
Think about it. This happened so much, it was reported several months ago that the VA had written policies against manipulating wait times…so they knew it went on, and knew federal managers were collecting massive bonuses for that fraud. Other managers were signing off on that fraud, either knowing it went on, or being too lazy to verify the facts.
What do I think? Someone had to take a hit, but nothing too hard. Helman got hit with a lobbying rap in order to keep things neat and tidy and not risk hundreds of other managers being caught up in blatant fraud. She got probation, and in a couple years it will look like she made a mistake on a financial disclosure form. Happens every day in politics.
Congress will let it go as well. To demand further investigation will just show how much Congress has been asleep, with little oversight of the billions they hand out to the VA.
You know these directors and other high officials. Have liquid lunches and closed door meetings to skeem. Many other manager’s deserve jail time.
Laws broken every day.
We need to watch them like a hawk.we must hold them accountable for there actions.we need to get involved in committees in the VA system.its never to late to keep en eye on them. The problem i. C is who is going to hold them accountable for their actions, is the problem (damm if u do)(damm if u don’t ).lets make sure that we get as much help to r veterans as possible.we need to imform r veterans that we will never forget the cost of freedom .united we stand deivided we fall. Brothers and sisters forever.P.S. (may god bless America.)
Hey Crazy Elf,
Just thought I would forward a couple of links on articles I am sure you will want to see.
They are about Thomas Burch a Veterans Administration Attorney at the Veterans Administrations Office of General Counsel Washington D.C.
Jeff Gerber over at “Brokenva.com” did a great write up on him and that is how I found out a
“’Worst’ charity for veterans run by VA employee”
“National Vietnam Veterans Foundation named worst charity; CEO flees in Rolls Royce”
You see not only is Thomas Burch one of the lead attorneys at the VA OGC that screwed up all of the prosecutions of the VA elites. He is also the Founder and CEO of National Vietnam Veterans Foundation.
Their tax records indicate that last year they took in $8,657,816 in donations to help veterans but only spent $122,000 on a very select few Veterans. That’s a turnaround of only 1.4% of donations being spent on Veterans.
They sure are more corrupt at the top. I wonder how the New IG will whitewash this.
Also just want to add that Ben had done a great article on Will Gunn, the VA General Counsel (GC), who resigned in disgrace on July 3, 2014.
He resign because he knew he was about to be subpoenaed to go before Congress because he had been fingered as the mastermind who gave the order to destroy the incriminating Phoenix VAMC records.
see Ben’s article:
“VA General Counsel Shoots Self In Foot Before Resigning”
Too bad he amied at his foot !
James beat me too it. Put gun under chin facing up at brain and slightly towards the rear.
They will hand him a big stack and he will say nothing and drive away in the same type of ?.
I hope I’m wrong.God would I love to be wrong. It’s just seems the flim flam man is the standard job now a days.
Turns out that this ass clown Thomas Burch the Founder and CEO of National Vietnam Veterans Foundation is the Deputy Director of the Veterans Administrations Office of General Counsel Washington D.C. He is also a the former head of a VSO the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) in Washington D.C.
He has been and still is the head of a number of other Veteran’s Charities that I have never heard of before.
In just the last 4 years the NVVF took in over $27 million spending less than 2% of the money received on Veterans. That was just one of the bogus charities he manages.
I would have to say having never heard of these charities that he is running it seems like these charities are to Deputy Director of the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of General Counsel as is the Clinton Foundation was to Hillary Clinton while she was the United States Secretary of State.
You got to watch the CNN Video of him running away from a report in his Rolls Royce.
Classic Department of Veterans Affairs.
In my opinion, there’s not one VSO out there which does any GREAT things for veterans. They all are corrupt. All the people in high positions care about is how much money can they get in their pockets!
Their all bought off and have sold their souls.
They have forgotten what their core values are supposed to be!
By the way, great articles. I sent them off to my local news stations. And to Trump, since he claims he will help veterans.
Also, on Hannity, there were two veterans, (who went out on that patrol to find Bergdaul), they are supporting Trump. One actually said this about Hillary, If she’ll “…lie to a Gold Star…” loved one, she’ll lie to everyone!(paraphrasing)!
He was referring to the loved ones Hillary lied to on the Bengazi attack!
I felt that was very courageous of them. Especially since they had sign papers where they wouldn’t speak on what happened on the patrol that lost two “brothers” searching for Bergdaul (sic)!
Semore, I’m with you on the corruption of the VSOs
Today I received my “DAV Magazine”, (may | june 2016),
Beginning on page 16, by Mary Dever is the article titled:
“IB parters release financial needs report”
It’s the “VSO coalition members release [of] veterans programs budget recommendations to Congress and the Administration”
On page 17, there are the “wish list appropriations for 2017 AND 2018!”
“VA Accounts for FY 2017 and FY 2018 Advanced Appropriations”
The ‘amounts’ are staggering. In my opinion, these “appropriations” are incomplete. They will not stop “accountability, transparency, graft, greed or any other negative connotation that permeates throughout VA!
All I can say is google it. Y’all should get really upset that [a] VSO requesting these out of control amounts!
Smells like kick backs in progress.
It is privatization. Lobbyist works for pharmaceutical companies that want to do research on veterans, the insurance company for the VA Choice and VA Champus programs and the actual medical corporations that are chosen by the insurance companies to provide VA medical care.
And don’t forget the universities that are tied hand in hand with VA’s across the country using veterans as “test subjects” for said big pharmaceutical companies!
Tonight on my local station, WFTV, ch. 9, “UCF”, Univ. of Central Florida, just “took over the newly built VA hospital at Lake Nona, Fl.”
News at 11pm.
And the one being built on the University of Colorado Medical Campus in Aurora, CO.
Ben should get that story.just crazy. Why even call the VA. VA since$omeone else is running it.
My husband’s dream is to build a ‘tiny home’ village for Special Ops and combat homeless vets in Alaska. On his own dime from an easy boy chair or help from me and friends (as the VA killed his credit score saddling him with medical bills they should have paid) he manged to buy 40 acres and get one cabin up, buy another 5 acres with a partially started log cabin (it was our neighbor who died while building it) and a 40′ connex of building supplies.
How dedicated to homeless vets PERSONNALLY are any of them at the DAV, American Legion, etc.
Tithing is important to me. It is also important I choose who to give to and see it in action.
OH MY GOD!
Nothing is going to surprise me at what these people keep getting away with. Veterans are looked down upon. We’re considered as too much of a liability. We’re also not allowed to take these people to court for anything. Veterans are second class citizens and thought of as sub-humans or something. Illegals and inmates get more consideration than veterans get.
She should be in jail for manslaughter. She is a government whore. I hope she burns in hell. Agent orange , you got it right . Never ending claims disapproval process. Its a damn shame and will never change .
Try sending a False Document in with a claim.
They`d POUNCE on your ass within 3 days of finding out you did it. The FBI would probably pick you up. Not the normal (If at all) one & a half years it takes them to blow off the dust & open your file for the 2nd time.
The first only gets you thrown on the pile. Of which 20% of those get “Lost” (shredded). to keep the “Open” claim numbers down. Like unemployment, You don`t get counted after a while.
I just filed to add a dependent, Their estimate Said May ’17 to 2018.
Allison Hickey told congress (Under oath) They “Have” added a Dependent “The the very same Day it`s received”
In other words It`s more likely that I`ll never live to see it. They haven`t even asked for proof. But, I did get a letter saying they got it. Computer generated of course.
The tax payers are not screaming because no one other than the great peeps on this site, know what is going on. I watch the news in the am and pm never does any of the VA wrong doings appear in the news!! I saw a quick clip of the Vet that set himself on fire, I think maybe a 5 second and they moved on real quickly! It’s amazing that Kayne can make the news everyday and the suffering and deaths of thousand of vets just quietly go un-noticed!
Donna, It`s not so much that they don`t know, They don`t want to know. The Public is “Numb” They ignore any news that (May) get out. If they aren`t Veterans or the family of one, (that`s directly affected) But, The Gen Public simply don`t give a damn. I think it`s safe to say that 30-40% don`t know were still at war. Nor care to keep up with it. Reminds me of the early 70`s “Lack of interest”
Only way for our citizens to care or get involved is to start drafting their children.
Other wise They will never understand.what veterans are going through.
Sad but true !
You are right-on, James! However, I would rather we were not in these continued wars any longer, if given the choice.
This same long drawn-out war scenario is a huge contributor to breaking former USSR’s back, and they even high-tailed it, leaving EVERYTHING still rusting today, in those desert sands.
Have we LEARNED from History? Nope. I truly fear all that was learned and gained during the Cold War Days have been forgotten entirely.
American Public seemed way more engrossed on what new pimple a Kardashian has on it’s behind than Veteran Issues, let alone that we are still at War. Memorial Day they will be briefly reminded but will be a fart in the wind.
Start drafting all politician’s son’s and daughters to Infantry Class Enlisted, no West Point, and let them be litmus tests for our VA’s posterity. 🙂
(I can dream)
Me too !
it,s what ya know and who you blow
Is that experience talking
if they go after the rest of bad managers, the VA just maybe able to be fixed. But not until then, it boggles my mind, how so many others are not being punished for their right out lieing to the veterans and our elected officials.
This new IG needs to clean his house and soon and at the same time go after all managers that have cooked the books. Bob McDonalds office need to be looked into his Employee Stephanie, is not worth a red cent ! If Bob can’t see those right in front of him hurting veterans, he will never see the rest.
This IG needs to find out why so many veterans claims are being denied, excuse after excuse and once the veteran obtains his disability, they have an employee to take it away. That’s not right ! The Regional has been lieing to veterans for decades. Your records were destroyed (BS) they were hiding them or didn’t even look for them. Denied, Denied and for what because Management has told their Employees, if you want a Bonus Deny 99% of claims and at Christmas a big fat Bonus is yours.
Come on Bob do the right thing and clean your house of those employees like Stephanie, She would rather join in the lieing, than to find the truth and help veterans. This in ability to help veterans is Disruptive and Stephanie should be punished just like I was, for doing noting wrong.
Stephanie, if you read this post, I hope they Fire you ! Veterans Deserve someone who cares about them and you sure don’t. Bob answer your phone !
I read your post, but I doubt “Stephanie” will read it. It might help if you included her last name, especially when asking Secretary McDonald “to clean his house.” Be well, Brother.
She refused to provide her last name. How many stephanies work in his office?
Do you have contact with Bob. Are you a VA employee?
I don’t know Stephanie but Debi Bevins isn’t worth a shit. 202-273-4816 She is a double for the lady from Arkansas who was Bill Clintons afternoon romp queen. Debi’s biggest contribution to the VACO that I can see is she teaches fellow VACO employees Zumba several times a week.
Because being Bob’s secretary doesn’t keep her busy enough. Need more Viagra Bob? I bet the Candy Man can give that too.
Bob is like the rest of them. Promise after promise and then go into hidding.
From where past experence I seen it.where they put someone in charge to clean up and that person is bullied by the very people he would fire.
And told if you want things easy.just sit back and shut up.we know what were doing and you would be better off. IF you just do ceremonies.
If you don’t your career her. Will be very short. So Bob’s not in charge.his chief of staff is. Just like VA medical center’s.
Way to go Bob McDonald.letting them continue to harm veterans. Where are you anyway?
Cat got your tongue on these issues?
Brian, give me a call at 307 316 8568. I have an idea how bigger bucks than a car or a few trips are being paid by “Big Medical” and the “Military Industrial Complex” through lobbyists to reduce the “entitlements” of disability compensation and privatize VA benefits. We are talking about hundreds of billions of dollars in the budget apple that these corporations who hire the lobbyists want reduced so their bite can be bigger through their other lobbying efforts.
This was about privatization and it worked. I now go to a “Banner Health Clinic” (headquarters located in Phoenix) and it is paid by a government contract insurer located in Texas which doesn’t do its job. I had an issue getting my Rxs filled and the insurer refused to iron out the problems which put me in the catch 22 between Banner Health and Cheyenne, WY VA pharmacy. At the time of that VA crisis the Director in Cheyenne had trained under the Phoenix Director who was probably also the lobbyist.
@namnibor & Seymore Klearly
Let’s not forget the BILLIONS of taxpayer’s monies given to VA each year. Where NO ONE knows where it’s really going. As far as I’m concerned, VA upper echelons have very deep pockets. Why the taxpayer’s aren’t screaming about this is confusing.
Only, if you’ll notice, most of the news medias out there won’t touch this. It’s because, IMO, the current administration, VA and government, dictates what will, or will not, be transmitted. Therefore, business as usual.
Here’s something I found out about a week or so ago.
It seems VA employees DID receive a bonus late last year (2015)!
Not everyone mind you, just most of the higher ups. This came out of a “supervisor’s” mouth. She stated, she “…received $9,000 last year!”
I think a FOIA request is due to find that out!
I wonder IF any of the VSO’s received any of those taxpayer’s monies? That might be something to investigate also!?
The rats are still playing. The taxpayer’s and veterans are still suffering.
They get a golden parachute to retire on. While veterans get screwed from the VA racketeering of funds of tax payer dollars. What should happen is these people should lose this retirement by a large percent. They should live on the tiny amounts they make veterans and their families live on. Even McDonald is getting his million and nothing still is done of the VHA/BVA appeals benefits as veterans are waiting from 1988. Even ebenefits is a “undue Burden” for a disabled veterans. It has bad human computer interaction and the timer kicks you off the site as it expects the veteran to do the job of creating the VA database. The amount of time on paper might be 1 hr 10 mins. But data entry for vets is a nightmare!! They mad it so nightmarish not to have vets even attempt to sign in to get benefits!! The VSO’s are over worked on this process that favors the VA over the veterans of whom they are hired to serve and work for. How many times has each veteran been denied and appealed?? It should not be the fault of the veterans because some VA employee don’t and won’t do there job!! Congress needs to amend 1936 Amended Compensation Payment Act to end appeals backlog. Meeting in DC 7-16-16 9PM to 5AM @ Lincoln Memorial. I hope Ben Krause will be there to give a speech!!
Hey Veteran Stimulus Act,
All the people like Sharon Helman who in any way contributed to the deaths of Veterans should not only lose any retirement but should be incarcerated with life sentences. One life sentence for each Veteran who died.
As for your statement on overworked VSOs. Get Fu&cking Real. The only people they represent are drinking buddies, political cohorts and the Veterans Administration.
Also your Facebook page with promotions for Governor Scott Walker and that very limited documentary on the bonus army.
Walker hand picked the administrative law judge (ALJ), who ignored the evidence so she could reinstate Dr. David Houlihan’s Medical License. You know the Candy Man from Candy Land at Tomah VAMC. The same ALJ who is a former Assistant Attorney General and Scott Walkers Second Choice for a slot as a judge for Wisconsin Court of Appeals.
The documentary that you link to about the bonus army skips over the facts that lead to the march on Washington. Big things like how the then newly formed VSO, the American Legion, fought against Veterans receiving the bonuses before 1945 so that they could use the money to fund projects like buying a mansion in Paris with the money. You know the one Pershing Hall.
While under the control of the American Legion and funded by the American tax payers the Pershing Hall developed a rich history of being a center of organized crime and a house of ill repute. Now it is a 5 Star Luxury Hotel under the control of none other then Robbie McDonald. Reviews from several years ago indicate that the bar service consist of Bartenders and nude waitresses.
Over the years hundreds of Millions of Dollars meant for Veterans has been invested in Pershing Hall.
I think everyone should google “Pershing Hall Hotel”, Paris, France!
It’s one beautiful piece of property!
Maybe that’s where many of our elected and appointed officials take trips to – on the taxpayer’s dime, of course!
I have a (French) “brother” who has actually stayed there. There are many “amenities” one can put on their ‘card’, if y’all get my meaning!
“The VSO’s are over worked on this process that favors the VA over the veterans of whom they are hired to serve and work for.”—-?????
VSO’s are hardly “overworked”, they are simply always putting their first foot forward for their handlers, the VA. Any and every Veteran has a MUCH better chance with one’s claims doing the research and filing it by oneself rather than depending on ANY VSO to be on your side…they will talk a good talk but will not stop one’s claim and paperwork from taking root and becoming ‘lost’.
As far as Sharon Helman…how about her trading complete places with any Homeless Veteran? How about Sharon Helman finally GOING FAR AWAY, like a permanent holiday in Haiti or something?
I need eye-beach every time her mug pops-up. What will she be doing for next 15 years? Probably still appealing the VA and costing the American Tax Payer millions in legal fees.
She should go to Disney for employment as I hear they want their witch back or something that rhymed with that. 🙂
The appeals process!
Year 1, the Vet files a claim.
Year 2, Vet is examined by an unqualified VA doctor.
Year 3, Vet gets his notice of disapproval.
Year 4, Vet files Notice of Disagreement (NOD), VSO claims the VA’s C&P office is understaffed and it now takes an additional 5 years to review the claim, NOD.
Hey Agent Orange
You forgot to add the multiple times your claim file is scrubbed and the documentation that supports your claim is shredded.
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