VA Employees Can’t Get Fired for Felony Theft, Sex Abuse of Children, Armed Robbery

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The VA isn’t hiring veterans but they are hiring and promoting criminals. How many is the question. The real story is that you can’t get fired for armed robbery, sex offenses against children and for simply being a felon, even if the job is related to the crime committed.

A Department of Veterans Affairs employee, a Ms. Martinez, in the Puerto Rico VA was fired after being arrested for armed robbery, but her union quickly got her reinstated — despite a guilty plea — by pointing out that management’s labor relations negotiator is a registered sex offender, and the hospital’s director was once arrested and found with painkiller drugs.

Employees said the union demanded her job back and pointed out that Tito Santiago Martinez, no relation, the management-side labor relations specialist in Puerto Rico, who is in charge of dealing with the union and employee discipline, is a convicted sex offender.

Martinez reportedly disclosed his conviction to the hospital and VA hired him anyway, reasoning that “there’s no children in [the hospital], so they figure I could not harm anyone here.”

One problem that I can see here is that people think employees in government positions can be trusted. That obviously is not the case.

The union’s position — that another employee committed a crime and got away with it, so this one should, too — has been upheld by the highest civil service rules arbiters, and has created a vicious Catch-22 where the department’s prior indefensible inaction against bad employees has handcuffed it from taking action now against other scofflaws.

A felon/justice-involved individual – a thief in fact – was recently appointed to run a major purchasing program in the same Veterans Administration.

Braxton Linton in 1998
Braxton Linton, 1998

The crime for which he was convicted and served time – credit card fraud – is now what he will deal with and manage – purchasing with taxpayer-funded credit cards – and he will do it in a department racked with credit card fraud and bribery allegations.

Braxton Linton stole $70,000 using credit card data for which he served 14-months in prison and three years of supervised probation in 1998. With that resumé, he was immediately hired by the VA and was recently promoted to become the head of a unit plagued with credit card fraud and bribery issues.

Mr. Linton is the most sympathetic of the three because his felony was in 1998 and since then he might have only committed two drug crimes in 2005 and 2006 though he will be tempted in his new job.

As the new prosthetics service chief at the Caribbean Veterans Affairs hospital in San Juan, Linton will procure all assistive devices using government credit cards, in other words, taxpayer money.

One concern is that he is taking a job from someone who hasn’t committed a crime and so are the sex abuser and the armed robber but there’s no doubt they fully support their union. Another concern is that felons will be given priority as a protected class.

The Daily Caller reported that the fraud and thievery in these departments at the VA hospitals are commonplace:

Last year, Jan Frye, the VA’s deputy assistant secretary for acquisition and logistics, prosthetics chiefs were using purchase cards for all manner of unauthorized expenses — even $70,000 worth of veterinarian care for a single pet dog, and medical care for a VA employee who was not a veteran.

“Contracting officers, armed with government purchase cards, simply procure products without contracts, and liquidate the illegal obligations using the purchase card,” Frye said, citing $1.2 billion dollars of problematic credit card purchases made by prosthetics officials in a 18-month period.

The cards are only supposed to be for small items under $3,000, but VA prosthetics chiefs split major purchases up into many bills just under that amount.

At other federal agencies, employees with access to purchase cards have used them to purchase all manner of personal luxuries, such as satellite TV at vacation homes, with no consequences to their employment status.

In November of last year, Barack Obama announced the federal government will no longer ask job applicants whether they have a criminal record, under a new policy. Apparently this has been going on to some degree since Bill Clinton was president.

The decision to “ban the box” on federal employment applications comes as part of a broader package of criminal-justice reforms intended to help ex-prisoners stay out of prison.

At the time, he said the employers would not have to hire felons in areas where they have been guilty of committing a crime. Obviously that is not true.

This is being applied to Federal employees and contractors could also be sued though so could any employer. More and more state and local governments no longer ask about past convictions.

Employers can only request criminal records later in the interview process.

“But the evolution of this process is that there will be ban-the-box laws governing all employers in all states eventually,” Ron Fano, labor and employment attorney said.

“There are reasons why employers might choose to hold onto the box where it’s still lawful. Employers have been held liable for not performing a sufficient background check on hires who later committed a crime similar to one they committed in the past”, Fano said in Law Week Colorado when Obama created his policy.

“If the employer is merely delaying that part of the screening process, the safety and liability concern ‘may be muted,’ but there are limits to what an employer can do once it discovers adverse criminal history later on, especially once an offer has been made,” Fano said. “The further you get on the continuum, the harder it is to extricate yourself from the employment of this individual.”

The EEOC’s 2012 guidance includes three factors in which criminal history may be linked to hiring decisions: the nature and gravity of the offense and conduct, the time elapsed since the offense or completion of a sentence, and the nature of the job sought.

However, once a lawsuit is initiated, the government has the upper hand with power and an unlimited taxpayer ATM.

An estimated 600,000 inmates leave prison each year and now they can all work in the unionized, high-salaried government jobs.

Since 2013, all employers who consider arrest records and felony convictions could be sued by the EEOC.

Obama says the felons or ‘justice-involved individuals’ simply made a mistake but many are just really bad apples and repeat offenders.

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