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Report: VA employee took recovering vet to crack house

Aug. 18, 2014 - 11:42AM   |  
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Timeline

■ March 1, 2013: Employee gets permission to take patients out to run errands, but ends up using the government vehicle to conduct personal business. He put in overtime for that day.
■ March 4, 2013: Employee has permission to take employees out again to run errands, but ends up doing more personal errands. The employee also tells one patient he could "hook him up" with drugs.
■ March 5, 2013: One patient leaves with the employee, and the employee takes him to a crack house where he helps him buy illegal drugs and borrows $600 from the patient. The patient stays at the home overnight.
■ March 7, 2013: Patient comes back to the VA seeking the $600 from the employee. He is discharged from the program.
■ April 1, 2013: The employee asks another patient to borrow $250
Source: VA police investigation

Although a Veterans Affairs police officer determined that a Central Alabama Veterans Health Care System employee took a patient to a crack house and helped him buy illegal drugs, the worker is still employed more than a year after the incident.

The incident was one of several cited in an investigation that determined the employee was guilty of patient abuse, misuse of government vehicles, filing false overtime requests and multiple ethics violations.

But the employee is still listed in the employee directory at CAVHCS, and is not listed in a human resources list that shows employees who retired, transferred or left CAVHCS from Oct. 1, 2013 to the present.

It is unclear if any administrative or criminal action against the employee was taken. The employee, who worked as a peer support specialist in the drug addiction treatment program at the Tuskegee campus, was a former patient in the program.

In March 2013, the employee brought a patient in the program to the home of a known drug dealer in Tuskegee and left him there overnight, according to the VA's official investigative report from May 2013.

According to the report, the employee "interfered with the medical treatment plan" of the patient, further "endorsed" the patient's drug addictions and exposed him to a "dangerous environment."

The first known incident occurred on March 1, according to the report. That was when the employee had permission to take two patients on official business to Montgomery to pay bills. But the employee then spent the rest of the day shopping for a new personal vehicle at various car dealerships in Montgomery using a government car, the report said.

The employee also received $225 in overtime pay for working that day, and the investigation determined that he was guilty of fraudulent overtime and illegal use of government resources for personal benefit.

During the alleged second incident on March 4, the employee was authorized to take the same two patients, who were roommates, out again to the bank and to a collision center so one of the patients could make a payment, the report said. But after, the employee conducted more personal business related to purchasing a new vehicle.

The employee told one of the patients during the trip that he could get him "hooked up" before they returned to Tuskegee and make sure that he wouldn't get drug tested, according to a statement from the other patient in the car. The next day, the patient that the employee had made the offer to told his roommate that the employee was driving him to Church's Chicken and they'd be back, but he never came back, according to the statement in the report.

The investigation concluded that the employee brought the patient to a known crack house in Tuskegee, where he received oral sex from a prostitute and purchased illegal drugs with the employee. The patient also "owed" the drug dealer an additional $200 for the night.

The employee "borrowed" a $600 VA check from the same patient, according to the report. Police officers in Tuskegee confirmed in the report that the particular house to which the employee took the patient is known to law enforcement and drug task force members as a location where prostitutes and drug dealers are known to do business.

The next day, the patient made his way back to the VA in Tuskegee and was discharged from the program after a positive drug trust. He was looking for the employee so he could get his money to find a place to stay, according to the report.

The employee said he didn't have the money, but that he could stay at the home of the drug dealer, where he stayed the night before temporarily, according to the report.

On April 1, another patient reported the same employee asked to borrow $250 by the following Monday, according to the report. But the patient told him no, and reported the incident to VA police.

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