REP LIEU AND SEN FEINSTEIN URGE DOJ TO RETURN RECOVERED FUNDS TO VA
WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman Ted W. Lieu (D-Los Angeles County) and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) sent letters to Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker and Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie requesting that the Department of Justice direct money recovered from the recently prosecuted cases involving Westside Services LLC back to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Rep. Lieu and Sen. Feinstein are making the request so that the funds may be used to support important services for veterans at the West Los Angeles VA as they were originally intended.
In the letter, Rep. Lieu and Sen. Feinstein write:
“As you know, former VA employee, Ralph Tillman – accused of filing a false federal tax return and lying to VA investigators after taking $286,000 from the Westside Services parking lot operator Richard Scott – was sentenced on September 24, 2018, to 5 months in federal prison. In August, Scott, who bribed Tillman for more than a decade to look the other way while he skimmed approximately $13 million in revenue from parking lot leases, was sentenced to nearly six years in prison after pleading guilty. As part of his plea agreement, Scott and his wife have agreed to forfeit their assets. Scott also has agreed to pay approximately $12,619,693 in restitution. The sentencing order directed that the restitution be paid to the VA.
“I agree with United States Attorney Nicola T. Hanna who said, ‘This bribery and fraud scheme directly harmed our nation’s veterans by depriving them of revenues that could have been used to provide important services and medical care to the brave men and women who served in our armed forces. The bribery payments to a public official are disturbing because they compromised our trust in government, allowed the scheme to operate for years and led to this defendant pocketing millions of dollars that should have gone to the Department of Veteran’s Affairs.’
“The agreement made between the federal government and the Jones/Bandini de Baker family in 1887 stipulated that the donated land be dedicated as a home for our veterans. After years of mismanagement of the campus, a subsequent federal settlement agreement between the VA and plaintiffs reiterated that activities occurring on the campus must serve Veterans.
“Given that the funds that will be recovered from Westside Services were originally meant to serve our veterans, it is imperative that the DOJ and the VA work to ensure these funds do just that. Veterans receiving care at the West Los Angeles VA have served our nation honorably and we call on the DOJ and the VA to ensure these funds fulfil their rightful purpose. I thank you for your attention to this matter and I look forward to your response.”