Remember the big fracas that erupted over a veteran who posted two small American flags on the fence of a Veterans Administration facility in Los Angeles and ended up facing criminal charges?
Well, it seems there was a real crime at the VA center, but the veteran had nothing to do with it.
In fact, according to government watchdog Judicial Watch, one of the officials who was running the center has been prosecuted for taking “hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes from a vendor that defrauded the VA out of millions.”
“While the feds went on a witch hunt against the 75-year-old vet for affixing Old Glory at a site honoring those who served their country, the VA director was committing the real crime,” Judicial Watch said. “This month the corrupt VA official, Ralph Tillman, agreed to plead guilty to two felony offenses for taking over a quarter of a million dollars in bribes from a parking lot operator at the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System.”
Justice Department officials confirmed Tillman, a former contract officer with the Department of Veterans Affairs, was charged with filing a false federal tax return and lying to VA investigators.
A government statement said Tillman agreed to plead guilty and admit “he took well over $250,000 in bribes from the parking lot operator, Richard Scott, the owner of Westside Services LLC.”
The company for years had a contract to run parking lots there.
Scott still faces counts, including conspiracy and fraud against the United States, that come from a 15-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury .
The government said Scott allegedly paid bribes to Tillman to conceal a scheme in which he allegedly failed to pay the VA more than $11 million generated by his operation of parking facilities.
Tillman was responsible for managing those types of contracts.
In return for cash payments, Tillman overlooked inaccuracies on annual statements about the parking revenue, the government said.
Tillman faces a sentence of a maximum of eight years in prison. Scott has pleaded innocent and is scheduled to go to trial Feb. 6.
The alleged bribery spilled over to the flag case because, Judicial Watch reported, “for nearly a decade a group called the Old Veterans Guard has filed complaints against rampant corruption at the Los Angeles VA, specifically naming Tillman for abusing and misappropriating VA property.”
The background is that the 338-acre parcel in West Los Angeles, which includes the National Veterans Park and Veterans Home, was deeded to the federal government in 1888 for the specific purpose of caring for disabled veterans. Instead, the property is also used for many unrelated purposes. Among them is a stadium for the UCLA baseball team, an athletic complex for a nearby private high school, laundry facilities for a local hotel, storage and maintenance of production sets for 20th Century Fox Television, the Brentwood Theatre, fields for a private girls’ soccer club, a dog park and a farmer’s market, according to Judicial Watch.
Judicial Watch said members of the Old Veterans Guard say federal authorities retaliated against them for denouncing the fraudulent use of the facility – including Tillman’s scam – by sending VA police to harass and intimidate them at weekly rallies.
“Since 2008 the group has assembled at the ‘Great Lawn Gate’ that marks the entrance to the Los Angeles National Veterans Park to protest the VA’s failure to make full use of the property to benefit veterans, particularly those who are homeless. Among the group leaders is Robert Rosebrock, an elderly Army vet who got criminally charged for posting a pair of four-by-six-inch American flags on the outside fence on Memorial Day in 2016.”
Judicial Watch represented Rosebrock in the federal case, which was tried in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. He was found not guilty of violating federal law in the case.
FoxNews.com reported authorities had accused him of violating a 1973 law against displaying “placards” on department property.
The case was launched by the Obama administration, and holdovers in the DOJ continued the case after Trump became president.
At the time he was cleared, Rosebrock said he would do it again.
“It would be so anti-American not to.”
WND reported Rosebrock served in the U.S. Army in the 1960s at the Schofield Barracks in Hawaii.