Washington Watchdog Judicial Watch has been digging into the activities of the Los Angeles Veterans Affairs facility for months now.
It found that one veteran was being prosecuted for putting a flag on a fence there.
And it found out that the land was being used for purposes that violated the terms under which it was donated to the government.
It’s not getting any better.
The newest report reveals that taxpayers are having to pay out sizeable chunks of cash to get rid of contracts with private groups that were illegal to have in the first place.
The investigative team at Judicial Watch reported Tuesday that the controversy is all around the 338-acre Los Angeles Veterans Affairs facility in west Los Angeles.
It includes a National Veterans Park and Veterans Home.
It was donated to the government, with limits, in 1888, and “thousands of disabled veterans once lived on the property, which also had churches, theaters, a library and post office.”
However, the VA, in the years after Vietnam, shut down those services and “ousted” mentally disabled veterans.
It changed over to using the property for other purposes: the UCLA baseball stadium, a high school athletic complex, laundry facilities, a storage area for 20th Century Fox, the Brentwood Theatre, soccer fields and a farmers’ market.
Because the VA had violated the terms of the donation, there was a lawsuit that charged the agency misused the land and illegally leased the facilities, and so to settle the VA said it would return the property to the use of “veterans in need.”
Reported Judicial Watch, “The legal settlement also compelled the VA to terminate leases with private businesses that were never supposed to be there in the first place. In fact, in 2013 a federal judge struck down the leases, ruling that the VA misused the West L.A. property by engaging in them. The same judge, S. James Otero, halted construction of an amphitheater on the property. It was partially constructed by the Veterans Parks Conservancy (VPC) on the north side of the grounds, a site that was ordered to be restored to a neat, safe and clean condition by May 6, 2016,” Judicial Watch reported.
But in order for the VA to repair the damage it inflicted, it’s going to cost taxpayers, the report said.
“Records obtained by Judicial Watch show that the VPC got a big check from the VA to tear down the illegal amphitheater. ‘Within thirty (30) days from the date of this Revocable License, VA will remit to VPC not less than $287,318 to reimburse VPC for its expenses in planning and partially constructing the existing amphitheater,’ state the records, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) as part of an ongoing Judicial Watch investigation into corruption at the L.A. VA. ‘In addition, within thirty (30) days following the parties’ execution of the Acknowledgement Letter, VA will remit not less than $106,096 to VPC to reimburse VPC for its expenses to remove the partially-constructed amphitheater off the North Side of the Campus.'”
And the VA turned over to 20th Century Fox $435,000 to end its “illicit” agreement to use more than 72,000 square feet of land for storage.
“The same batch of VA records reveal that for years UCLA failed to pay for utilities at its baseball field, officially known as Jackie Robinson Stadium, on the VA property. This amounted to $108,278, according to invoices included in the documents,” the report said.
“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. “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.
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.
It was Robert Rosebrock who originally got into trouble because of the VA. He’s 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.