in Houston, Texas
Disabled vets ripped off by fiduciaries appointed by the VA
Monday, May 21, 2012, 03:50PM CST
By Mike Cronin
purpleheart

A Houston Chronicle investigation has revealed that federally approved fiduciaries have stolen from disabled veterans in Texas, in many cases tens of thousands of dollars.

Using information obtained through a public records request, the Chronicle showed that people charged with managing money for former members of America’s armed forces instead paid their own bills and funded their own businesses with vet assets.

Law enforcement authorities say Houston lawyer Joe Phillips and his wife “stole $2 million from two dozen veterans” in “the largest rip-off ever reported in the VA fiduciary program,” reporters Lindsay Wise and Lise Olsen write. Phillips denies the allegations. Their case is pending.

The Veterans Affairs’ Inspector General has repeatedly warned about a plague of fraud and theft in a national program that appoints family members and VA-approved fiduciaries to protect a whopping $3 billion in assets belonging to veterans the government considers too disabled to manage their own money.

Only recently have U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs officials begun requiring background and credit checks for those who want to become fiduciaries.

Wise and Olsen also provide readers with a map that supplies information on 21 Texas cases in which financial managers took money from vets “they’d promised to protect.”

***
Contact Mike Cronin at mike@texaswatchdog.org or 713-228-2850. Follow him on Twitter at @michaelccronin or @texaswatchdog.

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Photo of Purple Heart by flickr user patries71, used via a Creative Commons license.

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