An official at the same Los Angeles Veterans Administration facility where an Army vet got prosecuted for posting American Flags took 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. 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 in southern California.
The crooked parking lot operator, Richard Scott, owns a company called Westside Services that has long benefitted from a lucrative contract with the VA. Scott paid Tillman to conceal a scheme in which he failed to pay the VA more than $11 million generated by his operation of the parking facilities, according to the feds. Tillman admitted to federal authorities that he knew the parking lot operator was defrauding the VA out of millions of dollars and that he extended Westside Services’ contract in 2011 to continue the fraud and bribery scheme. Scott personally delivered monthly cash payments to Tillman in sealed FedEx envelopes, according to a statement issued by the Department of Justice (DOJ) that says “Tillman specifically admitted that he took $286,250 from Scott from 2003 through last year.” The disgraced VA official faces up to eight years in prison.
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 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 causes. Among them is a stadium for the University of California, Los Angeles (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, soccer practice and match fields for a private girls’ soccer club, a dog park, and a farmer’s market.
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. Last April, the court ruled that Rosebrock was not guilty of violating federal law for displaying the flags above the VA fence. Rosebrock’s absurd case was filed during the Obama administration, but the Trump administration moved forward with it.