Right Hooks

Are You a Criminal Employee at the VA? No Problem

Even holding people at gunpoint won't get you fired.

Jordan Candler · Mar. 23, 2016

Hardly a day goes by that we don’t hear yet another surreal story out of the Department of Veterans Affairs. The amount of malfeasance this agency ignores would be entertaining if not for the fact that our veterans are on the bad end of the deal. Today we report on Elizabeth Rivera, an employee at the Puerto Rico VA. The Daily Caller recounts the details of her transgressions: “Rivera was driving around Puerto Rico in the middle of the night on a Monday with Rolando Rio Febus and robbed a couple at gunpoint. Rivera was charged with armed robbery and her companion with armed robbery and gun charges.”

Rivera, who later pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors, was eventually fired, but — you guessed it — the termination was only temporary. Rivera’s union friends at the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) had her reinstated by exposing a colleague’s criminal record: “Employees said the union demanded her job back and pointed out that Tito Santiago Martinez, the management-side labor relations specialist in Puerto Rico, who is in charge of dealing with the union and employee discipline, is a convicted sex offender. Martinez reportedly disclosed his conviction to the hospital and VA hired him anyway, reasoning that ‘there’s no children [sic] in [the hospital], so they figure I could not harm anyone here.’”

As Hot Air’s Jazz Shaw points out, “The union defense is brilliant here. A previous employee was also convicted of serious charges and is still employed, so it would be grossly unfair to fire anyone else who is similarly sent to jail. It’s perfect, really.” It’s also eerily reminiscent of what happened in the case of Kimberly Graves and Diana Rubens. In exonerating the duo, Chief Administrative Judge William Boulden said, “I find that there is a significant problem created by the inconsistent treatment of a comparable employee, and that this makes the penalty unreasonable under the circumstances.” In government, it literally pays to be a criminal.

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