Past Probes May Be Jeopardized By Former VA IG’s Deviancy

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Luke Rosiak Investigative Reporter
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Despite habitually masturbating on the job in an all-glass government conference room, a former Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) acting inspector general got a $29,000 cash bonus on top of his official salary of $172,000, all while living in a Pennsylvania town where the average house sells for around $145,000.

Thanks to the generous federal civil service compensation, Jon Wooditch can buy a new house in cash outright every single year. With his bonus, he’d still have more salary left over than the average entire American household earns in a year. 

The investigators who nailed him for masturbating also took steps that ensured he didn’t face criminal charges. His repeated lies to them, especially if established in court, might have given people disciplined in cases he worked on a basis for appeal. (He also lied to The Daily Caller News Foundation that there ever was a masturbation investigation.)

Inspectors general are in charge of finding and documenting wrongdoing in agencies. The VA’s sloppiness in proving transgressions has often led to scofflaws going free on technicalities. 

The median household income in Wooditch’s town of Lemoyne, Penn., is $39,803. His personal income of nearly five times that amount, paid for by taxpayers like his neighbors, may be why he scoffed at a policeman who confronted him for incessantly masturbating in front of his wife’s friend immediately after her husband died. He lectured the cop that he was a “high-level government employee,” as local police recounted to federal investigators. 

After federal investigators nailed him spending what seemed to be hours a day masturbating at work, they made it easy for him to continue to lead the good life, retiring at age 57 with a full pension and his reputation unvarnished, potentially able to attain new employment while also collecting the pension.

They never allowed word of the misconduct to leak out. And federal investigators referred their evidence to the D.C. Office of Attorney General, which only has the authority to prosecute certain misdemeanors. Cases of any significance are handled by the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, as the agents would have known. 

As a result, it was no surprise that the attorney general’s office declined to take the case even as others are put on the sex offender registry for far less. The government has also refused to release the six-page investigative report on his incessant masturbation under public records laws. (The Daily Caller News Foundation obtained it independently from a source.) 

Asked if VA-IG made any deals about secrecy in exchange for his resignation–or whether it would aggressively stand up to incompetence and expose rulebreaking, as is an IG’s mandate–spokesperson Cathy Gromek claimed the agency didn’t know how much he was paid, if he had gotten a bonus, how much his pension is, or if there was a deal.  The Daily Caller News Foundation found government data showing that his 2007 bonus was $29,000 and his salary at the time of the investigation was $172,000.

When Veterans Affairs IG does build cases that show rulebreaking, it often fails to pursue them with enough rigor and vigor to result in criminal prosecutions. The Department of Justice often doesn’t feel it has enough to work with, leaving veterans in the less than satisfying position of it being proven that employees have mistreated them, yet having nothing happen to the employees.

Wooditch had been caught with porn on his work computer in 2003, then working as deputy to the since much-maligned Richard Griffin. But he was only “counseled,” and shortly after, promoted to the top job. 

Shortly before he got the bonus, his neighbor in Pennsylvania told police he repeatedly tried to make her watch him masturbate. The neighbor’s daughter told investigators: “He had opened the window. He had moved the screen so that you got a real clear view of what was going on. And he was standing full frontal, stark naked, masturbating, and very pointedly ducking his head out of the window and looking up at my mother’s house to see if he had an audience.”

Asked about the truthfulness issue jeopardizing past cases, the IG spokesperson also claimed that the longtime acting inspector general and deputy inspector general was never involved in investigations during his entire career at high level positions at an agency that exists to conduct investigations.

The department’s website listed him as the point person on numerous “special inquiries,” and he had a particular focus on documenting others’ aberrant sexual behavior in the workplace. 

Wooditch wrote a 25-page report about a hospital director who made comments about subordinates’ nipples and a 10-page report about how a top bureaucrat asked an employee to sit on his lap. He also wrote a report on how Florida VA employees invited strippers to perform at the hospital, where they videotaped them and took pictures with them. 

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