Hiring known criminals to work at a hospital that doles out painkillers continues to end badly for the Department of Veterans Affairs in Puerto Rico, as a Glock-toting secretary with a previous record for illegal firearms possession died in a brazen mid-day shooting that also wounded a three-year-old child.
Jorge E. Diaz-Camacho was shot Sunday afternoon while leaving a movie theater. Spanish language local news reported that Diaz-Camacho“had no time to defend himself with the Glock pistol he was carrying illegally and was altered to fire automatically.”
El Vocero also reported that “per investigation, he was associated with drug traffickers … it has not ruled out that the young man, 29-years-old, was killed by an individual that he was in business with.”
A woman and three-year-old child Diaz-Camacho was with were also injured but survived the shooting.
Diaz-Camacho had a criminal record for illegal firearms possession dating from 2007. He began working for the VA in 2011. He earned $35,000 a year, but authorities reportedly said he drove a luxury SUV.
The Caribbean VA medical center is among the most troubled of VA’s many problem facilities. Its director, Dewayne Hamlin, was arrested in 2014 in Florida when he was found at 3 a.m. with painkillers for which he had no prescription; he remains on the job.
TheDCNF reported Wednesday that Hamlin is currently attempting to pay a hospital employee $305,000 in taxpayer funds to quit the federal government following her role in exposing his own painkiller arrest.
Other problems at the island facility have included:
- Tito Santiago Martinez, a human resources official in charge of hiring and disciplining at the facility, is a convicted sex offender who said “there’s no children in [the hospital], so they figure I could not harm anyone here.” The employees union uses his status as leverage to keep rank-and-file employees who run into trouble with the law on the job.
- Employee Braxton Linton is in charge of buying prosthetics such as hearing aids, often with government-issued credit cards. He was hired just weeks after being released from federal prison for stealing $70,000 using credit card info he stole from his previous employer. (RELATED: Feds Put Credit Card Felon In Charge of Major VA Purchasing Program) He also been arrested on drug charges while working for the VA. National and local VA spokesmen have refused to respond to TheDCNF’s repeated requests for an explanation of how his hire was permitted under federal personnel rules.
- Employee Elizabeth Rivera took part in a late-night armed robbery, but VA gave her time off to serve a jail sentence, and she resumed working in the security office while wearing a GPS monitor that was part of her probation.
David Shulkin, the undersecretary of the VA, said of Rivera’s case that “as is true in private-sector employment, a federal employee generally cannot be terminated for off-duty misconduct unless there is a clear connection between the misconduct and the individual’s employment.” Experts subsequently interviewed by TheDCNF said federal and private-sector bosses can easily fire such employees.
San Juan VA spokesman Axel Roman told TheDCNF Wednesday that he didn’t know a hospital employees was killed Sunday and declined to say why Diaz-Camacho was hired despite his record of illegal firearms possession.
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