VA Employees Include Child Molesters, Rapists and Kidnappers

Government photos

Daily Caller News Foundation logo
Luke Rosiak Investigative Reporter
Font Size:

When elderly World War II veterans go to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to receive urgent care, they may be greeted by child molesters, ex-convicts, men with face tattoos and gun-wielding rapists.

Eleven sex offenders list the John D. Dingell VA Hospital in Detroit as their work address. Within the VA’s regional office for Ohio, Indiana and Michigan, 30 sex predators work at nine facilities, according to the records.

At least 11 of the 30 are full-fledged, standard members of the federal workforce, but others are likely veterans taking part in rehabilitative work programs that pay them minimum wage to work as housekeepers and other laborers at the hospital.

Three men listing the Detroit hospital as their work address are currently in violation of their sex offender registry requirements and are being sought by authorities.

Reginald Furlow, a 59-year-old whose face is covered with scars and tattoos, was convicted in 2006 of criminal sexual conduct in the first degree (injury to incapacitated victim), and is wanted for failing to check in with the registry in 2016.

Barney Lavel Smith shares many of the same issues as Furlow, sporting a face covered in scars, was recently working at the Detroit hospital, and is non-compliant. He used a weapon to carry out his sex crime, as did Melvin Brown-Bey, who is also non-compliant with the terms of his release.

The state of Michigan is begging citizens to “report information on the whereabouts of this offender.” The government-run hospital may have such information, but it couldn’t be more protective of the criminals it employs.

“We cannot confirm anything. As it is a violation of privacy laws, we are unable to provide any comment or information on specific employees. The Detroit VA has two certified adjudicators who review background investigations for every person we employ,” says Alysse Mengason.

Mengason asked The Daily Caller News Foundation not to use her name with her quote, even though she is paid to be the spokeswoman for the hospital.

She would not explain the purpose of paying multiple people to do background checks, if even turning up the worst possible red flags didn’t stop criminals from being hired. She also would not say what the hospital’s policy was concerning the hiring and firing criminals.

Mengason’s claims about the Privacy Act are unfounded, and some other hospitals did not misrepresent it to protect criminals, but instead explained their positions.

The Dayton, Ohio hospital does currently employ Thomas DeJournett, who the state deems a “Habitual Sex Offender” and who was convicted of rape and kidnapping in 1981, along with multiple male and female underage victims, its spokesman Ted Froats said.

“He works as a Medical Support Assistant. Medical Support Assistants assist our medical providers with office administration – answering phones, scheduling appointments, processing paperwork. They do not have one-on-one encounters alone with patients,” Froats explained.

“All employees are fingerprinted and undergo a background check prior to their employment. When these background checks reveal a potential red flag, investigators consider how applicable the red flag is to the specific job the applicant would be hired to do, and how much time has passed without a repeat offense. In Mr. DeJournett’s case, he was hired in 2005 — 24 years after his 1981 conviction,” he concluded.

Another Dayton employee, Antoine Hall, was convicted of creating pornography depicting a 13-year old in 2014. Hall is wearing a VA badge around his neck in the sex offender registry picture, meaning he was still going to work after being sentenced. Hall even received a bonus in 2015, federal pay records show.

But the spokesman said he has since left. Still, the 34-year-old was already a career convict at the time VA hired him in 2012, so his newest conviction shouldn’t be surprising. He had previous convictions for forgery, theft and disorderly conduct; he served jail time and was later a wanted absconder.

TheDCNF searched the hospital addresses in the “work address” lookup feature of state sex offender registries, and cross-checked against federal salary data. Sex offenders are not obligated to provide work addresses until after they are convicted and sentenced, so jobs held prior to the crimes would not generally be included.

While the passage of time is used as justification for hiring the man with the 1981 conviction, all of the other federal employees’ convictions were far more recent.

Ralph Wood was convicted of child molesting in 2006 and sentenced to five years in prison, with three years suspended. He was released in 2008 and almost immediately began working at the Indianapolis VA hospital as a clerk. David Allison was convicted of child molesting in 2007 and began working in “medical support assistance” in 2010. His five-year prison term was suspended, but he was likely still on probation.

Many VA hospitals appear to be uninterested in convincing veterans that their hospitals are safe and appealing, knowing that vets have severely limited (or no) options. Questions directed to Indianapolis and Cleveland hospitals about sex offenders in the midst of vulnerable veterans were ignored and dismissed.

Patrick Sullivan, a veteran, said the VA’s prioritizing paychecks to at least 11 sex-offender employees over service of veterans made him sick and that other doctor offices or hospitals would not hire such people.

Carl Higgebottom, spokesman for the three-state VA region analyzed for this story, said that as to the portion of sex offenders who were merely veterans participating in a temporary work rehabilitation program, “it’s our obligation as part of the VA to work with vets to rehabilitate them.”

Concerning the role of many sex offenders as housekeepers at the applicable VA facilities, the VA responded that the notion of “allowing people that might be sex offenders to roam free in the building, that’s too broad of a generalization as to what actually happens.”

But Sullivan said the work-program veterans posed a threat, too. “Unconscious patients, elderly, children, Military Sexual Trauma survivors and more are especially in danger of future trauma with every visit to their local VA,” he said.

Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake introduced a bill requiring the VA to fire felons. The department’s largely unionized workforce of 360,000 has morphed into a constituency of its own that advocates for continued employment for current workers, even though the department’s only actual mission is to care for veterans.

Sex offenders employed by the VA in Indiana/Michigan/Ohio

John D. Dingell VA Medical Center (Detroit, MI)
VA job: $43k food service worker, 2014-
Indianapolis VA Medical Center
VA job: Misc clerk, 2009-
Crime: Child molesting. Sentenced to 5 years with 3 years suspended. Convicted 8/30/2006, released 6/28/2008.
VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System (Ann Arbor, MI)
VA job: Mail, has worked at VA since at least 2013 and possibly longer
Crime: CRIMINAL SEXUAL CONDUCT – FOURTH DEGREE (Person Thirteen to Fifteen) Convicted 2008
Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center (Cleveland, OH)
VA job: Custodian, 2015
Crime: Child pornography Convicted 2008
John D. Dingell VA Medical Center (Detroit, MI)
VA job: Custodial, 2009-
Dayton VA Medical Center (Dayton, OH)
VA job: Supply clerical and technician, 2012-2015
Aleda E. Lutz VA Medical Center (Saginaw, MI)
Crime: CRIMINAL SEXUAL CONDUCT – THIRD DEGREE (Person Thirteen Through Fifteen) Convicted 2003
Dayton VA Medical Center (Dayton, OH)
VA job: Medical support assistance, 2005-
Crime: Rape and kidnapping, multiple male and female victims, Habitual Sex Offender Convicted 1981
John D. Dingell VA Medical Center (Detroit, MI)
VA job: Clerk and assistant, 2015
Indianapolis VA Medical Center
VA job: Medical support assistance, 2010-2015
Crime: Child molesting Convicted in 2007 and sentenced to “5 YEARS SUSPENDED, 3 YEARS PRO”

Follow Luke on Twitter. Send tips to luke@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

All content created by the Daily Caller News Foundation, an independent and nonpartisan newswire service, is available without charge to any legitimate news publisher that can provide a large audience. All republished articles must include our logo, our reporter’s byline and their DCNF affiliation. For any questions about our guidelines or partnering with us, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.