Audit finds problems with VA use of money, hiring practices, reporting of potential crimes

Audit finds problems with VA use of money, hiring practices, reporting of potential crimes

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - An audit report found problems with the Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs (LDVA) use of money, hiring practices and reporting of potential crimes under the previous administration.

The findings of a joint investigation by the Louisiana Legislative Auditor and the Office of State Inspector General (OIG) were released Monday. Officials said the investigation was prompted by complaints about happenings under former Veterans Affairs Secretary David LaCerte.

The report stated LDVA improperly used funds, improperly documented work and travel, and failed to inform authorities about potential crimes involving residents at three war veteran homes.

The following statement was released by current VA Secretary Joey Strickland:

Today's report highlights many areas of mismanagement under the previous leadership at Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs. I am deeply disturbed by the disregard for Veterans displayed by the former Secretary, as outlined in the report. I have already put in place several reforms to ensure the types of violations that occurred in the past will not happen again. I am retired military and a Veteran.  I am the father of three soldiers who have served in combat. The importance of respecting and honoring Veterans is very personal to me. I and my staff are committed to open, ethical operations. I will work on behalf of my fellow Veterans to ensure LDVA is once again focused on its mission of serving Louisiana's heroes and their families. It's time to put the past behind us and look ahead to a brighter future for LDVA, and for our Veterans.

Gov. John Bel Edwards also issued a statement on the findings:

I will not tolerate the kind of mismanagement that the previous leadership provided at the Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs. It is a new day for veterans in Louisiana. These heroes deserve our lifelong respect and gratitude for their selfless service and the sacrifice they and their families made for our country. Secretary Strickland is already well underway implementing the service improvements that our veterans deserve and that I will demand. Under my administration, Louisiana veterans can rest assured that veterans matter personally to me.

According to the audit, the LDVA paid thousands of dollars to a company owned by LaCerte's classmates for improperly documented work without a contract, an employee stealing from a resident was not properly reported to the appropriate authorities and LaCerte is accused of questionable organizational, hiring and pay practices.

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