Showing posts with label Public Corruption. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Public Corruption. Show all posts

May 22, 2014

Wisconsin Whistle-blowing Veteran Vindicated as Neocons Target Shinseki

To listen to Republicans today, the decades-long culture of the VA of Delay, Deny and Hope You Die sprung into being in January 2009.

During the Bush-Cheney administration Vietnam-era veteran, an early whistle blower of VA abuse and neglect, Keith Roberts of Wisconsin, navigated through the maze-like process of filing his claim for disability benefits for his diagnosed PTSD.

Roberts accused the VA officials at the Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center of fraud, fabricating the minutes of a benefits hearing and altering his C-file (claim file).

Roberts said the VA were a "bunch of crooks." In retaliation top VA officials and a corrupt U.S. attorney indicted and criminally convicted Roberts in 2004-05 to shut him up. The indictment was based solely on the testimony of VA special agent with the VA regional Inspector General office in Hines, Illinois.

When President Obama announced on December 7, 2008 that he would appoint Eric Shinseki to become veterans affairs secretary, Roberts and a small band of veterans' advocates said Shinseki needed to clean house at the U.S. Dept of Veterans Affairs (DVA) (VA).

Rid the VA of bureaucrats from the some 1,700 medical centers, the deputy assistant secretaries at the Veterans Benefit Administration (VBA) like Michael McLendon who during the Bush administration blamed PTSD on lack of belief in God and country. (McKelvey, Boston Review) and search out and can the people who don't want veterans to receive benefits.

What eludes most mainstream news is that embedded neocons throughout the VA have sabotaging the VA for decades because they are ideologically opposed to the mission of caring for veterans in the first place, and want to privatize the whole agency.

While former VA staff attorney and Vietnam veteran Robert Walsh (who now works for veterans in private practice), former VBA staffer Paul Sullivan, and Anthony Hardie (Gulf War veteran and advocate) and veterans’ advocate Steve Robinson (a veteran who served in Ranger and Special Operations units) kept spreading the word about the neocons and anti-veterans' cabals at the VA, they found in Secretary Shinseki who a man who didn't listen.

Said Robinson in 2010: "(Y)es, there have been some improvements, ... but it baffles the mind to think that the Administration believes change will occur if they don’t clean house, and remove the entrenched bureaucrats, and policy wonks, who are gatekeepers to affecting that change. I don’t know why they haven’t moved them out, but they are still there, and they are, in fact, sabotaging Shinseki on several fronts."

Shinseki, as noted on the Rachel Maddow Show last night, was a whistleblower himself as a military general on the Bush-Cheney 2003 invasion of Iraq, and now Republicans want him as a fall guy and political punching bag for "(c)hronic VA problems." 

I don't feel too bad for Shinseki. 

As a whistleblower, he didn't bare anything like the injustices of Wisconsin veteran Keith Roberts at the hands of the VA and U.S. Attorney Stephen Biskupic.

Shinseki never listened to the likes of Keith Roberts, Bob Walsh, Paul Sullivan, Anthony Hardie and Steve Robinson.

Dec 10, 2013

Wrongfully Convicted: Keith Roberts Redux

PTSD fraud at the VA is like voter fraud on a national level, there is no 'there' there

Had an interesting exchange with Attorney Robert P. Walsh, a Vietnam War Army combat veteran, who devotes his life to helping military veterans in his law practice.

Walsh was the attorney of Wisconsin's Keith Roberts, a Navy Vietnam-era veteran, unjustly convicted of wire fraud in 2006. [The conviction was upheld on appeal to the federal Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in a July 2008 decision reading in part: "The record might also have supported a jury determination that Mr. Roberts sincerely believed that his statements were true and that he had no intention to defraud the Government," by Justice Kenneth Ripple. But Ripple notes of the guilty verdict, that, "It is beyond our authority to disturb such a finding on appeal."]

Roberts' real crime, in the eyes of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, was hounding the VA (DVA) and taking seriously his right to pursue a disability benefits claim—a dangerous practice for veterans during the Bush-Cheney administration.

And to listen to Walsh, this is a danger that has been carried on in the Obama administration.

Personally, I thought the embedded neocons at the VA and Veterans Benefit Administration and the corrupt US attorneys were mostly gone.

Walsh doesn't give a damn about anything except helping veterans, so he is someone worth listening to, if one takes helping veterans seriously.

Some edited notes from Bob Walsh on veterans and VA:

The VA has used and continues to use the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) as their enforcer, a private police force.

Wisconsin's Keith Roberts is only one example.

The probable cause that a crime had been committed in the Roberts case: "there were inconsistencies in the VA benefits claims file."

Since the benefits disability system is ex parte and non-adversarial and dozens of employees have access to the file, that should not warrant a criminal indictment in Federal District Court, as it did.

Had the VA Office of General Counsel not been a No Show in the entire process (who knows what closet they were cowering in during the criminal proceedings) there would not have been an indictment.

The VA Regional Counsel in Detroit, Michigan, with jurisdiction over Wisconsin, had no knowledge of the indictment at the time Roberts' criminal trial began, as required by administrative law regulations.

The VA Regional Office in Detroit and the VA OIG had attempted the same ploy on a decorated WW II veteran in Michigan a few years earlier. We were able to increase that veteran's benefits to the Special Monthly Compensation rate for his war wounds. When he died he was receiving about $3,500.00 per month. We were never able to recover the $ 50,000.00 that VA stole from him and his family when they created the false overpayment in his case.

The VA had put him in overpayment and then attempted to have him prosecuted for fraud like Roberts.  Our U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan had the integrity to tell the VA OIG to go to hell. The political hacks in Milwaukee were only too happy to do the bidding of the Bush-Cheney White House and make an 'example' of Keith Roberts.

Roberts was to be the poster boy for PTSD fraud. The 'welfare Cadillac' of veterans benefits.

PTSD fraud at VA is like voter fraud on a national level. There is no 'there' there.

Most of the real fraud turns out to be VA staff and Service Officers, not individual veterans.

Most of the real waste to the taxpayers is in executive compensation and bonuses.

Where else but VA can you have an 85 percent error rate and get a promotion and bonus in the same year?

Maybe on Wall Street in a mortgage unit. Other than that, can’t think of an example.

Justice delayed is not justice in full measure. Veterans are not third-class citizens. They are entitled to the same due process a mass murderer is afforded.

High time the basic due process and the protection of the Administrative Procedures Act is imposed on the VA.

The path through which American citizens can impact the regulation-rulemaking process is through the federal law called the Administrative Procedure Act, mandating federal agencies solicit public comment before instituting new rules and regulations that implement legislative acts such as the Veterans Judicial Review Act and other statutes intended to help veterans, their families and our country.

Sep 13, 2013

Did Wisconsin District Attorney Indict Himself under Own Letterhead

Title 18 USC § 201
District Attorney Martin Lipske appears to be in violation of a federal corruption statute

Updated - When Iron County (Wisconsin) DA Martin Lipske sent a letter earlier this year to the man he unjustly prosecuted in 1997, Donald Miller, after destroying DNA evidence it appears Lipske conditioned the performance of a specific act of his public office upon Don Miller's parents' not complaining about Lipske's shady law practice to the Wisconsin Office of Lawyer Regulation (OLR).

A letter written by Lipske to Don Miller, dated July 11, 2013, reads in part: "My intentions were to send a copy of the stipulation in which I agreed to your release. However, between the time that I received the form and the due date, I received another letter through the actions of your parents challenging my license to practice law. Therefore, nothing was sent as I intended." (Copy of letter is below.)

The Millers, Norm and Patricia, say they received a Feb 21, 2013 response letter from the OLR, and word from up north is that Lipske was not happy about the OLR complaint.

Reached by phone, Norm Miller does not remember sending the OLR a complaint to begin with, but in any event retaliation by a sitting District Attorney, and the performance of an official action should not be conditioned upon what the Miller parents do, as they attempt to prove their son's innocence in their retirement as they live in Hurley, Wisconsin.

Put another way, Lipske's seeking to clear his name (he was suspended for almost four years for professional misconduct before Judge Patrick Madden recruited him to run for DA in 1994) by withholding a promised action of his office is a corrupt use of public office, and a violation of federal law.

The Wisconsin Innocence Project has taken up this case, and has not returned phone calls.

What appear to be clear, however, is that Lipske is using the power of his office to stop people from challenging his misconduct in public office, and this appears to be a violation of a federal corruption statute.

Title 18 USC § 201 reads in part:

Whoever being a public official or person selected to be a public official, directly or indirectly, corruptly demands, seeks, receives, accepts, or agrees to receive or accept anything of value personally or for any other person or entity, in return for:
 
(A) being influenced in the performance of any official act;

So Lipske on his own Office of Iron County (Wisconsin) District Attorney letterhead delivered his message to the Millers: Stop reminding people of my professional misconduct (as is your right), or I won't help release an innocent man, your son, from prison by stipulating to his release.

Lipske's letter is below:

Apr 30, 2010

Democrats Unveil Tough Remedy to Radical 'Corperations Are People Too' Decision

As mainstream pundits continue stating the Democrats-are-in-trouble conventional wisdom, I see a perfect political storm developing against Republicans led by the Dem's hitting back on the radical U.S. Supreme Court decision, CITIZENS UNITED v. FEDERAL ELECTION COMM'N ( No. 08-205 ).
Correcting the Court – Democrats Unveil Tough New Legislation to Remedy “Citizens United”

By Josh Glasstetter

Congressional Democrats have just introduced a new package of legislation – the DISCLOSE Act – to blunt the Supreme Court’s disastrous January ruling in Citizens United v. FEC, which opened American elections at all levels to unlimited corporate spending. The 5-4 ruling gave companies like Goldman Sachs and Exxon Mobil the same right as individual Americans to spend money in elections, but unlike you or me these companies have billions in the bank and billions more at stake in Congress and state legislatures.

Now Democrats are racing to pass legislation before a wave of corporate cash sweeps through the mid-term elections. They have overwhelming public opinion on their side, but the US Chamber of Commerce and other corporate lobbyists are working hard to head them off and time is short.

The newly unveiled DISCLOSE Act is all about forcing election spending out into the open, where it belongs. Thanks to the Roberts Court, giant companies can spend unlimited amounts to support or oppose candidates – without disclosing a dime of it. They can simply pass the money through a front group or PR agency. The legislation would close this glaring loophole, as Sen. Chuck Schumer explained on Thursday:
Our bill will follow the money. In cases where corporations try to mask their activities through shadow groups, we drill down so that ultimate funder of the expenditure is disclosed.

Corporations would be required to disclose political spending to their shareholders, and a broad array of corporations and advocacy groups would be required to disclose previously confidential details about their political spending, including funding sources. Foreign corporations, government contractors, and recipients of government bail-outs would be altogether banned from spending money in elections.

The DISCLOSE Act is a huge first step in restoring genuine democracy in the wake of the Roberts Court's irresponsible activism, but it's just a first step. Only a constitutional amendment or new ruling by a more progressive Supreme Court can truly 'fix' Citizens United.

In the meantime, maybe we should require politicians to wear the logos of their "sponsors." Hey, if it works for NASCAR, why not Congre

Aug 19, 2009

Doyle’s Gone, Good Riddance

People all over Wisconsin were happy Monday to see Gov. Jim Doyle announce his intention to not seek reelection.

One thing that progressive Democrats and rightwing Republicans agree on is that Jim Doyle is a liar, a vindictive and corrupt politician.

That’s who he is as governor. A lot of Democrats cannot stand the guy on a personal level. And Republicans are sad to see him go as Doyle would have given them a clear shot at the governor’s office.

That’s not really news and it’s not entirely clear how this reality fits into Doyle’ decision to not seek reelection.

According to Doyle, he reached his decision some seven to 10 days ago [WisPolitics], coming around to his belief that he claims to have held since being first elected governor in 2002: He will only serve two terms, the “norm” for governors.

"I think this national norm serves good purpose. It keeps the political world from becoming stagnant. It allows new leaders to develop. It gives the voters more choices,” said Doyle Monday.

Why then did Doyle raise more than $2 million for reelection?

Republicans are demanding that Doyle return the campaign money, but he’ll likely give it to a worthy cause to polish his legacy.

In the face of declining poll numbers, a few weeks before the time that Doyle says he was deciding not to run again Doyle announced the appointment of an over-the-top, former anti-drug prosecutor as a finalist to a Dane County Judgeship, Amy Smith.

Smith was rejected by a judicial advisory selection committee but inserted by Doyle as a finalist though Smith was “rebuked for dishonesty on two separate occasions by appellate court judges” during her tenure as an anti-drug prosecutor.

“His judicial selection process … was besmirched by his decision to add the name of a longtime aide and campaign donor to the list of finalists for a Dane County judgeship -- and then to appoint the woman [Amy Smith],” reads the Capital Times editorial reacting to Doyle's announcement, Memo to would-be governors: Embrace real reform.

On July 8, Doyle announced the appointment of Smith.

Doyle is corrupt to the bone and his legacy will be remembered as politics as usual, dishonest and self-serving.

At least he’s leaving now. Memo to would-be governors: Don’t be Jim Doyle.

Mar 28, 2009

Facts and Law v. Corruption

The foundation upon which we elect judges to Wisconsin's top appellate court is impartiality and committed application of the law and facts, right?

Wrong again.

With the notable exception of Shirley Abrahamson, this year's supreme court campaign between Judge Randy Koschnick and incumbent Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson again demonstrates the utter lack of fidelity to the above principles, with virtually all of journalism blindly following along the circus (disappointingly journalist Dee Hall joinied in the no-thinking chorus).

Last night's debate and coverage are emblematic of the know-nothing judicial campaigns of Wisconsin.

Consider Hall's reporting.

Hall makes no reference to Wisconsin's Code of Judicial Conduct that mandates "'(impartiality' (meaning) the absence of bias or prejudice in favor of, or against, particular parties, or classes of parties, as well as maintaining an open mind in considering issues that may come before the judge."

Hall, instead, gives readers a he-said, she-said reporting of the debate:

In what is becoming a replay of previous Wisconsin Supreme Court races, Judge Randy Koschnick, a self-declared 'judicial conservative' and 'choice of law enforcement,' sought to paint incumbent Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson as a liberal who favors defendants over victims and the police.

Abrahamson retorted that 'a judge is not supposed to be pro- or anti-anything.' Calling such labels 'meaningless' and 'name-calling,' Abrahamson insisted that she decides cases on facts and law — not her personal feelings.
[Note Stacy Forster's reporting in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is no better than Hall's, quoting Abrahamson's reference to a "fair, impartial, independent judiciary" without mention of the fact that an impartial, independent judiciary is the law.]

Only one candidate's campaign, Abrahamson, is in compliance with Wisconsin's Code of Judicial Conduct mandating impartiality and application of facts and law.

This campaign is a replay certainly (like the Butler-Gableman race last year), but the culprits are know-nothing journalism such as Hall's and Koschick's campaign, in stark contrast to Abrahamson's.

Koschnick outright promises to be biased in favor of a class of litigants (what he terms law enforcement) while Abrahamson promises fidelity to facts and law.

This routine per se breaking of the foundation of judicial policymaking in judicial campaigns escapes Hall's reporting (and all that I've read), though Koschick has said, in effect: 'Elect me, I'm corrupt.'

Isn't this worth a graf or two?

Dec 20, 2008

Jailed Vet Files for En Banc Hearing

Wisconsin Navy Airman Keith Roberts (1968-71), a Vietnam-era veteran, [see Wisconsin Navy Airman Keith Roberts and U.S. Attorneys Scandal–Milwaukee] jailed for receiving U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits filed a petition for an en banc hearing before the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit this week.

Roberts was indicted, tried and convicted on five counts of wire fraud for receiving VA disability benefits though he had been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

The indictment and conviction remain highly controversial because of the perceived flimsy nature of the allegations and the widespread criticism that the VA has received in its treatment of veterans.

The questions presented for review in Roberts petition are as follows:

A. Whether it is a denial of a veteran’s due process rights to require him to answer a criminal indictment alleging the same misconduct which served as the basis for the denial of veterans’ benefits, where the appeal of the decision of the Department of Veterans Affairs is still pending before the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.

B. Whether the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals erred in concluding that the evidence presented at trial was sufficient to sustain a conviction for wire fraud, when the government had failed to establish, beyond a reasonable doubt, the necessary elements for such a charge.

C. Whether the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals erred in finding that Mr. Roberts’ right to due process was not violated by the government’s withholding of material information.


See also:

  1. Michael Alan Leon: MAL Contends . . .: US Atty Biskupic and VA ...

    Write to Keith Roberts - Wrongly Imprisoned Vietnam-era Veteran ..... In June of 1999, Airman Keith Roberts (1968-71) was granted a disability rating by the ...
    malcontends.blogspot.com/2007/06/us-atty-biskupic-and-va-defied-us-law.html -
    Similar pages
  2. Michael Alan Leon: MAL Contends . . .: Fight Is on to Free ...

    Write to Keith Roberts - Wrongly Imprisoned Vietnam-era Veteran. Keith Roberts .....Keith Roberts (1968-74) sits behind bars, ...
    malcontends.blogspot.com/2007/05/fight-is-on-to-free-wisconsin-vet.html - Madison, Wisconsin—As Airman
    Similar pages
  3. Michael Alan Leon: MAL Contends . . .: National VA Director Pushed ...

    Write to Keith Roberts - Wrongly Imprisoned Vietnam-era Veteran ..... In the PTSD case of U.S. Navy Airman Keith Roberts (1968–71) the U.S. Dept of Justice ...
    malcontends.blogspot.com/2007/09/national-va-director-pushed-us-atty.html -
    Similar pages
  4. Michael Alan Leon: MAL Contends . . .

    Write to Keith Roberts - Wrongly Imprisoned Vietnam-era Veteran. Keith Roberts, 07827-089. FCI Englewood, East-Upper FCI 9595 West Quincy Avenue ...
    malcontends.blogspot.com/ -
    Similar pages
  5. Michael Alan Leon: MAL Contends . . .: Jailed Wis Vet Files Reply ...

    Write to Keith Roberts - Wrongly Imprisoned Vietnam-era Veteran ..... Keith Roberts, an honorably discharged Navy veteran (1969-71) from Gillett, Wisconsin, ...
    malcontends.blogspot.com/2007/08/jailed-wis-vet-files-reply-brief-calls.html -
    Similar pages
  6. Michael Alan Leon: MAL Contends . . .: Jailed Wisconsin Veteran ...

    Write to Keith Roberts - Wrongly Imprisoned Vietnam-era Veteran ..... Madison, Wisconsin - Keith Roberts awaits the decision of his appeal before a ...
    malcontends.blogspot.com/2008/06/jailed-wisconsin-veteran-awaits.html -
    Similar pages
  7. Michael Alan Leon: MAL Contends . . .: Law Firms Rushing to ...

    Write to Keith Roberts - Wrongly Imprisoned Vietnam-era Veteran ..... Walsh is representing Wisconsin Navy veteran Keith Roberts who is a victim of VA ...
    malcontends.blogspot.com/2007/09/law-firms-rushing-to-veterans-aid.html -
    Similar pages
  8. Michael Alan Leon: MAL Contends . . .: Jailed Wisconsin Vet Loses ...

    Write to Keith Roberts - Wrongly Imprisoned Vietnam-era Veteran. Keith Roberts, 07827-089 ... Contact Airman Keith Roberts' (Ret.) Attorney, Robert Walsh ...
    malcontends.blogspot.com/2008/07/jailed-wisconsin-vet-loses-appeal-va.html -
    Similar pages
  9. Michael Alan Leon: MAL Contends . . .: VA Document Contradicts US ...

    Write to Keith Roberts - Wrongly Imprisoned Vietnam-era Veteran .....Keith Roberts did not seek out an earlier effective date on his own. ...
    malcontends.blogspot.com/2007/05/va-document-contradicts-us-atty-in.html -
    Similar pages
  10. Michael Alan Leon: MAL Contends . . .: Commending Wisconsin ...

    Write to Keith Roberts - Wrongly Imprisoned Vietnam-era Veteran ..... Navy veteran Keith Roberts — An innocent victim of the U.S. Dept of Justice and U.S. ...
    malcontends.blogspot.com/2008/12/commending-wisconsin-citizens-in-2008.html -
    Similar pages

Dec 17, 2008

Pardon Jailed Wisconsin Veteran

President-elect Barack Obama has tremendously more on his plate than reinventing government and restoring some semblance of accountability to Americans.

Ensuring that the world does not enter into a second depression, halting a war or two, saving the environment, formulating an industrial policy on alternative energy, one can go on; all are problems of a massive scale.

But readers of Uppity Wisconsin may notice a comment from a veteran posted this week about another veteran who is serving a four-year sentence in federal prison.

That jailed veteran is Navy Airman Keith Roberts (1968-71), a Vietnam-era veteran, [see Wisconsin Navy Airman Keith Roberts and U.S. Attorneys Scandal–Milwaukee] from Gillett, Wisconsin; and he’s an innocent man wrongfully imprisoned.

Roberts was convicted on five counts of wire fraud for receiving U.S. Dept of Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits after the national VA office launched a vendetta against Roberts for being a pain to the VA regional office in “tenaciously pursuing a claim for VA benefits" (Harper’s).

U.S. Atty Stephen Biskupic's office took up the VA’s case that resulted in the 2006 conviction.

In sum, Roberts served his country and was railroaded by a corrupt VA and an appalling U.S. DOJ.

President-elect Obama should grant an extraordinary pardon that will not only serve the cause of justice but will also repudiate a VA that has become outright hostile to veterans.

U.S. v. Roberts

The title of the case is fitting for this honorably discharged veteran diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

The crux of the case against Roberts is that Roberts was not friends with his fellow Navy airman (Gary Holland) when both the men were on line duty at a Naval base in Naples, Italy on February 5, 1969 when Holland was crushed to death by a C-54 aircraft.

The prosecution also says that Roberts exaggerated his efforts to save Holland, which constituted fraud for which Roberts was convicted by a jury in northern Wisconsin. And that Roberts therefore lied about the friendship and the effort to save Holland.

Holland and Roberts did not have a friendship, and Roberts exaggerated his efforts to save Holland. That’s the alleged fraud, that’s the intent to engage in fraud? Yes.

In fact, the two men had parallel service histories that would make it unlikely that Holland and Roberts were not at least friendly in their relationship, and that contradicts the prosecution’s indictment and trial statements.

So what happened, why the prosecution on such a slender reed?

"[T]he only reason Airman Roberts was ever prosecuted was because he was a ‘belligerent ass’ who kept insisting that he get paid back to discharge. He was demanding an appeal in Washington," said a background source at the Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center in Milwaukee who e-mailed the Lee Rayburn radio show in Madison in early June 2007 after a program about the Roberts case, and asked to remain anonymous out of fear of losing his job. "I'd have to say that you guys are TOTALLY (uppercase in the original) right about Roberts' conviction being bullshit ... ."

Said Roberts’ attorney Robert Walsh, a combat Vietnam Army veteran, at the oral arguments in October 2007 before the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, referencing this VA standard for judging any first-person account by veterans of what happened to them during their service:

… I submit to you that they are inconsistencies in every veteran's record, combat or peacetime. And that Congress has recognized that. And that’s why VA benefits is a very paternalistic, claimant-friendly, non-adversarial system. It’s even more paternalistic that the Social Security benefits adjudication system (per the Veterans Judicial Review Act). So, where’s the intent (for fraud)?
Good question.

Roberts criminal case is before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit (U.S. v. Roberts, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin) where Roberts is seeking an en banc hearing, and his benefits case is on appeal before the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC).

A three-member panel for the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in July found that, "The record might also have supported a jury determination that Mr. Roberts sincerely believed that his statements were true and that he had no intention to defraud the Government ... (but) (i)t is beyond our authority to disturb (a guilty) finding on appeal (in this case)."

As for the comment by the veteran who served with Roberts in Italy, it corroborates what Roberts has claimed for decades had occurred:

James W. Ervin PH3 (not verified) on Tue, 12/16/2008 - 4:13pm. I was stationed @ NAF (Naples), Italy at the time of this "incident". July 1968 thru Nov.1969 . I also remember the young sailor be trapped / crushed up inside the wheel well (nose) of the aircraft inside the hangar of NAF naples,Italy. I do remember someone wanting to drive a forklift into the side of the aircraft ; but an officer or someone of authority would not let them do that....so what they did was have men climb up into the plane & go to the rear of the plane to put weight in the rear of the plane to let the nose come up to release the trapped sailor. (Unfortunately) that process was too slow to save the sailor from death. I also remember taking photographs of the " Pin " that was in the nose gear at the time. I remember it as being a homemade looking pin without a locking clip to keep it from being removed without unlocking the device. As for the names of the people involved , I don't remember ; but there definitely was someone there who wanted to use the (fork) lift to rescue the sailor from the collapsed nose wheel and was ordered NOT to use the fork lift. Sincerely ,

Roberts' family and fellow veterans supporting him in his case remain hopeful, but desperate.

President-elect Obama should grant this family a full pardon and make things right.

- Contact author at: maleon64@yahoo.com

See also:

  1. Michael Alan Leon: MAL Contends . . .: US Atty Biskupic and VA ...

    Write to Keith Roberts - Wrongly Imprisoned Vietnam-era Veteran ..... In June of 1999, Airman Keith Roberts (1968-71) was granted a disability rating by the ...
    malcontends.blogspot.com/2007/06/us-atty-biskupic-and-va-defied-us-law.html -
    Similar pages
  2. Michael Alan Leon: MAL Contends . . .: Fight Is on to Free ...

    Write to Keith Roberts - Wrongly Imprisoned Vietnam-era Veteran. Keith Roberts .....Keith Roberts (1968-74) sits behind bars, ...
    malcontends.blogspot.com/2007/05/fight-is-on-to-free-wisconsin-vet.html -
    Madison, Wisconsin—As Airman Similar pages
  3. Michael Alan Leon: MAL Contends . . .: National VA Director Pushed ...

    Write to Keith Roberts - Wrongly Imprisoned Vietnam-era Veteran ..... In the PTSD case of U.S. Navy Airman Keith Roberts (1968–71) the U.S. Dept of Justice ...
    malcontends.blogspot.com/2007/09/national-va-director-pushed-us-atty.html -
    Similar pages
  4. Michael Alan Leon: MAL Contends . . .

    Write to Keith Roberts - Wrongly Imprisoned Vietnam-era Veteran. Keith Roberts, 07827-089. FCI Englewood, East-Upper FCI 9595 West Quincy Avenue ...
    malcontends.blogspot.com/ -
    Similar pages
  5. Michael Alan Leon: MAL Contends . . .: Jailed Wis Vet Files Reply ...

    Write to Keith Roberts - Wrongly Imprisoned Vietnam-era Veteran ..... Keith Roberts, an honorably discharged Navy veteran (1969-71) from Gillett, Wisconsin, ...
    malcontends.blogspot.com/2007/08/jailed-wis-vet-files-reply-brief-calls.html -
    Similar pages
  6. Michael Alan Leon: MAL Contends . . .: Jailed Wisconsin Veteran ...

    Write to Keith Roberts - Wrongly Imprisoned Vietnam-era Veteran ..... Madison, Wisconsin - Keith Roberts awaits the decision of his appeal before a ...
    malcontends.blogspot.com/2008/06/jailed-wisconsin-veteran-awaits.html -
    Similar pages
  7. Michael Alan Leon: MAL Contends . . .: Law Firms Rushing to ...

    Write to Keith Roberts - Wrongly Imprisoned Vietnam-era Veteran ..... Walsh is representing Wisconsin Navy veteran Keith Roberts who is a victim of VA ...
    malcontends.blogspot.com/2007/09/law-firms-rushing-to-veterans-aid.html -
    Similar pages
  8. Michael Alan Leon: MAL Contends . . .: Jailed Wisconsin Vet Loses ...

    Write to Keith Roberts - Wrongly Imprisoned Vietnam-era Veteran. Keith Roberts, 07827-089 ... Contact Airman Keith Roberts' (Ret.) Attorney, Robert Walsh ...
    malcontends.blogspot.com/2008/07/jailed-wisconsin-vet-loses-appeal-va.html -
    Similar pages
  9. Michael Alan Leon: MAL Contends . . .: VA Document Contradicts US ...

    Write to Keith Roberts - Wrongly Imprisoned Vietnam-era Veteran .....Keith Roberts did not seek out an earlier effective date on his own. ...
    malcontends.blogspot.com/2007/05/va-document-contradicts-us-atty-in.html -
    Similar pages
  10. Michael Alan Leon: MAL Contends . . .: Commending Wisconsin ...

    Write to Keith Roberts - Wrongly Imprisoned Vietnam-era Veteran ..... Navy veteran Keith Roberts — An innocent victim of the U.S. Dept of Justice and U.S. ...
    malcontends.blogspot.com/2008/12/commending-wisconsin-citizens-in-2008.html -
    Similar pages



Dec 15, 2008

Van Hollen's the Fraud

Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen made good on his assurances to his fellow Republicans that he would use his office, per the Republicans' wishes, during a Van Hollen address at the Republican National Convention held in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Said Van Hollen to his fellow Republicans: "... We are out there front and center everyday and you'll be hearing much more from the Department of Justice in the coming months about doing what we can to make sure that those people who have illegally and illegitimately registered to vote, don't have the opportunity on election day to show up and take away your vote by casting one that is not legal." (WisPolitics)

Van Hollen was looking for organized voter fraud, shown to be a fiction, by the Brennan Center for Justice and a state-federal committee looking into past GOP allegations of voter fraud in the 2004 election.

The fact is Van Hollen just wanted to suppress voters and make it as difficult as he could for new and casual voters to vote, placing a burden on and slowing down many black voters, for example, who do not happen to have up-to-date driver's licenses in Milwaukee County.

Van Hollen has been roundly hit for his filing a legal complaint in light of the imperative of Wisconsin to establish a centralized voter registration list "coordinated with other agency databases within the State" such as the DOT, as mandated by federal law (specifically the Help America Vote Act (HAVA)) which Van Hollen cites in the DOJ Complaint, saying that HAVA requires additional verification, and linking the citizens' right to vote with bureaucrats' databases perfectly matching.

HAVA makes no such demand for perfect matches, but Van Hollen thought that he could use HAVA as part of the national GOP's hysteria that voting fraud was everywhere, a ruse used to cover the GOP engaged in an unprecedented effort to suppress legal voting.

Today's Journal-Sentinel reveals that a full 11 percent of the 2.9 million votes cast in Wisconsin in the Nov. 4 election did not match state's master list.

Van Hollen's wished to force an exact match before these one of nine Wisconsin voters could have cast their votes.

A Dane County circuit judge tossed Van Hollen's suit on several grounds, not the least of which is that Van Hollen did not read the federal law correctly.

Van Hollen rather tried to use HAVA for his own dishonorable ends.

There is no organized voter fraud, just a corrupt Attorney General's office and a despicable effort by a political party trying to ensure that only the right voters cast their vote.

Dec 10, 2008

Officeholders Not Entitled

Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich’s blatant misuse of his office reveals what too many politicians feel after being elected: Entitlement.

Hey pols, you're then to represent the people, not serve your self or your party.

Though Blagojevich’s actions were particularly brazen, we see the same corrupt use of office from our own Attorney General, J.B. Van Hollen, fighting for the Republican Party and trying to make voting like navigating a DMV phone answering tree.

An elected office is not licence to enrich yourself or your political party, it's for the people.

Dec 3, 2008

Biskupic Leaving in Disgrace

Stephen Biskupic, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin (2002 - present) has announced that he is resigning in January before the new administration takes office.

Good riddance, though Biskupic allowed that he has amassed a good "track record."

Many Wisconsin Democrats and allies would agree with that positive performance assessment.

But I doubt that Biskupic is sending a Christmas card to the proven-innocent Georgia Thompson this year [see also Biskupic tried to 'squeeze' Georgia Thompson, and Investigate Biskupic].

As Biskupic has played the partisan prosecutor for the Republican "voter fraud" myth during his tenure, one wonders how seriously Biskupic reflects on the several overturned voter fraud cases [see also Voter-Fraud Complaints by GOP Drove Dismissals].

Or how about that Vietnam-era veteran, Wisconsin Navy Airman Keith Roberts, [see also U.S. Attorneys Scandal–Milwaukee] who was convicted for receiving VA benefits after the national VA office launched a vendetta against Roberts for being a pain in their bureaucratic butt, as the VA followed the policy advice of the benefits-hostile American Enterprise Institute scholar, Dr. Sally Satel on benefits for Vietnam-era vets who as a group were not always enthusiastic about that particular bullshit war?

Some parting words for Biskupic from the late US Attorney General and Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson:

"Any prosecutor who risks his day-to-day professional name for fair dealing to build up statistics of success has a perverted sense of practical values, as well as defects of character. ... he can have no better asset than to have his profession recognize that his attitude toward those who feel his power has been dispassionate, reasonable and just."
- Attorney General Robert H. Jackson, April 1, 1940.

Biskupic fails miserably on that score of being reasonable and just.

Let's hope the next US Atty for the Eastern District amasses a better track record.

And if the US Dept of Justice ever again becomes as politicized and corrupt as it has under the Bush administration, the US Attys should leave the DOJ en masse with their integrity in tact and no judicial victims from corrupt prosecutions.

Nov 3, 2008

Wisc AG Van Hollen hosts McCain 'victory' party

From the Capital Times (Madison, Wis), John Nichols reports:

VAN HOLLEN TO HOST McCAIN "VICTORY" PARTY
After claiming for weeks that there was nothing partisan about his ambitious election season regimen of suing the Government Accountability Board and dispatching attorneys and special agents to polling places where high Democratic turnouts might reasonably be expected, Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen comes out of the closet Tuesday night.
He's co-hosting the 'Wisconsin GOP Election Night Party' -- where supporters of John McCain and Sarah Palin will toast their successes or drown their sorrows -- at a Waukesha hotel.
Van Hollen, a McCain campaign co-chair, will be joined by other non-partisan good government activists like Republican congressmen Paul Ryan and Jim Sensenbrenner.

Wisconsin is in the bag folks, no one is complacent here. We'll handle Van Hollen and the pricks here.

But Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio, Colorado, Nevada and even Pennsylvania, any obstruction problems voting there, go the polls prepared:

- 1-866-OUR-VOTE Hotline (1-866-687-8683)
- Find your local Obama office and vote prepared to call them, http://www.barackobama.com/index.php
- Find your local paper's office and prepare to call them

Oct 24, 2008

Brennan Center on Van Hollen Voter Suppression Decision

Update: Incredible! Bush Wants DOJ to Look Into Ohio Voting, Seeks Forced Provisional Voting That Suppresses Legal Voters - From RollCall

As we watch the historic threat to our financial system, good news is in the air politically and legally.

From Adam Skaggs on the dismissal of the voter suppression case.


In Wisconsin this morning, Judge Maryann Sumi dismissed all claims in a case brought against the state's elections agency by the Wisconsin Attorney General. We've written about this case before, and why it was troubling: if the court hadn't thrown out the Attorney General's case, it could have put between 53,000 and 200,000 Wisconsin Voters at risk of having to vote provisional ballots. And, historically, as few as 30%of provisional ballots cast in Wisconsin actually get counted.
In rejecting the Attorney General's arguments, the court correctly reached two important conclusions (among other reasons for tossing the case). First, it rightly concluded that nothing in the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) requires states to condition a voter's eligibility to vote on a successful database match - an argument we pressed in our amicus brief. Second, the court concluded that denying a voter's right to have their ballot counted because of a typo or data entry error made by a government clerk violated Section 1971 of the Voting Rights Act, the so-called 'materiality provision.' (A federal court relied on that law, which provides that no voter can be denied the right to register or vote based on a mistake that's not material to determining the voter's eligibility, in striking down Washington State's strict no match, no vote law when we challenged it in 2006. More recently, we argued that the materiality provision prohibited rejecting an Ohio voter's request for an absentee ballot just because the voter failed to mark a superfluous check-box.) Although the Attorney General has said he'll appeal the court's ruling, the decision was absolutely correct on the merits, and we are hopeful that the appellate courts won't waste any time before affirming the dismissal. That way Wisconsin election officials will be able to get back to the important business of ensuring a smooth election.

What we know as Wisconsin citizens is that Van Hollen is a liar and a corrupt partisan unfit for office.

Jul 12, 2008

Jailed Wisconsin Vet Loses Appeal, VA Claim Still Pending


In a unanimous opinion (07-1546) a three-member panel for the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has affirmed the controversial conviction on fraud of Wisconsin Navy veteran, Keith Roberts.

The Roberts family is planning on filing a motion for an en banc hearing, a hearing before the full appellate court.

U.S. Atty Stephen Biskupic's office had convinced a jury that Roberts and a deceased Navy airman (Gary Holland) did not have a friendship, and Roberts who was on line duty at a Naval base in Naples, Italy on February 5, 1969 at the time that Holland was crushed to death by a C-54 aircraft, exaggerated his efforts to save Holland, which constituted fraud for which he was convicted in November 2006 by a jury in northern Wisconsin.

Weak grounds for a federal prosecution? These are the grounds on which the government successfully pursued a prosecution against this honorably discharged Navy veteran who served during a combat era.

The Roberts decision is the second blow for veterans' advocates for treatment of veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), following the dismissal of a class-action suit filed by Veterans for Common Sense and Morrison and Foerster, and other parties.

In theory, any veteran both claiming PTSD and unable to verify the circumstances of stressor events is vulnerable to federal prosecution if the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs (VA) and a U.S. Atty decide to proceed in that fashion, though the VA under the Bush administration has been brushed back as its hostile posture against veterans has become public and is seen by veterans advocates as morphing into negligence and incompetence.

Affirming the July 2006 conviction of Roberts, the decision stated that "the criminal prosecution is independent of the administrative review process," rejecting a key argument by Roberts who is concerned that he can continue to serve in prison for receiving VA benefits that the he is legally entitled to receive.

In an administrative development, the day after the Seventh Circuit's opinion was issued, July 7, 2008, Roberts on July 8 was granted his motion for oral arguments of his VA claim before a three-judge administrative panel of the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC), over (VA) objection.

The Seventh Circuit's decision recognizes the weakness of the government argument.

"The record might also have supported a jury determination that Mr. Roberts sincerely believed that his statements were true and that he had no intention to defraud the Government," reads the opinion by Justice Kenneth Ripple. But Ripple notes of the guilty verdict, that, "It is beyond our authority to disturb such a finding on appeal."

The hurdle for an appellate court to overturn the judgement of a jury is high.

"The standard of review for sufficiency of the evidence challenges is necessarily 'a daunting one,' ... We shall not 'weigh the evidence or second-guess the jury’s credibility determinations' on appeal,'" reads the opinion, citing legal precedent.

The opinion implies the United States government in the agent of the VA failed to follow VA administrative rules, as Roberts claims, but notes that this legal issue was not raised at the sufficient time by Roberts.

In his reply brief, Mr. Roberts for the first time mentions 38 C.F.R. § 14.561, which provides that “[b]efore a submission is made to the U.S. Attorney in cases involving personnel or claims, the General Counsel . . . or the Regional Counsel . . . will first ascertain that necessary administrative or adjudicatory (forfeiture (see Pub.L. 86-222; 73 Stat. 452), etc.), action has been taken; except that in urgent cases such as breaches of the peace, disorderly conduct, trespass, robbery, or where the evidence may be lost by delay, or prosecution barred by the statute of limitations, submission to the U.S. Attorney will be made immediately.” Even if this regulation gave Mr. Roberts some cognizable right to prevent early deferral, arguments raised for the first time in a reply brief are waived.

At the jury trial, Roberts was faced with knocking down the arguments and investigations of the United States Attorney's office and top VA officials who were determined to get Roberts, as veterans' advocates have said since the inception of the Roberts criminal proceedings.

"[T]he only reason Airman Roberts was ever prosecuted was because he was a ‘belligerent ass’ who kept insisting that he get paid back to discharge. He was demanding an appeal in Washington," said a background source at the Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center in Milwaukee who e-mailed the Lee Rayburn radio show in Madison in early June 2007 about the Roberts affair, and asked to remain anonymous out of fear of losing his job. "I'd have to say that you guys are TOTALLY (uppercase in the original) right about Roberts' conviction being bullshit ..."

The power of the United States government to legally and financially ruin a veteran's family in northern Wisconsin for "tenaciously pursuing a claim for VA benefits" has been confirmed.

Jun 1, 2008

Jailed Wisconsin Veteran Awaits Court Decision, in Fed Prison for Claiming PTSD Benefits

via mal contends -
Madison, Wisconsin - Keith Roberts awaits the decision of his appeal before a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit as he sits in a federal prison in Minnesota because the United States government said he did not tell the truth about his service in the Navy.

Veterans are assumed under the Veterans Judicial Review Act of 1989 to be (as they often are) in an diminished capacity to tell the full truth of the circumstances they encountered that contributed to their suffering Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

The many stressors that would lead to the granting of disability benefit payments need to rigorously documented to the U.S. Dept of Veterans Affairs' (VA) satisfaction, thus the VA claims process propagated under administrative rules is non-adversarial and paternalistic for the veterans.

And that’s why obtaining VA benefits is a claimant-friendly, non-adversarial system. It’s more paternalistic than the Social Security benefits adjudication system (per the Veterans Judicial Review Act). But ask any veteran and he/she will tell you it does not work out that way.

Wisconsin Navy veteran Keith Roberts (1968-71) remains in a federal prison (since 2007), effectively fined $100,000s, for allegedly not telling the whole truth about about the circumstances in which his fellow Navy Airman was crushed to death by a C-54 aircraft in 1969.

Roberts was charged with wire fraud for receiving VA disability benefits by electronic deposit, as all vets are mandated to receive payments.

The government, in the agency of United States Attorney Stephen Biskupic and the VA, admitting that the Navy Airman worked together at the same airbase, says the fraud is predicated upon what they determine is not a close friendship that existed between the two (a ludicrous allegation) and an exaggeration of Roberts' role in the attempt to save his friend from being crushed to death, though Roberts was on line duty at the time of the death and the base equivalent of a general quarters alarm was sounding.

United States Attorney Stephen Biskupic spoke at oral arguments in October 2007 in the case of the United States v. Keith A. Roberts (07-1546) before a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, calling the Roberts’ affair “a simple, straight-forward” case.

Biskupic said at oral arguments: “You (veterans) have to be truthful,” and claimed that Roberts was not truthful.

Roberts' attorney Roberts Walsh attacked the “lack of intent” by the veteran Roberts.

Intent is needed to prove fraud. Walsh pointed out that Roberts was diagnosed by numerous medical professionals with PTSD.

Walsh attacked the prosecution’s relying on the statements of the veterans when VA procedures require documentation and not personal recollection as the dispositive factor in deciding PTSD cases.

The VA needs a medical diagnosis and verifiable stressor and not a recollection, and a recollection is virtually irrelevant in the VA's deciding PTSD cases.

Thus personal recollection, often imperfect, ought not cause a veteran to be accused of fraud, asserted Walsh.

But Keith Roberts is a cautionary tale.

There is a huge backlog of some 600,000 VA cases (AlterNet: The Army Times, 2007), and the VA and US Atty Biskupic decided to go after the innocent Roberts because Roberts upset some VA folks by "tenaciously pursuing a claim for benefits," and US Atty Biskupic was eager to do the bidding of the Bush administration and it peculiar ideas on veterans' benefits that adopt the American Enterprise Institute's (AEI)/Dr. Sally Satel ethos that veterans need to just get over it, and not be enabled in a 'culture of trauma'.

Look here for a decision to be reported in the coming months.

May 13, 2008

Weakening US Criminal Case, VA Turns Down Jailed Wisc Vet’s PTSD Claim


Update: CREW AND VOTEVETS EXPOSE VA DIRECTIVE BARRING STAFF FROM DIAGNOSING SOLDIERS WITH PTSD, TO CUT COSTS
- See VA E-mail Obtained via FOIA Request

by Michael Leon (via mal contends)

Madison, Wisconsin — Vietnam-era Navy veteran Keith Roberts (1968-71) is an honorably discharged Navy airman who feels betrayed by his government, specifically the U.S. Dept of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the U.S. Dept of Justice, for its self-conscious and successful efforts to financially ruin and imprison him.

Last month in April, the Gillette, Wisconsin native received word from the Milwaukee VA Regional Office that his VA disability claim for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) retroactive to his discharge was denied—a development not unexpected from a hostile VA, but under the circumstances farcical as he sits in a federal prison in Minnesota for applying for the same benefits.

Now, the VA says he does not have PTSD, a position contradicted by several medical professionals and Roberts' extensive documentary record.

More significantly for the imprisoned Roberts is that the VA decision corroborates Roberts' case that he never had any intent to defraud the VA, the alleged crime for which he is now imprisoned.

Roberts makes two lack-of-intent arguments in his appeal brief to the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit filed last year: “The Evidence Offered at Trial did not Establish, Beyond a Reasonable Doubt that the Alleged Misrepresentations were Made with the Intent to Defraud., “ and in “The Evidence Offered at Trial did not Establish, Beyond a Reasonable Doubt that the Appellant Intentionally Misrepresented Facts to the VA.”

The alleged wire fraud is composed of the main allegations against Roberts by the US DoJ that he fabricated his role in trying to rescue fellow Airman Gary Holland, crushed to death in a gruesome C-54 aircraft accident in 1969, and lied about his friendship with Holland.

Both charges are demonstrably untrue and are charges on which US Atty Stephen Biskupic (not known for his prosecutorial discretion and hungry to augment his win/loss record and curry favor with the administration during this period) secured criminal indictments against Roberts and won a conviction in 2006.

Diagnosed as suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) by several private and public doctors during the 1990s, Roberts had been granted a 100 percent disability rating in June 1999 by the US Veterans Administration (VA) after a 12-year benefits claim process.

But not before Roberts, angered and frustrated with the VA, upset the wrong people in the government that he served.

"…The prosecution smacks of retaliation and a plan to suppress veterans claims—Roberts was prosecuted for tenaciously pursuing a claim for benefits, which VA resisted and which is still in the benefits review process," wrote former Harper’s magazine columnist and human rights attorney, Scott Horton, last year.

An experienced and objective VA civil servant knowledgeable about the specifics of Roberts claim agreed.

"[T]he only reason Airman Roberts was ever prosecuted was because he was a ‘belligerent ass’ who kept insisting that he get paid back to discharge. He was demanding an appeal in Washington," said a background source at the Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center in Milwaukee who e-mailed the Lee Rayburn radio show in Madison in early June 2007 about the Roberts affair, and asked to remain anonymous out of fear of losing his job. "I'd have to say that you guys are TOTALLY (uppercase in the original) right about Roberts' conviction being bullshit ..."

April 2008 VA Decision

The significance of the April VA decision lies in the fact that Roberts’ previously successful VA claim was severed because of an "unverified stressor," and the VA omits anything about Roberts committing fraud.

This is because “when a stressor is not related to combat, a veteran's testimony alone does not qualify as ‘credible supporting evidence’ of an occurrence of an in-service stressor," (p. 13 Dept of VA, Milwaukee VA Regional Office; 04/14/2008, Statement of the Case) because a veteran’s recollection as conveyed in his/her testimony is not reliable.

Said Roberts’ attorney Robert Walsh at the oral arguments last October before the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, referencing this VA standard:

… I submit to you that they are inconsistencies in every veteran's record, combat or peacetime. And that Congress has recognized that. And that’s why VA benefits is a very paternalistic, claimant-friendly, non-adversarial system. It’s even more paternalistic that the Social Security benefits adjudication system (per the Veterans Judicial Review Act). So, where’s the intent (for fraud)?

In other words, veterans' testimonies are not sufficient to establish a fact base for obtaining a VA disability claim, but are sufficient for a criminal indictment of fraud, according to US Atty Biskupic.

Charges of fraud are precisely what the VA convinced US Atty Biskupic to pursue at a jury trial where misrepresentation of VA practices and standards were made in several instances.

Stated Atty Robert Walsh at oral arguments last October:

... (I)t's a total distortion in this record, and any suggestion that any veteran can just walk into the V.A., file a claim and say, you know, a peace time Veteran, that I was here in the states and I was sexually assaulted, and it's stressful, give me money. And the (VA’s) answer is, did you tell the chaplain, did you go to the hospital, did you confide in a family member, do you have a contemporaneous letter, do you have documentation? ‘No, I was embarrassed’. Then the claim fails. Your own statement, no matter how compelling the argument, how tragic the circumstances, is not going to be the basis of an award of PTSD.

The practice of demanding supporting documentation, and not taking a veteran's testimony as dispositive in VA claims is common knowledge among VA claim adjudication personnel, attorneys in the bar who argue cases at the D.C.-based Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC), and veterans’ advocates around the country.

The main allegations against Roberts are that he fabricated, with intent, his role in trying to rescue Holland and lied about his friendship with Holland in his testimony in his VA claims.

The US Atty’s office convinced the jury that the fellow airman Holland was not Roberts’ friend, though the VA April decision acknowledges that Roberts had at least a working relationship with Holland while stationed at the same Navy airbase in Italy.

The Roberts support network and family see this VA acknowledgement as a “giant step in the right direction,” asserting CAVC judicial doctrine recognizes the veteran claimant does not have to prove every detail surrounding his claim, and as Atty Roberts has argued, the VA claim process is supposed to “paternalistic” and not “adversarial”.

“In our opinion VA has now put it in writing (in its April 2008) that can be understood by everyone that Keith did not commit fraud, that this (VA) Statement of the Case is their way of weaseling out of what they have done to Keith by admitting that he did not commit fraud,” e-mailed Deloris Roberts, wife of Keith Roberts.

"In our opinion a Motion for Leave to Amend the Record should be made to the 7th Cir. informing that there is new evidence that tends to exonerate the Appellant-Defendant.”

The cases that remain to be adjudicated are:

- U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC) (Roberts v. Secretary of the VA (05-2425)

- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit (U.S. v. Roberts, U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, Docket 05-CR-118).

VA Gets Mean

Roberts had hounded the VA to distraction and irritation when he accused the VA of outright fraud in 2003 in arguing for an earlier retroactive date for his benefits.

One VA Special Agent Raymond Vasil, of the Regional Inspector General’s office in Illinois, took point in retaliating against this Vietnam-era veteran for seeking an earlier retroactive date for his diagnosed PTSD-related disability benefits—administrative events by Vietnam-era veterans that are politically unpopular with the American Enterprise Institute and the Bush administration.

It is in this context that Roberts was reportedly often argumentative and insulting to the VA.

On August 16, 2004, the VA halted the benefits being paid to Roberts based upon Special Agent Vasil’s investigation; Roberts appealed the decision on September 14, 2004.

Just months later Roberts was indicted on fraud charges, in March (mail fraud) and September 2005 (a superseding indictment of wire fraud) .

Roberts has been serving a four-year sentence since March 2007 for seeking help by applying for VA health care benefits—actions the U.S. government subsequently contended to part to be of a fraudulent scheme for which Roberts was prosecuted and convicted in November 2006 by U.S. Attorney Stephen Biskupic, who had previously been on Karl Rove’s list of endangered U.S. Attys.

After the Roberts case and some other highly suspect cases, Biskupic name disappeared off the list.

Roberts is now fighting in both a criminal appellate court (U.S. Court of Appeal for the Seventh Circuit) and the administrative veterans’ claims court (U.S. Court of Appeals for Veteran Claims (CAVC) the same factual and legal disputes.

Roberts’ family and elderly parents say they worry about ever seeing him again as the 60-year-old Vietnam-era vet awaits decisions from the two courts.

Political Environment

Roberts was targeted by the US Dept of Veterans Affairs (VA) in 2003-05, and became the central figure in this Alice-in-Wonderland tale, after U.S. Attorney Stephen Biskupic of Wisconsin and top VA officials schemed to convict Roberts’ of fraudulently receiving VA benefits (by wire transfer as the VA requires).

Veterans’ advocates see Roberts as a victim of a vigorous attempt to marginalize, investigate, and prosecute veterans receiving disability benefits in an aborted attempt to fabricate a fraud crisis among veterans who were injured and traumatized during their service to their country.

As the Iraq and Afghanistan wars produce 100,000s more wounded veterans—a phenomenon that is now the subject of an unprecedented class action law suit by veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan against the VA—advocates allege that Roberts’ extraordinary prosecution was part of the Bush administration’s priorities to discourage VA disability benefits claims, especially among Vietnam-era veterans, serving to carry out the American Enterprise Institute (AEI)/Bush policy that demeans veterans for seeking help with PTSD in what the AEI derisively brands a “culture of trauma.”

The Pentagon has gone so far as to blame veterans “personality disorders” and lack of faith in God for veterans suffering after service. [And now, as a VA May 1, 2008 e-mail obtained via FOIA request reveals, that because of “compensation seeking veterans,” VA staff should “refrain from giving a diagnosis of PTSD straight out” and they should “R/O [rule out] PTSD” and consider a diagnosis of “Adjustment Disorder” instead.

One administration initiative to investigate 72,000 cases of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) was halted in 2005 after a storm of outrage from veterans’ groups and democrats.

In the current environment with the Bush administration under a heavy assault for its incompetence and hostility to veterans in an election year, and the DoJ under political fire for political prosecutions, it is doubtful that even US Atty Biskupic would cook up the same prosecution against Roberts.

Media Attention

The Roberts case drawn the attention and denunciations on Wisconsin Public Radio, the Madison Air America-formatted radio station’s Lee Rayburn, Harper’s magazine, and numerous progressive blogs and veterans’ journals, but had been shut out in the traditional print media before a piece by Josh Coffman was published in the daily News-Enterprise (Kentucky) in April on Roberts’ sister’s efforts to free her brother as administrator of the Keith A. Roberts Defense Fund, Inc.

The Roberts family remains shocked to this day by the hostility of the DoJ and VA.

“I am embarrassed by and disappointed in my government. So much talks in lofty circles about support for vets; about acknowledging PTSD (for the first time); we should be doing all we can for these guys without question. This is a Bush railroad if I ever saw one,” e-mailed Karen Ruyle of Colorado Springs Colorado, cousin of Roberts and wife of an Army veteran. “I now live right near Ft Carson and hear lots of talk, etc about veterans, their treatment, etc. I am really disgusted with what comes out of Washington. I really thought Bob Gates would have stepped in and looked at the veteran issue but I guess he's pretty engaged with Iraq/Iran.”

Arguments

Reads Roberts' appellate motion (that was granted last year to supplement the record) before the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC):

The plain reading of the statutes as found in Title 38 of the United States Code and their related regulations leave no doubt that the intent of Congress was that veterans not be forced to defend themselves simultaneously in two federal judicial forums. … As a result of the failure of the Secretary to comply with his own rules and regulations Mr. Roberts was prosecuted for wire fraud for receiving electronic fund transfers of his monthly VA payments for service connected disability. As detailed in the brief supporting this motion, the conduct of the Secretary has been contrary to law, in bad faith, highly adversarial and raises the inference of impropriety by a number of senior officials in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. ... The Appellant was subjected to administrative actions artfully tailored to deny him due process in the loss of a property right, his disability benefits. He did not realize that the was also being dragged into a vortex of VA action for which he could, and did, suffer a loss of liberty.

Said a member of Roberts’ defense team: “We do not believe that Congress intended that a veteran defend himself in two forums at the same time. The U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit will have to sort out the mess the VA and the Department of Justice have created here.”

The criminal case is entitled No. 07-1546 UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. KEITH A. ROBERTS, Defendant-Appellant, (On Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin).


The criminal appellate brief makes due process and insufficient-evidence arguments.

The listed arguments include:

I. The District Court Erred in Denying the Appellant's Motions to Dismiss, as the Court's Exercise of Jurisdiction Constituted a Denial of the Appellant's Right to Due Process, Due to the Pending Appeal Before the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.
II. The Evidence Presented at Trial Was Insufficient to Sustain a Conviction for Wire Fraud.
A. The Evidence Offered at Trial did not Establish, Beyond a Reasonable Doubt, that More than a Minor Portion of the Appellant’s Account of the Incident was Misrepresented to the VA.
B. The Evidence Offered at Trial did not Establish, Beyond a Reasonable Doubt that the Appellant Intentionally Misrepresented Facts to the VA.
C. The Evidence Offered at Trial did not Establish, Beyond a Reasonable Doubt that the Alleged Misrepresentations were Material.
D. The Evidence Offered at Trial did not Establish, Beyond a Reasonable Doubt that the Alleged Misrepresentations were Made with the Intent to Defraud.
III. The Appellant’s Right to Due Process was Violated When the Government Withheld Material Information.
IV. The District Court Erred in Applying an Enhancement to the Appellant’s Sentence, as Such Was Not Submitted for Proof Beyond a Reasonable Doubt.

CONCLUSION

The Appellant submits that his constitutional rights were violated in this case, and that he was unjustly convicted and sentenced. The Appellant asks that this court look at the facts of this matter, and apply the correct standards of review, to reach a reasonable and fair conclusion in which the Appellant’s convictions and sentence are vacated. In the alternative, the Appellant requests that this Court remand the case for re-trial, pending the conclusion of the Appellant’s administrative appellate measures.

[Accessing oral arguments. Enter 07-1546 in the Case Number's fields by entering 07 in the "Year," and entering 1546 in the "Year Fragment's" field. Give the file some 45 seconds at least to load.]

[Note: Much of the latter portion of this text has been previously published, and since published has undergone minor editing.]