Sharon Helman, ex-Phoenix VA hospital director, pleads guilty
Sharon Helman, the former Phoenix VA Health Care System director who was fired in 2014 amid a scandal over patient care, pleaded guilty Tuesday to filing a false financial disclosure that failed to list more than $50,000 in gifts she had received from a lobbyist.
A conviction for that crime carries a maximum prison sentence of five years, but terms of a plea agreement call for Helman to receive probation with no time behind bars.
Helman oversaw the Carl T. Hayden VA Medical Center in Phoenix from 2012-14, when whistleblowers disclosed to Congress and The Arizona Republic that veterans seeking appointments faced delays of up to a year, and that some had died while on secret wait lists. Subsequent investigations verified that the VA in Phoenix and at hospitals nationwide had "cooked the books," manipulating wait-time data. The revelations led to the resignation of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, as well as nationwide audits, congressional reviews and a $16 billion reform bill.
Neither Helman nor her attorneys could be reached immediately for comment on her plea.