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Former Phoenix VA Director Pleads Guilty In Federal Court

Phoenix VA hospital
(Photo by Stina Sieg - KJZZ)
Phoenix VA hospital.

The former director of the Phoenix VA Medical Center pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court after failing to report nearly $50,000 in gifts from a lobbyist.

Sharon Helman pleaded guilty to making a false disclosure to the federal government in the wake of an investigation by the VA and FBI.

Helman was the Phoenix VA’s director from 2012 to 2014, and the investigation found that during that time she received – and failed to report - concert and airline tickets, a car, and a check for $5,000. According to federal prosecutors, all of the gifts were from the same person, identified in court as a former high-level VA employee. That person was part of a consulting and lobbying firm that assisted companies in expanding their business with the VA.

Sentencing is set for next month. The plea agreement calls for Helman to receive probation.

Stina Sieg was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2013 to 2018.