Ex VA director in Tucson imprisoned for theft

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TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) -- A former top official in the Tucson office of the Veteran's Affairs health care system has been sentenced to 27 months in federal prison and ordered to pay more than $360,000 in restitution.

The U.S. Attorney's Office says 54-year-old Connie S. Wilkinson of Tucson was sentenced on Monday. She pleaded guilty in October to theft of public funds and wire and mail fraud.

Wilkinson was clinical director of education and training for the VA's Southern Arizona Health Care System from 1999 to 2006.

She used several schemes to steal the money, including using her government credit card to buy department store gift cards and to make more than $200,000 in purchases from a phony business she set up.

The government says she spent the money on housing, home improvements, clothes and jewelry.

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