Judge weighs in on firing of Phoenix VA director

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

PHOENIX (AP) -- A judge has ruled that the Department of Veterans Affairs was justified in firing the former director of its Phoenix office.

Sharon Helman was removed from her job as the Phoenix VA became the epicenter of a national scandal over the quality of care for veterans, amid allegations that patients were dying while waiting to see a doctor.

She appealed her firing on several grounds, and Chief Administrative Law Judge Stephen C. Mish ruled against her Monday.

The judge, however, said the VA did not have the basis to fire Hellman based on the allegations of delayed care at the VA. The judge did say the agency had the grounds to fire Helman over several gifts she took from a health care organization, including plane tickets and travel.