Jun 14, 2016

Former HOCALJ Pleads Guilty

     From a Department of Justice press release:
A former social security Chief Administrative Law Judge pleaded guilty in federal court today for conspiring to retaliate against a former employee of the Social Security Administration (SSA) who provided information regarding potential corruption and fraud to federal investigators. ...
Charlie Paul Andrus, 66, of Huntington, West Virginia, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Danny C. Reeves of the Eastern District of Kentucky to a one-count information charging him with conspiracy to retaliate against an informant.  Andrus had been an administrative law judge with the SSA for nearly 28 years, where he was responsible for adjudicating claims for disability benefits on behalf of the SSA.  In 1997, Andrus was promoted to the position of Chief Administrative Law Judge for the hearing office located in Huntington. ...
Andrus admitted that at the time of his demotion, he was aware that an SSA employee from the hearing office was meeting with investigators and relaying information about potential federal offenses.  According to his plea agreement, Andrus met with Conn shortly after the article was published and the two devised and implemented a plan to discredit the informant.  According to court documents, the plan involved filming the informant violating a program that allowed employees to work from home, with the hope that the informant would be terminated as a result.  By pleading guilty today, Andrus admitted that he was aware that the SSA employee reported truthful information to federal investigators and that he wanted to retaliate against the employee by interfering with the employee’s employment and livelihood.


Anonymous said...

good riddance of bad rubbish

Anonymous said...

This conduct is not exclusive to Huntington, either. Similar conspiratorial conduct among groups of SSA employees to target a coworker with the intent to force that person out of their employment and livelihood for such other reasons as the perpetuation of domestic violence has als occurred.

Anonymous said...

Andrus didn't only conspire to film this woman. When the PI found she was not abusing her "work from home" privileges, either Andrus or Conn doctored the time on the tape to make it look like she was.

Anonymous said...

about time things started moving up the food chain - let's hope this signifies LE determination to hold even the highest agency officials accountable for their roles in this debacle - until that happens, the corruption - and harassment of those who try to expose it - will only continue bc they know they can get away with it

Anonymous said...

Another allegation:


Another whistleblower at another Social Security Administration disability appeals office is alleging she has been bullied, harassed, intimidated and retaliated against for reporting official misconduct.

And she has the emails – 100-plus – to back up her claims.

“They are so corrupt. It’s absolutely horrible,” said the woman, a lead case technician in the Madison Office of Disability Adjudication and Review.


Anonymous said...

One more:


MILWAUKEE – A federal employee who brought to light claims of incompetence, misconduct and long case delays at the Milwaukee Office of Disability Adjudication and Review says management is retaliating against him for blowing the whistle.

Ronald Klym, a long-time senior legal assistant for the administrative law judges that ultimately hold the power of granting or denying Social Security disability benefits, tells Wisconsin Watchdog things got rough for him in recent years – after he alerted senior officials and, later, lawmakers about a litany of management problems at ODAR.

“Absolutely. I am being punished because I am a whistleblower,” said Klym, who alleged harassment, additional work assignments and unreasonable deadlines.


Anonymous said...

In addition to the criminal charge and misconduct, the former HOCALJ's Federal retirement pension should either be reduced, or it be legally determined he is no longer eligible. I have not yet heard this has happened to any of those charged in the Huntington debacle.

However, I believe reduced pensions, or intelligibility to receive any Federal pension should be legally enforced against ANY SSA or ODAR employees who have engaged in criminal conduct or egregious misconduct.

Conspiracy itself is a crime. If their pensions are not touched, these individuals should be assessed with large fines, or financially responsible for damages their criminal conduct caused to others including the SSA and Federal government.

Anonymous said...

Agree that Andrus's behavior is representative of a larger systemic problem in ODAR's "8 and 4" culture.

The Huntington whistleblowers in this case were incorruptible and truly gutsy. Sadly, most rank-and-file ODAR employees are too afraid of losing their bonus and promotional opportunities to take the kinds of risks they took. In ODAR, employees must "go along to get ahead."

The Huntington whistleblowers were also just lucky enough that the ODAR management misdeeds caught the interest of a WSJ reporter. Imagine all the management harassment and dishonorable behavior that isn't big enough for that kind of scrutiny.

So, some are wondering when is Andrus's boss - you know, the one who did absolutely nothing in response to repeated reports about problems at the Huntington hearing office - going to be held accountable for her actions? It's highly unikely that Andrus acted without feeling very comfortable knowing that he could get away with it. So when are his boss and boss's boss going to be held accountable ...and on up the ODAR food chain?

Anonymous said...

This is currently happening to me and another colleague. We are being retaliated against by the former HOCALJ and the current HOD for reporting their misconduct, abuse of power, bullying, intimidation, and harassment.

Anonymous said...

The Klym case is BS even by his own report--the secrets he's blowing the whistle over are as follows:

1) that ODAR has a huge disability app backlog of over 1 million cases

2) that ODAR moves work around the country

1) is simply a function of the number of applicants, the number of employees we have devoted to the disability process, and the newer, increasing quality demanded by leadership

2) is just silly--he makes it sound nefarious but SSA is open about it. It simply moves cases from offices that are behind in an area of workload to others that aren't. Like today my office sent off 25 decisions to be written by another hearing office that I would assume is low on cases to write. It's called efficiency, and it's no secret or dubious plan.

That Madison/Chicago case sounds fishy--she took a transfer to another office really far away and now cries hardship once her telework was removed (glaring omission there for why/how telework was scaled back). I would guess her hardship was denied because she willingly transferred to the office; i.e., she willingly created the hardship (though the telework issue surely will impact this).

Again, with the few, vague, and favorably reported facts from these alleged whistleblowers, it seems really bad. But from my inside perspective I see a lot of possible reasonable explanations for everything within the bounds of the big facts they omit discussion over.

Anonymous said...

@12:47AM, June 15, stated, "Agree that Andrus's behavior is representative of a larger systemic problem in ODAR's "8 and 4" culture."

I am a longtime insider, and this is Spot-On! The extent to which ODAR's "8 & 4" culture has fostered misconduct and unfair labor practices from top Agency officials on down to low level managers, and in turn ignited numerous EEO and Whistleblower cases, as well as Union Grievances, is shocking. Absolutely shocking. That top Agency officials back, cover-up and bend over backwards to protect these managers from the misconduct, including criminal, they have engaged, and which, in many respects was directed by them in the first place, is also illegal, and in violation of Federal Government Ethics rules.

When evidence further shows many of these top Agency officials have been rewarded with huge bonuses and promotions in recent years, and have promoted and rewarded like minded subordinates, is demonstrative of outright corruption and mismanagement. That some of these managers have orchestrated in advance well thought out plans to force certain target employees from their employment and livelihood, and instilled a culture of fear among employees they supervise who refuse to go along, or simply remain silent, is reflective of an abusive work environment. Many targeted employees are not poor performers. To the contrary, they are often high achievers, or employees who have engaged their legally protected rights.

The extent to which these top Agency officials on down are granted long periods of paid Administrative Leave whenever they are investigated for wrongdoing, and the targeted employees are simultaneously denied same, along with other types of paid emergency leave provided in the CBA, it is more than clear there is a large systemic problem with ODAR, which must be addressed immediately. When the Acting Agency Commissioner (Colvin) has been acutely aware of these issues, signed off on granting long periods of paid Administrative leave to those who who engaged in misconduct while denying same to the employees they targeted, protected these employees, and refused to remove, demote or discipline these employees despite being presented with overwhelming evidence of their wrongdoing, imminent action is necessary.

@1:05PM, June 15: While you are entitled to your opinions about the cases you reference, and I would agree the two issues Klym reportedly spoke out about are standard operating procedure at ODAR and not "whistleblowing," the vast majority of these cases are legitimate and representative of a large systemic problem within ODAR. Targeted employees illegally forced out of their jobs, and their families, have truly suffered and had their livelihood literally pulled out from underneath them for no good reason, while those who intentionally engaged in the misconduct have been rewarded and promoted. Something is very wrong with this picture.

Anonymous said...

What does 8&4 culture mean?

Anonymous said...

8 hours to write/draft an unfavorable decision and 4 hours for a favorable decision.

Anonymous said...

For those of us not on the inside, can someone please explain the term "8 & 4". I have seen it used in a lot of comments and am not sure what it means. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Wow everyone in my ODAR office is nice and seems happy by and large

Anonymous said...

8&4 means that after everyone else has had the case and pushed it along, it ends up on the writer's desk full of problems and the writer is supposed to be able to draft that decision in 8 hours if it is an unfavorable and in 4 hours if it is a favorable. Everyone knows that 8&4 is not based on any reasonable study or standard and everyone knows that most 8 hour unfavorables are coming back on remand. Now there are some parts of the country where health care is non-existent and the claimants are mostly non-repped. Sure those cases can be done in 8 hours, but a fully developed case that is poorly pulled and with poorly articulated or worse picayune instructions, that is not an 8 hour case. Of course those very managers who sing 8&4 could not write a case if their lives depended on it. But they may have to before too long.

benson sinclair said...

I am an Arizona resident seeking dissabilty benefits and after two denials I have learned my benfits were denied on basis of not showing prior work history an paying into SSI and medicare, however all was explained an information provided for the work history but the claim adjusters ignored the information. I can only hope that the adjudicating judge will see the light with the help of my attorney. I have researched the states' corruption problems and though Arizona has one of the worst corruption profile in the nation I can only hope to get a fair shake. I have been working on my case since November of 2014, thsts seems to me a very long time to examine medical records and having an adjudication review! Anonymous 3:45pm June 2016

Anonymous said...

Where is it written that any SSA employee is potentially entitled to a "bonus"?
I think the salaries SSA employees draw is competitive. If not, they should go somewhere else. This is not to insult most SSA employees who are hard working, but to question this practice that is obviously contentious. Does the agency release statistics or the actual amount of bonuses handed out annually? Perhaps the agency could get the funding they need if salaries were reviewed and analyzed in comparison to the private sector. If not, raise those that need raising and stop this "bonus" practice.

Anonymous said...

Unless you are toiling in some dead end minimum wage job, SSA bonuses to the rank and file are puny by any measure, in the $400 to $1,500 per year range depending on grade and performance. Grumping about bonuses is a favorite tool of the anti-government crowd. They distract you by playing on petty jealousy while cutting funding needed to run the program. There ain't no such thing as a free lunch, anywhere. Nobody is going work for free and monetary rewards are a recognized and necessary management tool.