From: "Bruce K. Melson" <>

 -----Original Message-----
From: []On Behalf Of daniel j meck
Sent: Saturday, September 02, 2000 5:20 PM
To: NVOA Veterans List
Subject: BVA Attorney suspended from Bar and imprisoned


From: "Veterans Resources Network" <>


Dear Readers,

Below is a Washington Post article which offers more details about the
Jill Rygwalski case (we have already posted the Stars and Stripes article,
see our egroups archive, article no. 299).  Which includes the fact that
Gottfried is the "other" BVA attorney convicted of obstructing veterans


Ms. Rygwalski was also suspended (November 13, 1995) from practicing Law in
Pennsylvania for Five years (see notice after Washington Post article).
She will once again be able to practice Law in that State of Pennsylvania
around this Veterans day.
(I don't know where she is now, or what she is doing, but if you do? send
information and I will publish her recent activities.)


Expect another Washington Post article detailing Lawrence Gottfried's BVA
employment, which should be posted next week.


This is not really old news, but a continuing pattern of conduct at the BVA.
As we
have posted information about Chris Patton a BVA Attorney arrested and
kicked out of the
BVA in 1999,  (mainly as a result of Veterans Resources Network efforts).
See our egroups archive at:
Article number 244.


Currently BVA members and attorneys are under investigation by the VA
Inspector General (VAOIG), and I may be able to provide information on that
in the future, if the VAOIG will provide the information, under the Freedom
Information Act?


Your Editor,
Ray B. Davis, Jr.
(Reader Comments for publication MUST state they are to be published.)


##### START #####




By Toni Locy
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, September 9, 1995


During the four years that attorney Jill L. Rygwalski worked for the Board
of Veterans Appeals, she destroyed irreplaceable medical records and forged
other documents, possibly creating such lengthy delays that some veterans
died before learning if they would receive the benefits they sought.


Yesterday, U.S. District Judge James Robertson sentenced her to 15 months in
prison for tampering with veterans' files, and rejected her argument that
she was not to blame, but that the fault lay with everyone else, from her
domineering father to her supervisor to her husband.


In imposing the sentence -- the same as another board attorney received last
year for similar criminal conduct -- the judge pointedly drew a contrast to
her behavior, noting that neither he nor his staff tampered with her file in
preparing for the hearing. "We didn't change anything. We didn't throw
anything out. We didn't alter anything," he said.


Rygwalski, 33, of Lake Ridge, Va., pleaded guilty in June to destroying
government documents while she was an attorney who processed medical and
benefits claims for veterans from August 1990 to February 1994. As part of a
plea bargain, she will make $22,461 in restitution to the government.


Charles L. Cragin, chairman of the Board of Veterans Affairs, said Rygwalski
"put veterans last" in an effort to avoid having to make decisions on the
veterans' requests for benefits. By plucking out original documents and
forging others, she sent cases back to local veterans offices, sending
officials and veterans on searches for the records she had destroyed.


The full impact of her actions will not be known for some time, as officials
are continuing to examine the cases she handled for nearly 1,100 veterans.
Of them, 77 died after Rygwalski had returned their cases to local veterans
offices for more work. Board officials still have to determine whether she
tampered with any of those cases.


During a sentencing hearing earlier this week, defense witnesses testified
that Rygwalski suffered from a personality disorder. According to court
records, she claims she was mentally abused by her parents, particularly her
father, who forced her to become a lawyer rather than a veterinarian. There
also were allegations that she was the victim of physical abuse by her
husband and sexual harassment by a supervisor at work.


Robertson told Rygwalski that it was "nice" that she apologized to him. "But
the correct one was to the veterans, to the VA and to your colleagues," he
said. She did that, saying she accepted full responsibility.


Cragin said the appeals board has had its workload increased because of the
actions of Rygwalski and another lawyer, Lawrence Gottfried. But more
important, he said, the two attorneys -- who never knew each other -- have
single-handedly tarnished the board's integrity with veterans.


Prosecutor Suzanne G. Curt told the judge about a few of the veterans
affected by Rygwalski's behavior. One, a veteran of the Vietnam War, lived
in Florida; Rygwalski copied his handwriting and added information to a
letter he had written that resulted in his request being kicked back to a
local veterans office. When shown the letter, the veteran, who had a
third-grade education, said he did not know the meaning of some of the words
Rygwalski had added.


Curt said Rygwalski did similar things to the files of two veterans of World
War II, one of whom was a prisoner of war and recipient of a Purple Heart.
"The government has always treated these people with the deference they
deserve," she said. "What this defendant has clearly done is to disrespect
these people to an appalling degree." End.


Notice of Suspension


[28 Pa.B. 2405]
   Notice is hereby given that the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania issued an
Order dated May 5, 1998, suspending Jill Louise Rygwalski from the Bar of
this Commonwealth for a period of five (5) years, retroactive to November
13, 1995. In accordance with Rule 217(f), Pa.R.D.E., since this formerly
admitted attorney resides outside the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, this
notice is published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.


Secretary and Executive Director
The Disciplinary Board of the
Supreme Court of Pennsylvania


[Pa.B. Doc. No. 98-810. Filed for public inspection May 22, 1998, 9:00 a.m.]


##### END #####
This Email From:
Ray B. Davis, Jr.
P.O. Box 68
East Flat Rock, NC 28726-0068