The Department of Veterans Affairs suspended two senior officials on Monday, after an internal review that found they encouraged lower level employees to attend a party where the workers were charged $30 or more to get a psychic reading from the wife of a VA executive.
Suspended from their duties were Gary Hodge, the head of the Pension Management Center in the Philadelphia area – his wife was the one doing the readings (she calls herself the “Angel Whisperer”) – and Lucy Filipov, an assistant director of the Philadelphia VA regional office.
“Mr. Hodge described his spouse’s talent as being able to talk to people and angels surrounding them,” a report from the VA Inspector General’s office said.
Hodge also told investigators that he had not reported his wife’s income from her “readings” to the Internal Revenue Service, omitting almost $20,000 in income for 2012-2013.
“Mr. Hodge told us that the 2014 tax year will be the first time they declared her income on their returns,” the report stated.
As for Filipov, she may have a date with Congress about the party, as back in April, she refused to answer questions about the incident, citing the inspector general probe.
“Did you voice any concerns at the time that your guests were asked to pay Ms. Hodge for her services, knowing that many of them were in Mr. Hodge’s direct or indirect chain of command?” asked Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL), the Chairman of the House Veterans Committee.
In the report, Filipov objected to the characterization of the event; she said those gathered were all friends from the VA.
“I’ll have munchies, wine/beer/vodka,” Filipov wrote in an email before the gathering.
“The employees told us of their reticence with their paid psychic participation,” the report stated.
“Employees told us that they left Ms. Filipov’s home almost immediately after their readings, due to the late hour and long drive home and that they were generally not enamored of the psychic experience,” the report found.
While both Filipov and Hodge have been suspended, for now they will continue to receive their regular VA paychecks.
That move caught the attention of Rep. Miller, who told me late Monday night that being suspended with pay is “not tough discipline.”