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UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


MERIT SYSTEMS PROTECTION BOARD
DENVER FIELD OFFICE

TONJA LYNN LANEY, )


Appellant )
) DOCKET NUMBER
v. ) DE-0752-16-0349-I-1

)
DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS )
AFFAIRS, ) July 6, 2016
Agency )
_______________________________________)

APPELANTS RESPONSE TO ORDER ON JURISDICTION AND PROOF

REQUIREMENTS

On June 27, 2016, the Merit Systems Protection Board issued and order requiring the Appellant

to file evidence and/or argument amounting to a non-frivolous allegation that Appellants claim

of constructive suspension and removal is within the Boards jurisdiction. The Appellant hereby

replies to the Boards June 27, 2016 Order. Appellant will show that she lacked meaningful

choice when her physician found her unable to work due to a mental condition and the Office of

Personnel Management subsequently retired Appellant for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. See

Bean v. U.S. Postal Service, 120 M.S.P.R 397 (2013) Appellant will show that Agency leadership

at the highest levels condoned and supported a hostile working environment, failed to investigate

Appellants allegations of hostile work environment, retaliated against the Appellant for

protected disclosures that derailed and intervened in the Agencys attempt to scapegoat Phoenix

leaders, against the Appellant through their deliberate inactions and actions and that the Agency

violated both policy and law through their improper actions. Peoples v. Department if the Navy,

83 M.S.P.R. 216 (1999). Appellant contends that her constructive suspension and removal are
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partly or entirely the result of: (1) whistleblower reprisal, (2) sex discrimination (including

disparate treatment and hostile work environment), (3) race or color discrimination, and (4)

reprisal for equal employment opportunity (EEO) activity.

I. BACKGROUND
1. General
a. Appellant holds Bachelor's Degrees with Honors in Business and

Accounting from the University of Southern Mississippi and a Master's

Degree in Business and Organizational Psychology from the University of

Texas.
b. From 1995 to 2001, Appellant served honorably in the United States Air

Force. In 1999, she was promoted to Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO).

She retired from the Air Force on November 14,2001.


c. Appellant served as Senior Auditor for the Department of Defense from

2004 to 2008. Appellant served as VISN (Veterans Integrated Service

Network) 16 Financial Auditor from 2008 to 2010.


d. Appellant served as Chief Financial Officer for the Amarillo VA Health

Care System from 2010 to 2012).


e. On February 12, 2012, the Agency selected Appellant for the position of

Chief Financial Officer (GS-0505-14). The selection was made through

the competitive process.


f. Appellant has been on leave without pay since February 8, 2016 and is

currently unable to work per her treating psychologist. (Exhibit R, S)


g. The Office of Personnel Management retired the Appellant effective June

24, 2016 for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

2. Chief of Health Administrative Services


a. In FY 2012-2013, Chief of Health Administrative Services referred to

Appellants as a racial slur and stated to peers and subordinate employees

that the Appellant engaged in sexual threesomes with black men and

women in her office. He admitted to the statements and was issued a


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written counseling by Mr. Lance Robinson. A Final Agency Decision

found that he did in fact make the statements but that the statements did

not create a hostile work environment because they were not made directly

to the Appellant and even if they did create a HWE the agency was not

liable because he was issued a written counseling. Appellant appealed the

decision to the EEOC.

3. Audit of FCP 166


a. Upon arriving at the Phoenix VAHCS, Appellant became quickly aware

that the facility was in financial and operational disarray. Issues included a

deficit of 10.6 million dollars (deliberately shorted by the VISN CFO for a

budget shortfall in 2011), no contingency funds, 1800 backlogged MRIs

(900k), no facility level strategic plan, lack of business systems including

a lack of appropriate business planning and position management

planning, no facility budget reports. Appellant began to systematically

review all fund control point budgets, met with all budget officials face to

face and began to apply pressure to VISN to restore the 10.6 million

withheld from Phoenixs FY2012 budget. During these face to face budget

meetings Appellant made notes of any concerns that warranted a future

probe audit. One such concerns was Fund Control Point (FCP) 166-Public

Affairs Supplies and Services. The budget request seemed excessive and

Appellant made a note to conduct an audit of the FCP when time allowed.

b. Appellant completed the audit (Exhibit A) and discovered gross

misappropriation of funds and discovered that the FCP official Mrs. Paula

Pedene had founded and was currently on the board of a nonprofit

organization that was purportedly reimbursing the medical center for

expended funds. Specifically, the FCP official was spending appropriated


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dollars to subcontract job duties, make personal purchases and to sponsor

the Phoenix Veterans Day Parade. Appellant found no such evidence of

reimbursement and was concerned that the transactions were not at arms

length and that the FCP official could have personally profited from

reimbursements made by the nonprofit but not deposited with the agency

(there are many financial policy issues related to reimbursements and

Appellant was NOT the CFO when this agreement originated. It is

improbable that Appellant would have supported such an irregular

arrangement). Appellant issued a report on the misappropriation of funds

and briefed Associate Director Lance Robinson verbally on the nonprofit

organization. Appellant recommended that the FCP official no longer have

access to funds and that the case be reported to the Office of the Inspector

General for investigation of the nonprofit. The Office of the Inspector

General picked up a copy of the audit and supporting documentation and

never followed-up with the Appellant again. The OIG interviewed two

witnesses and returned the case back to the facility for an Administrative

Investigative Board. The OIG did not interview anyone associated with the

non-profit organization. A formal memorandum from Ms. Helman,

Hospital Director to Ms. Bowers, VISN 18 Director, informing Ms.

Bowers that the OIG criminal investigation surrounding this issue was not

thoroughly completed. Ms. Bowers reported to Ms. Helman that this

memorandum was sent to OIG management officials.


c. In 2013, the FCP Official contacted Mr. Glenn Costie, Director of the

Dayton Ohio Medical Center, and requested his assistance in lobbying VA

Central Office to pressure leadership at the Phoenix VA Medical Center to

withdraw charges sustained in the AIB.


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d. During this timeframe, the Phoenix VA received a formal request for

information from the Secretarys Office requesting that the Appellant

explain the reason for conducting the audit despite the fact that auditing

and financial oversight a key components of Appellants position

description.
e. On October 8, 2013, VA General Counsel, specifically William Gunn,

issued an opinion on the results of the Administrative Investigation and

specifically the misappropriation charges. Even though he agreed with the

misappropriation charges the memorandum instructed PVAHCS to remove

misappropriation charges from their proposed discipline because previous

Medical Center Directors had supported the parade. The justification for

removal of charges provided no legal standard or reasoning. (Exhibit B)


f. In 2014, the FCP official worked with Dr. Sam Foote to expose the wait

time scandal at the Phoenix VA and subsequently nationwide.


g. On May 2, 2014, Appellant's supervisors, Mr. Lance Robinson and Mrs.

Sharon Helman, were placed on Administrative Leave related to the

Phoenix VA scandal at the recommendation of the OIG. (Exhibit C)


h. On September 25, 2014, the non-profit organization sent an email to

Phoenix Interim Director Glenn Costie requesting that the items that they

purchased be turned over to them. All items requested were actually

purchased by PVAHCS with appropriated funds. The nonprofit mistakenly

believed that they had paid for these items. (Exhibit D)


i. September 29, 2014, the FCP official received an undisclosed settlement

from the Department of Veterans Affairs for the retaliation received at

the hands of agency officials. It was alleged that the Appellants audit

was retaliation for testimony that Mrs. Pedene provided in an AIB years

earlier against a previous Medical Center Director. OSC never contacted


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the Appellant or interviewed the appellant during their investigation

related to the financial audit.


j. Ironically after the press release, the Office of Accountability and Review

began an investigation into the retaliation of Paula Pedene and Appellants

financial audit. Appellant was not placed under oath and was interviewed

by Mr. John Davis by telephone. The interview was not recorded and he

did not take notes. Appellant expressed concerns of reprisal for not

testifying in the manner in which the agency expected and outlined her

recent experience with retaliation. Mr. Davis replied that Appellants

issues were not on his radar. Appellant expressed concerns that the OAR

had to find retaliation since the very public settlement with Mrs. Pedene.

(Exhibit E)

k. On October 30, 2014, Michael Culpepper issued a report based on

Mr. Davis investigation finding retaliation. He added a footnote to the

report that stated, During her interview for this inquiry, Ms. Laney

vehemently denied that either Ms. Helman or Mr. Robinson told her to go

after Paula in connection with this audit. Ms. Laney reiterated that Ms.

Helman had simply given her a copy of the RC memo months earlier and

asked her to look at the parade when she had time to ensure it was being

handled properly. Ms. Laney stated the timing of the audit was strictly

coincidental and that, in her mind, she was simply performing a fiscal

audit.

l. On December 22, 2014 Chief Administrative Judge Stephen C. Mish

would throw out the Culpeper report as hearsay due to the inappropriate

manner in which the investigation was conducted.


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m. On January 12, 2015, Appellant received a Notification of Proceeding-

Phoenix Administrative Investigation Board from John Davis (Exhibit F).

The Culpeper report in which Mr. Davis was the investigator was being

used as evidence to convene an Administrative Investigation into the

alleged retaliation of Paula Pedene with John Davis on the Board. The

Board would also look into access issues related to the crisis. Appellant

replied to the e-mail stating, Per your e-mail below I am confirming that I

will available Wednesday, January 14, 2015 at 1545 to provide truthful

and accurate testimony. However, I would like state that I do not feel that

the board is both objective and impartial as required per VHA Handbook

0700 as you have already rendered an opinion on the only topic that I can

provide testimony on (audit of FCP 166) in the form of a report of

investigation which was thrown out as hearsay by MSPB Administrative

Judge Mish. The board inclusive of you and convened by Mr. Culpepper

has no choice but to sustain your already written opinion. In addition to

concerns of objectivity and impartiality I fear reprisal.


n. Appellant wrote a letter to PVAHCS Medical Center Director Glen

Grippen and copied the Secretary and Deputy Secretary and the House of

Veterans Affairs Committee. Appellant warned that we are being

silenced and sacrificed when VACO is culpable. The AIB was suspended

and John Davis was replaced with Jill Crumpacker. (Exhibit G, H)


o. On April 6, 2015, Appellant testified as a witness before the OAR AIB in

which the line of questioning was about her qualifications to be a CFO and

if she had ever engaged in threesomes in her office or anyone elses

office, and if she had engaged in a sexual affair with Mr. Lance

Robinson. Two of Appellants subordinate employees were asked about

the location of their office related to Appellants and if they could hear
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Appellant having sex from their offices. This line of questioning occurred

8 months after Appellant had been cleared in an AIB. The Board did not

ask a single question about the audit of FCP 166.


p. On April 7, 2015 after obtaining guidance from Regional Counsel Mark

Romaneski, Appellant wrote an e-mail to the House Veterans Affairs

Committee, the Secretary, Deputy Secretary, Medical Center Director,

Network Director and head of the OAR. The House Veterans Affairs

Committee followed up and demanded that appellants retaliation cease.

(Exhibit I). The OAR called the Appellant back and allowed the Appellant

to testify about the audit of FCP 166. However, the OAR had no prepared

questions for the Appellant and simply allowed uninterrupted testimony.


q. On June 30, 2015, Sloan Gibson tells the press "People see these

investigations, and they'll tell you these investigations are unpleasant," he

said. "They see how demoralizing this is, to go through the process and to

be accused of wrongdoings, to have these kind of questions asked. This is

not people getting away with whatever it is.

4. HR/Police Reprisal
a. On May 14, 2014, Appellant provided voluntary testimony to the Office of

the Inspector General in her office and under oath.


b. On May 15, 2014, Appellant was notified by Acting Associate Director

John Scherpf that the Agency had received anonymous letters alleging

misconduct and that the Appellant was being

Administratively/Involuntarily detailed out of her position as Chief

Financial Officer.
c. On May 15,2014, Maria Schloendom, Human Resources Officer,

contacted Chief of Police Scott Neibauer and asked for his assistance in

retrieving documents from Appellant's private locked office. Once

Detective Mueller arrived in the Human Resources Office to assist in


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retrieving the documents, Mr. Daughetee escorted Detective Mueller to the

Fiscal Department. Mr. Daughetee related that a complaint alleged that the

Appellant kept inappropriate files on employees that had made complaints

against the Appellant and that the Appellant was currently engaged in a

Whistleblower reprisal allegation that was being addressed by the VISN.

He stated that he was "tasked to have Appellant's office area secured and

examined for files pertaining to her employees". Detective Mueller

suggested that Mrs. Hagen and Mrs. Simon examine the office with the

understating that the scope was for files for employees. Detective Mueller

instructed Mrs. Simon and Mrs. Hagen perform a "systematic search from

one end of the office to the other looking for employee related files" or an

unrestricted and unbounded search.


d. On May 23, 2014, Criminal Investigator Mueller interrogated the

appellant about items retrieved from her office during the retaliatory

search and investigation. He cited the appellant for willful removal of

government property for items that were locked and secured in Appellant's

office that he felt were proprietary to the Amarillo VA Health Care System

where appellant was previously the Chief Financial Officer.


e. On June 24, 2014, Appellant testified in an Administrative Investigative

Board related to the anonymous allegations in which she was the subject.

Appellant was accused of sexual misconduct to include having a

threesome in her office.


f. On June 30, 2014 Appellant began questioning the legalities of the search

of Appellant's office (Exhibit BB). Appellant notified Acting Medial

Center Director Steve Young and Acting Associate Director Anne Kreutzer

that she felt as if her Constitutional rights were violated in the search of

Appellant's office.
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g. July 2014, Glenn Costie become Interim Medical Center Director of the

Phoenix VA Health Care System.

h. August 4, 2014 the Administrative Investigative Board concluded that I.)

The issues identified in the investigation had already been reviewed in

previous fact findings and found no evidence to support the allegations 2.)

Directed by the Associate Director, the Human Resources Officer

conducted two fact findings addressing the same allegations listed in this

AlB 3.) The Human Resources Officer did not retain the results of the fact

findings 4.) Mrs. Maria Schloendom, Human Resources Officer. was not

forthcoming with information that she could have offered to assist with the

investigation. 5.) Maria Schloendorns testimony consistently reflected the

HRO's lack of knowledge and awareness or a deliberate attempt to

misdirect the board from information germane to the inquiry. The report

goes to Glenn Costie.

i. Mrs. Schloendorn failed to retain or disclose pertinent fact-findings

beneficial to the Appellant and disposed of them prematurely in violation

of law.

j. In June 2014, VACO conducted an assessment of Phoenix VA Human

Resources operations and issued a 96-page report. In that report, the

VACO team received complaints that HR leadership targeted employees,

shredded documents, created a hostile work environment and actively


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retaliated against employees. The report also outlined an HR department

operationally broken. Glenn Costie received that report.

k. On July 11, 2014, Plaintiff e-mailed Mr. Glenn Costie, Acting Medical

Center Director, and requested that he compel an explanation for the

search and seizure conducted in Plaintiffs office. Plaintiff received no

response.

l. On August 22, 2014, Acting Medical Center Director Glenn Costie informed

Plaintiff that the Administrative Investigation was complete and that Appellant

would be returned to her position as Chief Financial Officer. During this

meeting, Mr. Costie asked the Appellant if she was going to get even. This

was when the Appellant became aware that there was something damaging to

the agency in the final AIB report. Appellant began to FOIA documents.

m. September 17, 2014, Mr. Scherpf, Assistant Director, attempted to discourage

Plaintiff from pursuing civil action. Plaintiff followed-up with an e-mail to

Mr. Costie, Medical Center Director, requesting a meeting to clarify his vision

of moving forward. (Exhibit J)

n. August 27, 2014, the United States Attorney filed a motion to dismiss the

criminal charges against the Appellant in the "interest of justice'' and

United States Magistrate Judge Bade dismissed the criminal case against

the appellant.

o. October 28, 2014, Plaintiff sent an e-mail to Medical Center Director

Glenn Costie and Assistant Director John Scherpf requesting that they take
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corrective action and not continue to ignore Plaintiffs concerns

surrounding the illegal search of her office and the destruction of

documents. The e-mail went unanswered.

p. December 1, 2014, Appellant sent an e-mail to Maria Schloendorn

requesting that she stop creating a hostile work environment for the

Appellant. John Scherpf was copied on the e-mail. Appellant received no

response and the agency did not investigate Appellants allegations of

HWE.

q. January 2015, Appellants performance appraisal was downgraded to

Excellent by John Scherpf for inability to build coalitions with HR.

Appellant was advised to watch the tone of her e-mails.

r. John Scherpf repeatedly refused to investigate the search of Appellants

office because he had no reason to doubt Lt. Muellers integrity.

s. On January 22, 2015, Appellant met with new Interim Medical Center

Director Glen Grippen to request an investigation into the Appellants

retaliation. Mr. Grippen reviewed the same evidence that the Appellant

submitted to the Board and Mr. Grippen informed the appellant that he

would recommend yet another Administrative Inquiry into the Appellant

for sexual misconduct. It was at this time that the Appellant contacted

Dennis Wagner to tell her story to the Arizona Republic. Appellant will

show through affidavit and testimony of two separate HR officials that Mr.
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Grippen has a pattern of launching retaliatory investigations against

whistleblowers.

t. On June 10, 2015, Appellant received a phone call in her office from a

Phoenix VA Police officer telling her that he had followed her case and

had identified reports that would show that Robert Mueller had a history

of inappropriate behavior. He instructed Appellant to FOIA four specific

reports and all narrative write-ups for those reports. Appellant sent a

Freedom of Information Request to the Phoenix VA Health Care System

requesting four of Lt. Robert Muellers police reports. A response to the

request was received on August 20, 2015.


u. In Incident Report 8706, Officer Liam Davis alleged that he was coerced

to falsify a police report to justify the unlawful detention of a Veteran by

Lt. Robert Mueller. He stated specifically that Robert Mueller ordered him

to make false statements on the police report. Appellant contacted Officer

Liam Davis and was informed that he had filed a complaint previously

with the Office of the Inspector General and that complaint was sent to the

facility for an internal investigation. Specifically, John Scherpf Assistant

Director assigned the internal investigation to the Chief of Police.


v. June 6, 2015, Appellants performance appraisal was downgraded to fully

successful by John Scherpf with no justification. This time Appellant

appealed the rating and the rating was overturned by Interim Medical

Center Director Glen Grippen to Outstanding.


w. Appellant contacted the Assistant Secretary for Operations, Security and

Preparedness who initiated an internal affairs investigation that included

an investigation into IR 8706 and the unlawful search of Appellants office.

The investigation was convened 15 months after the incident occurred.

Appellant had previously requested investigations from Steve Young,


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Anne Kreutzer, John Scherpf, Glenn Costie, Glen Grippen, Joe Dalpiaz

and Kathy Fogarty.


x. On October 14, 2015 MSPB issued a decision in Laney v. Department of

Veterans Affairs finding retaliation.


y. On October 23, 2015, appellant received a phone call from a high level

Human Resources official in VA Central Office congratulating her on the

MSPB case and telling her that he couldnt help her before the decision

but he could help her now. He informed the appellant about the VACO

assessment of Phoenix VA Human Resources operations and the 96-page

report. In that report, the VACO team received complaints that HR

leadership targeted employees, shredded documents, created a hostile

work environment and actively retaliated against employees. The report

also outlined an HR department operationally broken. The report was

issued on June 14, 2014 just one month after the appellant was removed

from her position. The report was damning to Phoenix HR and no action

had been taken to follow-up or correct the issued identified. This inaction

forced the Appellant to work in an openly hostile work environment. He

also provided the Appellant with two subsequent reports that showed that

PVAHCS leadership attempted to suppress and cover-up the findings.


z. Appellant immediately released the reports to Dennis Wagner, reporter for

the Arizona Republic and an article ensued.


aa. The Acting Human Resources Officer alleged that the Appellant was the

source of the newspaper article and filed a Hostile Work Environment

complaint against the Appellant. In all their foolery, the Phoenix VAHCS

under Director Glen Grippen launched a fact finding investigation to

determine if the Appellant was in fact the source of the disclosure to the

press. Appellant will show in hearing through testimony and sworn

affidavits by two different Acting Human Resources officers that Mr.


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Grippen has a pattern of retaliating against employees that release

information to the press.


ab. From June 2015-December 2015, Appellants time cards were not certified

by her supervisor three times resulting in delayed payment of wages.


ac. From September 8, 2014-June 2015, John Scherpf consistently made

Appellants vacancies the lowest priority in the Medical Center and

prevented recruitment and denied overtime and compensatory time

requests.
ad. From September 8, 2014-December 2015, Appellant operated with a 45%

vacancy rate in fiscal service and 50% vacancy rate for supervisors and

still had outstanding external audits. Appellant covered the position of

CFO, Budget supervisor, Financial Manager, and Payroll Supervisor daily.

Requests for overtime or compensatory time were repeatedly denied even

though requests for OT/CT for Appellants peers were approved.

Currently, the Agency has detailed two fulltime finance professionals

simultaneously for 120 days to Phoenix to cover the Appellants absence

(Exhibit O). Emails will show that the Appellant demanded to be treated

fairly and equitably to her peers without resolution (Exhibit N and M).
ae. Currently, PVAHCS has allowed Brandon Coleman a similarly situated

employee to use AA instead of his personal leave since November of 2015

because his treating physician has stated that he cant return to his current

working environment due to Agency retaliation. We have the same treating

psychologist and Mr. Coleman experienced no loss to his pay.


af. In December of 2015, Appellant requested approval for the Voluntary

Leave Transfer Program and was approved. An employee with excess

leave donated leave to both the Appellant and an HR employee. On

January 19, 2016, Appellant had to e-mail the PVAHCS Deputy Director

because HR had failed to process the Appellants donated leaved for over
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three weeks but processed the other employees donated leave in a matter

of days. The Deputy Director intervened to get the donated leave

processed as it was affecting Appellants pay. He apologized for the delay.

5. Helman Debt Hearing


a. On April 22, 2015, Appellant received an e-mail from Mr. James Heelan

the Attorney for Mrs. Sharon Helman requesting to speak with the

Appellant. Appellant spoke with Mr. Heelan by telephone and was told

that she was listed as both Mrs. Helmans witness and the Agencys

witness related to the debt created when Mrs. Helmans performance

bonus was publically rescinded. Mr. Heelan asked me if Appellant had e-

mails related to Mrs. Helmans purported debt. The Agency Assistant

General Counsel Mrs. Kimberly McLeod never notified Appellant of the

hearing, never discussed anticipated testimony and never requested any e-

mails or documents related to Mrs. Helmans debt through the discovery

process. Mr. Heelan seemed stunned to find out this information and

informed Appellant that Mrs. McLeod had stated that during the discovery

process that the Appellant did not possess any relevant documents when in

fact she did possess relevant documents. These documents were not

favorable to the Agency and were provided to Mr. Heelan. In fact, Mrs.

McLeod never even notified Appellant of the hearing date, location or

time yet had Appellant listed as an agency witness. Appellant was notified

by Mr. Heelan the night before the hearing when an e-mail was sent

inquiring about the location. Appellant arrived at the hearing at the VBA in

Phoenix at 0800 as requested and was in the room observing when Mr.

Heelan made the motion to admit Appellants e-mails into evidence. Mrs.

McLeod objected stating that she had not had time to review my e-mails.

She went on to state that she had not requested the documents directly
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from Appellant because she was a perceived Whistleblower. She stated

that instead the Agency had searched Appellants e-mails for all

correspondence with Eric Hannel (Jeff Millers Congressional staffer) and

Mark Romaneski (Regional Counsel) and the agency could not locate any

such e-mails. This response from the Agency was less than accurate or

truthful. A search of e-mails for the term Hannel returns 253 e-mails. A

search of e-mails for the term Helman + debt returns 109 e-mails. A

search of the term Romaneski returns 462 e-mails. A search of the

terms Romaneski + Helman + debt returns 12 e-mails. A search of the

terms Romaneski + Helman + debt + Hannel returns 2 e-mails. After

the judge admitted Appellants e-mails into evidence, the Agency decided

to not call the Appellant as an Agency witness. Mr. Heelan decided not to

call appellant as a witness and to rely solely on e-mails due the badgering

he anticipated by OGC. Appellant sent an e-mail directly to the Secretary.

(Exhibit P)
b. In a decision dated September 16, 2015 in Sharon Helmans favor, the

Agency was found to have a culpable state of mind. (Exhibit Q)

II. EXHIBITS

A-Audit of FCP 166

B- Gunn Memorandum

C- Excerpt of OIG Agent Halpin statement

D- e-mail parade

E-Davis e-mail

F-Notification of Proceeding

G- AIB e-mail
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H-AIB letter

I-OAR e-mail

J-Moving forward e-mail

K-Concern e-mail

L- IR 8706

M-OT e-mail

N-OT continued

O- it takes two

P-Helman debt e-mail

Q- Helman decision

R-Medical

S-Leave Records

III. SUMMARY
Appellant asserts that the Agency created intolerable working conditions when it

subjected her to a sexually charged working environment, detailed her out of her

position, conducted an unconstitutional searched of her office, subjected her to an

Administrative Investigation knowing that the allegations had already been

investigation and were unfounded, questioned subordinate employees about

Appellants sexual conduct and racial preferences, destroyed fact findings that were

favorable to the Appellant, subjected Appellant to a criminal investigation, forced

Appellant to work uncompensated hours to maintain operations while allowing peers

overtime, failed to investigate hostile work environment allegations, failed to

investigate the search of Appellants office for 15 months, failed to investigate

findings in the VACO HR assessment, conducted retaliatory investigations, and failed

to investigate obvious retaliation of the Appellant. Agency leadership condoned and

supported a hostile working environment against the Appellant through their


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deliberate inactions and actions and the Agency has violated both policy and law

through their improper actions. The Appellant asserts that the agency continued to

retaliate against the Appellant and created a hostile working environment that

exacerbated her PTSD and forced retirement. Appellant is requesting a hearing in this

matter. Appellant is requesting that the Board find jurisdiction.

_______/S/_________________
Tonja Lynn Laney
Appellant

Supplement to timeline added by Art Levine, author, Mental Health, Inc.:

Laney emails to VA officials about "threesome" questions and other abuses of


VA investigative and administrative hearings:

From: Laney, Tonja L.

Sent: Tuesday, June 30, 2015 10:42 AM

To: McDonald, Bob

Cc: Gibson, Sloan; 'Hannel, Eric'

Subject: Mr. Gibson's comments about AIBs

Mr. McDonald,

I am deeply disturbed by Mr. Gibsons comments on June 30, 2015 in the Military Times Article entitled VA deputy:

Accountability push is making a

difference (http://www.militarytimes.com/story/military/benefits/veterans/2015/06/29/gibson-va-accountability-

problems/29469943/) . Specifically, Mr. Gibson was quoted as saying "People see these investigations, and they'll

tell you these investigations are unpleasant," he said. "They see how demoralizing this is, to go through the process

and to be accused of wrongdoings, to have these kind of questions asked. This is not people getting away with
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whatever it is. Over the last year as the Phoenix VA CFO, I have some experience with Administrative

Investigative Boards both as a subject and a witness. I was only upset about the AIB convened on me related to

anonymous allegations because those allegations had been previously investigated and the PVAHCS Human

Resources Officer did not disclose those previous fact findings to management. . The final AIB report stated that

there was no evidence provided that would suggest that I had a threesome in my office and that Mrs. Schloendorn

deliberately attempted to misdirect the board. My AIB ultimately concluded that Mrs. Schloendorn was not

forthcoming with the previous fact findings that were identical to the scope of the AIB and had to testify three

times before disclosing the information. She testified under oath that she did not retain copies of those fact

findings. My AIB asked both my peers and subordinate staff about my alleged sexual misconduct and was invasive

and humiliating. On April 06, 2015, the OAR AIB convened by your office once again questioned me about my

alleged sexual misconduct and I can only assume that my subordinate staff were also questioned about it as well.

Now we know that the intent was just to demoralize me as a person and employee. Mr. Gibsons comments are

infuriating. What happens when you demoralize innocent employees? Do you apologize? Issue a statement

clearing their name and reputation? If so, I am still waiting.

Tonja Laney

PVAHCS CFO

From: Hannel, Eric, Staff Director

Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations

Sent: Tuesday, April 07, 2015 1:50 PM

To: Megan Serhan Flanz, Interim General Counsel and Deputy General Counsel, Legal
Operations and Accountability Office of General Counsel

Cc: Towers, Jon

Subject: RE: Phoenix OAR AIB

Meghan,
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Please timely inform the Committee what actions will be taken to validate the concerns expressed in the email

below, to stop this apparent retaliation, and to address the refuted allegations that have been brought to bear

repeatedly. In reviewing VAs Table of Penalties (VA Handbook 5021/15, Part I, Appendix A), making false or

unfounded statements, which are slanderous or defamatory, about other employees or officials can result in

reprimand or removal for the first offense, 14 days removal for a second offense and nothing less than removal for

a third offense.

Best regards,

Eric Hannel, PhD

Marine (ret)

Staff Director

Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations

House Committee on Veterans' Affairs

From: Laney, Tonja L. [mailto:Tonja.Laney@va.gov]

Sent: Tuesday, April 07, 2015 12:26 PM

To: Flanz, Meghan Serwin

Cc: Gibson, Sloan; Fogarty, Kathleen R.; Grippen, Glen W.; McDonald, Bob; Hannel, Eric

Subject: Phoenix OAR AIB

Importance: High

Mrs. Flanz,
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Yesterday, I testified in the Phoenix OAR AIB. I did not receive a charge letter but understand that the charges were

access, tampering with an EEO investigation by a manager, and whistleblower reprisal. I talked with Mark

Romaneski this morning to ensure that I could raise concerns about the AIB without violating 0700. I was told that I

could do so if I have an official and legal reason to raise those concerns and I do. When I received my notice to

testify, it stated that I was not a subject but a witness. During the course of the AIB, Mrs. Crumpacker asked me if I

had ever had a threesome in my office or anyone elses office. I responded that I have not had a threesome in my

office, anyone elses office or even at home. On May 7, 2013 I reported to Associate Director Mr. Lance Robinson

that Mr. Brad Curry had stated to his employees that I was engaging in threesomes in my office and had referred to

me with a derogatory racial slur. A fact finding was initiated and conducted by the Human Resources Officer Maria

Schloendorn. The fact finding substantiated my allegations as Mr. Curry admitted to making the statements. He was

given a written counseling. Mr. Robinsons testimony under oath can be found in my EEO case files. On August 5,

2013 I was notified that an anonymous letter had been sent to the Secretary of the VA stating that I had a

threesome in my office and Mr. Curry attempted to report the concern and was threatened by Mr. Robinson. Mr.

Robinson informed me that the Agency was going to conduct another fact finding because VACO requested a

response to the anonymous letter. I was upset about the second fact finding as Mr. Curry had already received a

written counseling for making the statements and I felt as if that should have been disclosed to VACO to prevent

me from the embarrassment of a second fact finding. Mrs. Schloendorn conducted a second fact finding and

determined that I did not have a threesome in my office. Around May 2014, the agency received more anonymous

letters alleging that I had a threesome in my office and an AIB was convened. I was detailed out of my position on

May 15, 2014 and I made Mr. Scherpf (Associate Director), Mrs. Bowers (Network Director) and Mr. Young (Acting

Medical Center Director) aware of the previous fact findings and the sexual harassment that I reported on May 7,

2013. I received no response to my e-mail. On May 15, 2014, Mrs. Schloendorn ordered a search of my office to

secure documents. Those documents included my documentation of sexual harassment by Mr. Curry. The items

removed were not inventoried and my documentation on MR. Curry was not returned. Fortunately, I had a copy in a

secured location. The AIB was conducted and concluded that I did not have a threesome in my office. The AIB also

concluded that Mrs. Schloendorn was not forthcoming with the previous fact findings that were identical to the

scope of the AIB and had to testify three times before disclosing the information. She testified under oath that she

did not retain copies of those fact findings. The AIB team interviewed my subordinate staff about my alleged

threesome. This was highly embarrassing and invasive. The final AIB report stated that there was no evidence

provided that would suggest that I had a threesome in my office and that Mrs. Schloendorn deliberately attempted

to misdirect the board. Per Mr. Glenn Costies sworn testimony provided February 10, 2015, on 9/25/2014 a meeting

was held with Regional Counsel concerning the results of the AIB in which I was the subject. While Regional Counsel

did not concur with all recommendations they did concur with the Board Recommendations related to me or in

summary TL was found to not have violated any rules or regulations. I was never notified by the OAR AIB that I

was a subject of this AIB and that the charge of me having a threesome in my office was added to the scope of the

AOR AIB. I hope that the Agency is not planning to embarrass me once again my asking my peers or subordinate

staff if I have participated in a threesome in my office with no new evidence to suggest that there is any truth to

that allegation. I perceive continued questioning about this allegation without any evidence to be continued sexual

harassment and would ask that the OAR cease that harassment immediately as I am entitled to a workplace free of
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sexual harassment. If there is new evidence and the Agency would like to convene an AIB in which I am the subject

and that AIB is not a retaliatory tool, I welcome that but in the absence of new evidence this is harassment.

I am stunned that the AOR AIB wasted time questioning me about threesomes and did not ask a single question

about the audit of Mrs. Pedene that identified gross misappropriation to determine if it was reprisal or my fiscal

responsibility (I actually thought that was a charge on this AIB) so that I could provide the Memorandum in which

Gunn concurred with the findings. It almost seems as if the AOR AIB is more interested in salacious rumors than

the truth.

Tonja Laney

CFO

From: Flanz, Meghan Serwin


Sent: Tuesday, April 07, 2015 10:27 AM
To: Laney, Tonja L.
Cc: Gibson, Sloan; Fogarty, Kathleen R.; Grippen, Glen W.; McDonald, Bob
Subject: RE: Phoenix OAR AIB

Ms. Laney, I appreciate your reaching out to raise these concerns.

I will be contacting the team today.

Meghan Flanz
Counselor to the General Counsel and
Director, Office of Accountability Review
Office of General Counsel
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
810 Vermont Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20420

Note: No individual was ever sanctioned by the VA for any of their retaliatory or

degrading conduct towards Tonja Laney.