- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 29, 2015

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Federal authorities have accused the head of the Veterans Affairs’ benefits office in St. Paul of using her position inappropriately for personal and financial gain.

A report from the Office of Inspector General says Kimberly Graves arranged to be transferred from a VA office on the East Coast to a position with less responsibility in St. Paul while keeping her higher rate of pay, and that she claimed nearly $130,000 in moving expenses.

The VA inspector general’s office said it has referred Graves and another VA official to the U.S. attorney for possible criminal prosecution and a decision on whether Graves should return $129,000 in moving expenses.

“We determined Ms. Graves inappropriately used her position of authority for personal and financial benefit when she participated personally and substantially in creating an opportunity for her own transfer to the St. Paul (Veterans Affairs Regional Office),” according to the report released Monday.

Investigators say the other VA official, Diana Rubens, used the same tactics to get herself reassigned to the Philadelphia regional office from Washington.

Graves did not return a call for comment.

The VA said it would review all incentive and relocation procedures in the department.

“In addition, VA will consider all the evidence presented by the IG, collect any additional evidence necessary, and take appropriate accountability actions. VA will fully cooperate with other federal agencies as required as we continue our daily effort to improve the timeliness and quality of care and services delivered to our Nation’s Veterans,” the agency said in a statement.

An employee transferring in the interest of the government from one agency to another that’s at least 50 miles away is eligible for relocation expense allowances, according to federal regulations.

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