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.
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.
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