By Gordon Duff STAFF WRITER/Senior Editor

There are over 20,000 homeless veterans in the Los Angeles area alone, where the National Veterans Home  been broken up, given away and “lent out,” piecemeal, to prep schools, a powerful and wealthy Brentwood homeowner and Veterans Park Conservancy, even dotted with oil wells and used to store rental cars.  Veterans, however, are locked out and as this reporter has learned from interviews with VA police, arrested, harassed and threatened at “orders from above,” orders that tell police to lie, falsify documents, violate jurisdictions and spy on veterans.

The “scam,” police abuses, crimes, threats, spying, accusation of fraud, present a mosaic of abuses, some administrative, some wealthy groups using the cover of a “veterans charity” to block housing meant for homeless vets and turn the land into a “country club.”  It isn’t just homeless groups but members of congress, VA officials and even veterans organizations such as the American Legion who chosen to side against veterans in favor of a land use program now found to be illegal, a program harmful to veterans.

Police say they stand ready to testify to criminal acts by VA officials but no one will listen, including VA Secretary General Shensiki who has been informed of this scandal and others including evidence of more charges, phony vendors, financial fraud in the millions.

“Lt. Montero came to us and said he had been ordered by Captain Treadwell to have us falsify citations, make illegal arrests and lie in court.  We had been ordered to harass, threaten and spy on veterans. Montero told us it was wrong and that he had to pass it on but wouldn’t support it.  15 of us refused but not all, some of the officers went along with it.  Many of us are veterans and what we were ordered to do isn’t just a felony and violation of our oath and a betrayal of veterans.  We wonder who ordered Treadwell?” (statement by VA police officer confirmed and documented in writing)

Secretary Shinseki has ignored repeated entreaties to act, even when suit was filed by the ACLU and when contacted by attorneys for the Annenberg Foundation.  Shinseki’s silence in face of the endless scandals to plague the nations largest facilities under his authority.  A spokesman for the Secretary told (leaked to) VT (semi-off the record)

“We inherited a mess here, corruption everywhere.  You have no idea how much we have done to clean things up and how much we are doing every day.”

VT reporter, Robert Rosebrock, an advocate for homeless veterans, was singled out, according to statements from the 15 officers.  Rosebrock was illegally arrested based on falsified complaints and perjured statements submitted to the US Attorney in Los Angeles and the Federal District Court.  The charges were dropped and Rosebrock later freed.

The ACLU has filed suit against the Department of Veterans Affairs for violating Rosebrock’s civil rights in this issue.  Attorney Peter Eliasberg represents the ACLU and was not available for statement.

Rosebrock states,

“The powerful Brentwood Homeowners Association and Veterans Park Conservancy have illegally diverted a project for homeless veterans to private use, over a billion dollars of land, while veterans sleep on the sidewalk.  For 3 years, without fail, veterans have legally protested this while being harassed, threatened and even assaulted.  What veterans have come against is the “West Los Angeles Political Machine,”the modern version of Tammany Hall, Congressman Henry Waxman, Senator Diane Feinstein who run the Department of Veterans Affairs out here like hand puppets.”

Attorney Richard Fox, representing the Annenberg Foundation, agrees with Rosebrock.

Any private use of this land, for a park or oil wells, it doesn’t matter, is not allowed in accordance with deed restrictions and California law.  This is our legal opinion, submitted to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs in a 30 page paper.  We received a one page answer from Veterans Affairs citing a single court case they say supports their use of the land.  In fact, the case said nothing of the sort, a very inappropriate response to an issue so vital to America’s veterans.”

Additional reports indicate that VA funds are being channeled into a money laundering operation, according to whistleblowers inside the Los Angeles VA.

“Phony contracts with non-existent vendors are paid out to an empty office down the street.  This has been going on here for years, hundreds of thousand missing, maybe millions and it is all being covered up.  Payments were made to dummy corporations for lab work outsourced by the VA.  This is still going on.”

VT has received reports from VA police and other personnel, including audit and accounting, that tell of missing monies, irregularities and fraud.

ACLU Joins the Fray: Calls for Investigation into Handling of West LA Vets Land Use Deal


By Katharine Russ

The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California (ACLU) has added its support to the Metabolic Studio, a direct charitable activity of the Annenberg Foundation led by artist Lauren Bon, in calling for an investigation into alleged multiple breaches of fiduciary responsibility surrounding the 1888 deed for land donated by Senator John P. Jones and Arcadia Bandini de Stearns Baker for a Veterans’ Home, now known as the West Los Angeles VA (WLA VA).

Bon and her team ran a widely acclaimed, fully funded and compensated work therapy (CWT) program for veterans, known as Strawberry Flag, for over a year on the WLA VA campus.

This work was located between three under purposed buildings, 205,208 and 209. The work was allowed under a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) agreement with Asset management. The MOU was signed by the Director, Donna Beiter of the WLAVA, and was extended due to its popularity with both clinicians and veterans.

Despite the success and many benefits it offered to veterans, Beiter abruptly pulled the plug on the Strawberry Flag project in October 2010.

Bon’s support of veterans didn’t end, however, when her Strawberry Flag project was terminated. Instead, the Metabolic Studio focused on the VA’s failure to meet its fiduciary responsibilities to our country’s veterans imposed on the use of the WLA VA land under the 1888 deed for land.

The Metabolic Studio recently, released a 30-page “position paper,” supported by an historical background, USGS maps and extensive case law, asserting the VA’s breach of trust in failing to use the WLA VA as a “permanent home” for veterans as required under the 1888 deed and outlined several impermissible uses of the land.

The position paper states “Access of veterans to at least 110 acres of the land at the WLA VA is either forbidden or restricted by land-sharing agreements that the VA has entered into with commercial and other organizations. This use of the land is not in conformity with the requirement under the 1888 Deed that the donated land be used in a manner that directly contributes to its use as a home for veterans, and is therefore not permissible.” Richard L. Fox, of Dilworth Paxson LLP, a recognized legal expert in the fields of philanthropy and charitable giving, assisted in the preparation of the paper.

The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Handbook 1820.1 Section 4(k) states that if a Sharing Agreement exceeds five years, such agreement does not qualify under Title 38, U.S.C. Section 8153 that permits only the sharing of “health care” resources. Nearly all the sharing agreements shown in the Draft Master Plan published in the Federal Register on January 19, 2011 exceed five years and are not health care related.

Among the questionable sharing agreements is the 16-acre tract of land that is to be “Veterans National Park”- a public park to be open to the neighboring Brentwood community. The land was awarded rent-free to the Veterans Park Conservancy (VPC), which is not a Veterans Organization, for a period of twenty years.

An agreement signed by Sue Young, Executive Director of the VPC and Ralph Tillman, Director of Asset Management of the WLA VA, incorrectly describes the 235.5 tract of land conveyed to the “National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers” when, in reality the proposed site is on a portion of the 300 acres of land donated under the 1888 deed.

The Sharing Agreement signed by Young and Tillman for a 20-year period is clearly not permitted under Title 38 U.S.C. Section 8153.

But according to the VPC website, “The Park is in the development stage in compliance with the legal requirements set forth by Federal rulings, Veterans Administration Policies and Guidelines established by the General Services Administration (GSA).” The GSA is shown on the VPC website as a direct supporter of the VPC.

Neither Tillman nor Young would avail themselves for comment.

Recent tax returns filed with the IRS, that are public record, reveal that Young is paid an annual salary exceeding $100,000 plus expenses by the VPC, a relatively tiny organization with rather limited activities. Young resides in Tucson, AZ.

According to her office, U.S. Senator Diane Feinstein, listed as a VPC supporter, has not had contact with VPC for a few years but rather has focused her attention on Building 209 on the WLA VA campus which the VA has committed $20 million for conversion into a homeless facility which may house 80 veterans- a building that in 2008, the VA said would require $7.2 million to repair. U.S. Congressman Henry Waxman, who supports the VPC, also did not respond to requests for comment.

Robert Rosebrock, Director- Old Veteran’s Guard, along with several Veteran Service Organizations (VSO) have denounced the use of sharing agreements and have fought the VA for many years over these issues. Outside the proposed park that was scheduled for completion in 2008, Rosebrock and several veterans have stood in protest to the use of the land as a public park for 153 consecutive Sundays.

Rosebrock emphasized that The Act of Congress of March 2, 1887 and the language of the 1888 Deed clearly indicate the intent for a National Home for veterans- not a public park where HOMELESS veterans are likely to be ostracized.

Rosebrock points to the 20,000 homeless veterans in the Los Angeles area whom he says, “have been exiled and dispossessed from their rightful Home and are forced to survive, hungry and homeless, on the dangerous streets of Los Angeles while the very people who have exiled them, live in multi-million dollar mansions.”

Peter Eliasberg, ACLU Managing Attorney, who is defending Rosebrock in a Free Speech lawsuit against the VA, wrote in a February 2011 letter to General Eric K. Shinseki (USA Ret.) Secretary, Department of Veterans Affairs, “The Veterans Administrations failure to abide by the terms of the charitable grant is not only inconsistent with the governments legal obligation to abide by the restrictions imposed by the grantor as a part of a charitable grant, but also has enormous human costs.

“The sight of homeless veterans sleeping on the sidewalks outside the VA land in West Los Angeles only highlights the necessity of an immediate investigation of how the VA is using this land.”

The Annenberg Foundation which gave $1,000,000 to the VPC to complete the Women’s Rose Garden, dedicated on December 5, 2010, but which remains locked to this day, has pulled its support for the VPC.

A letter from Bon, who is a Director of the Annenberg Foundation, to Young, requested that they not be identified in any manner as a donor to the VPC or the National Veteran’s Park. It said, “While we support the creation of public parks and the preservation of open space, the use of the land donated under the 1888 deed for a public park does not directly contribute to the use of the land as a permanent home for veterans and is contrary to the 1888 deed restriction.”

The Veterans Caucus and Executive Board of the of the California Democratic Party took a stand similar to the Annenberg Foundation, notifying the VPC that it does not endorse a public park on the WLA VA land and that the land should be limited only for veteran uses.

Carolina Winston Barrie and Ricardo Bandini Johnson, direct descendants of Senator John P. Jones and Arcadia Bandini de Stearns Baker, questioned, at length, the provisions of the VA’s recently released Draft Master Plan which confirms the continued use of the WLA VA land for non-veteran purposes.

In a letter to the VA, Barrie and Johnson said, “This is not what our ancestors intended when they contributed this land. They made it crystal clear by placing a specific restriction in the 1888 deed that limits the use of the land for the sole purpose of providing a home for veterans.”

Barrie, who served on the Board of Directors of the VPC, recently resigned her position stating, “My role as a director of the VPC was meant to honor the legacy of my great aunt in seeing her intentions were followed. Unfortunately, the park that the VPC intends to establish on the West LA VA campus will not be limited to veteran use but will, in essence, be a public park.”

Barrie chastised Young and characterized her response to Bon as cursory and unresponsive.

Rosebrock who fully supports Bon’s position paper got in the last word saying, “The Draft Master Plan is null and void because there has already been a legal Master Plan in place for nearly 123 years and it’s called the Deed of 1888.”

The VA Draft Master Plan can be viewed here:

Bon’s Position Paper can be viewed here.

(Katharine Russ is an investigative reporter and a contributor to CityWatch.) -cw


January 12, 2011


Secretary Eric K. Shinseki

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

810 Vermont Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20420

Tony West, Assistant Attorney General, Civil Division

Office of the Attorney General

U.S. Department of Justice

950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20530-0001

Kamala Harris, Attorney General

Office of the Attorney General

1300 “I” Street

Sacramento, CA 95814-2919

Re:      Breach of Charitable Trust by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs: Failure to Use West Los Angeles VA As a “Home” for Veterans As Required Under 1888 Deed Originally Donating Land to the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers

Dear  Secretary Shinseki, Assistant Attorney General West, and Attorney General Harris:

I am writing on behalf of Lauren Bon, head of the Metabolic Studio, LLC (“Metabolic Studio”),[1] a direct charitable activity of the Annenberg Foundation, where Ms. Bon serves as a member of the board of directors. This letter is to advise you of what the Metabolic Studio believes is a clear breach of the fiduciary duty of the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (“VA”) in failing to adhere to the restrictions imposed upon it as a trustee under a charitable trust created pursuant to an 1888 deed (“1888 Deed”), under which land in West Los Angeles that was donated to the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers (“National Home”) was subject to a restriction that it be permanently used as a home for disabled veterans.[2] This donated land is where the VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System is now located and operated by the VA.

The VA is not using the donated land as a home for veterans as required under the 1888 Deed. Instead, it has impermissibly diverted the use of the land from its dedicated purpose and has violated donor intent.[3] Accordingly, the VA is in breach of its fiduciary duty under the 1888 Deed to use the donated land as a home for veterans.  Attached to this letter is a position paper of the Metabolic Studio, entitled “Preserving a Home for Veterans,”[4] which provides a detailed analysis of the breach of the fiduciary duty of the VA in failing to utilize the land donated as a home for veterans as required under the charitable trust created under the 1888 Deed.

The Metabolic Studio, as a proven advocate, supporter, and benefactor of the veterans at the West Los Angeles campus of the VA, has a substantial interest in seeing that veterans, as the beneficiaries under the charitable trust created under the 1888 Deed, attain the benefits that were intended to be provided to them under such trust.  It is of the utmost importance, therefore, that the Metabolic Studio bring this matter to your attention, on its own behalf and on behalf of our country’s veterans, so that appropriate remedial measures are taken to ensure that the VA adheres to the restrictions placed on the donated land under the 1888 Deed and the intent of the donors is fulfilled. The urgency and importance of this matter is indeed heightened considering that the County of Los Angeles has the largest population of homeless veterans in the United States and considering the number of veterans who will be returning home from the two wars in which the United States is currently engaged.

We are aware that the question of the ultra vires use of the land donated under the 1888 Deed is already the subject of public interest and debate. We believe, however, that the underlying legal principles controlling the use of the donated land under the 1888 Deed, including the attendant issues regarding the creation of a charitable trust under such deed, have not been fully considered. Upon due consideration of these principles, as fully detailed in the enclosed position paper of the Metabolic Studio, we believe that the VA has clearly not adhered to the requirements of the charitable trust created under the 1888 Deed, and that remedial measures are required to be taken in this matter.

The Metabolic Studio exercises the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. Indeed, the Annenberg Foundation, of which the Metabolic Studio is a part, has been a substantial contributor to American civics for over a half of century, and seeks to protect the philanthropic legacy of the donors of the land under the 1888 Deed, who specified that the land be permanently used as a home for disabled veterans.

We look forward to your response in this matter, as it is imperative to the Metabolic Studio that this matter be fully reviewed and investigated to ensure that the restrictions under the 1888 Deed are adhered to, that veterans, who are the beneficiaries of the charitable trust established under the 1888 Deed obtain the benefits that they are entitled to under the trust, and that appropriate remedial measures are taken in this matter.

This letter is being sent with all due respect and we thank you for your cooperation in this matter.

Very truly yours,

Richard L. Fox

Enclosure: Metabolic Studio Position Paper Entitled “Preserving a Home for Veterans”

cc: Lauren Bon

Director, The Annenberg Foundation

[1] The Metabolic Studio has been a strong advocate, supporter, and benefactor of the veterans at the West Los Angeles campus of the VA, including having established the Strawberry Flag Compensated Work Therapy (“CWT”) program which operated successfully on that campus for over a year. The program was widely recognized and acclaimed as an innovative success story that provided an unprecedented benefit to the men and women who have served our nation.  Indeed, the VA itself has recognized the success of the Strawberry Flag CWT program in an article previously posted on the VA’s website, entitled “Success Story: Strawberry Flag Project.”

[2] This letter is being sent to the Secretary of the VA, the U.S. Assistant Attorney General, Civil Division, and the Attorney General of the State of California, respectively, because: (1) the Department of Veterans Affairs is the trustee of a charitable trust created under the 1888 Deed and is in breach of its fiduciary duty to use the land donated under such deed as a home for veterans; (2) under 28 C.F.R. § 0.45(e), matters arising out of “devises and bequests and inter vivos gifts to the United States”  are “assigned to, and shall be conducted, handled, or supervised by, the Assistant Attorney General, Civil Division”; and (3) the California Attorney General is empowered to oversee charitable trusts and is the representative of the public in any inquiry into the conduct of a trustee in administering a charitable trust.  Because the beneficiaries of charitable trusts, unlike beneficiaries of private trusts, are ordinarily indefinite, the Attorney General has primary responsibility for the supervision of charitable trusts and for ensuring compliance with trusts, and generally is the proper party to enforce them. See Supervision of Charitable Trusts; Enforcement, Cal. Gov. Code  § 12598(a); Hardman v. Feinstein,  195 Cal.App.3d 157, 240 Cal.Rptr. 483 (1987).

[3] As described in the attached position paper of the Metabolic Studio, entitled “Preserving a Home for Veterans,” the restrictions imposed under the 1888 Deed created a charitable trust, whereby the Department of Veterans Affairs, as the successor to the National Home, holds the donated land only in the capacity as a trustee, subject to a legally imposed fiduciary duty to permanently use the donated land solely as a home for veterans in a manner consistent with the meaning of “home” adopted by the National Home in 1888, when the land was donated under the 1888 Deed.

[4] The subtitle of this position paper is “A Breach of Trust and Fiduciary Duty: The Failure of the Department of Veterans  Affairs to Use Land Donated to the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers in West Los Angeles Under an 1888 Deed As a Home for Veterans.”

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