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A former Philly VA supervisor faces probation for accepting more than $28,000 in kickbacks

A former supervisor at the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center was sentenced to three years’ probation Monday for accepting thousands of dollars in kickbacks to direct hundreds of thousands in government dollars to a Philadelphia company.

Garry Salter, a former supervisor in the center’s environmental services department, accepted more than $28,000 in kickbacks to make $817,904 in purchases from an industrial supply company on behalf of the center between March 2018 and November 2020, according to court documents.

In April, he pleaded guilty to one count of acceptance of gratuities by a public official for the kickback scheme. From January 2, 2015 to November 2020, Salter placed a total of around $1,651,800 in purchase orders from the company, which was not named in court documents.

Salter will also be required to pay a $5,500 fine. He will be permitted to serve probation from his home in Florida, where he moved after retiring in 2021. Previously, he lived in Delaware County for more than 20 years.

Salter, 63, apologized to the court for his actions.

“I did something very stupid. I regret it. It’s going to change my life big time,” he tearfully told U.S. District Judge Chad F. Kenney.

Salter’s lawyer, Stephen Patrizio, said Salter had made a mistake in trusting the owner of the Philadelphia company to which he steered more than a million dollars. Salter believed the man, who would give him cash gifts in birthday cards, was a “good contractor,” the lawyer said.

In handing down his sentence, Kenney took into consideration Salter’s cooperation with prosecutors and the fact that it was his first offense. He also told Salter he did not believe he was a bad person, but that his professions of naiveté and ignorance about the illegality of accepting cash bribes did not make sense.

Salter’s conduct undermined the integrity of his position as a public official and was a “deterioration of the system,” the judge said.

“Cash in a card is pretty clearly not conduct you should be committing,” Kenney said.

Salter’s conviction is the latest in a string of controversies involving former employees of the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

In March, Ralph Johnson, who served as the chief of environmental services at the center, was sentenced to six months in federal prison for accepting thousands of dollars in kickbacks to steer inflated or phony contracts to a Florida couple.

Johnson admitted he accepted around $30,000 in bribes between 2018 and 2019 for the scheme.

In 2022, Bruce Minor, a former accounting clerk at the healthcare facility, was sentenced to two years in prison for embezzling nearly $500,000 through filing fraudulent travel expense reports between 2015 and 2019.

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