Patrick Chorpenning, Former Arizona Veterans Services Director, Pleads Guilty to Corruption-Related Charges; Must Pay Back $451,351

Patrick Chorpenning, the former director of the Arizona Department of Veterans' Services, pleaded guilty today to two corruption-related felony charges.

He'll be sentenced on October 6 by Judge Susan Brnovich, but prosecutors have already agreed to a sentence that includes only probation. However, Chorpenning also agrees to pay back $451,351 as restitution for public money he misused.

Chorpenning, who'd been appointed by former Governor Jane Dee Hull, resigned in March of 2007 following allegations that he was providing awful service to veterans. In a scandal not unlike the one surrounding the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, an audit of the Arizona State Veteran Home in central Phoenix found sick veterans in their beds with soiled underwear or slick with their own bodily fluids from malfunctioning machines.

A follow-up investigation proved Chorpenning had flouted anti-nepotism rules by hiring his wife and son, and also spending taxpayer bucks like they were his own.

The corrupt official pleaded not guilty in December, as we reported, but his lawyer must have convinced him that he'd likely be some crazy, old vet's bitch in prison if he didn't take the plea deal.

We're still of the mind that his probation ought to be served in Afghanistan.

Click here for the state Attorney General's news release.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.