WASHINGTON (AP) - A judge has overturned a decision by the Department of Veterans Affairs to demote a senior official accused of manipulating the agency's hiring system for her own gain.

WASHINGTON (AP) A judge has overturned a decision by the Department of Veterans Affairs to demote a senior official accused of manipulating the agency's hiring system for her own gain.

The VA demoted Kimberly Graves, director of a St. Paul, Minnesota, regional office, last month. The VA's acting inspector general said Graves and another senior executive, Diana Rubens, forced lower-ranking managers to accept job transfers and then stepped into the vacant positions themselves, keeping their senior-level pay while reducing their responsibilities.

An administrative judge reversed Graves' demotion on Friday, saying that higher-ranking officials knew about her plans and did nothing to stop them. Judge Michele Szary Schroeder said penalizing Graves was inconsistent with the agency's failure to discipline the higher ranking officials.

Rubens also has appealed her demotion.