Remember when federal officials at the GSA were busted for throwing a ridiculously lavish conference in Las Vegas on the taxpayers’ dime? Well, the executive in charge of organizing that swanky shindig is finally facing the consequences—four years later.
On Thursday, Jeffrey Neely, the former regional commissioner for the Public Building Service, was indicted on four charges of fraud by a federal grand jury in San Francisco.
Neely, who resigned in 2012—orchestrated the over-the-top event, which cost more than $820,000 for 300 employees over four days. The conference goers received excessive party favors like blackjack dealer vests and commemorative coins.
Separately, just four days after their Vegas extravaganza, GSA officials threw a $270,000 party to award “good performers.” During that party, the GSA doled out more than $50,000 gifts and awards, according to the GSA’s inspector general.
The GSA’s party throwing practices were flagged in a 2012 inspector general report and became the subject of several heated Congressional hearings—primarily the conference in Vegas. The IG eventually referred that case to the Justice Department.
After an extensive probe, federal investigators revealed that Neely had done more than just throw an absurdly expensive party. He had also falsified a spate of travel and personal expenses. For instance, he had billed the federal government for non-work related trips to Las Vegas, Long Beach, California, and Saipan.
Neely was ultimately charged with three counts of making false claims and two counts of making false statements to federal investigators. His court date is set for October 20 and if convicted, he faces a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine per violation.
Neely’s case isn’t all that uncommon. Just last year, a top official at the EPA was charged with defrauding the federal government out of $900,000 over ten years. John Beale had collected a hefty government paycheck, billed the government for travel expenses, collected a bonus—without setting foot in the office for nearly a decade—and no one seemed to notice. There are plenty of other examples of top executives defrauding the government and not being disciplined until years down the road.
Click here to see the government’s fraudulent five.
The issue has attracted the attention of lawmakers. Just last week before skipping town for midterm elections, the House passed a bill making it easier to fire senior-level federal employees.
Under current law, senior-level workers must receive a 30-day notice of suspension while continuing to receive their paycheck. And they can appeal their potential firing to the Merit Systems Protection Board during that 30-day period.
The House-approved bill would expand the criteria for firing senior employees and it would also allow agencies to suspend them for up to 14 days without pay, according to Fierce Government.
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