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By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

Should indicted GSA official go to jail?


That’s my first reaction to the indictment of Jeffrey Neely, the former General Services Administration senior executive who helped plan the Las Vegas conference that erupted into a political scandal.

Neely has been charged with five criminal offenses in indictments handed down by a federal grand jury in California. The government is accusing him of charging the government for personal travel for himself and his wife. They also say he lied when he was questioned about the spending.

The Las Vegas conference cost the government $800,000 for 300 attendees and became a symbol of government excess.

The charges have brought a flood of activity on Twitter as people announced the news, ranging from the regular government IT publications such as sister pub FCW.com:

To Huffington Post and Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren

Many included mentions of the infamous photo of Neely sitting in a hot tub at the conference.

While there is always a rush of excitement when a government official or former government official is indicted, it’s also good to remember something about this case: Neely is only charged and not convicted.

It is also good to remember that federal prosecutors are notoriously aggressive in the charges they put forward.

But let’s take a worst-case scenario and assume Neely is guilty of all the charges. Should he really face 25 years in prison?

Where is the personal enrichment? A few personal trips. OK, fine him and make him pay restitution. Attach some liens to his home or his government pension.

The lying is something different. To me, that’s the most serious crime. But prison time? I’m not sure.

Some on Twitter are asking if these are the right charges.

Kelman, a Harvard professor and former senior acquisition official, is asking the right question, but I guess a jury will be the one to decide what the answer is.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Sep 26, 2014 at 9:23 AM

Reader Comments

Fri, Oct 3, 2014

Pete Rose made furniture in Illinois for betting on baseball games. Jeff deserves a 25 year vacation at Atlanta Federal Pen.

Mon, Sep 29, 2014

The comment from Friday shows you just how the "political press" has changed the narrative in this country such that being a corrupt public official should get you the same jail time as Murder-2. The kind of fraud and greed that takes down a whole National economy though, the Finance industry -- no arrests at all. Welcome to the Fox News-ing of America.

Mon, Sep 29, 2014

I believe a fine and restitution is adequate punishment in this case. He has lost his career and reputation, and brought serious embarrassment to the government. I do not want tax payers footing his care and feeding for 25 years. There are much bigger fish on Wall Street who should be punished.

Mon, Sep 29, 2014 curious abroad

what about all the other 300 attendees ? (less than 3000$ per attendee for a conference doesn't seem like such a big thing. How much did he realy spend on himself and his wife?

Mon, Sep 29, 2014

As usual in these matters, it's not the crime, rather the cover-up, that gets you in real trouble. Go ask Scooter Libby or David Safavian, they did their time making big rocks into little rocks.

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