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