Jeff Neely, the former General Services Administration official who orchestrated an over-the-top conference in 2010, has pleaded guilty to one count of fraud against the government. He will pay $8,000 in restitution, according to the plea agreement.
Neely admitted that he had asked GSA to pay for a night’s stay at the M Resort Spa Casino Las Vegas even though it had nothing to do with his work as a regional commissioner for GSA’s Public Buildings Service. He did not stop there, however.
“I agree that I submitted and caused GSA to pay additional false claims during my tenure, that I improperly failed to claim annual leave on certain dates, and that these acts resulted in losses to GSA exceeding $5,000,” Neely said in the agreement.
Neely admitted that he had both abused his position as a top government official and had lied to the GSA inspector general’s office, which launched the investigation.
Neely was the agency’s top official in the Western region during the 2010 event in Las Vegas, which cost the agency more than $800,000. The scandal led to the resignation of GSA Administrator Martha Johnson, outraged Congress and made the agency fodder for late-night comedians. Many turned their anger on Neely, who was photographed by his wife while he enjoyed a bubble bath, complete with wine, in a luxurious hotel room. GSA later fired Neely.
Neely was indicted in September 2014 on five counts of falsely claiming reimbursement for pleasure trips or airplane tickets that he did not use.
He will be sentenced on June 30 in U.S. District Court in San Francisco. He faces a maximum of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000, although he is likely to receive a far lighter punishment, given the plea agreement.
The Merit System Protection Board found GSA wrongfully fired two other officials after the Las Vegas conference. One of them, James Weller, accused the government of trying to present evidence that he was Jeff Neely.