The former General Services Administration official at the center of the Western Regions Conference scandal that engulfed the agency and forced three senior executives to resign will spend three months in prison and three months under home confinement.
The judge also required Neely to pay $8,000 in restitution, a $2,000 fine and a $100 special assessment penalty. Additionally, he will be on probation for three years.
“The nature and circumstances of the offense are serious. Neely was a high-ranking government official, in a position of trust. He abused that trust to benefit himself and his wife, using taxpayer funds to subsidize his lavish travels. He did this not once but several times over a period of years,” the Justice Department lawyers argued in the sentencing memo. “The government also recognizes the many positive aspects of Neely’s history and characteristics as set forth in the Presentence Report and defendant’s sentencing memorandum. Considering these factors, together with the need for general deterrence, the government believes that a term of imprisonment and fine at the low end of the guideline range is appropriate.”
The Justice Department argued that Neely deserved six months in jail. But in the end, the judge in the U.S. District Court in Northern California decided not to follow DoJ’s recommendation of six months in prison and split the term into three months in jail and three months home detention.
“This concludes our case about a GSA executive abusing his position and wasting taxpayer dollars,” said GSA acting Inspector General Robert Erickson in a statement.
Neely pleaded guilty March 31 to one count of fraud against the government, abusing his position as a top government official and lying to the GSA inspector general’s office. A grand jury in September found there was enough evidence to indict Neely on five counts of fraud against the government.
Neely had been placed on administrative leave in 2011 following revelations of a lavish $822,000 training conference held in Las Vegas in 2010, and no longer was employed by the agency by May 2012.
Neely is the only GSA official to face long-term punishment for the scandal.
For the two other GSA officials caught up in the scandal, the Merit System Protection Board found that GSA failed to show any justification for firing Paul Prouty and James Weller — each of whom were regional commissioners in GSA’s Public Buildings Service at the time of the 2010 Western Regions Conference — affirming earlier decisions by two MSPB administrative law judges.
Neely made his case to the court for a reduced sentence. Former co-workers, friends and family members submitted 18 letters in support of Neely.
Among those co-workers were Prouty and former GSA Region 4 and Region 6 administrator Tom Walker.