OCTOBER 02, 2014
It only took four years for the feds to finally indict a high-ranking government official at the center of the General Services Administration’s (GSA) scandalous Las Vegas conference that fleeced taxpayers out of a million dollars.
The lavish event, held by the GSA for its employees, featured luxury accommodations for staff and their loved ones, fine cuisine, wild parties and expensive gifts. Adding insult to injury, dozens of agency workers were awarded cash bonuses for arranging the outlandish Sin City celebration. Details of this atrocity were featured in a GSA Inspector General report published a few years after the exorbitant 2010 bash.
Turns out the Las Vegas conference was merely one of many outrageous events for the bloated federal agency that has an extensive history of mismanagement and waste. The GSA is huge, with a staff of about 14,000 and an annual operating budget of more than $20 billion. It’s one of the of the government’s central management agencies and handles everything from office space for the feds to communication and purchasing. Ironically, the GSA touts itself as an innovation engine that helps the government cut costs.
Media coverage of the now-infamous Las Vegas conference inspired Congress to finally investigate the agency and further expose a lengthy history of wasting taxpayer dollars. This includes habitual mismanagement of federal assets and properties that has cost the government billions of dollars. The costly Las Vegas blowout was actually among the cheapest of the GSA’s transgressions, but the most impactful because it shed light on the rampant corruption within the agency.
Last week one of the officials at the center of the scandal finally got charged by the Department of Justice (DOJ), which seems to be dragging its feet in seeking accountability. His name is Jeff Neely and he’s a former GSA senior executive accused of submitting fraudulent reimbursement claims and making false statements. Specifically, the feds accuse Neely of seeking reimbursement for personal travel and expenses incurred in Las Vegas, Long Beach, California, Guam and Saipan, by submitting false and fraudulent claims to the government.
As the regional commissioner and acting regional administrator for the GSA’s Public Buildings Service in the Pacific Rim region, Neely wielded quite a bit of power. He was essentially responsible for overseeing government properties in a crucial region that includes Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada and outlying territories. He faces up to five years in jail and fines of a quarter of a million dollars for each charge. It’s unlikely that he would have been busted if the Las Vegas conference had not received so much attention. In fact, the DOJ essentially admits this in its announcement of his indictment, writing that “Neely came under scrutiny as the top official overseeing an annual GSA conference in 2010.”
Judicial Watch has investigated the GSA and uncovered damaging information exposing the agency’s extravagances on taxpayer dime. In fact, last year JW obtained more than half-dozen shocking videos showing senior GSA officials and staff participating in costumed playacting and parodies during work hours. JW had to go to court to get the videos, which feature highly-paid GSA officials leading employees on “Rocky”-themed jogs through agency corridors, parodies of the Godfather, Jeopardy, Mission Impossible and Sherlock Holmes. One tape shows GSA employees drinking and partying while a director tries to conduct a meeting. The director ends up joining the employee in a dance routine.
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