4.19.2012

GSA official asserts right to remain silent as Congress begins hearings into spending scandal

Washington - General Services Administration investigators have expressed satisfaction wild spending agency said Monday he is investigating possible bribery and kickbacks, and has recommended criminal charges in the Department of Justice. The main figures in the scandal called his right to remain silent in court House.

Inspector General Brian Miller explained that he was conducted to investigate and former GSA officials, following a report of his second term in April 2010 conference Las Vegas in October that cost taxpayers $ 823,000.

Regional executives hosted the Western Conference, Neely Jeffrey, called his Fifth Amendment rights and his seat remained empty the rest of the management of the House and Government Reform hearing. He can before a criminal investigation.

"We have other ongoing investigations, including all kinds of irregularities, including kickbacks, bribes, but perhaps I should check the exact bribes," Miller told the committee.

He later added, "We have recommended criminal charges."

Toward the end of the test in three and a half, GSA was chief of staff Michael Robertson said he knew the White House from the early findings of the inspector general last year. Robertson testified that he told White House counsel, Kim Harris, the report shortly after the May 2011 "When I became aware that the IG was given direction (then-GSA Administrator Martha) Johnson."

After the hearing, Robertson said in a statement, "To clarify the point I made in my testimony today, I just mentioned in passing the presence of IG investigations when I met a White House staff that I regularly work on issues the GSA. "

Committee members from both sides can barely contain themselves as they sometimes shout their anger over costs. They are not just going on about the total figure, but at the expense of the taxpayer for the mind-reader, over-priced commemorative coin, a bicycle for training and team building trips GSA employees and their family members in the Las Vegas strip.

MPs said they do not understand why Johnson, head of the agency resigned after Miller had discovered became public, wait for months to take action after receiving the first report almost a year earlier. And demanded to know why the Neely Johnson awarded $ 9,000 bonus after learning conference.

"I gave a $ 9,000 bonus because I will focus on performance and for me, the recommendation from the commissioner of buildings," said Johnson.

Johnson, where he resigned to allow the GSA to fix the problem under the new leadership, said he was "greatly harmed by the gall of a handful of people to abuse the federal tax dollars , twist the terms of the contract and rude names of the General Services Administration. "

He said he learned after taking office that the Western Conference "will flourish, raucous event wasteful, arrogant, self-congratulatory."

Before resigning, Johnson fired two top deputies. Since then, Neely and seven were placed on administrative leave.

He is not only for the GSA Executive apologized. David Foley, deputy commissioner of Public Buildings Department, said that he regretted that he had participated in the conference awards ceremony, which became a viral video in social media.

He made a joke in reference to Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton ceremony, District of Columbia congressional delegation, and presented an award to the GSA as a member of staff who made rap video making fun of the conference costs.

Meanwhile, the GSA has improved discipline review. Ten officers are now on administrative leave, two more than previously reported.

On Monday, the agency released the letter to one of the fired GSA executive, Robert Peck, and two on administrative leave - Neely and Robert Shepard, a regional executive - demanding they pay back a portion of taxpayers' money on a party held in their conference room in Las Vegas.

The cost is $ 922 for Shepard, $ 1960 to $ 2717 for Peck and Neely.

Previously, Neely told investigators that he threw the party was $ 2,717 in Las Vegas hotel suite is an employee-appreciation events, according to the transcript of the interview.

"This award is a recognition ceremony ...." Neely said internal investigators. "That is what it is. It ... Neely is not the party. I really ... is a suite that was not even me. "

The Investigators then confronted her email Neely said that he and his wife "hosts a party in our attic. With wine and beer and some snacks .... "No mention awards.

When Neely who insisted again that the awards event, I doubt investigator told him, "you understand how it feel?"

"I understand that it looked ridiculous," says Neely.

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