RENO, Nev. >> An ex-federal official who hosted a lavish, $823,000 conference in Las Vegas that sparked a congressional investigation into wasteful government spending has been indicted on charges of fraud and filing false claims for reimbursement.
A federal grand jury in San Francisco indicted 59-year-old Jeffrey Neely of Gardnerville last week.
The former high-ranking official for the General Services Administration is accused of seeking reimbursement for personal travel and expenses in Las Vegas, the California coast and Guam.
The 2010 conference in Las Vegas featured a clown, a mind-reader and a rap video by an employee who made fun of the spending. The scandal led to the resignation of GSA Administrator Martha Johnson and the firing of two top aides.
Neely, who formerly lived in Mill City, Calif., and bought a home in Gardnerville in the spring of 2013, is scheduled to make his initial appearance in federal court in San Francisco on Oct. 20.
Neely could not immediately be reached for comment on Monday. His telephone number is not listed and officials for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Francisco said it was not clear if he had hired an attorney.
If convicted of all five counts, he faces up to 25 years in prison and $1.25 million in fines.
Neely was placed on administrative leave in April 2012, and later left the GSA. GSA spokesman Adam Elkington would not say whether he resigned or was fired from the agency that is in charge of federal buildings and supplies.
An inspector general’s report on waste and abuse at the 2010 Las Vegas conference sparked hearings by several congressional committees in 2012. Neely angered lawmakers by refusing to testify and asserting his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent.
The indictment returned on Thursday states that when GSA employees questioned Neely about the expenses, he said the costs were incurred for official government business. At the time, Neely was the regional commissioner and acting regional administrator for GSA’s Public Buildings Service, Pacific Rim Region, which encompasses California, Arizona, Nevada, Hawaii and outlying territories.
The indictment cites allegedly false claims for reimbursement for lodging expenses at the M Resort Spa Casino in Las Vegas on March 11, 2010, as well a separate trip to Las Vegas in October 2010.
It also cites false expense claims in 2010 for trips to Long Beach and Cambria, Calif., and for airfare between Guam and Saipan in the South Pacific in February 2012.