by Ben Vernia | April 10th, 2013
On April 9, according to the Washington Post, a former FEMA official was sentenced to probation after pleading guilty to conflict-of-interest charges in a criminal case arising out of a qui tam whistleblower’s suit against the Gallup Organization. The Department of Justice intervened in the case in August 2012.
According to the Washington Post:
U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson said Cannon’s actions represented “more than bad judgment.”
“There’s an appropriate way to go about it, and this wasn’t it,” she said.
Cannon, 63, has been barred from future government contracting work and has agreed to pay a $40,000 fine in a separate civil case. In that federal whistleblower case, which names Cannon, the Justice Department alleges that Gallup inflated its cost estimates and work hours for three federal agencies.
The whistleblower case resulted when a former Gallup employee approached the Justice Department alleging that he witnessed the company repeatedly inflate its prices. The former employee also accused Gallup of promising a job to Cannon while the FEMA official was helping expand the company’s contract.
Standing at the courtroom lectern Tuesday, Cannon apologized to his family, friends and former federal colleagues for a “lapse in judgment.”
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According to court documents, Cannon was instrumental in getting FEMA to hire Gallup in 2008 to work on improving employee morale in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Soon after requesting additional funding for Gallup’s contract, Cannon formally interviewed with the company and eventually received an offer letter for a six-figure salary.
When Cannon announced his retirement in early 2009, he did not list his employment arrangement with Gallup in a financial disclosure report as he was required to do. Gallup pulled the plug on Cannon’s employment, however, after a company employee raised red flags because of concerns from people at FEMA.