Watchdog: Accountability

Ex-FEMA official expected to plead guilty to conflict of interest

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Local,Crime,Scott McCabe,Accountability,FEMA

A former Federal Emergency Management Agency employee is expected to plead guilty to helping secure federal money for a polling firm at the same time he was lobbying to land a lucrative job with the company.

Timothy W. Cannon, the former human resources director for FEMA in the District, has been charged with felony conflict of interest, which carries a maximum penalty of five years behind bars. A plea hearing has been scheduled for Jan. 15 in federal court in Washington.

"At this time there is an agreement with the government to resolve the criminal investigation," Cannon's attorney, Danny Onorato, told The Washington Examiner. "Tim has accepted full responsibility for his actions and is looking forward to getting this matter resolved and behind him."

According to charging documents, in August 2008, Cannon got FEMA to hire the Gallup Organization to conduct polls of the agency's managers and provide employee training. The five-year contract was worth $6 million to Gallup.

About the same time, Cannon began talking to the Gallup CEO about working for the polling company. While pursuing the job, he got FEMA to add another $1.6 million for the contract.

On Jan. 6, 2009 -- six days before Cannon was to interview at Gallup -- Cannon emailed the company, "I got another 500k put on the contract. Cool huh?"

Gallup sent Cannon a job offer the next month as a partner with the government division in D.C., with a salary of $175,000, prosecutors said.

Cannon immediately accepted, and the next day he sent an email to FEMA colleagues announcing his retirement, prosecutors said.

"I look forward to spending time with grandkids, playing on my boat and getting back into my regular exercise and health/wellness routine," Cannon wrote.

On Feb. 28, the day he officially walked away from FEMA, Cannon signed a public disclosure form saying that he had no agreements for future employment, according to court documents.

At the same time, he asked Gallup to send him a new offer letter so it would falsely appear that he received the job offer after he resigned from FEMA, prosecutors said.

The job offer was withdrawn in March after Gallup employees began raising questions about the ethics of the hire.

Cannon sent an email to the Gallup CEO several months later, letting him know that he joined a consulting firm and asking to meet for lunch. The CEO forwarded the email to another employee stating, "This is a guy that was our sponsor at FEMA... he is so Gallup-gung ho... when he was applying we broke some of the rules of the US Gov on the 'how' we do it... so we had to let him go..."

smccabe@washingtonexaminer.com

smccabe@washingtonexaminer.com

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Scott McCabe

Staff Writer - Crime
The Washington Examiner