In case involving Gallup, man to plead guilty

By Pete Yost

Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A former Federal Emergency Management Agency employee intends to plead guilty in a criminal case alleging that he helped secure federal funds for The Gallup Organization while he was negotiating to go to work for the polling firm, his lawyer said last Thursday.

A conflict-of-interest charge brought last week against Timothy W. Cannon says that a month after asking a Gallup employee for a job in November 2008, Cannon asked superiors for an additional $500,000 for a FEMA program in which Gallup would train agency managers. The next month, said the Justice Department court papers, Cannon had an employment interview with the company and the federal agency signed off on the $500,000. According to the court papers, when employees at the firm raised questions about the matter, the job offer to Cannon was withdrawn.

Cannon's conduct came to light last year in a lawsuit a fired Gallup employee brought against the polling company alleging Gallup filed false claims on contracts with the U.S. Mint, the State Department, FEMA and the Office of Personnel Management.

Cannon's lawyer, David Schertler, said his client is entering a plea agreement with the Justice Department "accepting responsibility and at the same time, looking to get this matter behind him."

Gallup vice president William E. Kruse said the criminal charge "was not against Gallup, but rather DOJ's allegations against a former FEMA employee. As such, there is nothing Gallup can comment on in regards to this development."

The criminal charge against Cannon does not identify Gallup by name, referring to the firm only as Company A. However, the fired employee's false-claims lawsuit -- which the Justice Department has now joined -- identifies Gallup in the context of Cannon's activities at both FEMA and in negotiating a job with the polling company.

The court papers state that before the job offer was withdrawn, Cannon concealed his pending employment with the company, signing a government financial disclosure report stating that he had no agreements or arrangements for future employment.

Published: Mon, Jan 7, 2013