- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The former director of human resources at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court in Washington to a charge of conflict of interest for negotiating employment with a polling and consulting services company that had a multimillion-dollar contract with FEMA that he supervised.

Timothy W. Cannon, 63, entered the plea before U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who scheduled sentencing for April 9. The charge carries a statutory maximum of five years in prison.

The plea was announced by U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. in Washington.

From July 2007 to February 2009, Mr. Machen said, Cannon was the director of FEMA’s Human Capital Division, and he had discussions in 2007 with a firm identified in court papers only as “Company A” about FEMA hiring the firm to provide consulting services on human resources matters. The work would be performed through a project that eventually would be called the “BEST Workforce Initiative.”

In March 2008, court records show, the chief executive officer of Company A emailed another Company A employee, stating that Cannon “said he has done everything to get a job at [Company A] because he believes so much in our products … said he wants to do a real good job at FEMA and that mabye [sic] he would try again.”

On April 22, 2008, Company A’s CEO emailed another Company A employee saying if Cannon “gets us a big deal at FEMA … i [sic] think we should hire him … because he will be a ‘client’ hire … which might be good.”

Later in the same email chain, Company A’s CEO asked, “is the ink dry yet on our deal with fema“? The Company A employee replied, “no might be mid-May.” Company A’s CEO then stated, “we should wait of course to see if we win a big quality deal here.”

On Aug. 12, 2008, Company A was hired to administer the BEST Workforce Initiative at FEMA. The contract was valued at $6 million over five years.

Mr. Machen said that on Nov. 18, 2008, a Company A employee advised Company A’s CEO in an email, “I talked to Tim today. He asked for a job.” Company A’s CEO then stated, “What about ethics … are we okay with all of that … he is a significant client … am sure you know the rules … gee he seems like a winner to me … I don’t think these guys are as expensive as one might think … and he has a military background.”

In December 2008 and January 2009, court records show, Cannon requested additional funding for the BEST Workforce Initiative. On Jan. 6, 2009, in an email to a Company A employee, Cannon stated, “ah yes, I got another 500k put on the contract. Cool huh?”

On Jan. 12, 2009, Cannon had an employment interview with Company A in Washington.

On Feb. 9, 2009, Company A sent an employment offer letter by email to Cannon. The letter offered Cannon “the opportunity to join [Company A] as a Partner with our Government Division in Washington, D.C.” and guaranteed him a minimum annual salary of $175,000 for the first two years of employment.

Cannon responded to the email the same day, stating, “I am very excited about joining [Company A] and I look forward to working with you.” After Cannon’s acceptance of Company A’s employment offer, Cannon continued to oversee and work on the BEST Workforce Initiative at FEMA.

Cannon retired from FEMA on Feb. 27, 2009. On his Public Financial Disclosure Report, Cannon said he did not have any agreements or arrangements for “future employment” and he specifically did not list his future employment with Company A.

On Feb. 27, 2009, Cannon requested that Company A provide him with an offer letter dated after Feb. 27, 2009, so it would falsely appear that Cannon received Company A’s employment offer after he had resigned from FEMA. On March 2, 2009, court records said, Company A sent an updated version of the offer letter, with the new date of March 2, 2009, to Cannon. Cannon signed this updated version of the offer letter on March 3, 2009, and returned it to Company A.