NASA’s former chief of staff has pleaded guilty to a federal conspiracy charge stemming from a $600,000 contract awarded by the space agency to Mississippi State University, a client of his consulting firm.
Courtney Stadd, NASA’s chief of staff and White House liaison from 2001 to 2003, pleaded guilty to one conspiracy charge in a nine-count indictment in federal court in Gulfport, said Sheila Wilbanks, a U.S. attorney’s office spokeswoman.
He faces up to five years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000 at sentencing…Wilbanks said.
Stadd was indicted in December 2009 on charges that included conspiracy, false statements, false claims, obstructing a grand jury and fraud. He had faced 55 years if convicted of all counts…Don’t you love plea deals?
Prosecutors say Stadd conspired with Liam Sarsfield, NASA’s former chief deputy engineer in Washington. Sarsfield pleaded guilty in November to one charge against him: acts affecting a personal financial interest. Sarsfield controlled a $1.5 million fund and designed contracts that wouldn’t have to be put out for bid.
A Republican favorite: no-bid contracts. That’s how Bush and Cheney ran the whole Iraq War.
He steered them where he wanted them to go, including to Mississippi State and a company in Ohio, prosecutors said, netting himself about $270,000 in illegal profits.
Stadd began conspiring with Sarsfield in 2004 to direct the $600,000 contract to MSU, which then subcontracted $450,000 to Stadd’s consulting business, Capitol Solutions, prosecutors said. The consulting firm allegedly paid Sarsfield $87,752 on that contract…
Stadd already had been convicted of an ethics violation for steering a different contract for almost $10 million to the university. He was sentenced last year to three years’ probation in that case.
Stadd was Bush’s appointee to lead the transition in NASA for his administration and oversight. Well done, George.