It's a crime, but everyone does it


This one is slightly unbelievable.

You may remember Milton Dial from last year’s Minerals Management Service scandals. He pleaded guilty in September to violating federal conflict-of-interest law. And today, he was sentenced by a federal judge, Robert C. Jones.

What was Dial’s punishment?

“I apologize to you, sir,” U.S. District Court Judge Robert C. Jones as he imposed a minimum sentence on Milton Dial, a former deputy associate director in the Lakewood, Colo., office that handled billions of dollars of oil and natural gas contracts.

The judge said he felt Dial, who retired from the agency in 2004 after 33 years and opened a consulting business in Las Vegas six months later, had been “selected out for prosecution” on a conflict charge that “high executives in our government violate all the time.”

Yes — the judge apologized to Dial, said he was breaking the same laws as countless other “high executives,” and gave him the lightest possible sentence.

A little background: Dial was a former Senior Executive Service member, an MMS employee, and a close friend of Jimmy Mayberry. After he left the agency, he went to work at Federal Business Solutions, a company owned by Mayberry. A third MMS official — Lucy Denett, former director of the Minerals Revenue — allegedly violated federal procurement law by steering more than $1 million in contracts to the company.

Denett was never charged with a crime: The Justice Department declined to prosecute her. But Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar wants the investigation re-opened.


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