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Oil Office Employee Sentenced to Probation

POSTED: 05:02 PM ET, 11/14/2008 by Derek Kravitz

A former top official with the federal government's oil and gas royalties collection office was sentenced today to two years' probation for arranging a back-door deal with his old employer that netted him more than $750,000 in government contracts.

Jimmy W. Mayberry, 65, of Strawn, Texas, pleaded guilty to a single count of violating the federal conflict-of-interest law. He was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Henry H. Kennedy Jr.

Mayberry had faced up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Mayberry and his attorney, Danny C. Onorato of Washington, declined to comment.

Mayberry, a former special assistant to Lucy Querques Denett, the ex-associate director of the Minerals Management Service, part of the Interior Department was convicted of orchestrating a scheme that awarded roughly $1.4 million to his own firm for technical advice from his old employer. According to court documents, Mayberry created the requirements for the contract immediately before he retired, knowing he would bid on it.

The Minerals Management Service came under heavy scrutiny after investigators said they uncovered a pattern of corruption at the agency's royalties office near Denver.

According to a lengthy inspector general's report, released in September, Mayberry discussed with Denett how he could be "brought back to work" for the agency after his retirement in January 2003.

Before he left, Mayberry created a job for himself by writing the job description and the criteria for selecting the winning bidder, court documents show. He started a company out of his Texas home and was awarded a $150,000 contract in June 2003.

Denett, 55, was not charged in the matter because of a undisclosed medical condition, according to sources who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Another employee, Milton K. Dial, 60, of Las Vegas, also pleaded guilty in September to arranging the contract for Mayberry, who had hired Dial within six months of Dial's 2004 retirement, court records show. Dial's role violated restrictions on former employees of the executive branch. Dial awaits sentencing Dec. 15.

Mayberry's firm ended up collecting $788,000 worth of contracts.

By Derek Kravitz |  November 14, 2008; 5:02 PM ET
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