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Former NASA Leader Ed Mango Pleads Guilty to Felony

Ed Mango. Credit: SpaceNews photo

NASA’s former Commercial Crew Program manager, Ed Mango, appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge David Baker on Monday (Dec. 2) to plead guilty to a felony charge that carries a maximum sentence of five years and a $250,000 fine. 

Mango stepped down as the head of the Commercial Crew Program in October as he was preparing to plead guilty to failing to disclose that he had a financial interest in a NASA colleague whom he was trying to help avoid being suspended without pay. The colleague, public affairs officer Candrea Thomas, was arrested in December 2012 for submitting forged driving permits to NASA after losing her driver’s license on a drunk driving charge the previous December. 

Florida Today’s James Dean reported from the Orlando court room where Mango formalized his plea that Mango’s lawyer will ask that his client is spared prison when he is sentenced in February or March. 

Most of the half-hour hearing involved Judge Baker asking Mango if he understood his rights, the charge against him and the consequences of a guilty plea, to which Mango repeatedly answered “Yes, sir” or “No, sir.”

As a convicted felon, he will lose civil rights including the ability to vote, own a firearm, hold public office or perform jury duty.

Mango, a 53-year-old Orlando resident who started working at KSC in 1986 after serving in the Air Force, left the courthouse holding hands with his wife and declined to speak to several media representatives.

“It’s been a rough day, obviously, but he’s OK,” said his lawyer, Melbourne-based Alan Diamond.

 

The U.S. Attorney’s Office, meanwhile, released a press release Dec. 2 on Mango’s plea:

Former NASA SES Employee Pleads Guilty To Conflict Of Interest Violation

Orlando, Florida — Acting United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announces that Edward J. Mango, (52, Orlando) today pleaded guilty to an Information charging him with acting in his official capacity while having a financial conflict of interest, a felony. Mango faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison. A sentencing date has not yet been set.

According to the plea agreement, Mango was a Senior Executive Service employee, who worked for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). In this capacity, he worked as the manager of the commercial crew program (CCP), at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Brevard County.  

In December 2012, state authorities arrested C.T., a NASA employee.  Mango used a credit card advance to loan money to C.T. so that C.T. could retain legal counsel and pay for other expenses.  As a result of additional state charges, C.T. was subjected to the NASA employee disciplinary process. Using official government e-mail, telephones, and other property, Mango intervened on C.T.’s behalf and improperly exerted his influence as an SES employee, in an effort to mitigate C.T.’s punishment.  Mango contacted employees in human resources, the KSC center director, KSC human resources director, KSC protective services deputy chief, and other NASA employees in Washington, D.C., urging them to mitigate C.T.’s punishment.  As a result of Mango’s improper actions, C.T. was spared discipline that would otherwise be appropriate for his/her acts.  NASA employees later said that had they been aware of the financial relationship between Mango and C.T., they would not have entertained Mango’s contact on C.T.’s behalf.  When interviewed by NASA Office of the Inspector General agents, Mango admitted to his actions.

This case was investigated by NASA Office of the Inspector General. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Vincent A. Citro.

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