A former Environmental Protection Agency employee and top global warming expert will be sentenced Wednesday after pleading guilty to defrauding taxpayers of nearly $1 million in a wild scheme dating back to at least 2000.
John C. Beale, 65, in a “crime of massive proportions” avoided doing his real job for more than a decade by telling his supervisors he was an undercover CIA agent, NBC News reported, citing federal prosecutors. He pleaded guilty in September.
Federal authorities are now requesting Beale serve at least 30 months in federal prison, saying his “historic” lies are “offensive” to CIA agents who actually do covert missions.
EPA Assistant Inspector General Patrick Sullivan, who headed the investigation into Beale’s fraud, was shocked with what he found when he started digging in February 2012.
“I thought, ‘Oh my God, How could this possibly have happened in this agency?” he told NBC. “I’ve worked for the government for 35 years. I’ve never seen a situation like this.”
So how did Beale manage to get away with the deception for so long? Did no one think to double-check his CIA claims? It would appear not, according to federal prosecutors.
Beale was “enabled” because top officials failed to verify his stories or even question the hundreds of thousands of dollars given to him in bonuses and travel expenses.
Before he “retired" in 2011, Beale was earning an annual salary of $206,00, plus bonuses -- more than the salaries of his immediate boss and EPA administrator Gina McCarthy, according to official documents.
The former EPA official often skipped going in to work, once going 18 months straight without ever setting foot in his office by telling his supervisors -- including McCarthy -- that he was doing covert work for the CIA. During a six-month stretch when he didn't go in, he told supervisors he was needed in Pakistan because the Taliban was torturing his CIA replacement, NBC reported.
“Due to recent events that you have probably read about, I am in Pakistan,” Beale wrote McCarthy in a Dec. 18, 2010 email. “Got the call Thurs and left Fri. Hope to be back for Christmas ….Ho, ho, ho.”
Beale, of course, had no connections to the CIA.
For all the time he told his supervisors he was doing covert work for the CIA, he was really spending time at his vacation house on Cape Cod or doing chores around his house in Northern Virginia.
"The CIA has no record of him ever walking through the door," Sullivan said.
Beale once told supervisors he needed a handicap parking space at EPA headquarters because he suffered from malaria contracted during a tour of duty in Vietnam.
Beale, who got the handicap parking space, doesn’t have malaria and he never served in Vietnam.
Investigators eventually became interested in Beale’s supposed relationship with the CIA after he “retired” in September 2011. That is, investigators became interested in Beale after they learned he was still drawing a paycheck from the EPA about a year and a half after he supposedly left. Oddly enough, top EPA officials who were present at a retirement gala for the fake CIA operative didn’t find out until much later than Beale was still being paid nearly two years after leaving.
Beale initially tried to brush investigators aside by telling them his relationship with the CIA was “classified.” They persisted, however, and Beale eventually confessed, though he apparently didn't show much remorse
[sharequote align="center"]“The CIA has no record of him ever walking through the door.”[/sharequote]
Beale’s defense team hopes to reduce his sentence by emphasizing the “admirable work” he did for the agency including his part in rewriting the Clean Air Act in 1990 and leading the EPA delegations to the United Nations conferences on “global warming” in 2000 and 2001.
McCarthy defended herself by taking credit for "uncovering" the fraud while she was head of the Office of Air and Radiation.
"EPA has worked in coordination with its inspector general and the U.S. Attorney's office. The Agency has [put] in place additional safeguards to help protect against fraud and abuse related to employee time and attendance, including strengthening supervisory controls of time and attendance, improved review of employee travel and a tightened retention incentive processes," Alisha Johnson, McCarthy’s press secretary, told NBC in a statement.
Beale will be sentenced on Wednesday.
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Featured image via C-SPAN