If US prosecutors get their way, a former EPA employee and climate change expert could get as much as 30 months in prison for pretending to work for the CIA in the Middle East for months at a time to avoid doing his high paid job at the EPA. He is going to be sentenced this week, and will need to pay $1 million in restitution.
The assistant inspector for EPA Patrick Sullivan said this week that John Beale’s fraud of the agency probably could not have occurred at any other federal agency.
Sullivan noted that there is a culture at the EPA where their environmental mission is the most important thing, and employees do not think like criminal investigators. They can be very trusting and accepting to a fault.
Beale recently pleaded guilty to defrauding the government out of $1 million in salary and benefits for over 10 years, while he pretended to work for the CIA. In some cases, Beale did not show up for work for as long as 18 months, and he offered excuses that he was working with the CIA on secret missions in Pakistan. He also faked that he had malaria from one of his overseas trips, and also faked that he was involved in a rescue mission for a CIA colleague who was being tortured by Taliban terrorists. Also, Beale billed the government $57,000 for trips to see his parents in California, and for fancy trips to London.
The CIA says he never worked for them, never walked in their door and did not have a security clearance.
His attorney has asked the court to grant leniency in this case and noted that the ex-climate change expert has realized that he has done wrong.
His attorney said that Beale’s therapist has helped him to understand that his greedy behavior was wrong and that his theft and deception were done because he was engaging in destructive and dysfunctional behavior.
NBC News reported last month that in IG report found that Beale had taken 33 plane trips from 2003-11, which cost the government $266,000. On more than 70% of those, he went first class and stayed at 5 star hotels. He charged more than double the allowed per diem. His expenses were approved by another EPA official who also is under investigation.
Beale retired when his actions started to be noticed by the EPA and they began to investigate. He continued to draw his salary for over a year though. His retirement party was attended by chief EPA administrator Gina Mccarthy, who learned that he was still being paid six months later.
According to an EPA spokesperson, Beale is a felon who went to great lengths to deceive and defraud the government over more than 10 years. EPA is working in coordination with the IG and the US Attorney’s office to ensure that this type of fraud and abuse does not occur again, and that Beale is prosecuted to the fullest extent possible.
The scandal could cause problems for the current EPA administrator to carry out the president’s controversial climate change agenda.