John C. Beale, the former senior policy adviser in the Office of Air and Radiation – and the highest-paid EPA employee before his admission in September of lying his way to nearly a million dollars’ worth of unearned government money and benefits – will face sentencing Wednesday for a single count of theft of government property.
Beale, 64, was regarded as one of the EPA’s top climate change policy experts at the time of his “retirement” in September of 2011. EPA administrator Gina McCarthy began to wonder why he was still on the payroll in March of 2012 – six months after she had helped fete Beale and other EPA retirees at a retirement party on a yacht. He had worked for the EPA since 1989, and had perpetrated a lavish fraud over much of that time that afforded him the luxury of being absent from work for up to 18 consecutive months by falsely telling coworkers he was a CIA operative. Even his wife (allegedly) believed him.
Beale helped to write the Clean Air Act in 1990 and led EPA delegates at United Nations climate change conferences in 2000 and 2001. He was also instrumental in negotiating carbon reduction deals with China and other Asian polluters.
At the time of his plea agreement, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia released a statement that could easily be mistaken for hyperbole, were it not true.
All told, between January 2000 and April 2013, Beale was absent from his duties at the EPA for about 2 ½ years in which he was drawing a salary and benefits.
For more than a dozen years, Beale engaged in a pattern and scheme of deception during which he lied to the U.S. government, his supervisors, friends, and his family to avoid performing his job at the EPA.
…“John Beale stole from the government for more than a decade by telling lies of outlandish proportions,” said U.S. Attorney [Ronald] Machen. “He dodged his work at the EPA for extended periods by claiming that he was away working on operations for the CIA. He even got a parking space for three years by falsely claiming that he had malaria. Today’s guilty plea is proof positive that lies do catch up with you and that eventually fraudsters will be held accountable for ripping off the American taxpayer.
“The details of this remarkable story are unfathomable – and yet they happened. An absence of even basic internal controls at the EPA allowed an individual to commit multiple frauds over a long period of time,” said Inspector General [Arthur] Elkins.
When he retired, Beale was earning a combined salary and bonuses of $206,000 per year – even more than McCarthy, his boss. In his plea agreement, he confessed to defrauding the government of $886,186 since 2000. He faces up to 37 months in prison and must pay more than $1.3 million in restitution and forfeiture of illegally-obtained government property.
The Washington Post also reported last week that the EPA had been warned in 2010 of Beale’s fraudulent claim to bonus pay to which he was not entitled, but that the agency took no action.