FREE Vacations! Courtesy Of The EPA

Wednesday Waste | October 9, 2013

A former manager at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently plead guilty to stealing nearly $900,000 in federal funds by pretending that he worked for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The former employee, John C. Beale, was a senior policy adviser in the Office of Air and Radiation and was able to keep his scheme from top-level EPA managers for nearly two decades. In 2008, Beale did not show up at his office for six months and told his supervisors he was working on research for “Langley,” the CIA’s headquarters in Virginia.


Beale would say he was conducting, “sensitive work for another agency.” One coworker even asked Beale about the scheme as a joke saying, “We all actually believed that maybe there was something going. He just kind of laughed it off.” Still no one at the EPA even attempted to double check if Mr. Beale was actually doing “top-secret work for the CIA and its ‘directorate of operations.’”


According to The Washington Post, Beale was paid for more than two years of work he did not perform. Since early 2000, Beale had received roughly $500,000 in “retention bonuses” he did not earn. If the EPA had even checked his travel expenses with where he actually went, his scheme would have begun to unravel. In 2005, Beale received nearly $57,000 in travel reimbursements to Los Angeles for five unneeded long-term research projects that he proposed. Later, court documents revealed that Beale had been visiting nearby family in Bakersfield. He even scammed the EPA out of parking spot by claiming he caught malaria while fighting in Vietnam. It was later discovered he did not have the disease, was not a veteran, and had cost the EPA $8,000 over three years.


According to NBC News, Beale was absent from work for months on end, while continuing to earn a salary and bonuses that made him the highest paid EPA official.

“[B]eale took 33 airplane trips between 2003 and 2011, costing the government $266,190. On 70 percent of those, he travelled first class and stayed at high end hotels, charging more than twice the government’s allowed per diem limit. But his expense vouchers were routinely approved by another EPA official, a colleague of Beale’s, whose conduct is now being reviewed by the inspector general, according to congressional investigators briefed on the report.”




The prior head of Office of Air and Radiation and Beale’s former boss Jeffrey R. Holmstead tried to avoid any blame, stating:


“He did tell me that he had an assignment with the CIA that would sometimes take him out of the office, but I was never asked to approve this arrangement. Career employees are sometimes detailed to work at other agencies, and I assumed that Mr. Beale’s work at the CIA was done pursuant to such an arrangement.”


Roughly 20 years of poor government oversight allowed Beale to spend time with family, retire early, and receive thousands in unearned taxpayer funds. Beale has already repaid the $886,186 in stolen pay and bonuses and still owes the agency $507,000 as a part of his plea agreement.


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