Updated: 4:58 p.m.
The former Environmental Protection Agency employee who duped his managers and colleagues into believing he was working abroad for the CIA, was sentenced to 32 months in federal prison, a Washington, D.C. federal court ruled Wednesday.
John C. Beale, once the highest-paid employee at the EPA and a leading expert on climate change, pled guilty in September to defrauding the government out of nearly $1 million over 13 years. He has agreed to pay $1.3 million in restitution.
Beale chalked his lies up to “greed – simple greed” in front of the court on Wednesday. “I’m ashamed of that greed,” he said, explaining he got a “rush” and a “sense of excitement” from telling people he worked undercover for the CIA. “It was something like an addiction,” he said.
The EPA “enabled” Beale by failing to verify his CIA employment and the money paid to him for personal trips and unearned bonuses, according to reports by the EPA inspector general’s office obtained by NBC News. Beale failed to show up to work for months at a time, including an 18-month stretch in June 2011 and a six-month stretch in 2008, often telling his bosses he was at CIA headquarters in Langley, Va., in Pakistan, or working on “candidate security” ahead of the 2008 election. He at one point claimed to rush to Pakistan to rescue a CIA counterpart who was being tortured by the Taliban.
In reality, Beale never set foot at Langley, nor did he have a security clearance. Instead of working, he rode bikes and read books at homes in Northern Virginia and Cape Cod, NBC reported.
“I spent time exercising. I spent a lot of time working on my house,” Beale told Judge Ellen Huvelle Wednesday.
The judge called his actions “inexplicable” and “egregious,” while prosecutor Jim Smith called Beale a “poster child for what is wrong with government.”
Beale retired from the EPA in April upon learning he was under federal investigation.
EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy discovered Beale’s fraud more than a year ago when she headed the office of air and radiation, the EPA said Monday. Drawing $206,000 a year in salary and bonuses, Beale out-earned McCarthy and many of his superiors.
House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said the deception “raises serious questions” about McCarthy’s “capabilities as a manager and leader,” which he said the committee would investigate. It is unclear how the case will impact McCarthy’s stewardship of President Obama’s environmental agenda.
Senator Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., said in a statement, “I commend the EPA Administrator for taking steps to shine a light on the actions of this rogue employee, and her actions helped uncover his crimes.”