Washington, DC, United States (4E) – A former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) official who collected his pay check and benefits while absent from work and pretending to be retired was sentenced Wednesday to 32 months in prison for the fraud.
Federal judge Ellen Huvelle of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia handed the sentence to John Beale, 65. The former senior policy adviser and 24-year veteran at the EPA was also ordered to pay $507,207 in the next 30 days on top of the $886,186 he had returned to the government.
Beale admitted responsibility to his bizarre actions and apologized for his “greed” during his sentencing hearing.
Beale pleaded guilty in September to charges that he was absent from his job for a total 2-1/2 years but still collected $886,186 in salary and benefits corresponding to the period. He covered his absence by pretending he was working on a secret project with the CIA and had to take off one workday a week for spying missions.
In 2008, he took a six-month paid leave telling managers and employees he was working on a CIA research project in Langley, Virginia. In reality, he was at his home doing chores and exercising.
Beale’s ruse involved billing the government for first-class plane tickets convincing EPA he had to use that accommodation because of a fake back injury. In May 2011, he announced his retirement, but he continued to draw a paycheck until at least November of last year.
The absence of basic internal controls at the EPA failed to immediately detect Beale’s scam until EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy raised concerns about his expenses, said Inspector General Arthur Elkins.