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EPA’s ‘Moonlighting Spy:’ I Guess Greed Made Me Do It

John Beale, Former Senior Policy Advisor U.S Environmental Protection Agency John Beale, Former Senior Policy Advisor U.S Environmental Protection Agency House subcommittee on Oversight and Reform

A newly released transcript of a congressional deposition of John Beale, the Environmental Protection Agency attorney sentenced to 32 months in prison for falsely claiming his workplace absences were due to a moonlighting gig at the CIA, is not a totally satisfying read.

Beale was sentenced Dec. 18 for defrauding the government of nearly $900,000 in misreported hours that were spent on travel overseas and at his Massachusetts vacation home. The punishment: 32 months in federal prison, two years’ probation, 100 hours of community service, $886,000 in restitution, and another $507,000 in forfeiture.

The transcript, released with approval by both parties on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, shows Beale speaking admiringly of the smarts of his onetime boss, current EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, who had tapped him to be in the office more often to help her run the Office of Air and Radiation. (McCarthy, at the time assistant administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation, never directly quizzed him about his bogus CIA story but did revoke a bonus she decided was contrary to policy.)

Before McCarthy, the EPA general counsel and, eventually, its inspector general realized the fraud, Beale said he had told only two colleagues and a few administrative assistants that he was working on the side as a spook -- a tall tale that grew more elaborate as the years went on. In another sign of sloppiness, he was even thrown a joint retirement party in 2012 but continued to show up intermittently at EPA and be paid well into 2013.

Asked precisely why he engineered the scam, Beale said, “That’s a good question, and I don’t know that I know all the answers. I think greed is clearly a part of it,” according to the transcript. “And I think I’ll be working on the rest of the answers for a long time trying to figure that out.”

Charlie Clark joined Government Executive in the fall of 2009. He has been on staff at The Washington Post, Congressional Quarterly, National Journal, Time-Life Books, Tax Analysts, the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, and the National Center on Education and the Economy. He has written or edited online news, daily news stories, long features, wire copy, magazines, books and organizational media strategies.

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