EPA Official Who Faked CIA Duty Moves to Halfway House

The longtime Environmental Protection Agency clean-air expert who skipped work while posing as a CIA agent has been released from prison and is now in a halfway house.

John C. Beale, who joined EPA full-time in 1988 and helped run its Office of Air and Radiation with current Administrator Gina McCarthy, was sentenced in December 2013 to 32 months in prison and $1.4 million in restitution after having pleaded guilty to felony theft of government property. He had faked his time cards and falsely claimed to moonlight for the intelligence agency.

Beale was moved this spring from the federal correctional institute in Cumberland, Md., to a Philadelphia facility, Government Executive has confirmed with the Bureau of Prisons. He must sleep in the facility supervised by a bureau Residential Reentry Management field office and perform work and program activity during the day on a conditional basis.

Set for release on June 1, Beale is also paying the outstanding portion of his restitution through his federal annuity.

The sensational case embarrassed the EPA and spawned congressional hearings about how Beale faked his time cards, expense reports for travel and overseas cellphone calls when in fact he spent much his time in 2001-2013 at home and his vacation home in Massachusetts. He also told co-workers he was retiring in 2011, at which time they threw him a party—though he remained on the payroll for two more years and became the agency’s highest-paid employee.

Beale’s scheme unraveled after the EPA inspector general’s office began an investigation and checked with its CIA counterpart. Beale at one point agreed to meet the EPA investigators at the main gate at CIA headquarters in Langley to enter a secure room. But in a dramatic reversal, Beale’s lawyer called the EPA watchdog back and confessed that his client had lied to him and that he didn’t work for the CIA at all.

When interviewed by IG investigators on June 14, 2013, Beale admitted to taking off a total of two and a half years–six months in 2008 and two years from 2011- 13.

McCarthy told the IG’s investigators she had been told when she started in the agency’s top job that Beale was a part-time CIA employee. The IG eventually portrayed McCarthy as having helped expose Beale’s fraud.

Patrick Sullivan, the assistant inspector general for investigations who worked on the Beale investigation and turned results over to the IG’s auditing division, said changes prompted by the debacle include a policy that “EPA will no longer accept it at face value when an employee says they have to fly first class, but will check the documentation. No longer will travel vouchers be rubber-stamped,” Sullivan told Government Executive this week, noting that Beale’s boss had delegated such approvals to someone in the front office.

“Other weaknesses found were that no one was confirming the hours submitted on his time sheets, but [supervisors] were using batch approval” every two weeks, even though no one knew where Beale actually was.

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