Former Epa Adviser Accused of Pay Fraud, Claimed to Be With Cia

Former Epa Adviser Accused of Pay Fraud, Claimed to Be With Cia

A former senior policy adviser for the Environmental Protection Agency is expected to plead guilty to federal fraud charges after allegedly explaining his frequent, long absences from work by claiming to be working with the CIA. Sadly, however, the resolution of the man’s charges has been delayed due to health concerns.

According to reports by the Washington Post, the 64-year-old had been employed as an adviser with the agency’s Office of Air and Radiation since at least 2000, when the alleged fraud scheme began. Essentially, prosecutors claim, he often arranged for long absences from work, while still collecting his salary, benefits, and retention bonuses. He explained those absences by telling his supervisors that he was involved in top-secret work with the CIA.

His story might be completely true and — if there is any truth in spy novels — the spy agency could have disavowed him. Reporters did not say what evidence prosecutors have that he did not, in fact, work with the CIA.

In any case, his bosses at the EPA never verified his claim. Although, again, it is not clear how easy that might be. It is also unclear how the supposed fraud was discovered. What is clear is that over the course of 12 years, the man earned a total of nearly $900,000 in salary, benefits, and bonuses for work he appears not to have performed. When he retired in April, his base salary was $164,700.

He is charged with theft of government property, and had said he would plead guilty on Monday, Sept. 9. For fraud charges involving this sum of money, the federal sentencing guidelines recommend a penalty of up to three years in prison. Whether it is fair to say that the man earned absolutely none of his EPA salary and benefits over the course of a decade, however, is an important factor in determining the damage from the alleged fraud.

Sadly, his story took an unexpected turn last week. He was hospitalized for what his defense attorney referred to as a “potentially serious medical condition affecting his throat”. He had to undergo two tracheostomies, or incisions in his throat, to allow him to breathe. At last report, he was expected to remain in the hospital at least through Monday. The hearing to accept his plea has been postponed until Sept. 30.

While the story has some amusing elements, it’s crucial to remember that press reports tend to focus largely — if not exclusively — on materials provided by the prosecution. It is also important to keep in mind that criminal defendants are people. They are individuals with lives, families, health concerns, and all parts of humanity.

Source: The Washington Post, “Plea hearing for former EPA adviser delayed; John Beale hospitalized with throat condition,” Ann E. Marimow, Sept. 9, 2013