In Washington, John C. Beale, 65, got 32 months in prison Wednesday for, among other things, skipping work for a total of two and a half years while drawing his lucrative salary, falsely telling colleagues and supervisors he was working for the CIA when he was gone. The case is over, but the story of this former senior policy adviser to the Environmental Protection Agency should not get lost. In October, Patrick Sullivan of the EPA’s inspector general’s office gave Congress a summary of the Beale story. It starts with the EPA hiring Beale based on the recommendation of an EPA official who was his best friend. His friend also got the EPA to pay Beale more than the job normally paid. The file showed “numerous misleading and false statements” in Beale’s applications for federal jobs.
The friend also got Beale retention bonuses that equaled 25 percent of his base pay. The bonuses, had they been earned, should have lasted six years. Instead they were paid for 16 extra years.
After he attended his retirement party aboard a yacht in the Potomac in 2011, the EPA kept him on the payroll at full pay and benefits. That allowed him to retire again last April before pleading guilty to defrauding the government this fall. The sentencing stories said he was to make restitution. No problem. He should have enough money to do so, and he will keep his federal pension.
Beale would take trips and bill the government, a total of $300,000 from 2003 to 2011. The inspector general found $87,000 in fraudulent charges. As for the rest? Once he stayed four nights in a London hotel that cost more than $1,000 a night. On one trip, he charged the government $14,000 for one first-class round trip to London to meet with a foundation there about cook stoves and air pollution.
The EPA routinely paid such exorbitant bills. Clearly nobody in charge of that agency had any idea of how to administer money. Surprised? Hardly. It’s the EPA. If money meant anything to them, they wouldn’t impose half the rules they do. (hh)