EPA Report Reveals Pornography, Ethical Failings

Tuesday, 13 May 2014 09:29 PM

By Jason Devaney

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An employee at the Environmental Protection Agency pleaded guilty to charges of accessing child pornography on a website two years ago using his EPA email address, an EPA report says.

The employee's name was not included in the report from the EPA's Office of Inspector General (OIG), which outlined 16 cases the office closed between October 2013 and March 2014. That employee retired from the EPA during the investigation and was sentenced to five years' probation.

Another employee was accused of using a co-worker's government purchase card to buy an Apple iPad for personal use at a cost of $805. "Actions are pending in this matter," the report says.

In another case, "A GS-13 employee was allegedly running a personal business during work hours using EPA-issued equipment and making threatening comments to co-workers," the report says. The employee was fired during the investigation for poor job performance.

Two other cases of alleged misconduct involved presidential appointees: one was accused of violating an ethics pledge, and the other case was tied to accepting gifts and travel from a lobbyist.

As of March 31, 78 cases of alleged misconduct were still open at the EPA, five of which involved political appointees.

"EPA has in place a number of controls to prevent employee access to inappropriate content from its networks and is constantly working to upgrade and improve those controls," EPA spokeswoman Alisha Johnson told The Hill regarding the employee convicted of accessing child pornography.

"While the cases outlined in the summary are closed, EPA will review the summary and take any additional actions needed upon completion of the review." Johnson said.

The reports of misconduct come on the heels of reports last week that an EPA employee allegedly downloaded more than 7,000 pornographic files onto a government computer and viewed them for two to six hours a day. The worker was not identified in the OIG report but was caught watching porn when a special agent showed up at his workspace.

The employee still works for the EPA and makes about $120,000 a year. The case has been referred to the Justice Department for prosecution.

Last year, a senior official at the agency — John Beale — was convicted on charges he stole $900,000 in pay and benefits over a 10-year period during which he was not actually working. He told his EPA bosses that he was working on classified projects. Beale was sentenced to 32 months in prison and fined $1.4 million in December.

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