A high-level Environmental Protection Agency official is under scrutiny for allegedly approving expenses for former agency executive John Beale, who pleaded guilty earlier this year of defrauding the government out of nearly $900,000 in pay, travel expenses, and bonuses.
The agency inspector general did not release the woman's name, according to the Washington Post, but congressional aides told the newspaper she was an official with the EPA Air and Radiation Office.
The investigation of the woman's activities, which could lead to prosecution, marks the third time
a deputy from the office of former EPA Assistant Administrator Gina McCarthy, who now heads the agency, has come under scrutiny, the Post noted. Another EPA official, Robert Brenner, has admitted to accepting an $8,000 discount on a luxury car arranged by a lobbyist. He is not facing criminal charges.
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa said Wednesday the EPA cases raise "serious questions about [McCarthy's] capabilities as a manager and leader." He called for additional hearings concerning McCarthy's former office staff.
The Post reported that the EPA knew as early as 2010
that Beale, who claimed he was covertly working for the CIA on his days off, was defrauding the EPA out of money but did not take action, according to an inspector general.
Louisiana Republican Sen. David Vitter told the Post the EPA internal investigations of personnel show "it's very apparent there were significant failings" within the agency and that "a fraud of this level isn't by pure accident."
The EPA inspector general's office credits McCarthy with being the first to question Beale's story about his CIA affiliation and then forcing him to retire, the Post reported. But even after he stepped down, Beale continued drawing a paycheck for 19 months after a dinner cruise was held on the Potomac River to celebrate his retirement. McCarthy was at the party, the newspaper noted.
Beale's plea deal includes restitution of $1.45 million to the government and a jail sentence of up to three years. John Kern, Beale's attorney, said this week in court filings that his client was motivated by a need "to engage in excessively reckless, risky behavior and to manipulate those around him through the fabrication of grandiose narratives about himself that are fueled by his insecurities.”
He is now seeing a therapist, Kern noted.
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