For years, everyone around former Environmental Protection Agency executive John Beale — even his wife — thought he was living a secret double life, and he says his lies about being a clandestine CIA officer eventually became a "kind of" addiction.
Beale first told his wife, Nancy Kete, that he was working for the CIA in 1994, reveals his 263-page deposition
, released Wednesday by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
The document, reports The Washington Post
, is the first comprehensive account about how Beale was able to scam his former employer out of $500,000 in bonuses and 2½ years of paid time off over the past 20 years.
Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., who chairs the committee, and Maryland Rep. Elijah Cumming, the ranking Democrat on the committee, agreed to release the deposition transcript. During his hearing in October, Beale invoked his right against self-incrimination
Issa said Wednesday the deposition shows an "egregious example of fraud," and that it's "disappointing that a civil servant got away with bilking the American people for so long."
Beale's story about working for the CIA was just the beginning of his lies over the years. He also continued to collect a retention bonus — that was supposed to have expired in 2003 — up until 2013.
He also received a handicapped parking spot at the EPA after saying he suffers from the lingering effects of malaria he contracted during the Vietnam War, even though he never served there, reports Politico
Beale says in the deposition that he was able to lie for so long because his wife and co-workers trusted him, and he was hooked on fooling them.
"I'm not saying it's an addiction, but it's similar properties and I think I made up my mind several times to stop it but never succeeded," said Beale in the deposition.
The former EPA official's deposition outlines how, by the mid-1990s, Beale's EPA co-workers were already believing that he was a CIA officer, and his answers to their questions just fed the legend.
"People would ask me, and I would either say no, or I would slough it off as a joke or deny it, and then it became such a common kind of thing that was talked about that I just stopped responding to it at all," Beale says in the deposition. "So I began the fraud and I was looking for some cover for it ... I took advantage of the rumors, but the rumors didn’t inspire me or impel me to begin the fraud."
Beale said that while the rumors were circulating, he never officially told his CIA story to anyone at the EPA until 2001, when he mentioned to Jeffrey Holmstead, then the assistant administrator of the Office of Air and Radiation, that he was working for the CIA so he could justify taking time out of the office.
Beale admits he is ashamed of his actions, and that he knew one day his lies would catch up with him.
"I thought it was a pretty stupid thing what I was doing, and there was a good likelihood [I would get caught]," he said.
The lies have "profoundly" affected his marriage, Beale said, as well as his friendship with Robert Brenner, the official who recruited him into the EPA.
The deception has also raised questions about Gena McCarthy, Beale's supervisor in the EPA's office of Air and Radiation from 2009 through 2013, and who now heads the EPA.
McCarthy's staff learned in 2011 that Beale was collecting bonuses that he did not earn, but she did not take action on the claims until 2013. Her supporters and congressional Democrats say she is the one who finally forced Beale out of the EPA after questioning his claims to be with the CIA, but there are many critics who wonder what took her so long.
He maintained that story until McCarthy demanded last January that he verify his connection to the CIA.
Beale, 65, is not angry with McCarthy.
"I had and have a lot of respect for her," said Beale. "I think she's one of the smartest people I've ever met. I think she's a good manager."
But even when investigators were looking into Beale's story, she never accused him of "being a lying scumbag," he told the committee.
Beale was sentenced
, following a plea agreement, to 32 months in prison and $1.4 million in fines and restitution. But he says there's "not a chance" that his deceived wife, who is the managing director of the Rockefeller Foundation, will help pay off his debts.
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