Federal prosecutors say a top EPA official who pleaded guilty earlier this year to bilking the government out of nearly $1 million in salary and other benefits for a decade committed a massive crime and should go to prison for at least 30 months.
John Beale, who admitted in September
that he lied to his bosses and said he was working as a CIA spy in Pakistan so he would not have to carry out his real duties, will be sentenced in a federal court in Washington, D.C. Wednesday.
Prosecutors said in a newly filed sentencing memo that Beale's "historic" lies are "offensive" to those who do in fact undertake dangerous CIA work, reports NBC News, which obtained the memo.
EPA Assistant Inspector General Patrick Sullivan, who headed the investigation into Beale's activities, told the network he was stunned by what he found.
"I thought, 'Oh my God, how could this possibly have happened in this agency?' I've worked for the government for 35 years. I've never seen a situation like this," he said. "There's a certain culture here at the EPA where the mission is the most important thing. They don't think like criminal investigators. They tend to be very trusting and accepting."
Investigators are also examining possible misconduct on the part of another high-level official in the agency's Air and Radiation Office, where Beale was employed, reported The Washington Post.
They described the woman as a "person of interest," congressional aides told the newspaper, but the inspector general's office later denied the characterization. She reportedly approved many of the travel and accommodation expenses that Beale submitted while posing as a CIA agent.
Robert Brenner, a friend of Beale's from the same office, admitted that he accepted an $8,000 discount on a luxury car provided by a lobbyist with whom the agency did business, according to the Post, but he has not been charged with any crime.
All three were deputies to then-Assistant Administrator Gina McCarthy, who is now head of the EPA.
"This raises serious questions about [McCarthy's] capabilities as a manager and leader," Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said in a statement last week.
In a separate sentencing memo, also reviewed by NBC News, Beale's attorney, John Kern, asked for leniency, writing that his client "has come to recognize that, beyond the motive of greed, his theft and deception were animated by a highly self-destructive and dysfunctional need to engage in excessively reckless, risky behavior."
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