In the annals of work-shirking and fabulation, a special chapter has to be set aside for John C. Beale, highly paid U.S. civil servant and bogus CIA operative.
For more than a decade, Mr. Beale frequently skipped work, pretending to be working for the Central Intelligence Agency. He also claimed to be a Vietnam war veteran so that he could get a parking spot inside a building at his workplace, the Environmental Protection Agency.
“This defendant has engaged in crime of massive proportions,” U.S. prosecutors said in a sentencing memorandum filed last week in U.S. District Court.
Mr. Beale has pleaded guilty to theft of government property and now faces jail time, a fine and having to forfeit or repay $1.4-million.
Using his CIA excuse, Mr. Beale missed the equivalent of two and half years from his work, court documents allege.
As a senior policy adviser at the EPA, Mr. Beale was a senior-level civil servant, “among the highest-paid, non-elected federal government employees,” the court filings said.
According to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, senior level EPA employees earn a basic pay of $119,554 to $179,700. In addition, Mr. Beale was awarded a yearly 25 per cent retention incentive bonus.
“For more than 10 years, Beale engaged in a pattern and scheme of deception during which he lied to the United States government, his supervisors, friends and family about a position he claimed he had with the Central Intelligence Agency,” the prosecution memorandum said.
The 65-year-old Mr. Beale worked at the EPA from 1989 until April of this year.
Documents filed in U.S. District Court since he pleaded guilty in September outlined how his schemes got increasingly bolder over time.
Beginning in early 2000, he started taking a day off each week, telling his manager that he had been assigned to an inter-agency special group that was working with the CIA.
“Beale simply did not show up to work at the EPA on days he claimed he was working at the CIA, yet still received his EPA salary,” the memorandum said.
Because his job involved frequent overseas travel and extended across different offices within the agency, Mr. Beale rarely had to give details of his whereabouts, according to a filing by his defence lawyer, John Kern.
In 2002, he claimed that he needed a subsidized parking spot within a building on the EPA’s main campus in Washington because he had contracted malaria while serving in the U.S. Army in Vietnam. The EPA paid him $200 per month for the parking spot.
“Beale never served in Vietnam and never contracted malaria,” according to a statement of offence filed by the prosecution.
From 2005 to 2007, Mr. Beale flew five times to Los Angeles to visit family, but charged the EPA $57,235 for the trips, claiming that it was for a research project.
“Beale never produced any written work product regarding the research project and the research project was never completed,” the court document says.
By June, 2008, Mr. Beale disappeared for six months. He claimed that he was either working on the non-existent research project or spending time at “Langley,” an allusion to the CIA headquarters.
During that year, he also charged the EPA $23,000 for a week-long trip to London, flying first-class and staying at an expensive hotel that cost $6,000.
By 2011, Mr. Beale went a step further, telling his co-workers that he was retiring from the EPA because he was too busy travelling on CIA business. He even held a retirement party with a dinner cruise on the Potomac River.
In fact, he remained on the EPA payroll. “Beale stated that he was away on international travel, but was in fact in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area or at his vacation home in Truro, Massachusetts,” the court memorandum said.
The prosecution is seeking a jail term of 30 to 37 months.
The defence filing described Mr. Beale as a lawyer who had played a key role in many EPA policies, including the Clean Air Act, international agreements dealing with air pollution and vehicle emissions programs.
While the prosecution claims that Mr. Beale was motived by greed and a sense of entitlement, the defence memorandum said the reasons are more complex. It said he is now seeing a therapist to deal with his “highly self-destructive and dysfunctional need to engage in excessively reckless, risky behaviour and to manipulate those around him.”