Wednesday, 18 December 2013

EPA Official Sentenced for Fraud

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John Beale, a former EPA senior policy advisor who pled guilty on September 27 to stealing nearly $900,000 from the agency over 13 years, was sentenced to 32 months in prison on Wednesday, December 18.

Judge Ellen Huvelle sentenced Beale to the prison term as well as two years supervised release. He already has paid $886,000 in restitution, and now owes more than a half-million dollars in forfeiture, which he is expected to pay the Justice Department within the next month. 

Beale, a New York University graduate with a masters from Princeton, received $206,000 a year in salary and bonuses, making him the highest paid individual at the EPA, even more than the agency’s administrator, Gina McCarthy. Inherent in his high-ranking position at the EPA is the presumption that Beale was an expert on environmental matters, including climate change.

In his court filing asking for leniency for his client, Beale’s lawyer, John Kerns, implored Judge Huvelle to weigh Beale’s alleged accomplishments during his years at the EPA against his admitted crimes. Among the touted accomplishments are helping to rewrite the Clean Air Act in 1990, heading up EPA delegations to United Nations conferences on climate change in 2000 and 2001, and helping to negotiate agreements to reduce carbon emissions with China, India, and other nations.

During his career with the EPA, Beale successfully got agency officials to believe a long list of lies that allowed him to draw his very generous salary, and also receive expense account reimbursements for non-existent assignments. He also told shameless lies to receive special privileges. Beale claimed to have contracted malaria back when he serving in Vietnam in order to be assigned a handicap parking space, worth $200 a month. However, not only did he never have malaria — he never served in Vietnam!

Among Beale’s most outrageous lies was his claim that he was working for an interagency, special advisory group at the CIA’s Directorate of Operations. He claimed he needed to take off once a week from the EPA to work on his CIA missions in Pakistan. Incredibly, he got away with this ruse for eight years, and in 2008, emboldened by his success, took off for about six months, telling managers and employees at the EPA he was working on a CIA research project or working for “Langley,” where the CIA is headquartered. He claimed that he was part of a special multi-agency election-year project relating to “candidate security.” An NBC News report quoted from a newly filed sentencing memo in which prosecutors said that Beale’s lies were a “crime of massive proportion” and “offensive” to those who actually do dangerous work for the CIA.

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During an interview with NBC News, EPA Assistant Inspector General Patrick Sullivan, who spearheaded the investigation, related his reaction when he first began looking into Beale’s activities last February: “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.”

Sullivan said that when he contacted the CIA he was told that Beale did not even have a security clearance at the spy agency.

“Make no mistake: This defendant has engaged in crime of massive proportions,” U.S. Attorneys Ronald Machen and James Smith wrote in their court filing that brought charges against Beale. “The nature of his deception was outrageous and notorious.... Although the defendant has no prior criminal history, his first criminal conviction was a blockbuster.”

Beale also padded his expense account by claiming to have a back injury that required him to fly first class. According to court documents, on one flight to London, his first class seat cost taxpayers $14,000, when a coach ticket would have cost just $1,000.

During their investigation of Beale, investigators compared his cellphone records to his claimed travel expenses and found that when he claimed to be in Pakistan and other locations on CIA business, he was really at his Cape Cod vacation home.

Inspector General Arthur Elkins, whose office exposed Beale’s fraudulent activities, said that Beale was able to get away with the fraud for such an extensive period because of “an absence of even basic internal controls at the EPA.”

Perhaps Beale’s most audacious action, which ultimately led to his apprehension, was that after a very public retirement party held for him in 2011 aboard a yacht in the Potomac — which EPA Administrator McCarthy attended — he continued drawing his large salary for another year and a half!

Six months after his supposed retirement, McCarthy was astonished to learn he was still on the payroll. On March 29, 2012, she wrote in an e-mail, “I thought he had already retired.”

McCarthy initiated a review that was forwarded to the EPA general counsel’s office. However, due to typical bureaucratic delay, the inspector general’s office was not alerted until February 2013. Beale finally stopped drawing his salary in April.

As noted above, Beale’s lawyer, in asking for leniency for his client, praised Beale’s work helping to rewrite the Clean Air Act in 1990, and heading up EPA delegations to United Nations conferences on climate change in 2000 and 2001. If the viewpoint of leading scientists is considered, however, the UN’s climate reports have not much more credibility than Beale’s fabrications.

Following the release of one such report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (UN IPCC) last September 27, top climate scientists and experts thoroughly rejected its methods, findings, and claims.

As noted by The New American, Professor Judith Curry, chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology, disputed the claims of the “experts” who authored the IPCC report who were 95 percent sure that humans were responsible for global warming.

“How they can justify this is beyond me,” said Curry. She also stated: “It makes no sense that the IPCC was claiming that its confidence in its forecasts and conclusions has increased. This is incomprehensible to me; the IPCC projections are overconfident, especially given the report’s admitted areas of doubt. The consensus-seeking process used by the IPCC creates and amplifies biases in the science. It should be abandoned in favor of a more traditional review that presents arguments for and against — which would better support scientific progress, and be more useful for policy makers.”

At any rate, Beale's conviction is just one more example of waste, fraud, and general corruption within the government. The EPA itself could even be regarded as an example of government waste, as it is an unconstitutional agency created by an executive order. While John Beale’s activities at EPA were certainly exceptional and extreme examples of fraud, in the long run, they may be not as costly to the taxpayer as the regulations imposed by the EPA on Americans to combat human-caused “climate change,” a fraud of far greater magnitude.