Massive Fraud

Federal prosecutors say that for 12 years, Environmental Protection Agency official John C. Beale got away with ripping off taxpayers.

He collected nearly $900,000 in salary – and performance bonuses – to which he was not entitled.

Beale, who had been a senior policy adviser in the Office of Air and Radiation, was absent from his job frequently. He told co-workers he was engaged in “top-secret” tasks for another government agency. According to published reports, he cultivated an air of mystery and explained his lengthy absences by telling his bosses that he was doing top-secret work, including for the CIA.

He wasn’t. But for 12 years, no one checked up on him. Again, his superiors even gave him performance bonuses.

Beale was scheduled to plead guilty during at an arraignment scheduled last week at the U.S. District Court in Washington, but his lawyer John W. Kern was granted for a delay until Sept. 27 to allow for more time for diagnosis and treatment of Beale’s unspecified throat condition.

However, that may not be the end of Beale’s troubles. Sen. David Vitter (La.), the top Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee, called the alleged scheme a “massive fraud” and has demanded additional investigation by the inspector general to determine whether the alleged corruption extends further in the agency that protects the nation’s air, water and land.

Perhaps EPA officials should pay as much attention to cleaning up their bureaucracy as to killing jobs through draconian pollution regulations.