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Among conservatives skeptical of the science behind man-caused global warming, activists who support the theory are often described as frauds. One expert in the field, however, apparently embraced that title in a literal sense by admittedly bilking the federal government out of nearly $1 million.

According to reports, John C. Beale served as the Environmental Protection Agency’s highest-paid staff member while he perpetuated a scheme so bold it could have only gone unnoticed in the notoriously unaccountable realm of the public sector. For well over a decade, Beale falsely claimed he was also an undercover CIA agent, a claim he used to shirk his responsibilities and take months off of work at a time.

While his colleagues believed he was stationed overseas for a secret mission or working from the CIA headquarters in Virginia, Beale was actually enjoying more taxpayer-funded vacations than the Obamas.

Prosecutors claim he spent a significant amount of time at his Cape Cod, Mass. vacation home when he was not jetting around the globe on someone else’s dime. He and his wife also own a townhouse in Arlington, Va., valued at nearly $900,000.

Though his position placed him in direct contact with EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy throughout his career, his blatant lies apparently raised no red flags among any of the agency’s officials.

He charged taxpayers more than a quarter-million dollars in five-star hotel stays, gourmet meals, limousine service, and first-class flights. Furthermore, he prominently announced his retirement – even hosting his own party during which he celebrated with McCarthy and other EPA staff – yet collected his six-figure salary for another year-and-a-half.

Patrick Sullivan, who serves as the agency’s assistant inspector general, described Beale’s behavior as a “crime of massive proportions,” noting that the EPA itself is partially to blame for not discovering the abuses earlier.

“There’s a certain culture here at the EPA where the mission is the most important thing,” he explained.

Though his criminal activity spanned at least 13 years, prosecutors in the case are seeking just 30 months in prison for the admitted fraud. Beale’s lawyers, however, are asking for a lighter sentence because of their client’s “dysfunctional need to engage in excessively reckless, risky behavior.”

Far from a valid defense, many would contend that such a desire is a prerequisite for a government official in his position. It does appear Beale’s greediness secured his downfall, though.

His extensive scam was only discovered after McCarthy realized he was still receiving a paycheck after supposedly retiring. That realization led to a further investigation into his widespread fraud.

–B. Christopher Agee

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