Docs shed new light on EPA’s phony CIA spy

The high-level Environmental Protection Agency official convicted of posing as part-time CIA operative and defrauding taxpayers to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars concocted the scheme specifically as a way to steal time from the government, he told congressional investigators.

John Beale, a former senior policy adviser at the agency, said he sought to deceive his colleagues — including current EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy — in what he alternately described as “fantasy,” a “charade” and “this con.”

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“I was starting to take time off, to steal my time from the government,” he told investigators from the House Oversight Committee during a December deposition. “And I think I felt that I needed to have some excuse for that.”

The committee released hundreds of pages of testimony from Beale’s deposition Wednesday, a month after the longtime EPA official was sentenced to 32 months in prison and ordered to pay more than $1 million in restitution and fines. 

In his deposition, Beale — who refused to testify during a House hearing last fall — recounted fabricating appointments “in Langley” on his work calendar, secretive trips to London and Pakistan and periods where he was “off the grid” on CIA business.

Beale speculated that because he had spent more than a decade at the agency he was allowed to get away with the concocted identity for an extended period. 

“Because I had that track record and I had earned that trust, I abused that trust and I betrayed that trust when I started this charade about the [CIA],” he said. “I think it very understandable that people didn’t see it at first, you know?”

Throughout hours of questioning, Beale resisted assertions that his colleagues were to blame for failure to detect his scheme, though he did not recall being pressed to verify his connection to the CIA.

McCarthy, who at times had daily contact with Beale, was the first one to raise an alarm in 2010, while she served as his boss. She referred the possible fraud to other officials in the agency, though Beale was not immediately fired.

“For well over a decade, John Beale spun an elaborate web of lies in order to convince EPA supervisors in different administrations, his friends, and even his family that he was a CIA agent,” said Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) the top Democrat on the Oversight panel.

Beale told investigators that he had already paid nearly $900,000 in restitution, and would forfeit an additional $500,000 as part of the resolution of his case.

Asked what motivated the plot, however, he was unable to give a complete answer.

“That’s a good question,” he told investigators. “I think greed is clearly part of it, and I think I’ll be working on the rest of the answers for a long time trying to figure that out.”