WASHINGTON) — The former high-ranking Environmental Protection Agency official who stole nearly $900,000 — by claiming he was doing work for the CIA away from the office and by faking his retirement while still drawing a paycheck — was sentenced Wednesday to 32 months in prison.
“I own this, this is on me, and this is my responsibility. …I’m ashamed of [my] greed,” John Beale, a former senior policy adviser and 24-year veteran at the EPA, said at his sentencing hearing in Washington. “I deeply regret all the wreckage and the pain that I’ve caused.”
Beale, 65, pleaded guilty in September, admitting that over the past decade he had collected $886,186 for work he never did. He was absent from his job at the EPA for a time amounting to two-and-a-half years, but he was paid for that time and received benefits.
While at the EPA, Beale repeatedly was a no-show at his office, telling colleagues he was working on a project elsewhere for the CIA, although he’d never worked for the CIA.
Similarly, in May 2011, he announced his “retirement” from the EPA and celebrated with a dinner cruise on the Potomac River, but he continued to draw a paycheck until at least November of last year.
Beale told federal judge Ellen Huvelle that through is “own failings and insecurities” he became an addict of sorts, constantly searching for “a sense of excitement or a rush with getting away with something.”
Huvelle called his actions “inexplicable” and “unbelievably egregious,” saying the “saddest” part of it all is that he “made a mockery” of the federal work force.
“It is a sad day for many, many people,” she said.
After serving 32 months in prison — likely at a facility near New York City — Beale will face two years of supervised release.
He has already paid back the $886,186, and will have to pay another $507,207 in the next 30 days.
“John Beale spent a decade telling one fantastic lie after another to steal our tax dollars,” U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen said in a statement after the sentencing. “At some point, his commitment to public service warped into a sense of entitlement fueled by greed. Through this prison sentence John Beale will pay the price for his years of deception.”
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Eric Bradner, Shimon Prokupecz and Dan Merica, CNN
Jason Hanna and Joe Sutton, CNN