Here’s my Thanksgiving gift to all controllers and consultants. Yes, it’s about fraud. A fraud so outrageous that I had to write about it.
Tucked in the bottom corner of the Editorial Page of the Wall Street Journal last week was an article titled ” The ‘Spy’ Who Fooled the EPA”. If your faith in our government has been diminishing, I’m afraid this might be the final nail in the coffin.
It happened at the Office of Air and Radiation, a division of the EPA. John C. Beale was a senior official there having spent 23 years of his career there. Recently, he reached a plea agreement related to the $900,000 in overpayments of a bonus and falsified expenses. Apparently the fraud started in 1989, even before he was hired. On his application for employment he stated that he had been employed in the U.S. Senate. There is no evidence of that being true. After hiring, he informed his superiors that he was also working as an operative of the CIA. It only gets better. Prosecutors contended he had missed almost 2 1/2 years of work from 2000 to 2013 telling his superiors he was essentially gone on ‘secret missions’. In fact, in 2008 he was gone for six months supposedly on an EPA ‘research’ project. No leave request was ever submitted. But, the EPA managed to approve and reimburse him for $57,000 in fraudulent travel expenses. It gets even better than that. He also claimed he had contracted malaria while serving in Vietnam. His prize, an $18,000 handicapped parking spot in downtown Washington D.C. P.S.: there’s no evidence he ever served in Vietnam. Nor, any evidence that he had malaria. For his stellar performance as an employee, he was awarded retention bonuses for six consecutive years. Just one problem. The EPA paid those bonuses for 23 consecutive years. Louisiana Senator David Vitter spearheaded an investigation that led to the facts of the gross overpayments becoming known. Senator Vitter is pushing for an investigation of the INTERNAL CONTROLS at the EPA. However, Senator Barbara Boxer, head of the Environment & Public Works committee is resisting. Why? The writer states it may be because this is just too embarrassing for the EPA.
I wonder, have you had an employee tell you they would be absent for awhile because they are a CIA operative? Or working on a secret project for your own company? What about an employee that asks for time off at a busy time of year because they have personal issues? And then you find out they needed the time to recover from cosmetic surgery? Everyone is entitled to time off. It’s just there needs to be a recognition that there are times when they are needed. Would Santa be giving the elves time off right about now? The WSJ article is really not about the appropriate times to ask for leave. Rather, it is about why the government can’t do any better than this protecting our taxpayer dollars? And, what about all the stealing going on that we don’t know about.
Have a Happy and Safe Thanksgiving to all of you. See you next Monday. Part III of FRAUD & THE CONTROLLER.