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Impressing colleagues

Through the years, Beale impressed colleagues. A Minnesota native and the son of a minister, Beale rose through the agency hierarchy, eventually chairing the influential EPA Clean Air Work Group, according to court records.

He received a “gold medal” public service award from the agency in 1989, not long before President George H.W. Bush signed Clean Air Act amendments that Beale and others had helped develop.

EPA officials thought so highly of Beale that they gave him retention bonuses to stay, adding 25 percent to his salary, which was $164,000 when he retired from the agency this year. According to prosecutors, Beale was among the government’s highest paid non-elected federal employees.

Beale’s reputation and responsibilities grew over the next decade. By 2000, he was promoted to senior policy adviser, reporting directly to the assistant administrator in the EPA’s air office.

In 2000, as Beale would later admit, he recorded entries on his time sheets as “DO Oversight” when he was actually taking time off. Early on, Beale provided no explanation for his time off. That was because nobody asked, according to a defense memo.

But in 2001, Beale informed an unidentified employee or employees that he once worked for the CIA and was asked to participate in an interagency group working on CIA projects.

In the beginning, the fraud involved a day off here or there. But by 2008, he was absent from work for six months, explaining that he was “participating in an election year multi-agency project relating to candidate security,” according the defense memo.

When he did work, Beale was guaranteed a good parking spot thanks to his false claim that he contracted malaria in Vietnam.

Beale’s attorney, John Kern, said nothing in his client’s background ever hinted at Beale’s subsequent criminal behavior.

He interned for Sen. John Tunney of California. An aide in the office wrote of Beale: “Outstanding, the best intern with whom I’ve worked.”

By 1980, Beale had a law degree from New York University and a master’s degree in public affairs from Princeton University. Until his fraud scheme unraveled at age 65, his only other contact with the criminal justice system was a 1996 traffic citation for expired tags.