- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 31, 2004

CHARLOTTESVILLE (AP) — A former safety inspector at dozens of East Coast hospitals pleaded guilty yesterday to fraud charges in federal court, after an investigation showed that he faked his credentials and miscalibrated mammography machines and other diagnostic equipment for years.

Perry Beale of Fredericksburg, Va., had worked as a private consultant at more than 50 facilities in the District, Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

Authorities had been investigating Beale since 2001, concluding that he improperly inspected safety equipment and falsified tests used to determine unhealthy radiation levels in hospital rooms.

Beale was charged with 38 counts of mail fraud, because he received his paychecks through the mail. He will be sentenced Dec. 3 in Harrisonburg.

Food and Drug Administration officials said after Beale’s arrest that people who used the machines should not be alarmed because FDA inspectors and an accreditation body usually follow safety inspections with their own check.

“Based on current information, Mr. Beale’s activities posed no health risk to mammography patients,” Dr. Charles Finder, associate director of the FDA’s Division of Mammography Quality and Radiation Programs, said at a press conference in July announcing Beale’s arrest. “Therefore, these patients do not need to take any action as a result.”

Prosecutors say Beale began working in 1988 as an apprentice to a medical physicist and radiation safety officer in Maryland. His mentor died two years later.

Instead of going back to school, Beale continued working on his own by falsifying his resume and transcripts. Three years ago, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission started investigating his work after noticing problems. He was suspended the following year.

Defense attorney Richard Milnor did not return a phone call to his office yesterday seeking comment.

Beale has been working in the circulation department of the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg since January.

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