Former EPA official charged with stealing nearly $900K

A former high-ranking official with the Environmental Protection Agency was charged Friday with stealing nearly $900,000 from the agency over 13 years.

John C. Beale, a former deputy assistant administrator in the Office of Air and Radiation, is accused of stealing a total of $886,186 between 2000 and April of this year.

A document filed by the Justice Department says Beale stole the money by collecting bonuses and extra salary.

Beale, 64, of Arlington, Va., faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and financial penalties if convicted. He worked at the EPA for at least two decades under several presidents. He was a top deputy to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, who headed the Air and Radiation office from 2009 until taking over the agency last month.

An agency spokeswoman said the EPA is coordinating closely with its inspector general and the Justice Department on the complaint.

Louisiana Sen. David Vitter, the top Republican on the Senate Environment Committee, called the accusations appalling.

"This fraud was occurring for many years at the EPA's critical Air office, and during a period of time that Gina McCarthy was the administrator of the Air office," Vitter said in a statement. "It's clear that further investigations are necessary."

A spokesman for U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen declined to comment.

A lawyer for Beale could not be reached Friday.