An Environmental Protection Agency employee knowingly stole more than $886,000 from the agency, according to a criminal filing from the Department of Justice.
The alleged fraud occurred in the EPAâ€™s Office of Air and Radiation under the nose of former administrator Gina McCarthy, who now heads up the entire agency.
â€śThere appears to be corruption to the umpteenth degree,â€ť said Louisiana Republican Sen. David Vitter. â€śI think itâ€™s appalling that Administrator McCarthy and former acting Administrator Bob Perciasepe could claim that sequester is depriving the agency of important resources when in fact their own employees are stealing from the government.â€ť
EPA employee John Beale, who worked in the air office, stole $886,186 from the agency between 2000 and 2013. According to the criminal filing, Beale had stolen agency funds through salary, benefits, and certain bonuses that Beale â€śhad not earned by providing employment services to the EPA.â€ť
â€śItâ€™s clear that further investigations are necessary, and at the appropriate time weâ€™ll need answers â€“ a whole lot of answers,â€ť Vitter added.
Vitterâ€™s criticism of the EPA saying the sequester would hamper agency functions comes just after administrator McCarthy announced that there would be fewer furlough days for employees, cancelling one planned for Aug. 30.
â€śThe reason weâ€™re able to eliminate this mandatory furlough day is because of the savings achieved through a number of tough budget choices we have made and are continuing to make as we do our work,â€ť McCarthy said a video announcement.
This is the second time the agency has reduced the number of furlough days employees had to take as a result of the sequester. In May, the EPA said a â€ścomprehensive review of resourcesâ€ť allowed them to cancel three furlough days.
Government Executive reports that, â€śEPA employees were originally told to take 10 days of unpaid leave by Sept. 30, but that number has since been reduced to six. The latest reduction is part of a government-wide trend, with all major agencies cutting back on their original furlough projections.â€ť
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