Wednesday, February 26, 2014

EPA Obstructed Fraud Investigation

You may remember the wild and wooly case of John Beale, the senior EPA bureaucrat who managed to dodge years of work while getting paid by claiming to be a CIA agent, in addition to more traditional forms of fraud such as having the agency pay for travel he didn't take, and getting first class upgrades on travel he did take, amounting to some $900,000 in fraud, all the while getting performance and retention bonuses.

It seems that the investigation into his performance was directly obstructed by EPA officials
The WFB reports on a letter from the EPA inspector general to Sen. David Vitter released on Wednesday, wherein the IG describes how several agency employees tried to get in the way of getting to the bottom of the ordeal:
EPA employees threatened Inspector General investigators, refused to cooperate, and handed out non-disclosure agreements to other employees to keep them from being interviewed, EPA Inspector General Arthur Elkins Jr. wrote in response to a request for information by Vitter on the case.
“Over the past 12 months, there have been several EPA officials who have taken action to prevent [the Office of Investigations] OI from conducting investigations or have attempted to obstruct investigations through intimidation,” Elkins wrote. …
After closing its criminal investigation, the Inspector General began an audit of the lack of internal controls that allowed Beale to defraud the agency. That audit has implicated a growing number of EPA officials. …
“During the course of an OI administrative investigation, Mr. [Steve Williams in the EPA's Office of Homeland Security] approached an OI special agent in a threatening manner, preventing the special agent from conducting her official duties in an ongoing investigation involving Mr. Williams and other members of OHS,” Elkins wrote. “Additionally, Mr. Williams issued non-disclosure agreements to EPA employees that prevented these employees from cooperating with [the Office of the Inspector General] OIG investigations.”
I can't say I'm shocked. In any bureaucracy, from the Catholic Church to the EPA, any threat of exposure of wrong doing by any one of it's upper minions is perceived as a threat to the organization itself, and the reaction by the vast majority of the personnel is to circle the wagons, and protect the guilty.  Who knows, the next investigation could be you, and everyone's guilty of something.

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