(CNN) - A former Environmental Protection Agency executive was sentenced to 32 months in prison on Wednesday for defrauding the government in what the judge called an "unbelievably egregious" scheme to steal taxpayer funds.
John C. Beale spent a decade milking the EPA for unearned pay and perks using a series of increasingly complicated lies, including that he was secretly working for the CIA.
Beale was also ordered to repay $1.3 million, which he said should be done within the next 30 days.
During sentencing, the prosecutor outlined how Beale – who at the time was one of the highest paid employees at the EPA – would disappear for prolonged periods while still collecting pay, all the while telling his agency that he was in Pakistan working for the CIA. Beale now admits he was in fact at home in Virginia or at this vacation home in Cape Cod.
When asked by Judge Ellen Huvelle what he was actually doing during that time, Beale said he wasn't doing much of anything besides working on his houses and reading.
Beale also admitted to lying about saying he had malaria in order to get a good parking spot at the EPA headquarters, charging the government for trips to California that were for entirely personal reasons, and booking first class and high end accommodations when traveling on business.
Beale's scheme unraveled in 2012 when EPA officials noticed that he was still collecting a paycheck despite announcing his retirement in 18 months earlier.
In a statement during his sentencing, Beale said that while his motive was "simple greed," his web of deceit grew out of his ability to exploit flaws in the EPA's management system that he continued to abuse because of the rush of getting away with it.
Beale also said he regrets the pain that he has caused his family and coworkers, and that he knows he has "damaged the reputation of federal service."
Huvelle agreed, telling him: "You've put a stain on the rest of us."
In a statement responding to the sentencing, Sen. Barbara Boxer, chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said the sentence is “appropriate given Mr. Beale’s outrageous activities.”
“EPA has already put safeguards in place to prevent fraud and deception from happening in the future. Once the EPA Inspector General’s investigation has been completed, I am confident that EPA will implement any additional measures necessary to ensure that this does not happen again,” she said.