Former official accused of defrauding agency is hospitalized, delaying his court hearing

The former U.S. EPA official accused of defrauding the agency of almost $900,000 was hospitalized last week, delaying his arraignment hearing.

John Beale, 64, had been expected to plead guilty today to theft of government property. But the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia delayed his hearing until Sept. 27.

Beale was hospitalized "as a result of a potentially serious medical condition affecting his throat," according to court documents.

His doctor performed a second tracheotomy "to ensure proper breathing through Mr. Beale's airway until a further, and more complete, evaluation of his current condition can be undertaken," wrote John Kern, Beale's attorney, in a motion to continue. "Mr. Beale's attending physician has also advised undersigned counsel that Mr. Beale will remain hospitalized at least through Monday, September 9."

Beale is accused of stealing almost $900,000 in salary, benefits and bonuses. According to sources familiar with the case, Beale -- an EPA employee since the 1980s -- claimed he worked for the CIA and left the office to take long trips (Greenwire, Sept. 5).

It's still unclear how Beale managed to get away with such deceit. EPA has characterized him as an adept liar who was able to fool the agency for almost 13 years under both Democratic and Republican administrations. He was a senior official in EPA's Office of Air and Radiation.

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