It’s not exactly breaking news that the federal government is riddled with fraud, waste and abuse. Daily headlines highlight corruption within federal agencies and inform us about everything from employees splurging on fancy conferences to workers shopping for BMWs and home theaters—all on the taxpayers’ dime.
Just last week, top execs at the Internal Revenue Service were accused of skirting tax rules to save money on personal travel expenses.
There are more than 3 million workers within the sprawling federal government, so there are bound to be a few bad apples in that bunch.
Still, a few federal workers have concocted some impressively elaborate schemes--from pretending to be a CIA agent in order to get out of working at an agency desk job to setting up an entire contracting firm through which to funnel money.
Better management and oversight would likely reduce some of the fraud and abuse. Meanwhile, we sifted through some of the most egregious recent examples to find these five federal fraudsters:
1. EPA’s “Secret Agent” John Beale, a former top employee at the Environmental Protection Agency, pretended to be a CIA agent in an elaborate scheme to take off several months from work while still raking in his lofty annual salary of $200,000. Beale was sentenced last December for swindling the U.S. government out of $900,000 tax dollars since 2000.
2. Treasury’s Philanthropist The assistant commissioner of the Bureau of Public Debt in West Virginia allegedly swindled the government out of nearly $100,000 by accepting a paycheck she didn’t earn, according to the Washington Examiner. Documents obtained by the Examiner reveal that the official, whose name is redacted, regularly arrives to work two hours late, takes a two-hour lunch break, and leaves work two hours early – all while pulling in an annual salary of $170,000. The inspector general said the official “consistently conducts personal business involving the Humane Society during work hours.” She serves as the Humane Society’s vice president.
3. Post Office Schemer USPS facilities director Robert Giulietti in Connecticut admitted to defrauding the federal government out of nearly $1 million. The Department of Justice says that Giulietti, who was responsible for choosing contractors to work on the agency’s projects, set up a fake contracting firm and directed 150 projects worth almost $1 million to himself.
4. “Unemployed” IRS Workers In April, twenty-four current and former IRS employees in Tennessee were charged with fraud for falsely claiming they were unemployed to collect more than $250,000 worth of government benefits like food stamps, housing vouchers and jobless benefits. Then, last December, ten former IRS employees in Kansas City were indicted by a federal grand jury in December for receiving more than $112,000 in unemployment benefits while they worked at the federal taxing agency. According to KSHB Kansas City, the defendants each raked in $6,127 to $21,348.
5. Treasury’s Traveler A top-ranked official within the Office of Thrift Supervision received $10,000 in relocation expense reimbursements to move to San Francisco from Los Angeles – despite deciding not to actually move. The Washington Examiner reports that the official, whose name was redacted in the open case, stayed instead in LA and sent the agency the bill for her commuting expenses – a total of $87,047, which the government paid. According to the Inspector General, her supervisors were aware of the abuse – but didn’t do anything to fix it.
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