The job of senior policy advisor to the EPA doesn't sound like a very exciting one, but for John C. Beale, it was an open license. Beale's official job was running the agency's Air Policy office, but he convinced his colleagues he was also on contract to the CIA, taking unannounced trips to Pakistan and blaming recurrent absences on a fictional malaria infection contracted during an equally fictional tour of duty in the Vietnam War.

Now, the law is catching up to Beale. He's been fired, pilloried on the House floor, and is now awaiting sentencing before a federal judge after pleading guilty earlier this year. Prosecutors have asked for 30 months in prison as punishment for the nearly $900,000 dollars they say he stole from the agency in the form of travel grants, overcharged per diems and salary for missed work. Prosecutors call it a "crime of massive proportion." As the lead inspector told NBC News, "I’ve worked for the government for 35 years. I’ve never seen a situation like this."