A former federal official is going to prison for an astounding scheme to get out of work and rip-off taxpayers.
He even invented a secret identity to try to get away with it.
John Beale walked out of court Wednesday ...a man who took being lazy to legendary heights.
Now he's heading to jail, after swindling the government out of nearly $1 million.
Beale was a climate-change specialist at the environmental protection agency, making $164,000 a year.
But he rarely came to work and filed thousands of dollars in fake travel claims.
His bosses didn't question his frequent absence, because Beale said he was actually working for the CIA!
For 10 years, EPA officials believed Beale was at CIA headquarters. Or on some secret mission overseas.
He once claimed he had to go to Pakistan, to help a fellow agent in trouble.
Beale was actually here - hanging out at his home in the dc suburbs or hiding in plain sight at his vacation home in scenic Cape Cod.
In 2008 he didn't show up at work for six months and apparently nobody at the EPA batted an eye.
No one checked Beale's story -- even after he took five trips to California and billed the government $57,000 - claiming those flights were for "personal reasons."
Beale will serve nearly three years in prison.
He's agreed to pay about 900-thousand dollars in restitution and forfeit half-a-million dollars in salary.
The EPA says it's upgraded its safeguards, to do more thorough checks on employees' travel and attendance.