(NBC NEWS) The EPA’s highest-paid employee and top expert on climate change engaged in “crime of massive proportions” by pretending to be working as an undercover agent for the CIA so he could avoid doing his real job for years, according to federal prosecutors and the agency’s top investigator on the case.

In a memorandum filed days before his sentencing in Washington, D.C., Wednesday, prosecutors asked that John C. Beale, 65, be sent to federal prison for at least 30 months for bilking the government out of nearly $1 million in salary and other benefits over a decade, and said his “historic” lies are “offensive” to those who actually do dangerous work for the CIA.

Beale’s lawyer, while acknowledging his guilt, has asked for leniency and offered a psychological explanation for the climate expert’s bizarre tales.

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