Secret Service Agent Intoxication Alleged in Complaint
The U.S. released a log of allegations of improper conduct made against Secret Service employees during the past decade, including a description of an agent who appeared under the influence of alcohol when he was supposed to be protecting a foreign leader.
The 229-page log was provided today with extensive redactions in response to Freedom of Information Act requests from news organizations after agents were accused of consorting with prostitutes while preparing for President Barack Obama’s arrival in Cartagena, Colombia, for a summit in April.
The prostitution allegations tarnished the agency’s reputation and prompted questions from lawmakers about conduct by agents. The director of the Secret Service, Mark Sullivan, said last month at a Senate hearing that what unfolded in Colombia wasn’t a “systemic issue.”
Two other episodes involving prostitution were recorded in the log from the inspector general for the Homeland Security Department, the parent agency of the Secret Service. The log documented complaints spanning a decade.
In 2003, the Federal Bureau of Investigation caught a Secret Service agent calling a number that had been wiretapped as part of a prostitution investigation. The agent, who retired, told authorities he got the phone number from a flier handed out by a woman on the street and called it “out of curiosity.”
In another case, alluded to in Sullivan’s congressional testimony, a uniformed sergeant was arrested in 2008 on charges of soliciting an undercover police officer who was posing as a prostitute. The sergeant, who was driving a “marked” police car, was placed on administrative leave, the log note said.
The agent who appeared intoxicated was the “detail leader” of a Secret Service team assigned to protect the president of the Dominican Republic during a 2005 U.S. visit, according to the log.
The agent “was relieved from duty after reporting for work apparently under the influence of alcohol,” according to the log entry.
The names and gender of agents in the logs were blacked out by the government.
In a statement, Secret Service spokesman Max Milien said the “vast majority” of the log entries “did not involve allegations of misconduct by Secret Service agents or officers.”
Other complaints of “alcohol abuse” included one in 2004 stating that an armed agent “consumed alcohol” before boarding a commercial airliner.
Another agent was arrested in Los Angeles after driving into a ditch and being found to have a 0.09 percent blood- alcohol level. Under California law, 0.08 percent is the legal limit. A “visual examination” prompted the arresting officer to order a test for cocaine use. No results of that test were available, the log note said.
The log is a compendium of complaints against Secret Service personnel or accounts of incidents involving the agency. Most of the entries recorded anonymous complaints about e-mail solicitations for personal financial information that people had received in connection with what the log called “a Nigerian investment scam.”
The inspector general reviewed incidents involving the use of force. The log recorded the 2003 shooting of an injured deer by an agent who wanted “to put the animal out of its misery.”
In 2002, two uniformed officers on routine patrol were “involved in a shooting” when the officers came upon a fight in which one person was threatening another with a machete. “No action taken. Good shoot. No negligence on the part of agency employees,” according to the log, which didn’t say whether anyone was struck by a bullet.
An agent in Texas, “allegedly upset after an argument,” fired a handgun, according to a 2008 entry. The agent sought help from an employee assistance unit.
There were also several complaints of alleged sexual harassment, including one to the Secret Service’s equal- employment opportunity unit that the special agent in charge of an office had discriminated against an employee for refusing “sexual advances,” according to the log entry.
A Secret Service agent was “verbally counseled” for participating with an FBI agent “in the unauthorized electronic intercept” of a mobile telephone, according to a 2004 log entry. The agent’s conduct was characterized as “job- performance failure.”
To contact the reporter on this story: James Rowley in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jodi Schneider at email@example.com