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Entries in Secret Service (43)

Tuesday
Jan292013

Secret Service Dog Dies in Line of Duty

iStockphoto/Thinkstock (file photo)(NEW YORK) -- The Secret Service suffered a fatality last weekend while helping to make an area safe for Vice President Joe Biden.

According to the agency, a bomb-sniffing Belgian Malinois lost its footing and fell from the roof of a parking garage next door to the Ritz Carlton in New Orleans where Biden was scheduled to deliver a speech.

Despite being rushed to an animal hospital, veterinarians were unable to save the Secret Service dog.

Agency spokesman Max Milien said the animal's death was a "tragic accident" but in accordance with Secret Service policy, would not reveal the dog's name.

Belgian Malinois are a breed of dog used because they are small, fast, smart and sociable.  The Secret Service started using bomb-sniffing dogs in 1975.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Nov012012

Secret Service Agent’s Apparent Suicide Under Investigation

Hemera/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Washington, D.C., police are investigating the apparent suicide of a U.S. Secret Service supervisory agent assigned to President Obama’s security detail.

“Rafael Prieto had a distinguished 20-year career with the Secret Service that was marked by accomplishment, dedication, and friendships,” Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan said in a prepared statement. “The Secret Service is mourning the loss of a valued colleague.”

Prieto was in the midst of an administrative process related to his relationship with a foreign national, officials said.

Sources said there was no criminal investigation into Prieto and stressed that he was not connected in any way to the investigation of misconduct by Secret Service personnel in Cartagena, Columbia.

Prieto was not under investigation for espionage and there is no indication that sensitive documents were passed, according to law enforcement sources.

Prieto was found dead on Saturday.   The D.C. Police declined to comment, citing an ongoing investigation.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Oct182012

EXCLUSIVE: Inspector General’s Report Contradicts Secret Service on Prostitution Scandal

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- An investigation into the U.S. Secret Service prostitution scandal by the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general contradicts Secret Service director Mark Sullivan’s adamant assertion before Congress that “this just is not part of our culture,” ABC News has learned.

“Thus far, we have not found that this type of behavior was exhibited by any of these individuals before,” Sullivan testified before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee in May, referring to the 12 agents who were accused of drinking and cavorting with prostitutes in Cartagena, Colombia, ahead of President Obama’s visit for the Summit of the Americas.

The report, however, revealed that one of the agents who was in Cartagena during the scandal and picked up a prostitute “admitted to soliciting a prostitute on two previous occasions, once in El Salvador in 2008/2009 and one time in Panama in 2009.”

The report also mentioned allegations of similar misconduct by agents on trips to Romania and China. Details from the report, labeled “law enforcement sensitive,” were shared with ABC News by sources who had reviewed it.

The investigation found that while Secret Service personnel were still on the ground in Cartagena, one of the supervisors that had engaged in misconduct was alerted that his actions had become known. He, in turn, warned other Secret Service staffers in Colombia that they should not bring prostitutes back to their hotel rooms.

A senior Secret Service official with knowledge of the investigation said Sullivan had been briefed prior to his testimony, and that “while some agents had been truthful regarding their conduct with prostitutes in Cartagena, none had confessed to prior contact with prostitutes. One agent, who later admitted to the OIG that he had indeed engaged in prior misconduct with prostitutes in El Salvador and Panama, had previously denied in an interview with USSS Office of Professional Responsibility that he had not had prior contact with prostitutes.”

Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, the ranking Republican on a key Senate oversight subcommittee, was thoroughly briefed on the report by the subcommittee staff, which spent two days reviewing it.  Johnson noted that it is government policy for Secret Service agents to report certain contacts with foreign nationals.

“In the three and a half years prior to the Cartagena incidents, there were only 105 of those foreign national contacts reported,” Johnson said. “Once Cartagena occurred and the policy was redistributed, you know that agents were reminded of that, 423 additional contacts were all of a sudden reported. And again, this gives me concern that rotationally this type of behavior is more widespread.”

Sullivan is also facing questions about whether he misled lawmakers about the security risks surrounding the scandal.

In May, he testified that the prostitutes’ names -- when run through U.S. national security and law enforcement databases -- did not raise any red flags, with law enforcement concluding that there was “no connection either from … an intelligence perspective or a criminal perspective.”

But the inspector general asserted that Secret Service officials knew when Sullivan testified that information about two of the prostitutes had caused what’s commonly referred to as “intel hits.” One of those hits has since been dismissed and the other is still being investigated, sources told ABC News.

The senior Secret Service official asserted that before his testimony, “Sullivan was briefed as to the current status of the investigation and the facts known at that time. He was briefed that checks of the women’s names against national security and law enforcement databases, both in the U.S. and Colombia, had yielded no derogatory information.”

The official acknowledged that the Secret Service was told that there had been “potentially… a partial match to the name of one of the women, but at the time, Director Sullivan was briefed that it was not a match. Indeed, the Secret Service, working with other government agencies, was never able to confirm a connection.”

The DHS inspector general has faced challenges in his investigation, with 10 senior and current Secret Service officials refusing to grant him or his investigators an interview.

“We are concerned that the inspector general was interfered [with] in terms of his investigation, that was constrained and hampered,” Johnson told ABC News.

The inspector general also said the Justice Department denied its request to pursue the legal authority to conduct interviews with the prostitutes, hotel staff, or nightclub employees in Colombia and to access hotel records. Justice Department officials asserted they provided the inspector general with the documents that they were seeking.

“These are very serious charges -- the fact that the Secret Service has been implicated in this kind of behavior that puts the president’s life at risk, our national security at risk and we cannot get the answers,” Johnson said.

Ten days after the scandal broke, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters, “There have been no specific, credible allegations of misconduct by anyone on the White House advance team or the White House staff.”

The inspector general’s report also noted that the White House counsel conducted her own investigation when two staffers -- one a soldier who was part of the White House Communications Agency, the other a White House Advance Team volunteer -- were also cited in follow-up investigations, after Carney’s comments.

The soldier ultimately confessed, but the advance team volunteer denied any wrongdoing.  The White House argues that the only information tying the volunteer to the scandal was a hotel log in which a prostitute listed the volunteer’s room number as her destination.  White House officials noted that a Secret Service agent was similarly implicated -- falsely -- in the scandal, and that they are convinced of the volunteer’s innocence. They have no further information about whom the prostitute was visiting.

Last week, Johnson wrote letters to Director Sullivan, White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Attorney General Eric Holder asking for a detailed description of the findings from their investigations into the scandal.

“Director Mark Sullivan and the Secret Service have conducted a fair and thorough investigation resulting from the Cartagena incident,” Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan told ABC News in a written statement. “The agency response to those with oversight responsibility has been timely and truthful with over a dozen briefings to Congress, hundreds of employee interviews, and tens of thousands of documents turned over to oversight entities. We have remained in close touch with those partners to answer any questions and will continue to respond to the DHS-OIG and Congressional inquiries in that manner. Since 1865, the Secret Service has done its job with excellence and integrity, and the true culture of our employees is demonstrated everyday as we execute both our investigative and protective missions.”

“The fact that we’ve hit a brick wall just makes me highly suspicious that there is something being covered up here and the American public has a right to know,” Johnson said.

A senior White House official said Thursday evening that the White House continues to have confidence in Sullivan.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep062012

Secret Service Investigating Democratic Delegate

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) -- New York delegate Julia Rodriguez told a reporter on camera that if she bumped into Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, she “would like to kill him,” leading the U.S. Secret Service to investigate the threat.

“We are aware of it and will take the appropriate follow-up,” George Ogilvie, spokesman for U.S. Secret Service, told ABC News in a statement Thursday.

Video surfaced Wednesday of a woman identifying herself as New York delegate Julia Rodriguez at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.  In the clip she said, “If I see him,” meaning Romney, “I would like to kill him.”

Romney, whose Secret Service code name is “Javelin,” has had Secret Service protection since late January.

In the video, Rodriguez says that she is originally from Puerto Rico but has lived in New York for 40 years. According to a list of delegates posted at Democrats.org, Rodriguez is from the Bronx.

She was also photographed Wednesday holding a Puerto Rican flag in a photo booth at the convention in Charlotte.

Attempts to reach the New York State Democratic Party were unsuccessful, and the headquarters’ voicemail was not accepting new messages.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Aug302012

Secret Service Detail Leaves Gun Unattended on Romney’s Charter Flight

David De Lossy/Thinkstock(TAMPA, Fla.) -- A member of Mitt Romney’s Secret Service detail was removed Wednesday from a campaign trip after she accidentally left her firearm unattended in the candidate’s charter plane bathroom.

The agent in question left a gun unattended in the bathroom of the plane during a flight between Tampa, Fla., and Indiana.  The gun was found by a reporter on board who immediately informed the agent, who then went back into the bathroom and retrieved the weapon.

Ed Donovan, a spokesman for the United States Secret Service, told ABC News that officials are “aware of the incident.”

“We take the care and custody of our equipment -- especially firearms -- very seriously,” he said.  “We will deal with this matter internally and in an appropriate manner.”

The Romney campaign referred all questions regarding the incident to the Secret Service.

The gun was left in the bathroom primarily used by media in the back of the plane.  Romney and his staff sit in the front several rows of the plane and the candidate uses the forward bathroom.

It was not immediately clear if the gun was loaded or on a safety lock, but the agent was on active duty at the time of the incident.

Following a campaign event in Indiana, the agent in question never re-boarded the flight back to Tampa.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Aug212012

Secret Service Arrests Armed Man for Alleged Obama Threat

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/GettyImages(FEDERAL WAY, Wash.) -- Federal agents in Washington state have arrested an armed man accused of making threats against President Obama.

U.S. Secret Service agents and local law enforcement officers knocked on the door of Anton Caluori, 31, in Federal Way, Wash., on Tuesday afternoon, Secret Service spokesman Brian Leary said.

Caluori came to door with a shotgun, but was taken into custody without injury, Leary added, though Caluori made references to explosives, prompting a call to the bomb squad.

Secret Service Assistant Special Agent in Charge Bob Kierstead told local ABC News affiliate KOMO that suspicious items found in the man’s apartment -- potential explosive devices -- prompted a sweep of the entire complex by a bomb squad. No bombs were found.

Obama, who was campaigning in Ohio at the time, did not appear to be in immediate danger.

“A threat against the president was delivered via email to a general FBI inbox,” said Cathy Schrock with the Federal Way Police. “The Secret Service went down to investigate and the defendant was found to be armed when they arrived at the apartment.”

Caluori is currently in federal custody and will have an initial court appearance Wednesday afternoon, sources said. He is accused of threats against the president and assaulting a federal officer.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Aug032012

Secret Service Investigating Threat Against Obama

Brendan Smialowski/Getty Image(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. Secret Service is investigating a mentally unstable Florida man who made multiple verbal threats Tuesday against Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, both of whom were visiting the state at the time, law enforcement officials tell ABC News.

Federal agents and deputies from the Orange County Sherriff’s Office descended on the suspect’s apartment complex yesterday afternoon, four miles from where Obama was holding a campaign rally at Rollins College in Winter Park.

"They were all over the place with guns drawn, looking for someone," Stanley Saunders, a resident of the apartment complex, told local ABC affiliate WFTV.

The man was quickly taken into custody inside his home and removed on a gurney, WFTV reported from the scene.

The threat, called into a local Veterans Affairs office earlier in the day, was deemed sufficiently legitimate to warrant a swift response, particularly since Obama had not yet left the area, officials said. But he did not attempt to attend the event or get close to either president.    

A Secret Service spokesman familiar with the case described the man as mentally unstable and said that he has been hospitalized.  

“During the interview with the subject it was determined he was in need of assistance and his state met the criteria of the Baker Act statute,” Orange County Sherriff’s department spokesman Jeff Williamson told ABC News.

“Deputies transported the subject to the location for the evaluation and turned the case over to the U.S. Secret Service,” he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jun042012

Supreme Court Issues Ruling In Suit Against Cheney Security Detail

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Two Secret Service Agents, who were charged with protecting then-Vice President Dick Cheney in 2006, are entitled to qualified immunity from a lawsuit filed against them, the Supreme Court ruled Monday.

The case stemmed from a suit filed by a Colorado man, Steven Howards, who approached the then-vice president at a public event and took the opportunity to confront Cheney about the administration’s Iraq policy. Howards walked up to Cheney and said that his “policies in Iraq are disgusting,” and then left.

But Secret Service agents saw things differently. They said Howards touched Cheney’s right shoulder with an open hand. The agents engaged Howards for questioning and he initially proved uncooperative and denied having touched the former vice president. The agents arrested Howards and turned him over to local police. Although state charges against Howard were eventually dropped, he sought to sue the agents for monetary damages in their personal capacity.

He alleged that the agents arrested him in retaliation for his exercising his First Amendment rights. The agents claimed they had immunity from such suits and that they had probable cause to arrest Howards partly because of “unsolicited physical contact” with the vice president.

Justice Clarence Thomas, writing for the court said, “When Howards was arrested it was not clearly established that an arrest supported by probable cause could give rise to a First Amendment violation.”

The ruling was 8-0; Justice Elena Kagan was recused. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, which was joined by Justice Stephen Breyer.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jun012012

Former Secret Service Agent Charged in Kidnapping Plot

Anderson County Detention Center(NEW YORK) -- A former U.S. Secret Service agent campaigning to be a sheriff in South Carolina is facing charges for allegedly plotting to kidnap a retired judge.

James Bartee, a 54-year-old running for sheriff in Oconee County, was arrested on Wednesday and charged with solicitation to commit a felony after authorities said he tried to pay someone to abduct former judge James Williams Jr., who is trying to get Bartee removed from the ballot for sheriff.

Bartee was released on $10,000 bond Thursday but will lose his passport as he is considered a flight risk, according to local media reports.  After his bond hearing, Bartee denied the accusations and told reporters that the "truth will come out."

According to audio recordings cited in the arrest warrant, Bartee allegedly plotted for several days with the unidentified potential kidnapper until his arrest.

State authorities said they launched the investigation in response to a request by Oconee County's current sheriff.

Bartee's campaign Facebook page shows that there was an ongoing dispute between the sheriff candidate and Williams, a retired Circuit Court judge who filed a civil suit claiming Bartee was ineligible to run for sheriff because he is not a certified law enforcement officer in South Carolina.  Bartee says his federal certifications as a former Secret Service agent fulfill the requirement.

"James Bartee wants all to know that he is legally on the ballot and deserves to be on the ballot," a post on the campaign Facebook page reads.

According to Bartee's campaign website, he was employed by the Secret Service for 25 years before retiring in 2000 as a Senior Special Agent.  The Secret Service told ABC News Bartee is a former employee, but declined to say how long he served or provide details of his record with the agency.

Most recently, a picture on the campaign website shows Bartee "providing protection and advice" to former Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann at a campaign event in South Carolina last August.

In April, the Secret Service was mired in a series of allegations of misconduct against its agents.  Most notably, a scandal erupted around Secret Service agents' meetings with prostitutes during a trip to Cartagena, Colombia, ahead of President Obama's arrival there for an international summit.

Bartee did not immediately respond to requests for comment for this report. 

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
May252012

Bill Clinton Called Porn Stars Over After Agents Rebuffed Them

Frank Polich/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- After porn stars Brooklyn Lee and Tasha Reign were shooed away from Bill Clinton by a Secret Service agent, the former president called them back over for a photo, the actresses say.

Porn actresses Brooklyn Lee and Tasha Reign posed for a photo with Clinton at a gala fundraiser in Monaco this week, TMZ first reported.

Lee and Reign told TMZ on Thursday that they approached Clinton in the hopes of meeting him and having their photo taken with him. When Secret Service agents repelled their advances, Clinton then told the agents to call the actresses back, posing for a photo and engaging in brief small talk.

The actresses said they attended the gala, a fundraiser for Prince Albert of Monaco’s charitable foundation and the Clinton Foundation, as guests of Penthouse magazine owner and FriendFinder CEO Marc Bell.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio