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US releases allegations against Secret Service agents

Details raise questions about agency culture

WASHINGTON - The US government has revealed details of serious allegations against Secret Service agents and officers since 2004, including claims of involvement with prostitutes, leaking sensitive information, publishing pornography, sexual assault, illegal wiretaps, improper use of weapons, and drunken behavior. It was not immediately clear how many of the accusations have been confirmed.

The heavily censored list, which runs 229 pages, was quietly released under the US Freedom of Information Act following the Secret Service prostitution scandal that erupted in April in Colombia. It describes accusations filed against Secret Service employees with the Homeland Security Department’s inspector general.

Some of the alleged activity occurred as recently as last month. In many cases, the government noted that some of the claims were resolved administratively and that others were being formally investigated.

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The new disclosures of so many serious accusations lend weight to concerns expressed by Congress that the prostitution scandal exposed a culture of misconduct within the Secret Service. Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan apologized for the episode during a hearing in May but insisted that what happened in Colombia was an isolated case.

Secret Service officials did not immediately respond Friday to questions about the accusations.

Senator Susan Collins, a Maine Republican who has been investigating the Colombia scandal, said while some of the allegations were “unfounded or frivolous,’’ others appear to be legitimate and add “to my concern about apparent misconduct by some of the personnel of this vital law enforcement agency.’’

“The key question is whether these incidents indicate a larger cultural problem,’’ Collins said Friday.

Senator Joseph Lieberman, a Connecticut independent, said Friday that an investigation by the Secret Service’s inspector general is continuing and that the public should withhold judgment until that review is complete.

The complaints included an alleged sexual assault reported in August 2011. In the heavily censored entry, an employee was accused of pushing a woman who also worked for the agency onto a bed during a work trip. The employee “got on top of [censored] attempting to have sex,’’ even though the woman “told [censored] ‘no’ several times.’’

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The entry noted that supervisors described the accused as “a conscientious and dependable employee.’’ The episode was closed with an “administrative disposition’’ in February.

The allegations also included an anonymous complaint in October 2003 that a Secret Service agent “may have been involved with a prostitution ring,’’ noting that two telephone numbers belonging to the agent, whose name was censored and who has since retired, turned up as part of an FBI investigation into a prostitution ring.

In addition, in 2005, an employee was reported to the Washington field office for being arrested on a charge of solicitation in a park. Documents do not reveal the outcome of that case.

In 2008, an on-duty uniform-division officer was arrested in a Washington prostitution sting. The officer, who was driving a marked Secret Service vehicle at the time, was placed on administrative leave, the records show. Sullivan said during the May hearing that the officer was later fired.

Some of the allegations were obviously spurious, such as a complaint in August 2010 that a Secret Service agent had performed experiments and implanted stimulators in a citizen’s brain. The list also included dozens of complaints about fraudulent e-mails that circulate widely on the Internet and appear to come from the Secret Service.

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A dozen Secret Service officers, agents, and supervisors were implicated in the Colombia scandal and eight have been forced out of the agency. At least two employees are fighting to get their jobs back.

Other accusations:

- October 2011: An employee was accused of sending harassing messages to a woman who interpreted them to be sexual harassment.

- March 2011: A complaint was filed involving embezzlement or theft of public money. Nearly the entire entry was censored save for a notation that it was adjudicated by a judge.

- October 2010: An employee was implicated in a national security leak. The details were censored, and the records did not include a disposition of the case.

- May 2012: An employee was accused of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. No details were provided, other than that the case was closed administratively.

- May 2012: An officer was videotaped, twice, wandering nude around an apartment complex.

- January 2011: Police in New York arrested an investigative support assistant on charges sexual abuse. The records do not list an outcome for the case.

- 2005: An armed agent was accused of threatening to shut down a strip club because it was charging $40 for lap dances and $25 for table-side dances, which the agent said was against federal law. The incident was reported in May 2012.

SOURCE: Associated Press