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Friday, 20-Apr-2012 02:21 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Inquiry on Agents’ Conduct in Colombia Widens

WASHINGTON — The Secret Service’s investigation into alleged misconduct with prostitutes by agency personnel in advance of President Obama’s trip to Colombia last week has been expanded to determine if the misconduct was confined to the 11 employees who were first tied to the scandal, according to a senior American official.

“We have no reason to believe anything else happened, but we want to have a complete and thorough investigation to ensure this didn’t go any further,” said the senior official, who has been briefed on the inquiry and who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was discussing a continuing investigation.

The official said the widening inquiry includes a review of agency personnel who had rooms at the Hilton Cartagena, where President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton stayed, as well as the Hotel Caribe, where the 11 agents and several military officers implicated in the scandal had rooms.

“They’re now talking to everyone,” the senior official said. “We’re taking this one step at a time.”

The official also confirmed the identities of two Secret Service supervisors involved who were dismissed on Thursday. Greg Stokes, who worked with a canine unit, was fired. The other, David Chaney, was allowed to retire. The supervisors were first identified by CBS News.

In Washington, Representative Peter T. King, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said that he had been told by people at the Secret Service that “more agents are expected to be leaving.”

Meanwhile, in Colombia, a lawyer retained by the woman who got into a dispute with a Secret Service agent over how much he owed her for sex said Thursday that she would cooperate with any official inquiries. The lawyer, Marlon Betancourt, said in an interview in Cartagena, where then suspected misconduct took place, that he had not been contacted by the United States or the Colombian authorities.

The woman, who has left Cartagena, was also looking into taking legal action against Secret Service personnel and the American government because she said that the agent had acted aggressively toward her, yelling and using an expletive to describe her, Mr. Betancourt said.

“I believe that laws were broken here,” he said. “You cannot mistreat people.”

Mr. Betancourt said that the woman, a single mother, has described herself as a high-class escort who charges as much as $800 to have sex with men, and is seeking to sell her story.

“It’s not about making money,” he said. “It’s about seeking some kind of compensation for what has happened.”

He added, “Her life is not going to be the same as it was before.”

At least one of the 11 Secret Service employees under scrutiny has told investigators that he did not know that the woman he spent the night with was a prostitute, according to another senior government official briefed on the investigation.

The employee, whom the official did not identify, has offered to take a lie-detector test.

That account appeared to be bolstered by one of the women involved in the scandal who said that while she spent the night with one of the Secret Service employees in his room at the Hotel Caribe, they did not have sex and she was not paid.

“I didn’t talk with him about money," said the woman, who asked that her name not be used.

“My guy never touched me,” she said. “He never gave me a kiss or anything.”

Breaking down in tears, the woman, 22, said that she was not a prostitute and described how a night on the town blew up into an international scandal.

She said she had gone to the hotel with one of the agents only to accompany her friend, who she said was a prostitute. She described the man she was with was very “timid” and said they both fell asleep with their clothes on shortly after they got back to his room at the Hotel Caribe.

She also questioned news accounts that said that a large number of Secret Service agents had brought women to their rooms, saying that the next morning when the dispute over money broke out, the other Americans were surprised that an agent had brought a prostitute to the hotel.

“They didn’t know,” she said. “That’s why I think this is unfair.”

Friday, 20-Apr-2012 02:17 Email | Share | | Bookmark
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Friday, 20-Apr-2012 02:17 Email | Share | | Bookmark
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