Secret Service agents busted because they refused to pay hooker
By Alison Gendar AND Jonathan Lemire / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
The dozen Secret Service agents sent home after a prostitution scandal in Colombia were busted after at least one of them refused to pay a hooker, sources said.
The scandal — a black eye for the United States’ reputation abroad — was revealed Friday before President Obama arrived in Cartagena for the Summit of the Americas.
The 12 agents were part of an advance team meant to secure a local hotel before the summit began — yet their attention apparently turned to taking advantage of Colombia’s policy of legal prostitution.
“They had arranged to have a bunch of prostitutes come by and one of the agents refused to pay a prostitute,” said author Ronald Kessler, one of the leading experts on the Secret Service. “Yes, doubly good judgement there.”
Kessler, who was briefed on the investigation by his sources within the agency, told the Daily News Saturday that the spurned hooker went to the police to report the lack of payment.
The local authorities then notified the U.S. officials, who immediately recalled the 12 agents back to Washington.
“Their careers are over,” said Kessler.
“Number one, it is against basic ethics to go to a prostitute,” he continued. “Number two, it is incredibly embarrassing to the White House.”
“And number three,” he continued. “It could leave them open to blackmail and a possible assassination attempt.”
Kessler said two of the agents were supervisors who attempted to cover up the mortifying incident.
A former Secret Service member told The New York Times that only one one agent tried to purchase the services of a hooker — but the whole team was recalled as part of the investigation.
Prostitution is legal in Colombia, as long as it is conducted in so-called “tolerance zones.”
Though the exact boundaries of the zones frequently change and are rarely enforced by police, the coastal city of Cartagena is a popular destination for prostitution and sex tourism, according to the U.S. State Department website.
It was not immediately clear where the incident occurred. The agents were staying at the beachfront Hotel Caribe, which is also hosting the White House staff and the traveling press team.
Guests at the swanky hotel told reporters that several of the agents had been spotted drinking heavily during their week-long stay.
Obama landed in Cartagena Friday night and attended a formal dinner with the other world leaders at Castillo San Felipe de Barajasajas, an historic Spanish fortress.
The President, who has a full day of summit events scheduled for Saturday, has not addressed the Secret Service scandal. He is not staying at the Hotel Caribe.
The Secret Service did not release any details on the allegations Saturday.
The night before, the agency — which is charged with protecting the President — confirmed that the officers were pulled back to Washington.
“The Secret Service takes all allegations of misconduct seriously,” agency spokesman Edwin Donovan said in a statement. “These personnel changes will not affect the comprehensive security plan that has been prepared in advance of the President’s trip.”
Jon Adler, president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, told The Washington Post the accusations relate to at least one agent having involvement with prostitutes in Cartagena. The newspaper also reported that several of the agents are married.
All of the agents are based in Washington, D.C., according to Kessler, author of “In the President’s Secret Service: Behind the Scenes With Agents in the Line of Fire and the Presidents They Protect.”
The matter was turned over to the agency’s Office of Professional Responsibility, which handles the Secret Services’ internal affairs.