New York State Police Troopers Titus Taggart, Jeremy Smith, And Michael Petrits Suspended Amid Investigation Into Parties That Included Canadian Prostitutes

April 28, 2012

BUFFALO, NEW YORK – An internal investigation into alleged misconduct has led to the suspension of three State Troopers.

A State Police press release says Titus Taggart, 41, allegedly organized parties that may have involved the promotion of prostitution. The alleged incidents happened when Taggart was off duty. Taggart is assigned to Troop T in Buffalo, which patrols the Thruway.

A NYS Police spokesman in Albany confirms for 13WHAM News that Taggart’s father, Arthur, was a 34-year veteran of the State Police who retired in 1997 as a Colonel who served directly under two past superintendents.

Two troopers who are assigned to the Troop T Henrietta barracks have also been suspended without pay.

Jeremy Smith, 34, and Michael Petritz, 33, are accused of misconduct. A State Police press release says they were not involved in organizing the parties.

The suspensions are the result of an internal investigation and the NY State Police spokesman added that a parallel criminal investigation is also underway. He would not comment on the status of any other investigations by outside agencies. The spokesman was unaware how many Troopers could be caught up in the ongoing investigations.

Numerous media reports have cited sources that claim the women involved were brought into Western New York from Canada.

Criminal charges have not been filed.

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Babysitters To Accompany Secret Service Agents To Keep Them From Overdrinking, Bringing Whores To Their Hotel Rooms, And Out Of Sleazy Bars

April 28, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – Embarrassed by a prostitution scandal, the Secret Service will assign chaperones on some trips to enforce new rules of conduct that make clear that excessive drinking, entertaining foreigners in their hotel rooms and cavorting in disreputable establishments are no longer tolerated.

The stricter measures, issued by the Secret Service on Friday for agents and employees, apply even when traveling personnel are off duty.

The policies, outlined in a memorandum obtained by The Associated Press, are the agency’s latest attempt to respond to the scandal that surfaced as President Barack Obama was headed to a Latin American summit in Cartagena, Colombia, earlier this month.

The embattled Secret Service director, Mark Sullivan, urged agents and other employees to “consider your conduct through the lens of the past several weeks.”

Sullivan said the rules “cannot address every situation that our employees will face as we execute our dual-missions throughout the world.” He added: “The absence of a specific, published standard of conduct covering an act or behavior does not mean that the act is condoned, is permissible or will not call for — and result in — corrective or disciplinary action.”

“All employees have a continuing obligation to confront expected abuses or perceived misconduct,” Sullivan said.

Ethics classes will be conducted for agency employees next week.

The changes were intended to staunch the embarrassing disclosures since April 13, when a prostitution scandal erupted in Cartagena involving 12 Secret Service agents, officers and supervisors and 12 more enlisted military personnel who were there ahead of Obama’s visit to the Summit of the Americas.

But the new policies raised questions about claims that the behavior discovered in Cartagena was an isolated incident: Why would the Secret Service formally issue new regulations covering thousands of employees if such activities were a one-time occurrence?

“It’s too bad common-sense policy has to be dictated in this manner,” said Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “New conduct rules are necessary to preventing more shenanigans from happening in the future, and whether these are the best, and most cost effective, rules to stop future misconduct remains to be seen.”

The rules did not mention prostitutes or strip clubs. But they prohibit employees from allowing foreigners, except hotel staff or foreign law enforcement colleagues, into their hotel rooms. They also ban visits to “nonreputable” establishments, which were not defined. The State Department was expected to brief Secret Service employees on trips about areas and businesses considered off-limits to them.

During trips in which the presidential limousine and other bulletproof vehicles are transported by plane, senior-level chaperones will accompany agents and enforce conduct rules, including one from the agency’s Office of Professional Responsibility.

The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., praised the new rules as “very positive steps by the Secret Service to make clear what is expected of every agent and also makes clear what will not be tolerated.”

The Secret Service has forced eight employees from their jobs and was seeking to revoke the security clearance of another employee, which would effectively force him to resign. Three others have been cleared of serious wrongdoing. The military was conducting its own, separate investigation but canceled the security clearances of all 12 enlisted personnel.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano assured senator this week that the incident in Colombia appeared to be an isolated case, saying she would be surprised if it represented a broader cultural problem. The next day, the Secret Service acknowledged it was investigating whether its employees hired strippers and prostitutes in advance of Obama’s visit last year to El Salvador. Prostitution is legal in both Colombia and El Salvador.

“If they are true, the emergence of these anecdotes about past Secret Service misconduct is precisely why our committee will be trying to determine if such behavior is widespread,” said Sen. Joe Lieberman, R-Conn., who heads the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. The committee has asked Sullivan for information “related to misconduct by agents on assignment,” he said.

In a confidential message to senators on Thursday, the Secret Service said its Office of Professional Responsibility had not received complaints about officer behavior in El Salvador but would investigate.

On Capitol Hill, early signs surfaced of eroding support for the Secret Service director. Grassley said Sullivan’s job could be secure if the scandal were an isolated incident. “But if it goes much deeper, you know, nothing happens or nothing’s changed in Washington if heads don’t roll,” Grassley said on CBS “This Morning.”

The White House said the president remained supportive of Sullivan and confident in the capabilities of the Secret Service.

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New US Secret Service Scandal – El Salvador: Agents Bragged About Routine Use Of Third-World Whores While On Out Of Country Details For Presidential Visits

April 26, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – Seattle-based Investigative Reporter Chris Halsne (KIROTV- CBS- COX MEDIA GROUP) just returned from El Salvador, where he interviewed a U.S. government subcontractor who worked extensively with the Secret Service advance team (snipers, K-9 and explosives sweeps) in San Salvador prior to President Obama’s trip there in March of 2011.

The eyewitness says he joined about a dozen Secret Service agents and a few U.S. military specialists at a strip club in San Salvador a few days before President Obama and his family arrived in El Salvador to meet with its new president, Mauricio Funes.

This source witnessed the majority of the men drink heavily (“wasted,” “heavily intoxicated”) at the strip club. He says most of the Secret Service “advance-team” members also paid extra for access to the VIP section of the club where they were provided a number of sexual favors in return for their cash. Although our source says he told the agents it was a “really bad idea” to take the strippers back to their hotel rooms, several agents bragged that they “did this all the time” and “not to worry about it.” Our source says at least two agents had escorts check into their rooms. It is unclear whether the escorts who returned to the hotels were some of the strippers from the same club.

These alleged incidents in El Salvador occurred a full year prior to recent revelations that secret service agents used prostitutes in Cartagena, Colombia, on a presidential trip this month.

To further confirm information provided about behaviors in El Salvador that reportedly occurred in March of 2011, Halsne interviewed the owner of the San Salvador strip club in which the subcontractor said they visited. The strip club’s owner confirmed a large number of U.S. secret service agents (and some military escorts) “descended on his club” that week prior to President Obama’s visit. He claims agents were there at least three nights in a row. “No surprise to me.” The owner told Halsne his club routinely takes care of high-ranking employees of the U.S. embassy in San Salvador as well as visiting FBI and DEA agents. The owner says his reputation for “security” and “privacy” makes him a popular strip club owner with “those who want to be discreet.” He told Halsne during a lengthy interview, he doesn’t allow prostitution inside the club and that all his “girls” are at least 18-years-old. He says the girls can do what they want after work, but he discourages them from making contact with customers at other locations.

This investigation is still fast-developing. Halsne has names of some of the agents allegedly involved in the partying and has viewed records which add credibility to the subcontractor’s eyewitness testimony. KIRO-TV is currently writing and editing-together a series of television stories for air beginning at 5 p.m. on Thursday, April 26.

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12 US Secret Service Agents Who Were Supposed To Protect Obama At International Summit Relieved Of Duty And Shipped Home Due To Misconduct With Columbian Prostitutes And Alcohol

April 14, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC – A dozen Secret Service agents sent to Colombia to provide security for President Obama at an international summit have been relieved of duty over alleged misconduct.

A caller who said he had knowledge of the situation told the Associated Press the misconduct involved prostitutes in Cartagena, site of the Summit of the Americas. A Secret Service spokesman did not dispute that.

A U.S. official, who was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter and requested anonymity, put the number of agents sent home at 12. Secret Service was not releasing the number of personnel involved.

The incident threatened to overshadow Obama’s economic and trade agenda at the summit and embarrass the U.S. The White House had no comment, but also did not dispute the allegations.

In Washington, Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan would not confirm that prostitution was involved, saying only that there had been “allegations of misconduct” made against Secret Service personnel in Cartagena for the summit.

Donovan said the allegations of misconduct were related to activity before the president’s arrival Friday night and did not impact security plans for Obama’s trip.

Obama attended a leaders’ dinner Friday night at Cartagena’s historic Spanish fortress and was due to attend summit meetings with regional leaders Saturday and Sunday.

The Washington Post reported that Jon Adler, president of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, said the accusations related to at least one agent having involvement with prostitutes in Cartagena. The association represents federal law enforcement officers, including the Secret Service.

Adler later told the AP that he had heard that there were allegations of prostitution, but he had no specific knowledge of any wrongdoing.

The agents were staying at Cartagena’s Hotel Caribe, which is also hosting members of the White House staff and press corps during the summit

A hotel employee, speaking on the condition of anonymity for fear of losing his job, said the agents arrived at the beachfront hotel about a week ago. The employee described the agents as drinking heavily during their stay.

The employee said the agents left the hotel Thursday, a day before Obama and other regional leaders arrived for the weekend summit.

The hotel’s public relations chief had no comment.

Those involved had been sent back to their permanent place of duty and were being replaced by other agency personnel, Donovan said. The matter was turned over to the agency’s Office of Professional Responsibility, which handles the agency’s internal affairs.

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