Member Of President’s Secret Service Detail Found Dead
Well, you don’t read a story like this every day:
A member of the president’s Secret Service protective detail, who was being investigated for having an unreported romantic relationship with a foreign national, was found dead Saturday in an apparent suicide, according to law enforcement sources.
The official cause of Rafael Prieto’s death is still pending.
The investigation had led to the suspension of his access to Secret Service facilities, according to sources familiar with the case.
The Secret Service does not believe that Prieto passed any sensitive or classified information to the Mexican woman, according to a senior law enforcement official. Instead, Prieto was in the midst of an “administrative process” related to his ongoing relationship, the source said.
A well-liked veteran of the agency, Prieto may have violated security policy by not disclosing his close and continuing contact with the Mexican woman to his bosses, sources familiar with the probe said.
There has been a crackdown on such relationships in the wake of the Secret Service prostitution scandal in Colombia earlier this year and ensuing reports of similar behavior in other places around the world over the course of many years.
If found guilty of violating Secret Service disclosure policy, Prieto could have faced sanctions including dismissal. In the past, the alleged affair might have garnered a slap on the wrist, according to the law enforcement source. But the prostitution scandal has heightened sensitivity to unauthorized contact with foreign nationals not only at the Secret Service but at the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the men and women who protect the president.
“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. “The Secret Service is mourning the loss of a valued colleague.”
Prieto was married, but he and his wife had separated and she had moved back to New York at some point.
The most logical assumption here would be, sadly, that Prieto took his own life. However, that hasn’t been confirmed yet and the who “unreported foreign contact” angle certainly does add something to the story.
Update: The Associated Press is reporting that the death was an apparent suicide.