US President Barack Obama's Security Service agents face questions over new sex scandal

Two cases in quick succession have placed US secret agents under scrutiny

Washington

A call from Washington DC’s Hay-Adams Hotel in May reporting that a Secret Service agent was trying to force his way into a woman's room set in motion an internal investigation that has sent tremors through an agency still trying to restore its elite reputation.

The incident came a year after the agency was roiled by a prostitution scandal in Cartagena, Colombia, prompting vows from senior officials to curb a male-dominated culture of hard partying and other excesses.

The service named its first female director, Julia Pierson, seven months ago, and a broad inspector-general report on the agency’s culture launched in the wake of Cartagena is expected to be released in coming weeks.

The disruption at the Hay-Adams involved Ignacio Zamora Jr, a senior supervisor who oversaw about two dozen agents in the Secret Service’s most elite assignment – the President’s security detail. Mr Zamora was allegedly discovered attempting to re-enter a woman’s room after accidentally leaving a bullet from his service weapon.

In a follow-up investigation, agency officials also found that Mr Zamora and another supervisor, Timothy Barraclough, had sent sexually suggestive emails to a female subordinate, according to those with knowledge of the case. Officials have removed Mr Zamora from his position and have moved Mr Barraclough to a separate part of the division.

Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan declined to comment on the internal review of the Hay-Adams incident or the supervisors’ alleged behaviour.

The Hay-Adams, which overlooks the White House and served as the Obama family’s temporary home before the President’s first inauguration, is accustomed to seeing Secret Service agents on and off duty. One night in May, hotel staff alerted the White House about odd behaviour by an agent demanding access to one of their guest’s rooms.

According the Secret Service’s internal findings, Mr Zamora was off-duty when he met a woman at the hotel’s Off the Record bar and later joined her in her room.

The review found that Mr Zamora had removed ammunition from the chamber of his government-issued handgun during his stay in the room and then left behind a single bullet. He returned to the room when he realised his mistake. The guest refused to let him back in. Mr Zamora identified himself to hotel security as a Secret Service agent.

The incident triggered an investigation that included a search of Mr Zamora’s government-issued BlackBerry, which contained sexually charged messages to the female agent, according to the people briefed on the findings.

The review of the communications revealed that Mr Barraclough had also sent inappropriate and suggestive messages to the female agent.

All Secret Service employees must maintain top-secret security clearances to be employed. A report earlier this year that dealt with events in Cartagena said employees’ sexual behaviour should be considered in granting security clearances “when the behaviour may subject the individual to coercion, exploitation, or duress, or reflects lack of judgment or discretion.”

Mr Zamora, a veteran agent who had risen to the top rungs of Mr Obama’s protective detail, previously headed up first lady Laura Bush’s protective detail. Mr Barraclough joined the presidential detail four years ago.

©Washington Post

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Freight Forward Senior Operator

£22000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This logistics firm are looking...

Recruitment Genius: Lead Marketing Specialist

£34500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A lead marketing specialist is required ...

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Technician - 2nd / 3rd Line

£26000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An IT Support Technician is req...

Recruitment Genius: Folder Gluer Operator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: There will be a number of exciting opportuniti...

Day In a Page

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map