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U.S. Army: 11 military personnel involved in prostitution inquiry

April 20, 2012|By Ken Dilanian
  • The Hotel Caribe in Cartagena, Colombia.
The Hotel Caribe in Cartagena, Colombia. (Manuel Pedraza / AFP/Getty…)

WASHINGTON – Eleven members of the U.S. militaryare under investigation for alleged involvement in the Colombian prostitution scandal, an Army spokesman said Friday, bumping up by one the previously reported total.

Six of the group are from an Army Special Forces unit, two are members of the Marine Corps, two are in the Navy, and one is from the Air Force, according to Col. Scott Malcom, who heads public affairs at United States Southern Command.

The Marines and Navy personnel are based in San Diego, and the Air Force member is from Charleston, S.C. The Army personnel are from the 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne), which is based at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.

The 11 have not been charged, and are not under any special restrictions. But they are required to remain at their home stations until the investigation is complete, Malcom said.

Another 11 Secret Service agents also have been implicated in the scandal. Three agents, including two supervisors, are leaving the service, and additional resignations or dismissals are expected.

Officials have identified as many as 21 suspected prostitutes who allegedly joined members of the Secret Service-led advance team who were in Cartagena, Colombia, to arrange security before President Obama arrived to attend the weekend Summit of the Americas.

It is a violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice for military personnel to patronize a prostitute. The Secret Service says its code of conduct also bars such activities, even though prostitution is legal in parts of Cartagena.

The military investigating officer in Cartagena has shared information with Secret Service investigators “to ensure thoroughness and accuracy of information,” Malcom said. The two investigations are running on parallel tracks, but are separate and distinct.

Malcom said the military investigator is expected to return to the United States late this weekend. "Once returned, he will interview those suspected of misconduct in person straightaway," he said.

Gen. Douglas Fraser, the commander of U.S. Southern Command, will review the results of the investigation and forward them to the services “to administer any type of justice required at the level of command commensurate with the offense,” Malcom said.

David Chaney, one of three people forced out of the Secret Service this week in connection with the scandal, wrote on his Facebook page that he been "checking…out" Sarah Palin, who was then the Republican vice presidential candidate, in a photo that he posted showing him standing behind her during the 2008 campaign.

In an interview with Fox News on Thursday, Palin had a sharp retort for Chaney.

"Well, check this out, buddy — you're fired!" Palin said.

ken.dilanian@latimes.com

Original source: U.S. Army: 11 military personnel involved in prostitution inquiry

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