A Secret Service agent assigned to President Obama’s protective details has been found dead in an apparent suicide.
Rafael Prieto spent nearly six years hiding an extramarital affair with a foreign national. His secret was revealed by a fellow employee following the sex scandal involving several agents and officers earlier this year. Prieto was under investigation to determine whether he violated agency rules at the time of his death.
Employees with security clearance are required to notify the agency about relationships with foreign citizens to ensure that the person is not a risk to national security. There was no evidence to suggest that Prieto’s relationship posed a security threat. It would have been a violation of the agency’s administrative rules but not a crime.
Prieto was identified as the resident agent in charge at the Secret Service’s office in White Plains, New York as recently as 2009. He was 47 years old.
Edwin Donovan, a spokesman for the Secret Service, said, “Rafael Prieto has a distinguished 20-year career with the Secret Service that was marked by accomplishment, dedication, friendships. The Secret Service is mourning the loss of a valued colleague.”
The cause of death was determined to be carbon monoxide poisoning. Prieto was found unconscious in his car with the engine running. His death is being investigated by the DC Metropolitan Police and the medical examiner’s office.
Gwendolyn Crump, a spokeswoman for the Metropolitan police department, would not comment on the details of an ongoing investigation.
Thirteen Secret Service employees were implicated in a prostitution scandal in Cartagena, Colombia in April. The agents and officers brought women, including prostitutes, back to a hotel after a night of partying and drinking. An agent refused to pay one of the prostitutes and argued with her in a hallway, and the incident went public.
The incident prompted Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan to issue a code of conduct that prohibited employees from drinking within 10 hours of the start of a shift. The code also prohibited employees from bringing foreigners back to their hotel rooms.
Rafael Prieto was not in Colombia during the scandal.