Secret Service chief retiring this month: spokesman

WASHINGTON Fri Feb 1, 2013 6:17pm EST

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan, whose agency was embroiled in a scandal involving prostitutes in Colombia, will retire this month, a spokesman said on Friday.

Sullivan will step down on February 22 after almost three decades with the agency that protects the president and other officials, Secret Service spokesman Brian Leary said.

"The director is retiring," Leary said. "He's got almost 30 years of service so he's retiring. He's the third-longest- serving director."

Sullivan joined the Secret Service as a special agent with the Detroit office in 1983 and rose to become director of the agency in 2006.

Last year he went before Congress and apologized for the misconduct of employees who brought prostitutes back to their hotel rooms ahead of a visit by President Barack Obama to the Colombian resort of Cartagena.

It was the biggest scandal to hit the agency and set off several official investigations.

"His commitment to keeping our country and its top officials safe is unparalleled, and his devotion to the mission of the Secret Service and Department of Homeland Security has been unwavering," Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said in a statement.

A Department of Homeland Security investigation last year determined that the actions of the Secret Service employees entangled in the prostitution scandal had not compromised the safety of the president or any sensitive information.

Sullivan has been described as polite, hard-working and loyal, and was generally credited with acting aggressively in response to the scandal that tarnished the agency.

(Reporting by Tabassum Zakaria; Editing by Sandra Maler, David Brunnstrom and Eric Walsh)

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