The U.S. Department of Homeland Security official who investigated the Secret Service’s 2012 prostitution scandal quietly resigned earlier this year in August after allegedly being questioned about hiring a prostitute in Florida, The New York Times first reported on Tuesday.
Authorities interviewed David Nieland after sheriff’s deputies saw him on surveillance footage entering and leaving a hotel in May often visited by prostitutes in Broward County. A prostitute later confirmed Nieland’s identity, and told officials he had paid her for sex.
Nieland left his job in August after he refused to answer a series of questions from the Homeland Security inspector general about the incident, officials told The Times. He was head of the office in Miami when he assumed the role of investigator for the case.
Nieland denied the allegation in an emailed a message to the newspaper, and declined to answer additional questions posed by NBC News.
Officials are investigating the reported incident. Nieland hasn’t been charged by federal or local authorities in connection with the allegation.
Eight Secret Service agents were fired in 2012 in the wake of revelations that they solicited prostitutes in Cartagena, Colombia, ahead of a presidential visit to the country. A Justice Department investigation found that two Drug Enforcement Administration agents arranged an encounter between a prostitute and a Secret Service officer.
The Washington Post reported earlier this month that White House aides were given information at the time, suggesting that a prostitute was an overnight guest in the hotel room of volunteer member of the White House advance team. White House officials were alerted, but the information was never thoroughly investigated nor acknowledged. The White House continues to stand by the internal review that cleared the volunteer of involvement in the scandal.
The report in The Times came as the agency works to rebuild its image in the wake of several eye-opening security breaches during President Barack Obama’s tenure in office. In the past month, four people have either jumped over the 8-foot-tall White House fence or have tried to drive through a barricade onto the first family’s yard.
Julia Piersonjoined the Secret Service last March after the prostitution accusations surfaced. But she resigned as director on Oct. 1 of this year, following a string of other embarrassing missteps by the agency. Also under her watch, the president rode an elevator in Atlanta with an armed security contractor who had a record of assault convictions.
After Pierson’s departure, Joseph Clancy, a retired special agent, returned to the Secret Service as interim acting director.