Chicago-based air marshals implicated in prostitution scandal

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WASHINGTON — Two federal air marshals have been suspended and a third has resigned amid allegations they hired prostitutes overseas and recorded at least one sexual encounter with a government-issued device.

The investigation of the three, who are from the Chicago field office, is expected to be the subject of a congressional hearing Thursday before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

A spokeswoman for the panel, M.J. Henshaw, said Federal Air Marshal Service Director Roderick Allison told the committee about the allegations within the last week.

Allison is scheduled to testify about the case before the committee, led by Utah Republican Jason Chaffetz. He did not mention the case in written testimony sent to the panel.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the committee, said Wednesday he remained concerned about the underlying charges.

“If these allegations are accurate, they are obviously inappropriate for anyone, let alone air marshals charged with securing our skies,” the Maryland Democrat said.

A spokesman for the Transportation Security Administration, which oversees the Federal Air Marshal Service at the Homeland Security Department, said TSA will hold its employees accountable if allegations of criminal behavior or misconduct are substantiated.

“Even though constrained from commenting on an active investigation, we can confirm that two of the employees involved have been placed on an indefinite suspension without pay, and the third employee has resigned from the agency,” TSA spokesman Bruce Anderson said.

Lawmakers have focused their attention on questionable behavior by federal law enforcement officials since a 2012 prostitution scandal involving the Secret Service. The former head of the Drug Enforcement Administration also came under fire earlier this year amid allegations that drug agents attended sex parties with prostitutes while stationed overseas.

Former Attorney General Eric Holder advised Justice Department staff in April that it was against department policy to hire prostitutes, regardless of whether the practice was legal in a particular jurisdiction.

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