Air Marshal chief confirms probe into allegations agents hired prostitute

The head of the Federal Air Marshal Service acknowledged at a hearing Thursday that several agency officials are under investigation over allegations they hired a prostitute overseas and recorded at least one sexual encounter with a government-issued device.

Two air marshals from the Chicago field office reportedly have been suspended, while another has resigned over the alleged incident.

The allegations, first reported by The Intercept, were addressed at a hearing before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Federal Air Marshal Service Director Roderick Allison told the committee that if any employees engage in misconduct, officials will “act quickly and decisively.”

“I have made it crystal clear to every employee that there is no tolerance for misconduct,” he said, adding that the “vast majority of our employees are dedicated professionals.”

While he would not comment on the allegations, he did confirm an investigation was ongoing.

The marshals allegedly used their government-issued phones to record their sexual encounters with a prostitute and then shared video using their personal email accounts, which were connected to their government work phones, The Intercept reported.

A spokeswoman for the panel, M.J. Henshaw, said Allison told the committee about the allegations within the last week.

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

"If these allegations are accurate, they are completely inappropriate for anyone, let alone air marshals charged with securing our skies," Cummings said at the hearing. “These employees must be held accountable and I know they will be."

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.

Allison was tapped to take over the embattled Federal Air Marshal Service last year, after Robert Bray left the agency amid an investigation into allegations that an Air Marshal supervisor obtained discounted and free guns and provided them to agency officials for personal use.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.