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Michelle Obama Secret Service Driver Charged


Secret Service Employee and Michelle Obama Driver Charged With Criminal Harassment

A Secret Service employee who served as former First Lady Michelle Obama’s driver was arrested on charges of harassment and witness intimidation.

Douglas Vines, 53, of Edgartown, Mass., was arrested by Oak Bluffs police officers for intimidating a witness September 27, according to a report in The Vineyard Gazette. That followed a July 1 charge of criminal harassment.

The MVTimes further reported:

Douglas Vines pleaded not guilty to the charges, which stem from his relationship with an allegedly undocumented woman. He was released on personal recognizance with a bail warning and a stay away/no contact order. Vines was permitted to leave for Washington, D.C., where he said he lives.

Meanwhile, a police report The Times obtained through a public records request indicates that the woman accused Vines of sexual assault, though that never came up in the court proceedings, and he hasn’t been charged with that crime. The woman told police Vines performed a sex act on her while she was passed out, and she did not consent. The report also indicates Vines took nude photographs of her without her consent, and threatened to share them if she went to police. He also allegedly told her he had her DNA, and threatened to expose her immigration status if she went to police, according to the police report.

The police reports describe a woman who was in great distress, with her “eyes, cheeks, and chin area … all wet with tears.” She was “panting and her hands shook” when she arrived at the police station.

A spokesman for the Secret Service told The Times in an email that Vines has been placed on administrative leave, and all of his equipment has been taken from him. “The United States Secret Service was made aware of the charges against our employee and the outcome of today’s court proceedings. We have extraordinarily high ethical standards, and the allegations are very concerning,” Anthony Guglielmi, chief of communications for the Secret Service, wrote. “Consistent with our protocols, the employee has been placed on administrative leave, and their security clearance has been suspended. The employee has been restricted from accessing any Secret Service facility or protected site.”

The agency later clarified that Vines is not an agent, but is an investigative protection officer.

In court, Judge Edward Lynch allowed a defense motion to vacate a restraining order because he found there was no evidence of physical harm or threats to cause physical harm, only an allegation the defendant threatened to deport the woman. “Threatening to deport somebody is not a basis for a restraining order,” Judge Lynch said. 

Ahead of the restraining order discussion, Judge Lynch’s patience with the defendant’s attorney, Dan Larkosh, grew thin. Larkosh made attempts to delay or deraill his client’s arraignment by asking that it be postponed, which Judge Lynch denied; relegated to a magistrates hearing, which Lynch said was inapplicable because a felony was at play; and also asking that it be sent to superior court directly, which Judge Lynch balked at. 

“If he’s arraigned, his 20-year-long law enforcement career is gone,” Larkosh said. “It’s over.” Judge Lynch was unswayed. 

“I’ll make a motion, your honor,” Larkosh said. “Can I make a motion?”

“Your motion is denied.” Lynch said. “Your motion is denied, OK? He’s moving for arraignment,” Judge Lynch said of Prosecutor Matt Palazzolo. “We’re going to arraign the gentleman. Let’s arraign him. Simple as that.”

“Can we have the restraining order hearing first?” Larkosh asked.

“We’re going to arraign him first,” Judge Lynch said. “OK? Like we do everybody else …”

Larkosh objected to his client being arraigned and called it a “trumped up charge.”

He also said his client was in a “two-month consensual relationship” with the woman. “This is the result of one telephone conversation my client had with the alleged victim,” Larkosh said.