A 53-year-old Secret Service employee reportedly assigned to former President Barack Obama’s Vineyard detail was arraigned in Edgartown District Court Friday on charges of criminal harassment and witness intimidation. 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.
Judge Lynch said an emergency restraining order was issued against Vines on Sept. 27, then upheld and extended by Judge Benjamin Barnes two days later. At that time, Vines surrendered a Glock 19 9mm pistol and 16 round magazines and one additional round, a police report states.
Subsequently, Vines filed a motion to vacate a portion of the order that prohibited him from possessing firearms or holding a license for firearms. Judge Lynch specified the defendant requested access to his duty weapon. Larkosh requested the order be vacated in full due to the belief any restraining order will trigger a loss of employment for Vines.
“My client is employed with the Department of Homeland Security,” Larkosh said. “He’s a Secret Service agent and he drives for the Obamas in the summertime.”
In what Larkosh described as “the very last night” of his client’s “pleasant” relationship with the woman, the two allegedly went to Town Bar and Grill in Edgartown. But before Larkosh could elaborate more, Judge Lynch cut him off and said he was testifying, and if he wants his client to tell the story, then he should testify.
Testimony given by Vines and the woman conflicted. Different versions emerged about the times key conversations were held and what was said during those conversations.
Vines testified he’d worked for Homeland Security since 2004 and had no issues throughout his career. Vines confirmed he had been in a relationship with the alleged victim.
Vines testified the alleged victim told him she’d been on the Vineyard for 20 years and it wasn’t until their last night togther, which was at the bar of Town Bar and Grill, when she told him she was undocumented, that she had a visa issue.
Vines testified that once he found out, he had to report to his employer, per policy, that he was involved with a “foreign national.”
Vines testified that after they separately departed Town, the woman called and asked if she could visit, “and I told her no.”
Vines testified that he informed the woman that he was compelled to report his contact with her to his employer, and “that’s when she started being upset — talking about I’m trying to deport her …”
Vines testified he didn’t know what his employer might do to the woman upon getting the news she was undocumented. Vines denied threatening or striking her, and said before the immigration conversation, he and the woman had no issues.
Through a Portuguese interpreter, the woman testified Douglas’ account was untrue. She said they went out to eat and to watch a game, and then she was invited to his house but she declined because she had to take care of a dog.
Ultimately, however, she testified, “I told him I could go there, but I would not be able to sleep there.”
What not a wire tap charge seeing as we are a two party consent state ?
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