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Exclusive: Obama to name O'Connor new Secret Service chief - source

U.S. President Barack Obama participates in his first cabinet meeting of his second term in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washingto
U.S. President Barack Obama participates in his first cabinet meeting of his second term in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washingto

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama has chosen a veteran Secret Service official who oversaw criminal investigations to head the agency, which last year became embroiled in a prostitution scandal in Colombia, a government source said.

In the next few days, Obama will appoint David O'Connor, a former assistant director of investigations who retired last year, as director of the agency that protects the president and other top officials.

The White House had no comment and the Department of Homeland Security would not confirm that he was to be appointed.

O'Connor will replace Mark Sullivan, who retired last month after almost three decades with the agency. The post of Secret Service director does not require Senate confirmation.

Sullivan was in charge of the Secret Service when it became embroiled in a scandal involving agents taking prostitutes back to their hotel rooms in Colombia ahead of a visit by Obama to Cartagena in April 2012. Sullivan was generally credited with acting aggressively in response to one of the biggest scandals to hit the agency.

O'Connor, who was with the Secret Service for more than 25 years, oversaw all criminal investigations and was in charge of agents in the field.

Previously he was in charge of dignitary protection, which included the 2008 Democratic National Convention where Obama was selected as the party's presidential candidate.

According to a blog post on MassLive.com during the Denver convention, O'Connor spoke to a group about his experiences when he was assigned to presidential candidate Al Gore, Pat Buchanan's campaign, first daughter Chelsea Clinton, and a U.S. visit by Pope Benedict, who stepped down last month.

Earlier in his Secret Service career O'Connor was special agent in charge of the Newark, N.J., office.

(Reporting By Tabassum Zakaria and Deborah Charles; Editing by Vicki Allen)

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