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Dept. of Homeland Security security officer Bradley Saunders charged with 4th DUI, gets probation before judgment

7:48 AM, Nov 5, 2013   |    comments
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WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- Only on 9 tonight, as lawmakers on Capitol Hill scrutinize who gets security clearance and who doesn't, we have an unusual story about a drunk driver stopped multiple times and a judicial system that kept him from spending even a single night in jail. And wait til you see where he works.

Andrea McCarren uncovers a recent ruling in a Montgomery County courtroom that raised some eyebrows.

Police dashboard camera video reveals a suspected drunk driver weaving across lanes on I-270 (We sped up the video to give you a better perspective).

Despite flashing police lights and a blaring siren, it takes the driver more than a minute to pull over.

"We're stopped now, right shoulder, main lanes, just prior to Montrose Road," said a police officer.

The driver failed the field sobriety tests. Officers tell him "don't move your head. Just your eyes. Don't move your head."

The driver repeatedly denied he'd been drinking.

Cop: "No physical problems? Any medical problems? Anything like that?"
Suspect: "I didn't drink anything."
Cop: "You didn't drink anything at all? You sure?"
"Gotta place your hands behind your back. You've been (indiscernible) under the influence of alcohol."

Bradley Evann Saunders was placed under arrest.

Records show Saunders had a blood alcohol level of .17-more than twice the legal limit. But that's not all that raised a red flag here. It's not his first DUI, not his second or even his third DUI. This was the 4th time the security officer at the Department of Homeland Security was charged with driving under the influence.

"An individual with this kind of record should not be responsible for security at the Department of Homeland Security. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that out," stated Michael Greenberger with the University of Maryland Center for Homeland Security.

His prior arrests spanned more than 20 years: 1989, 1995, 1997 and this one in 2013. In court, visiting judge William Rowan asked him: "Do you have a secret clearance?"

Saunders replied, "Yes, sir."
Judge Rowan: "Do you have more than a secret clearance?"
Saunders: "I was on my way for top secret. It's a matter of ... I have to be honest with Homeland Security for top secret."

In court, Saunders' attorney, Robin Ficker, noted: "They're very picky down at the Office of Homeland Security, especially someone that's dealing with who gets into the building."

"The question arises, do they have the mental stability on a 24-hour basis, 7 days a week to be in a position to protect our Department of Homeland Security? And I think anybody would tell you the answer to that is 'no,'" said Greenberger.

Drivers in the state of Maryland with multiple DUIs are not unusual. Statistics show 21,000 have three or more DUIs.  One offender held the record in Maryland: 21 DUIs.

"Law enforcement is doing a good job of getting these people off the streets, but when they get to the court system, unfortunately, it's a catch and release program," stated J.T. Griffin with MADD.

Judge Rowan told Saunders in court, "I'm going to give you probably something that I would be criticized for, but I'm doing it because I don't want you to lose your job." He added: "A conviction would probably in my mind, undoubtedly, cause him to lose his secret clearance."

With that, Saunders was given what's known as PBJ-probation before judgment, so there's no conviction on his record and he will never have to spend a night in jail.

After we started asking questions about Saunders and his job as an armed security officer, his access to Homeland Security buildings was revoked. He's an employee of Paragon Systems, a contractor for the Federal Protective Service. Federal policy requires any employee or contractor with a security clearance to self-report any legal issues that may compromise that clearance.

As for Saunders, in addition to the probation, he faces $450 in fines and court costs, and five weekends of day shifts at a local jail.

 

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