Man charged with posing as Secret Service agent at HHS
Friday, January 8, 2010
A man pretending to be a U.S. Secret Service agent slipped past security Saturday at the Department of Health and Human Services in Washington and was not stopped until he got to the sixth-floor suite of offices for Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, authorities said.
Frederick J. Nickerson, 46, apparently left the building after being confronted by employees. He was arrested Tuesday on charges of impersonating a Secret Service agent and was being held pending a detention hearing next week in the District's federal court.
Officials with the Federal Protective Service wrote in court papers that Nickerson flashed what appeared to be a Secret Service badge to security guards and said he was employed by the agency and needed to see Sebelius. Nickerson also motioned to the side of his body as if to suggest he was carrying a gun on his waistband, court papers say. He is not an employee of HHS or Secret Service.
A witness later saw Nickerson sitting in the lobby outside Sebelius's suite making calls on his cellphone. The witness recognized his face from photographs that had been circulated in the building as someone banned from the facility and then recognized his voice from phone calls made by him late last year to HHS in which he made "irrational demands to see the secretary and other people in charge," the court papers say.
The building was mostly empty because of the New Year's holiday, HHS spokeswoman Jenny Backus said. Sebelius wasn't there.
"This was a troubling incident," Backus said. HHS "has taken immediate corrective actions," she said, including "reinforcing the training of all officers on use of the federal bar list and on procedures that must be followed when non-government employees seek access to the building."