Director Harley Lappin of the Justice Department Bureau of Prisons, who announced his retirement last week, faces drunk driving charges in Annapolis stemming from a February incident, Main Justice has learned.
Lappin will appear in court June 16, a little more than a month after his resignation becomes effective. As first reported by Main Justice, Lappin is charged with having driven drunk and recklessly in Annapolis before dawn on Saturday, February 26, according to court information. Anne Arundel County Police pulled him over at 3:59 a.m., less than a half mile from his house. Lappin did not cause an accident.
Lappin informed his staff of the arrest Tuesday, according to spokeswoman Traci Billingsley.
He faces three charges related to drunk driving. Lappin also is charged with reckless driving, negligent driving and failure to obey the instructions of a traffic-control device.
In a Tuesday memo to his staff obtained by The Daily Caller, Lappin said, “I recently allowed a lapse in my judgment to occur, giving rise to potential embarrassment to the agency, the Department of Justice, and my position of Director. I was arrested for driving under the influence. I immediately notified my supervisor, as all of us are required to do, and the matter will proceed through the courts.” He said that as law enforcement officers, bureau employees have a particular responsibility to respect the law. “It is with great humility that I offer my most sincere apology to each and every one of you for failing to lead by example,” he wrote.
The arrest was not Lappin’s only recent traffic incident. The Director was pulled over at 6:55 p.m. on March 20 for speeding, driving 19 miles per hour over the 50 miles per hour speed limit on an Annapolis highway. He was fined $90.
On Friday, the DOJ announced that Lappin would retire on May 7. Lappin, a career public administrator, has headed the agency that has jurisdiction over the federal prison system since April 2003, overseeing more than 100 prisons and the care of about 200,000 inmates. Billingsley said Lappin had decided to retire before his arrest and the arrest has nothing to do with his decision.
Attorney General Eric Holder said in a Friday statement that Lappin provided him with “invaluable insights” on ways to improve inmate rehabilitation and development and tackle prison overcrowding.
In a statement Tuesday, Holder said that while he shares Lappin’s regret for the incident, he believes the Director has served with great integrity and professionalism over a long career at the Bureau of Prisons.
Lappin has had various administrative posts at the bureau since he began as a case manager at a Texarkana, Texas, federal prison in 1985. He was warden at the U.S. Penitentiary in Terre Haute, Ind., when Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh was executed at the facility in 2001.
“The highlight of each assignment during my bureau career was the people I worked with each and every day,” Lappin said in a statement on Friday. “They are the backbone of this agency. They are the reason for our success. I thank each and every one of them for their support and leadership.”
Story has been updated.