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Head of embattled air marshal office to retire

By Mike M. Ahlers, CNN
  • The head of the air marshal service Orlando office says he will retire
  • Supervisors in that office allegedly used a game board to ridicule air marshals
  • William L. Reese has been with the air marshal service since 2002
  • A TSA spokesman says the investigation of the allegations is ongoing

Washington (CNN) -- The head of the Federal Air Marshal Service's Orlando, Florida, office -- where supervisors allegedly used a "Jeopardy"-style game board to ridicule and retaliate against rank-and-file air marshals -- says he will retire in the coming months, officials said Tuesday.

Special Agent in Charge William L. Reese's retirement comes amid two investigations into activities in the office, and comes just days after an official confirmed that Reese was being transferred to headquarters.

Reese "has announced his intention to retire" from the Transportation Security Administration "within the coming months," said Nelson Minerly, spokesman for the air marshal service.

Reese, who joined the air marshal service in 2002, served 35 years in federal law enforcement, previously serving with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, and the U.S. Secret Service. While many air marshals fault Reese's leadership of the office, it is not known whether Reese was aware of the game board, and the air marshal service declined a request from CNN to contact Reese for comment.

"Bill Reese's reasons for retiring are entirely his own," Minerly said. He said the TSA's investigation "is ongoing" as is a separate investigation by the Department of Homeland Security's Office of the Inspector General.

Union president Jon Adler said Reese's retirement and other changes in Orlando and Los Angeles show that new air marshal chief Robert Bray is addressing complaints from rank-and-file air marshals who have complained about mismanagement, favoritism and retaliation.

"The fact that he (Reese) is out, we're happy," Adler said. "It can be portrayed in any way, but the end result is the same: we have one less incompetent person in a role in an agency that demands leaders with integrity."

"I'm the first one to criticize HQ, but I think they deserve credit for taking decisive action," Adler said.

Current and former air marshals told CNN that some senior managers in the Orlando field office played a game similar to the TV show "Jeopardy" using a white board in the office. The board included categories such as "pickle smokers," "our gang" and "creatures," as designations for gay men, African-Americans and lesbians.