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Retiring head of federal Bureau of Prisons apologizes for DUI arrest

By Terry Frieden, CNN Justice Producer
  • Harley Lappin announced his retirement as director of the federal Bureau of Prisons last Friday
  • In a statement to his staff on Tuesday, he apologized for "a lapse in my judgment"
  • "I was arrested for driving under the influence," Lappin wrote

Washington (CNN) -- The director of the federal Bureau of Prisons has apologized to his staff for a February DUI arrest, which came to light after his announcement last Friday that he was retiring.

Harley Lappin had made no mention in his retirement statement Friday about his brush with the law in Annapolis, Maryland, after 3 a.m. on February 26.

But in a statement to his staff Tuesday, Lappin acknowledged the charges against him and offered no excuses.

"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," Lappin wrote in the statement, which was obtained by CNN.

"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," Lappin wrote.

"Law enforcement officers have a particular responsibility to respect the rule of law," Lappin said in his statement to the Bureau of Prisons staff.

Lappin oversees more than 100 federal prison facilities nationwide and is one of the top tier of agency heads who report directly to Attorney General Eric Holder.

Holder praised Lappin Friday in a brief statement, which also did not mention the DUI arrest.

BOP spokeswoman Traci Billingsley said Lappin had decided "some months ago" to retire in the spring of 2011 and that his scheduled retirement date of May 7 has not changed.

Lappin has served with the Bureau of Prisons in various posts for more than 25 years, the last eight of which were as the bureau's director.