Soon-to-be retired federal prisons director charged with DUI in Arundel

Lappin spotted driving erratically in February, police report says

March 31, 2011|By Matt Zapotosky, The Washington Post

The soon-to-be retired director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons was arrested and charged with DUI and related counts in late February after an Anne Arundel County police officer spotted him driving erratically near his home in Annapolis, according to a police report.

Harley Lappin, 55, was pulled over Feb. 26 after an officer watched him nearly swerve into a police speed-enforcement trailer on Arundel on the Bay Road and a parked car on Headwater Road, according to the police report. Lappin's eyes were bloodshot, his speech was slurred and his breath smelled of alcohol, the report said. In field sobriety tests, he was unable to walk a straight line taking heel-to-toe steps, and he could not maintain his balance standing on one foot, according to the report.

The incident was first reported by Main Justice.

Late last week, Lappin announced that he would retire as director of the Bureau of Prisons effective May 7. Traci Billingsley, a bureau spokeswoman, said Lappin had made the retirement decision "some months ago, long before the incident." She said that Lappin informed his supervisors about the incident immediately after it happened and that he sent a message to his staff members Tuesday apologizing for "failing to lead by example."

In a news release about Lappin's retirement, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. praised the director's efforts to "address prison overcrowding and expand prisoner development and rehabilitation programs." Holder made no mention of the drunken-driving charges.

In a statement after news of the charges broke, Justice Department spokesman Matthew Miller said, "While he shares Director Lappin's regret for the incident that occurred, the Attorney General believes the Director has served with great integrity and professionalism over a long career at the Bureau of Prisons."

Lappin is scheduled to appear in court June 16, court records show.

Washington Post staff writer Jerry Markon contributed to this report.

zapotoskym@washpost.com

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