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Browns Hire Top Secret Service Man

Lewis Merletti, the Secret Service director who tried unsuccessfully to keep his agents from testifying in the Monica Lewinsky investigation, is retiring to coordinate security for the new Cleveland Browns.

Merletti, who protected Presidents Reagan, Bush and Clinton, will become the Browns vice president and director of stadium and security affairs.

Clinton said in a statement Thursday: "On behalf of everyone who has felt the reassurance of being in the care of Lew Merletti and the Secret Service agents he led, I want to thank this distinguished director for his remarkable devotion to duty and country. I will miss him very much."

The Browns scheduled an afternoon news conference to introduce Merletti.

Browns president Carmen Policy called his newest hire an "outstanding manager who has demonstrated sound judgment throughout his career, often under the most demanding conditions."

Merletti has served almost 25 years, becoming director of the Secret Service June 6, 1997. He headed the Treasury Department's investigation of the 1993 Branch Davidian standoff in Waco, Texas.

As director of the Secret Service, he argued that allowing agents to testify in the Lewinsky investigation would endanger future presidents. He reasoned that a president who did not trust the discretion of his protectors would try to keep his distance from them.

The original Browns moved to Baltimore after the 1995 season. An expansion franchise is to begin playing in 1999.

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