Lewis Carlo Merletti (born July 1, 1948) was the 19th Director of the United States Secret Service.[1] He succeeded Eljay B. Bowron, and was sworn in on June 6, 1997, by the Secretary of the Treasury Robert Rubin. A 25-year veteran of the United States Secret Service, Merletti has also served as Assistant Director in the Office of Training, and as the Special Agent in Charge of the Presidential Protection Division.

Lewis Carlo Merletti
19th Director of the United States Secret Service
In office
June 6, 1997 – March 3, 1999
PresidentBill Clinton
Preceded byEljay B. Bowron
Succeeded byBrian L. Stafford
Personal details
Born (1948-07-01) July 1, 1948 (age 71)
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.
ChildrenMike Merletti, Matt Merletti


Merletti was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on July 1, 1948.[2] He attended Central Catholic High School and Duquesne University, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he received a B.A. degree in political science.

Military Courses

Merletti completed Special Forces Training Phases I and II of US Special Forces Tactics and Techniques Training. He completed 42 weeks of intense Special Forces MOS Medic training. He attended and graduated from the Special Forces Vietnamese language training course with limited fluency skills.  His MOS training prior to Special Forces was light weapons, 11B.[3]

Federal and Government Courses

Special Agent Criminal Investigator Training; Polygraph Examiner School; Counter Assault Team Training Course; Leadership Development Program and Followup @ Center for Creative Leadership; Negotiating Skills for Executives; George Washington Contemporary Executive Development[4]

Military serviceEdit

Merletti enlisted in the United States Army in 1967. He served for three years, including a tour of duty as a Special Forces medic in Vietnam with the 5th Special Forces Group, A-502, Airborne. He earned numerous military honors including the Bronze Star, Certificate of Achievement of Meritorious Performance, Combat Medical Badge, Good Conduct Medal, and Parachute Wings.[5]

Career with the United States Secret ServiceEdit

In 1974, Merletti joined the Secret Service as a special agent assigned to the Philadelphia Field Office. Throughout his tenure with the agency he served for Presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and Bill Clinton. He also held the position of Special Agent in Charge of Presidential protection during the Clinton Administration, which made him responsible for the physical security of the President and First Family. He was also in charge of supervising security arrangements for Presidential visits to dangerous high security environments including Israel, Syria, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia during Operation Desert Shield.[5]

Following his time in the Secret Service, he has remained connected to the military and Secret Service. In October 2017 and again in September 2018, Merletti gave presentations in North Carolina, at Fort Bragg’s JFK Center for the Special Warfare Non-commissioned Officers Academy highlighting his Special Forces training and experiences, and how he applied that training and experience to the United States Secret Service.  Other co-presenters for the event included retired Special Forces legends Billy Waugh and Felix Rodriguez

Merletti, along with Waugh, is currently a regular guest lecturer for various Special Forces basic and advanced courses.  Both are highlighted by Best Selling author Annie Jacobsen: Surprise, Kill, Vanish: The Secret History of CIA Paramilitary Armies, Operators, and Assassins[6] In March 2019, Merletti was the Keynote Speaker for the United States Secret Service’s Counter Assault Team graduating class

Clinton trialEdit

During the Clinton impeachment trial in 1998, while Merletti was Director of the Secret Service, Independent Counsel Kenneth W. Starr's prosecutors requested that numerous Secret Service agents testify in the investigation of President Clinton's relationship with Monica Lewinsky.[7] "Merletti argued strongly against this, saying "As law enforcement officers, Secret Service agents would proactively report any crime that they witnessed, however, Secret Service agents assigned to the Presidential Protective Detail should not be subpoenaed as part of a 'fishing expedition.' It is my firm belief, as Director of the United States Secret Service, that using Secret Service protective personnel as witnesses concerning non-criminal activities of a President will substantially undermine, if not destroy, the relationship of trust and confidence that must exist between the Secret Service and the President in order for the Secret Service to successfully fulfill its mission. If our Presidents do not have complete trust in the Secret Service personnel who protect them, they may push away the Service's "protective envelope," thereby making them more vulnerable to assassination."[8]

On May 22, Chief U.S. District Judge Norma Holloway Johnson ruled that since the Secret Service employees are part of the federal law enforcement establishment sworn to assist in criminal investigations, they must testify.[9] The Secret Service appealed her decision and the case eventually made its way to the Supreme Court where the Secret Service lost in a split decision. Scores of Secret Service agents then testified before Starr's Independent Counsel. In the end, Starr and his Independent Counsel were frustrated to learn that the rumor and innuendo that they had been led to believe regarding the Secret Service's involvement with the Lewinsky issue was totally unfounded. The Independent Counsel remarked that the Secret Service turned out to be "a dry well." Merletti felt vindicated and remarked, "It was the fight that mattered, future Presidents would have faith in the Secret Service's motto of being 'Worthy of trust and confidence'." [10/17/2007 statement by United States Secret Service Director Lewis C. Merletti][10]

Cleveland Browns & NFLEdit

Cleveland BrownsEdit

Merletti was the Senior Vice President for Security for the Cleveland Browns under Lerner ownership (1999-2011).  He was responsible for all operations to include disaster recovery; the direction, design and deployment of security for the entire Cleveland Browns operation, including the owners, coaches, players, and public safety on game days at the Cleveland Browns Stadium. 

From 1999 until 2011 Merletti was in charge of full background investigations on collegiate prospects for draft years 1999 – 2011.  Conducted one on one personal interviews with those players selected for potential draft picks for the Cleveland Browns.  Also conducted one on one personal interviews with players selected for the East-West Shrine Game, and the Senior Bowl.

December 2009:  Following the dismissal of the Cleveland Browns General Manager, Merletti and Dawn Aponte were designated by team owner Randy Lerner to handle all aspects of the Browns General Manager responsibilities.  Their December 2009 GM record resulted in “4” wins and “0” losses for the Browns; an undefeated record for the last four games of the Browns’ 2009 season.

National Football League (NFL)Edit

Following the September 11, 2001 attacks, Merletti was a primary driver in having the United States Secret Service designate that year’s Super Bowl XXXVI in New Orleans as a National Security Special Event (NSSE) resulting in the Secret Service providing the protection plan as well as the physical protection.  At the request of the NFL, Merletti was appointed as a newly established NFL Security Advisor and developed security practices for all NFL stadiums.  Those criteria are still in place and considered the standard for security practices at all the NFL stadiums.[11]

Other Private sector workEdit

Lew has served as the Director of Security for Buckeye Relief since 2017.[12]  He also serves on the board of directors of Surefire.

Personal lifeEdit

His son Mike was in the United States Army, an Airborne Ranger Captain who served with the 101st Airborne Division. He is currently a Special Agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigations. His son Matt played Safety for the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill football team. He also played for a brief stint in the NFL with the Indianapolis Colts.[13] 


  1. ^ Lewis Merletti, Retrieved on December 28, 2006
  2. ^ LEWIS C. MERLETTI, Retrieved on December 28, 2006
  3. ^ "Lewis Merletti Interview". DVIDS. Retrieved 2019-09-17.
  4. ^ "Lewis Merletti DoD Interview". US Department of Defence. Retrieved 2019-09-17.
  5. ^ a b "Lewis C. Merletti". clevelandbrowns.com. Archived from the original on 2007-10-08. Retrieved 2008-01-22.
  6. ^ Jacobsen, Annie (2019-05-14). Surprise, Kill, Vanish. Little. Brown and Company. ISBN 9780316441407.
  7. ^ Whitewater Archived 2007-09-29 at the Wayback Machine, retrieved on December 28, 2006.
  8. ^ Merletti felt that the Lewinsky issue, while having civil court merit, was being driven in large part by politics. He strongly believed that the Secret Service Mission must be kept above all politics. Merletti received strong support from former President George Bush (#41). President Bush, a Republican, stated his support in a letter to Ken Starr saying that as a former President he knew that Merletti was correct in his stance; and he (President Bush) asked Ken Starr to withdraw the Secret Service subpoenas. Merletti received strong support from the four living former Directors of the United States Secret Service and the strong support of all the former Special Agent in Charge (SAIC) of the Presidential Protective Division. Two noteworthy Secret Service supporters were Clint Hill (the Secret Service Agent neareast President Kennedy during the assassination in November 1963) and Secret Service Agent Tim McCarthy who was shot during President Reagan's assassination attempt in March 1981. Merletti further felt that Ken Starr's use of the numerous FBI agents assigned to his Independent Counsel was not in our nation's best interest. Merletti felt that the bulk of those FBI agents could have better served our nation by investigating terrorist cases developing within the United States."[10/17/2007 statement by United States Secret Service Director Lewis C. Merletti]Merletti Declaration on the Secret Service Archived 2007-09-29 at the Wayback Machine, Retrieved on December 28, 2006
  9. ^ Ronald J. Ostrow and Robert L. Jackson: Appellate Court Rules for Secret Service Disclosure, Retrieved on December 28, 2006
  10. ^ Broder, John M.: Secret Service Director Retiring To Work for Pro Football Team, Retrieved on January 20, 2008
  11. ^ [1] Lewis C. Merletti Biography
  12. ^ "How Ohio's Buckeye Relief Approaches Security". Cannabis Business Times. Retrieved 2019-09-17.
  13. ^ "Matt Merletti". NFL.com. Retrieved 2019-09-17.