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Fired CDC guard was not a convicted felon

Kenneth Tate said he still doesn't know why he was fired after riding in an elevator with President Obama at the CDC in September.

By Gabrielle Levy
Fired CDC guard was not a convicted felon
Secret Service agent stand still during a Presidential motorcade October 1 , 2014 in Washington, DC. Julia Pierson, the director of the U.S. Secret Service, resigned Wednesday amid embarrassing new revelations of breaches to the protective cordon around President Barack Obama. UPI/Olivier Douliery/Pool | License Photo

WASHINGTON, Nov. 3 (UPI) -- The security guard fired at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention after riding in an elevator with President Obama was not, as originally reported, a convicted felon.

Kenneth Tate, a privately contracted guard for Professional Security Corporation, was assigned to escort the president on his Sept. 16 visit to the Atlanta headquarters of the CDC. Tate rode in an elevator with Obama twice, when he arrived at the CDC and when he left.

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Secret Service agents reportedly began to question Tate's behavior, apparently after he refused agents' requests to stop taking pictures of the president on his cell phone. A background check turned up several prior arrests, and Tate was fired.

The Washington Post's original Sept. 30 story identified the guard, whose name they did not know, as a convicted felon. A separate Washington Examiner story said he had a criminal record.

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Julia Pierson, director of the Secret Service, resigned the next day.

Now speaking out, Tate said he doesn't understand why he was fired -- and that he's never been convicted of a crime.

"This was unjust and has been a nightmare," Tate, 47, told the New York Times. "I've tried to rationalize it. It won't go away."

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Tate was carrying a CDC-issued firearm, a .40-caliber Smith & Wesson, which he said he was issued every day at work. Secret Service protocols normally prohibit carrying weapons near the president.

He has also been arrested several times, including on charges of robbery and assault, but has never been convicted.

Tate said he tried to take a picture of Obama with his phone after he had escorted him back to his motorcade, similar to other images he's seen of the limo on the news. When agents told him to delete his photos, he said he did.

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He said agents told him he'd gotten too close to the presidential limo, and his bosses reacted angrily. His CDC badge was revoked that day, and he was sent a termination letter the next week.

A Secret Service agent told the Times that Tate's account was largely in line with what happened, and others confirmed to the Washington Post that Tate did not have felony convictions.

Tate said he has yet to receive an explanation for why he was fired from the CDC or his contractor, and that his son, 27, was fired two weeks later in a "downsizing."

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