HARRISBURG

- Three state police lieutenants - including the former head of the elite detail that guards the Pennsylvania governor - were investigated by the FBI and the state police for their involvement with prostitutes during successive personal vacations to Southeast Asia.

Records in a case pending in federal court in Pennsylvania say the lieutenants all admitted hiring the prostitutes on trips between 2002 and 2008.

An Associated Press review of the internal state police records shows the supervisors evaded significant punishment, and a Right-to-Know Law request found no evidence they were discharged or demoted, the state police said Wednesday.

The investigative records were disclosed in an employment discrimination lawsuit filed by retired Cpl. Joe Farthing, a former member of the Executive Service Section, which protects the governor, lieutenant governor and their spouses.

Farthing, an African-American who lives in Lancaster, claims state police brass concocted a racially motivated claim that he had improperly milked overtime while guarding then-Gov. Ed Rendell. He was not implicated in the Asian trips.

Farthing worked closely with one of the three, Lt. John Kruse, as the two top-ranking members of the Executive Service Section.

While it's not clear what triggered the interest, the FBI by 2007 was investigating sex tourism trips by Kruse and Lt. Brad Lawver, who worked in legislative affairs. Kruse and Lawver told investigators they had been joined by a third member of state police brass, Lt. Douglas Martin of the Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement, according to state police documents.

The U.S. attorney's office in Harrisburg said a federal investigation regarding the Asian sex tourism trips was closed without charges being filed, and prosecutors declined further comment.

Rendell told the AP he had heard rumors of the prostitution trips "through the grapevine, stuff about trips to Asia and sexual hijinks, but again, I didn't know there was anything illegal about them."

The three men told FBI agents that they hired prostitutes in Thailand and Vietnam, according to a February 2009 general investigative report regarding Martin filed by Sgt. Farzad Sharif with the state police's Bureau of Integrity and Professional Standards. Kruse and Lawver had just retired at the time.

Court records describe an unspecified number of private trips to Thailand, Vietnam and Singapore that combined tourist outings with hiring prostitutes, in some cases for a week at a time. An FBI agent told a state police supervisor that during one trip the men - it's unclear which of them - were seen by the FBI drinking heavily and entering what was believed to be a house of prostitution.

Farthing's lawsuit was filed in February 2011, but the detailed disclosures about the lieutenants' sex tourism trips, the alleged abuse of overtime by members of the Executive Service Section and evidence the unit was poorly run emerged in court documents this year. The state attorney general's office sought unsuccessfully to have Farthing's case thrown out.

As state police leadership and internal affairs looked into the sex trips, questions about the ages of the prostitutes arose repeatedly. The three state policemen have repeatedly insisted that none was underage, records show.