Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

No jail for Crime Stoppers head over anonymous tip

MIAMI — The head of Miami-Dade County's Crime Stoppers program avoided jail time Thursday after a judge found him in contempt of court for refusing to divulge details about an anonymous tip, some of it on a piece of paper he ate rather than turn over at a previous hearing.

Instead, Circuit Judge Victoria Brennan put Richard Masten, the program's executive director, on probation and ordered that he complete a memo about the law governing disclosure of anonymous tips as well as the importance of obeying court orders.

Afterward, Masten said he had been ready to go to jail for up to six months rather than hand over information sought by a defense attorney in a cocaine possession case. More than a dozen police officers from several South Florida departments packed the courtroom as a show of support.

"I'll do it again," he said. "We're going to protect Crime Stoppers tips. We're not going to give it up."

Masten said that in more than 20 years, the Crime Stoppers program has helped solve some 34,000 crimes in the Miami area. His case gained national attention for the paper-eating incident, which was captured on video. There are similar Crime Stoppers programs nationwide.

Brennan had given Masten a Thursday deadline to provide information about the tip, although the identity of the tipster was not being sought. The judge said anonymous tips are routinely turned over to defense lawyers in criminal cases, although Masten insisted that was not the case with Crime Stoppers tips.

Still, the judge said Masten — who was a police chief for 35 years before taking his current job — appeared to be "ignorant" about the rules of evidence. She was more concerned, however, about his defiance of her order.

"There's nothing honorable, ever, in violating a court order," the judge said. "It would undermine the integrity of the entire system."

Masten's probation will end once he completes the memo and it is approved by Brennan, said his attorney Ed O'Donnell.

The defense attorney in the cocaine case, Jean Michel D'Escoubet, said he believes his client had a constitutional right to obtain the Crime Stoppers tip information. He said he may be able to obtain what he seeks from the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office but raised concerns about the ability of Crime Stoppers to shield its tips from evidence rules.

"Crime Stoppers is not above the law. They don't have some special privilege," D'Escoubet said. "My client needs to have all the evidence against her, and this is being withheld from her."

As he wiped fingerprint ink from his fingers, Masten said he is the first Crime Stoppers official to be found in criminal contempt for protecting a tip.

No jail for Crime Stoppers head over anonymous tip 03/20/14 [Last modified: Thursday, March 20, 2014 11:41pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Associated Press.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Suspect arrested in fatal shooting of Virginia special agent

    Crime

    RICHMOND, Va. — A Virginia State Police special agent died Saturday after being shot by a man sitting in a car in Richmond, police said. The shooting suspect fled on foot, sparking an overnight manhunt that ended with the man's arrest about an hour after the agent's death.

    This image provided by the Virginia State Police shows law enforcement investigating the scene of a shooting early Saturday in Richmond, Va.   Special Agent Michael T. Walter, a Virginia State Police special agent died Saturday after being shot by a man sitting in a car in Richmond, police said. The shooting suspect fled on foot, sparking an overnight manhunt that ended with the man's arrest about an hour after the agent's death. Virginia State Police said in an emailed statement that Travis A. Ball of Richmond is being held without bond on charges that include malicious wounding and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony. (Virginia State Police via AP)
  2. Mayor Rick Kriseman says St. Petersburg mayoral election is about going forward, not back

    Blogs

    ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Rick Kriseman christened his campaign office Friday evening by telling his supporters that the mayoral election was about moving forward, not backward.

    Mayor Rick Kriseman says mayoral election is about inclusiveness Friday at campaign office rally
  3. Forecast: Lots of sunshine, low humidity to start Memorial Day weekend

    Weather

    The start of your long Memorial Day weekend is all sunshine this Saturday, according to WTSP 10Weather meteorologist Rick Kearbey.

    WTSP seven-day forecast on May 27, 2017.
  4. For starters: Rays at Twins, looking for another with Odorizzi starting

    Blogs

    UPDATE, 11:01: No Dickerson today as the Rays go with seven right-handers.

    Here is the lineup:

  5. Global computer outage grounds British flights

    Airlines

    LONDON — British Airways canceled all flights from London's Heathrow and Gatwick airports Saturday as a global IT failure caused severe disruption for travelers on a busy holiday weekend.

    British Airways planes are parked at Heathrow Airport in January. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein, file)