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. 13-year-old Janessa's father holds memorial service at Rogers Middle School

    Crime

    RIVERVIEW — About 100 people sat in the tile-floored multipurpose room Saturday at Rodgers Middle School where Janessa Shannon once sat as a student.

    A mourner embraces Nahshon Shannon after the memorial service for Nahshon’s daughter, Janessa, Saturday at Rodgers Middle School in Riverview.
  2. Trump: Aircraft carrier a symbol of America's might (w/video)

    Politics

    NORFOLK, Va. — With praise and a blessing for the military, President Donald Trump helped hand over the USS Gerald R. Ford to the Navy on Saturday and said the state-of-the-art aircraft carrier will send a "100,000-ton message to the world" about America's military might when it is ultimately deployed.

    President Donald Trump commissions the USS Gerald R. Ford on Saturday in Norfolk, Va.
  3. Kushner discloses additional $10M in assets

    Politics

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner "inadvertently omitted" more than 70 assets worth at least $10.6 million from his personal financial disclosure reports, according to revised paperwork released Friday.

    Kushner
  4. Police: Errant U.S. bombing kills 12 Afghan security forces

    World

    KABUL, Afghanistan — An errant U.S. airstrike confirmed by the Pentagon killed 12 Afghan National Police officers and wounded two others, as another 11 police were killed and six wounded in clashes with the Taliban, Afghan officials said Saturday.

  5. Races are reversed in a police killing, and again a family asks: Why?

    Nation

    MINNEAPOLIS — There was something bad going on in the alleyway behind the house, she told her fiancé on the phone, someone who sounded as if she was in distress, maybe a rape. It was past 11 p.m., and most people on Washburn Avenue were furled in their beds.

    joint cutline 1 inch 1 inch of body type 1 inch 1 inch of body type 1 inch 1 inch of body type 1 inch 1 inch of body type 1 inch 1 inch of body type 1 inch 1 inch