A while back I wrote about this mess that Balko dug up. Couple of excerpts:
Last week, a federal judge excoriated the FBI for not only hiding exculpatory evidence that would have exonerated four innocent men who served more than thirty years in prison, but for rewarding those who did the hiding and covering up with bonuses and promotions. For this crime against American citizens, American taxpayers will now shell out more than $100 million. Thus far, none of the government agents actually responsible for this crime have been held accountable. Only rewarded.
The context: Lundgren and Delahunt have cited incidents in the past in which the FBI has covered up evidence that its confidential drug informants have committed violent crimes (including murder) in order to protect their identities, so that they could continue providing the bureau with information. They’ve cited other incidents, including the case above, in which the FBI has hidden exculpatory evidence, and allowed innocent people to go to prison. Lundgren and Delahunt want Murphy to assure them that the FBI has instituted policies to ensure that these sorts of incidents won’t happen again–that murderers won’t be protected and innocent people sent to prison in order to preserve drug investigations.
Remarkably, Murphy refuses to make such assurances.
Now look at this Insty pointed out:
CLEVELAND (AP) - Wes Ballard is trying to put his life back together after serving 10 months in jail because of lies told by an informant who was handled by a federal agent now facing multiple investigations himself.
Ballard and 25 other people were arrested in a sting meant to clean up the drug trade in Mansfield, about halfway between Cleveland and Columbus. Many of those arrested were convicted.
Now, though, prosecutors are asking a federal judge to dismiss charges including conspiracy and cocaine trafficking against most of the defendants, even some who pleaded guilty.
Why, you may ask?
The sting was based on a tips from Jerrell Bray, a small-time operator who was supervised by Drug Enforcement Administration Agent Lee Lucas.
The 34-year-old Bray, enlisted as an informant in 2005, has admitted concocting a fabric of lies to polish his informant credentials and keep suspects flowing through the court system. He's serving 15 years for perjury and civil rights violations against the individuals targeted in his role as an informant.
While police sometimes must rely on informants, "It is very disturbing that they simply accepted this person's claim against so many defendants," Katz said.
Katz said prosecutors sometimes fail to assess an informant's reliability in their zeal to lock up criminals.
"Once they get in the competitive atmosphere of a prosecution, unfortunately too many prosecutors fail to second-guess their own evidence," Katz said.
Where have we heard crap like this before? Why, in stories about SWAT teams kicking in doors of innocent people on the word of an informant, apparently without bothering to investigate before they load up the ram and head for the door. And, just like usually happens in those cases,
U.S. Attorney Greg White, whose staff of 75 federal prosecutors in northern Ohio prosecuted the tainted drug cases, said he was satisfied that his staff had acted in good faith.
Once wrongdoing was disclosed, prosecutors asked the judge last month to undo the charges. "Our feeling was, as a matter of fundamental fairness we needed to do this and we did," White said.
Translation: "Once we got caught having screwed up, we tried to make it go away. And of COURSE none of us did anything wrong! How could you even think that?" Apparently the concept of, oh, INVESTIGATING to make sure the informant wasn't full of crap just didn't occur to them. And I'll bet that they'll do any- and everything to keep the people they screwed over from getting compensation; and they'll damn sure try to keep themselves from facing any real penalty over this. Any takers?
White, the federal prosecutor, cautioned against concluding that "everyone was wrongfully charged," but he would not detail how many of the 13 who pleaded guilty were innocent.
"This is not the finest hour of the justice system for sure. However, I think we've done our best to make that right," White said.
Oh, that just give me such a warm feeling, that you think you've 'done your best'. You miserable lawyer.
But we're supposed to trust these people.