You sure could! Why else would you have an informant sign a blank pay sheet if not because the officer intends to write in a higher number and pocket the difference? Seriously, try and think of one good reason; I can't. Eiserer continues:
Garland police Officer Dennis Morrow admitted during a hearing Thursday that he sometimes had informants sign pay sheets without immediately filling in the amount he paid them – a practice deemed questionable by law enforcement experts – but he denied ever stealing any money.
Under questioning by Dallas County prosecutor Tim Gallagher, Morrow testified that he did realize that having informants sign blank pay sheets could create an appearance problem for him.
"You could [infer] all kinds of different things," Morrow testified.
It sounds like, to put the best possible face on it, Garland's policies related to handling confidential informants are pretty loosey-goosey. Best practices would require a supervisor present when making payments to informants, or at least another officer as a witness. And the idea of having informants sign blank pay forms? There's no excuse for that besides gross negligence or overt malfeasance. Keep an eye on this one - I wouldn't be surprised to see dozens of drug cases unravel in Garland before it's done.
Although Morrow contends he did nothing wrong with the pay sheets, the lead investigator in the Dallas fake-drug scandal said in an interview after the hearing that the officer's actions could prove to be problematic.
David Eldridge, a retired narcotics supervisor with the Texas Department of Public Safety, said that such a practice is "fraught with danger. Both he and his department that's permitting him to do this are headed for problems."
During Morrow's testimony Thursday, he said that there were rare occasions when a witness wasn't present when he gave money to a confidential informant, but that he always notified a supervisor when he did so.
He also said he sometimes would go to a motel office with an informant and give the manager the money the informants had earned from helping with drug busts.
"If they owed the motel guy $180 for the week, then we'd give it to them and they would give them what was left over," Morrow testified.
Both practices, Eldridge said, are troubling.
"That's what gets these guys in trouble is not properly documenting how the money is spent," he said.
See Eiserer's prior coverage: