Friday, January 26, 2007

Snitches contribute to crime, corruption

Two recent, very different stories about law enforcement's use of confidential informants raise similar concerns: When police rely too heavily on "snitches," they risk tolerating crimes or even committing them.

First off, this month the Fourth Texas Court of Appeals upheld the conviction of a Fredericksburg police officer who thought it was "cool" to return seized marijuana to a snitch. (See coverage from the original trial.) Officer Clint Stewart performed a "consent search" at a traffic stop, arrested the driver for marijuana possession, then gave her back a portion of the dope after she agreed to work for police as a snitch. Stewart claimed he thought that was normal procedure. Said the court in a footnote to its decision:
Stewart was asked where he had heard that "this is done ... with some officers, you give a little bit of dope to them and then they bring you information?" He replied, "I've heard it from other officers, just TV, you know, just listening to people." He later explained he had heard of this behavior from a veteran narcotics officer in Corpus Christi. Stewart admitted on cross-examination that his law enforcement training did not include instruction that returning a portion of seized contraband was appropriate conduct.
Great - so now Texas cops are getting their notions about what's good policing from watching television!

To me, though, Stewart's likely innocent error of returning pot to a snitch pales in comparison to his real malfeasance: his willingness to lie in court and cover up the mistake. The ironically named Detective Weed in the Fredericksburg police department testified against his fellow officer:
Weed testified that when Stewart told him about returning part of the marihuana, Stewart asked "whether he should lie about it in court," to which Weed replied, "that's the last thing you'd want to do." As explanation of why he had returned some marihuana to Lavender, Stewart told Weed that he "thought it was cool" to give some back to develop a relationship with an informant. Weed, who had three to four years of narcotics experience, testified that he had not heard of officers giving back drugs to gain the rapport of an informant. Weed stated that he had explained to Stewart that the only time an officer might give drugs back would be in an undercover capacity.
The Fredericksburg police chief is angry about the case and said last year he questioned the motives of the District Attorney who brought it. But I say any DA who knows that a cop offered to lie in court and doesn't prosecute isn't doing their job. Even a snitch with critical information isn't worth that, much less some gal you picked up at a traffic stop with half an ounce of smoke. It's sad, and a shame, that a chief of police wouldn't understand that.

* * *
Meanwhile, the Statesman reported this week that a federal informant has been indicted for stealing thousands of dollars from more than 250 credit cards at convenience stores he ran in Austin ("One time informant pleads guilty to other crimes," Jan. 24).

In 2003, [Muhammed] Aslam became a federal informant, ratting on some associates to help FBI and IRS agents make their case in a multi-million-dollar illegal gambling and money laundering investigation that targeted a network of game rooms and convenience stores in Austin, according to federal court testimony.

In exchange for immunity in the case, Aslam told the agents about the convenience stores he operated that were owned by Tariq Majeed, who has since been indicted, along with 14 others in the case, an FBI agent testified last year.

But as the investigation progressed, authorities began to suspect Aslam was involved in a bevy of other criminal activity.

What is unclear in Aslam's case is whether his cooperation with the FBI and IRS drew authorities' attention to his other crimes. The Majeed investigation was led by the FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Force, while Aslam's investigation was led by a state and local financial crimes task force. FBI agent Timothy Stephens testified last year that Aslam was an informant until September 2005.

The federal charges came in August.

As part of the plea deal, investigators agreed not to pursue charges in federal and state court related to other crimes they suspected Aslam committed. According to court documents and testimony, he is suspected of frequently buying stolen gasoline, cigarettes, alcohol and other goods to sell at his stores. Since 2002 he has reported just $1.1 million in receipts for sales tax purposes to the state comptroller, even though more than $8 million went in and out of his bank accounts in that time, the documents show.

Some of that cash was sent to Pakistan, where Aslam has family, court documents show. It is unclear how it was spent.

So this fellow was an informant targeting improper money transfers to Pakistan, meanwhile he stole from more than 250 customers and had $7 million in unaccounted-for income pass through his bank accounts, some of which itself made its way to Pakistan, either to the defendants family or for heaven knows what purpose.

But the Joint Terrorism Task Force didn't care about any of that - it took state and local officials investigating to bring this case forward. Aslam's federal anti-terrorism handlers apparently never caught on that their snitch was funneling potentially millions of ill-gotten gains to a country widely known as a terrorism center!

You tell me: Were these snitches' contributions to justice worth the crimes tolerated or the police integrity breached? Or would officers (and the public) have been better served if they tried to make their cases another way?


Jason said...

Anyone with a lick of sense knows better than this. He speaks for himself not all of us.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

You know, Jason, I'd be inclined to agree with you except that his police chief took the attitude that this was some big anti-cop conspiracy by the DA, while Detective Weed (what a name to be involved in this case!) found it disturbing and reported it. That tells me that there are schisms among cops, and that some think it should be tolerated while others, like you and Weed, would never countenance such behavior.

To me, the moment it's documented a cop has offered to lie in court, he'll never be a credible witness again, anyway, so he should just be fired. It's amazing to me that that's not how his chief sees it.

Anonymous said...

Burning Bridges and Making Friends

This is Why I HATE METH COOK TURNED "INFORMANT" ONCE HE GOT BUSTED: TIM "MEET SNITCH" GOEHL who should be serving 25 years minimum to life in prison in Austin, TX right now!

Anonymous said...

Tim Goehl Saved my life in many ways. SO Actually I look at you guys and just sit back and think to myself" Look at these dumbass waste thier time on something that has passed, oh yeah did I mention dumbass?"

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous said... PLEASE write federal inmate Bryan Bowen and share your comments regarding how Tim Goehl saved your life, seeing how Tim ruined his! I'm sure he'd love to hear how the same piece of waste who used to cook for him, was at his apartment went it got raided yet was the only 1 there not arrested! I'm sure BB would love to hear what you gotta say.

You can find BB @

His inmate mailing address is:

Bryan Bowen #28585-180



P.O. BOX 1033


He's serving time, as Tim should still be doing, till April 9th, 2020! So feel free to send your comments anytime between now & then, ok?

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Anonymous said...

Ou we talking about the late Chief Of Police Paul Oestrich ? He was dirty and went out of his way to cover for dirty cops in Fbg and there have been many . Detective Weed is a good solid man but FPD still has its bad cops right along with its dirty deputies.
A few years back there was an assault and possible rape case in city limits committed by a deputied dad. Guess who collected and destroyed evidence ? Yes the mans son who is a deputy and was out of juricdiction . The Texas Rangers were involved but instead of working with the victims family and medical staff who said the victim was assualted and raped they only worked with the deputy and a detective with FPD. The man in question has a history of stalking , b&e and other sexual related crimes. The woman was in a coma for weeks and medical staff said somebody shot her up with insulin (a new date rape tactic) . The woman was not diabetic but the attacker is. Thanks to FPD we have a free rapist in town.

Unknown said...

Well just to add another naughty notch on fbg's dirty bedpost,how about the fact that a Gillespie county female resident happen to of been on scene of an undercover drug bust was being detained while her cousin,(the target of operation) was being arressted. She somehow stole one of the detectives cellphones&later it was outed by another female who had pending charges.she worked with her attorney & FBI to get a deal of her own&having no direct correlation of having or obtaing the phone,she still used it for her benifit.the investigation of the inappropriate conversations of nearly half the p.d.,proving all the dirt done by dirty cops,the issue was determined an administrative issue.bogus if you ask me!Tim Bobo,the lead drug detective at the time,is the dirtiest of all,literally took it upon himself to go to the home of a fbg man,pull a gun on his elderly mother,put him in cuffs&detain several others with no legal stand point or right to do so all the while demanding the return of the phone.when asked for warrant since the officers begun to illegally search the man's residence on Ettie St,Bobo then called the chief of police to obtain one,hower was told to get off that property&for that matter off Ettie Street that there would be no search warrant issued.nothing was done to these officers who secretly called themselves "the Clansmen" and were heavily involved in extortion,embezzling money&drugs from evidence & even buying personal properties in Virginia&Florida with dirty money.admissions of illeagal searches&seizures.keeping cash&drugs on illeagal stops.false arrests,set ups&a long list of improper police procedure.u name it,these dirt bags that are Gillespie's finest all walked away without even so much as a repramand.go figure!they rely on their local covetted snitches to do their job for them.the ci's are all doped up on meth&out of control still breaking the law&only reporting some of the so called controlled buys because they continue getting high with no police supervision or made to perform routine drug test to prove their just sickens me.