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Informant's lies could prove beneficial for drug convict

Many residents in Tampa, Florida have probably seen a crime procedural on TV where an informant helps the police with a case. The informant may be a bit disheveled; but he or she is knowledgeable about "the streets" or "the game" and they can get the information the police require to put away some drug dealer. It all makes for good television; but in the real world, that is rarely the way things work out. Informants do not always have that insider knowledge; and in some cases, they can make things up (or act nefariously) to try to appease the police.

It can result in innocent people being persecuted for a crime, even though the surrounding story does not add up. That could be the case in a recent appeal of the federal drug crimes against a 46-year-old man who was sentenced to nearly 20 years in prison.

A drug informant for the Drug Enforcement Agency was used to convict the 46-year-old on drug conspiracy charges; but that wasn't the only case that the informant worked. In an appeal of the charges by the 46-year-old, it was discovered that the informant no longer works for the DEA. Why?

According to a request under the Freedom of Information Act, the informant lied during another investigation. The DEA cut ties with the man after he took a polygraph and "failed miserably." In that same polygraph test, the informant admitted to officials that he lied about information regarding the case.

This had nothing to do with the 46-year-old's case -- but the informant's reputation is now tarnished. Is that information he provided in the 46-year-old's case reliable? Is it even authentic or true? These are some of the questions any defendant and his lawyer should ask if an informant is involved in their case.

Mark J. O'Brien's cases have been featured in:
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