Informants working undercover for the FBI, DEA, and other federal agencies in the ‘paid-for-snitching program’ have their own Powerball Lottery to take a chance at.
But the rules involve ‘dirty work at the crossroad’ because the informants don’t stand a chance of winning the Lottery cash unless they snitch on their fellow brethren.
For many years, federal informants have made millions in the ‘I-snitch-on-you game’ in exchange for court testimony against accused defendants in order for the informant to either have their long-term prison sentence significantly reduced or they outright win their freedom for testifying favorably for prosecutors in criminal cases, especially cases where dope trafficking was the crime itself.
The bigger the fish; the bigger the prize money.
The billion-dollar question is: can federal informants be trusted to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help them, God?
U.S. Lawmakers are fighting to change the federal government informant system to alleviate the potential abuse of taxpayer’s funds in cases where the informants orchestrate a laundry list of lies to help FBI, DEA and ATF agents to make illegitimate criminal cases against accused defendants.
But here’s the lowdown on how federal criminal agencies have spent U.S. citizens’ tax dollars to cull information from informants.
Newly released audited government documents reported by the Inspector General (IG) at the Justice Department showed that not only were informants paid for information to the tune of $548 million by the FBI alone but that many informants also committed 22,800 crimes between 2011 and 2014, according to the Daily Dot and other news media outlets.
Government Agencies Can Legally Authorize Informants to Commit Crimes
In case the public doesn’t know, federal law enforcement agencies can legally authorize informants to commit crimes with the permission of their controlling agent, according to a 2015 audit by the General Accountability Office(GAO).
The GAO report lays the guidelines out in government terminology:
“Since 1980, the Guidelines have permitted agencies to authorize informants to engage in activities that would otherwise constitute crimes under federal, state, or local law if someone without such authorization engaged in these same activities.”
For example, in the appropriate circumstances, an agency could authorize an informant to purchase illegal drugs from someone who is the target of a drug-trafficking investigation.
Such conduct, the report states, is termed, “otherwise illegal activity.”
In particular, the guidelines prohibit agencies from authorizing an informant to participate in an act of violence, obstruction of justice, and other enumerated unlawful activities.
Released documents show the Feds spent a whopping $548 million of taxpayer money to pay off informants working for the FBI, DEA, and ATF, between 2011 and 2018.
In reference to DEA paying money to informants in the narcotics underworld in exchange for information on other criminals in the illegal trafficking industry former federal prosecutor William Cowden said in an article published by Bloomberg News, “If you’re giving out cash to people ratting out drug dealers it is quite possible that all you are doing is funding the next drug deal.”
Cowden defended the system’s practices of dealing with informants by explaining how informants and plea bargains have always been used as part of U.S. criminal justice. “We cut deals all the time; the system works that way,” the ex-prosecutor concluded.
Crimes Committed By Federal Informants
Earlier this year, unclassified government documents discovered FBI informants committed 9,600 crimes during the 2017 and 2018 time period. A bizarre crime happened last year when an armed militia group conspired with FBI and ATF informants to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Witmer.
The ringleader Adam Fox claimed he was entrapped and wouldn’t have attempted to commit any crimes had it not been for the FBI informants. For example, defense attorneys representing the accused men said the FBI informants even purchased explosives to execute the job. The New York Times reported at least two FBI informants were involved with the Mob during the riot attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.
American Greatness reporter Julie Kelly recalled in her piece about the New York Times story, “The FBI had at least one informant among the group of Proud Boys who marched on the Capitol on January 6.” Kelly continued to quote the New York Times article by saying, “The informant, according to confidential documents furnished to the paper, started working with the FBI in July 2020 and was in close contact with his FBI handler before, during, and after the Capitol protest.”
“The FBI also had an additional informant with ties to another Proud Boys chapter that took part in the sacking of the Capitol,” they wrote, Kelly reported in her article.
During recent Congressional testimony, Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) activated a video montage of a man encouraging protestors in D.C. to rush into the Capitol Building on January 6.
When Rep. Massie asked Attorney General Merrick Garland if the man in the video was an FBI agent-provocateur, Garland declined to comment on the grounds the case was an ongoing investigation. Expect more intriguing details about the ongoing FBI matters related to the insurrection of the U.S. Capitol earlier this year.
IG 2016 Audit of Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)
The Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General (IG) denounced the government’s use of informants working in the U.S. and in foreign countries. The IG, after the completion of an exhaustive audit, issued a scathing report about the informant programs as riddled with problems and potential fraud.
“The DEA didn’t adequately oversee payments to its sources, which exposes the DEA to an unacceptably increased potential for fraud, waste, and abuse, particularly given the frequency with which DEA offices utilize and pay confidential sources,” the report indicated.
To make the point clearer, the Inspector General investigators said that from fiscal years 2011 to 2015, the DEA paid approximately $9.4 million to at least 800 former sources who were no longer providing information to the agency and that the agency failed to accurately track sources’ activities.
The IG further reported the DEA, “did not document proper justifications for all source payments.”
A DEA spokesman refuted the allegations saying they monitor payments to informants and track all progress related to information provided during investigations.
More disturbing evidence surfaced when the IG discovered the DEA condones the payments of “sub-sources,” namely the individuals who were recruited and paid by DEA’s informants.
The IG condemned the practice saying it, “increases the chance that individuals may be conducting unauthorized illegal activity on the DEA’s behalf.”
DEA claimed to have responded quickly to the audit by enforcing “notable changes to its policies and launched a formal confidential source coordination training programs.”
The IG report breaks down the funds doled out to informants:
FBI paid an estimated $294 million to informants beginning in 2012 up to 2018.
DEA paid $237 million between 2011-2015, while ATF paid around $17.2 million during 2012-2015 to informants.
Translated to yearly payments from 2012 to 2018 the FBI spent an average of $42 million on informant sources
Long-term informants comprised 20 percent of its intelligence relationships (Source: DOJ IG 2019)
The ATF paid $4.3 million annually to 1,855 informants from 2012-2015, which means each informant made $2,318 for successive years. (Source: DOJ IG report 2017).
DEA employed 18,000 informants, many earning up to $1 million.
“One federal agency, the DEA, had over 18,000 active confidential sources assigned to its domestic offices, with over 9000 of those receiving approximately $237million in payments for information or services provided to the DEA – between October 1, 2010, and September 30, 2015 (Source: 2016 DOJ IG Report).
The IG report further sheds light on transportation employees moonlighting as government informants.
“During this audit, we found that between 2011 and 2015, the DEA actually used at least 33 Amtrak employees and eight TSA employees as sources, paying the Amtrak employees over $1.5 million and the TSA employees over $94,000.”
Another Amtrak employee was paid $962,615 between 2010 and 2015 to be a confidential source, which the IG called “a substantial waste of government funds.” The IG points out that the same information the DEA paid the informant for “could have been obtained by DEA at no cost through a joint task force with the Armtrak Police.”
This case exemplifies why closer oversight of federal agents and their informants is needed. Closer monitoring of payments that are made to informants could eliminate abuse of taxpayer money.
A group supervisory DEA agent in Atlanta, Georgia identified as Keith Cromer came under fire a few years ago over excessive payments made to a female informant. During a 2017 Congressional Oversight Committee hearing on confidential informants, then-Chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) said:
“A court released the testimony of one confidential informant in Atlanta who received $212,000 from the DEA from 2011 to 2013. She testified to a sexual relationship with the DEA supervisor Keith Cromer who allegedly convinced his subordinates to falsify the report to justify the payment.”
The discovery of the scandal hit full force when attorneys representing four men on several related narcotic charges fought to get them off the hook in Missouri. The men were identified as Dionne L. Gatling, Andre Alphonso Rush, Timothy Lamont Rush and Lorenzo Gibbs who were indicted based on the alleged information provided by the female informant at center stage of the brewing scandal.
Added: a St. Louis Federal in 2014, vehemently challenged the veracity of the female informant’s information that she gave the authorities, according to the St. Louis Dispatch.
Further, the attorneys argued, that the terrible misconduct of Atlanta-based DEA agents, particularly Keith Cromer, who had sex with the informant involved in their client’s cases and paid the woman a total of $212,000 of questionable taxpayer money should add into the judge’s decision to dismiss all charges against the accused drug dealers.
Defense attorneys argued to the judge that since the entire investigation began with DEA claims about what CS1 knew, and (that) those alleged claims were wholly or partially false, and that all evidence against their clients as a result of CS1 information provided to DEA agents who later obtained evidence from the wiretaps should be thrown out of court against their clients.
In court motions filed by attorneys the motion said the questionable information from the woman known as “CS1” served as the basis for the initiation of the DEA investigation against the accused men. The acronym “CS1” stands for ‘confidential source 1.’
“The supervisor allegedly had personal and sexual relationships with two confidential (female) sources, made improper payments to CS1 and falsified DEA reports to justify the payments,” an attorney said.
The attorneys separately explained how the female informant had, in fact, dealt with one of the men charged in the drug ring years earlier but further the attorneys said the informant had no current information about the specific defendant when she provided information to the DEA which gave the agents the opportunity to articulate a warrant to activate wiretaps on the man’s phone.
Added: The federal superseding charges against Gatling and Andre Rush allege they were two in the St. Louis area.
Prosecutors accused Gatling of ordering the shooting of Theodis Howard, 41, in St. Louis on April 5, 2010, allegedly because Howard cooperated in an investigation that led to a lengthy prison sentence for Gatling’s brother, Deron Gatling. Prosecutors further said Dionne Gatling and Andre Rush executed the conspiracy to kill Terrance Morgan, 41, also in St. Louis on May 2, 2013, because they suspected Morgan would cooperate with authorities against them.
DEA agent Keith Cromer testified under oath in Judge Sharon Padmore Mensah’s court that the relationship with the informant violated DEA’s policy prohibiting more than an “arm’s length relationship” with sources. Cromer insisted he never had sex with the female informant or falsified reports to justify $212,000 in payments to the woman.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Mensah concluded that the testimony of DEA agent Keith Cromer who denied having an affair with the female informant was “not entirely credible,” in light of the testimony of the female informant indicating that she and Agent Cromer had sex, took trips together, including intimate photographs of Agent Cromer taken with the informant’s phone and the photo was left there on the phone for viewing.
Judge Mensah dimmed the defense attorneys’ hope of having the charges thrown out against their clients by ruling the attorneys hadn’t proved “that any government agent or any informant acting as a government agent deliberately or recklessly included a false statement in an affidavit that led to a wiretap in the case.”
In February 2019, all four defendants charged in the federal cases pled guilty; Dionne Gatlin got 27 years in prison while Timothy Rush pled for 15 years; and Andre Rush got 25 years behind bars in a federal joint. All three men pled guilty to an array of drug-related trafficking charges including admitting their guilt in the two murders. Lorenzo Gibbs pled guilty and received 15 years as well.
New Informant Laws Proposed
On April 4, 2017, U.S. Congressman Stephen F. Lynch (D-Boston) introduced House Bill (H.R.) 1857, called the Confidential Informant Accountability Act. Lynch called for robust congressional oversight into the selection and use of confidential informants by the DEA, ATF, FBI, and other federal law enforcement agencies.
“Law enforcement agencies are spending millions of dollars on confidential informant programs and Congress does not have information on who these informants are or if they committed any crimes and whether they have been properly vetted,” Lynch said during the hearing at the Capitol.
Lynch also petitioned federal agencies to disclose the types of crimes their confidential informants have been committing and how much money they’ve been given.
“There is no accountability because it’s a cash business,” Lynch pointed out.
A DEA spokesman said at the time in 2017 that the agency has a specific office to investigate allegations of employee misconduct.
Citing prior incidents of questionable taxpayer funds paid to informants working to help investigators arrest other criminals the supporters of the bill explains what it all entails.
“This bill would provide increased transparency between executive agencies that employ confidential informants and Congress. This transparency is necessary to equip Congress with the information it needs to conduct meaningful oversight of these programs,” said Elizabeth Hempowicz, Policy Counsel of the Project on Government Oversight(POGO). So far, the Lynch bill appears in limbo but if it passes there will be an update on the matter.
At the University of California at Irvine, prominent law professor Alexandra Natapoff, and the author of a 2011 published book about informants, sums up the whole situation best when she said in a Bloomberg news article, “The issuance of bounties, rewards, and leniency is so secretive (that) the truth is we have no idea what the maximum rewards are,” Natapoff said.
“That intersection is a troubling aspect of our criminal system which makes it seems like justice is for sale.”
And, to add, court justice in America shouldn’t be for sale.
Criminal Justice Reporter Clarence Walker Can be Reached at: [emailprotected]
Do confidential informants get paid? Yes, in some circumstances the police will pay a person to be a CI. Believe it or not — it is legal for law enforcement to pay a government snitch!Who is the FBI informant? ›
Informants are individuals who supply information to the FBI on a confidential basis. They are not hired or trained employees of the FBI, although they may receive compensation in some instances for their information and expenses.Are police informants protected? ›
COURT DECISIONS FORM THE BASIS FOR POLICE GUIDELINES THAT DEAL WITH THE PROTECTION OF POLICE INFORMANT CONFIDENTIALITY AND POLICE USE OF INFORMANTS TO ESTABLISH PROBABLE CAUSE FOR ARREST OR SEARCH. ALTHOUGH CONFIDENTIALITY OF INFORMANTS HAS LONG BEEN AFFIRMED IN FEDERAL LAW, IT IS NOT ABSOLUTE.How much does a confidential informant get paid in Ohio? ›
- Something feels “off.” Something about them just doesn't line up. ...
- Despite the misgivings of some members, the individual quickly rises to a leadership position. ...
- S/he photographs actions, meetings, and people that should not be photographed. ...
- S/he is a liar.
Giving police information as an informant can help reduce your sentence, according to Snitching.org, but it's not an automatic process. If you want to get the benefit, you have to offer a good deal. When you really break it down, being a snitch is a form of plea bargain.What do cops call their informants? ›
Informants are people who confidentially give information about suspected criminal activity to law enforcement. They are often called “rats' or “snitches.” Police and prosecutors often use informants to build a strong criminal case against someone.What is an undercover informant called? ›
A CONFIDENTIAL INFORMANT IS A SECRET SOURCE WHO, THROUGH A CONTACT OFFICER, SUPPLIES INFORMATION ON CRIMINAL ACTIVITY TO THE POLICE OR LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENT. THERE ARE BASICALLY TWO TYPES OF POLICE INVESTIGATION, REACTIVE AND PROACTIVE.What are the four types of informant? ›
There are four types of informant: a member of the public, a victim of a crime, a member of an organized criminal group or police officers themselves. Informants are also referred to as "justice collaborators" or they may be known as "cooperating witnesses" (UNODC, 2008).What benefits do informants get? ›
Advantages of Becoming a Confidential Informant
The benefits provided to confidential informants include facing lesser charges or possibly acquiring a totally clean record. You can also obtain satisfaction from taking down drug operations and gaining the trust and appreciation of law enforcement.
The Rival Informant. He is one who earns a living by questionable means and wishes, by informing, to eliminate his competitor. 7. The Mercenary Informant. He informs for money or for some other material gain.How much does the government pay informants? ›
“Long term” informants comprised 20 percent of its intelligence relationships (source: DOJ IG 2019 report). The ATF employed 1,855 informants who were paid $4.3 million annually (FY2012-2015). Therefore, on average, each informant made $2,318 for the year.Do informants get immunity? ›
An informant is generally someone who has contacted the criminal justice system because of a criminal lifestyle, but is granted immunity from appropriate criminal justice sanctions in return for giving the police information about persons in the criminal underworld or participating with undercover police in illicit ...How much do confidential informants get paid in Wisconsin? ›
How much does a Confidential Informant make in Green Bay, Wisconsin? As of Nov 8, 2022, the average annual pay for a Confidential Informant in Green Bay is $75,442 a year.Can a confidential informant record you? ›
This holds true even if you merely admit to committing a crime and the person did not witness you commit a crime. A confidential informant may wear a wire, which means they taped your conversation and it can become evidence in the court case against you.How do you tell if someone is setting you up with under cover? ›
Unmarked police vehicles can often be recognized by features like municipal plates, clusters of antennas, and dark tinted windows. When you're scrutinizing a could-be cop in person, look out for short, neatly-groomed military hairstyles, heavy-duty boots, or baggy clothing with lots of pockets.Are informants allowed to break the law? ›
The FBI and attorney general's rules allow FBI officials and informants to disregard the law in undercover work but prevent certain conduct such as violence and illegal wiretaps and searches. The government may approve illegal measures such as the movement of drugs, payment of bribes and selling of stolen goods.Can informant be accused? ›
Informant is not an eye witness to the alleged...vide Annexure - 2 to the present application. It is further submitted that the petitioner is the informant in a case in which the informant of the present case was made accused.What crime gives the most jail time? ›
Violent crimes – Violent crimes, such as domestic violence, rape, kidnapping, manslaughter, murder, or assault carry severe penalties. A person accused of a violent crime may be facing many years behind bars—maybe life.Does snitches get stitches a threat? ›
Snitches get stitches is a phrase used in modern language describing a threat if someone informs on them or another party. The term has its most common use in street culture, and it's also in many movies and music, particularly rap music.
To snitch indirectly by talking in an excessively loud voice, it was originally prison jargon. For example, instead of telling on you outright, a dry snitcher in the workplace speaks loud enough so that your boss or supervisor can hear what he or she was going to tell on you for, and gets you in trouble anyway.What is another name of informant? ›
OTHER WORDS FOR informant
1 source, adviser, tipster.
They offer their services to identify undercover agents and learn about investigative methods, targets, and intelligence. Restricted use informants include juveniles, individuals on probation or parole, current or former drug addicts, felons with multiple convictions, and individuals known to be unreliable.Is informant a whistleblower? ›
A whistleblower is a legal term for an employee who reports his or her employer's violation of the law to authorities. An informant is a more generic term, which could also include individuals who report a wrongdoer to settle a personal score.What is double crosser informant? ›
Double-Crosser Informants - he/she gives information, but the objective is also to get more information from the police and their activities. 7. Women Informants - She could be an associate of the syndicate. She uses her body to obtain more information.What is an untested informant? ›
(d) Untested Informant means any informant who has provided information based on his/ her personal knowledge, where the information provided has not been corroborated by a member of this Department or another law enforcement agency.Which of the following is a major problem with the use of informants? ›
Problems with the use of informants in law enforcement
The most significant issue is their lack of reliability. Confidential informants who are compensated by police for information have an incentive to tell police and prosecutors what they want to hear rather than the truth.
The purpose of this rule is to avoid the mutilation, alteration and contamination (MAC) of the physical evidences found at the crime scene.What is the golden rule in the crime scene? ›
When it comes to crime scenes, the golden rule is “Do not touch, alter, move, or transfer any object at the crime scene unless it is properly marked, measured, sketched and/or photographed.” This rule is to be followed every day, in every scene.How is an informant protected? ›
Under California evidence law, prosecutors have a privilege to refuse to identify—and to prevent other people from identifying—a person who has furnished information to the government about criminal activity.
These money-motivated in- formants, known as mercenaries, are usually the most willing to fol- low the directions of their handlers. Mercenaries frequently possess other motives as well. Furthermore, repentance can be a motivating factor. Informants of- ten claim they cooperate in order to repent for past crimes.What impact does an informant have on an investigation? ›
Informants serve a valuable law enforcement function as they have access to certain groups and activities that traditional law enforcement and undercover agents may not. When their use is carefully monitored and regulated, the information can lead to valuable intelligence information, search warrants and arrests.What happens when you become an informant? ›
Usually what's involved with the confidential informant is that, You give all the information you know to the police. For example, who you bought from all the deals and stuff like that. You go and make what they call controlled buys for the police where the police are observing you.What is the difference between an informant and an agent? ›
Undercover work may involve one or more of: informants, who are usually suspects who have "flipped" and are exchanging information for consideration in terms of charges or at sentencing; paid agents, who are insiders receiving cash for information; or, undercover officers, who are police officers trying to infiltrate ...Is mercenary a war crime? ›
Under international humanitarian law, being a mercenary does not constitute a specific crime. The same holds true for the Statute of the International Criminal Court. If arrested, mercenaries are not entitled to the status of prisoners of war, but the detaining power can decide to treat them according to this status.What is an incentivized informant? ›
In-custody or “jailhouse” informants are detained or incarcerated individuals who provide testimony—usually about how a defendant confessed to a crime— often with the expectation of receiving benefits.Do confidential informants pay taxes? ›
If the State Department adheres strictly to the letter of the law, the answer is yes. Since 1913, reward money has been subject to taxation, barring an act of Congress to exempt a specific reward.Does FBI pay for tips? ›
The FBI now offers a minimum — a reward of up to $100,000 for information leading to a direct arrest of anyone on that list. Crime Stoppers lets people call in anonymous tips to its programs across the United States.What is pocket immunity? ›
The latter term, often referred to as "pocket immunity" or "letter immunity," is immunity conferred by agreement with the witness. For example, the government and a cooperating defendant or witness might enter into a plea agreement or a non-prosecution agreement if the defendant or witness agrees to cooperate.Do confidential informants wear wires? ›
Typically the police are in plain clothes in an undercover vehicle.. All of this is a disguise so that you cannot know the police are watching. The CI may be wearing a wire or recording device. The recording devices used have become very sophisticated and are virtually undetectable.
What is an Unwitting Informant? A person who does not know that he is providing information to law enforcement.Do informants get money? ›
Informants are individuals who supply information to the FBI on a confidential basis. They are not hired or trained employees of the FBI, although they may receive compensation in some instances for their information and expenses.How do you become a federal informant? ›
The most common way to become an FBI informant is to be approached by the FBI. If the FBI has identified you as a person who has a connection to a criminal enterprise, activity or target, the Bureau may approach you to provide it with information.What is the cardinal rule when it comes to working with informants? ›
R.J.: This is a cardinal rule: Once an informant starts to talk, don't write it down at this point. The reason is, when investigators put pencil or pen to paper, a fear factor can take over and the informant can say to himself, "Oh, Boy… look what's happening!How can you tell if someone is a informant? ›
- Something feels “off.” Something about them just doesn't line up. ...
- Despite the misgivings of some members, the individual quickly rises to a leadership position. ...
- S/he photographs actions, meetings, and people that should not be photographed. ...
- S/he is a liar.
NDPS Act: Can informant and investigating officer be the same? Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court answers. The Court held that there is no automatic apprehension of bias when the informant and the investigation officer (IO) is the same, and such cases will have to be decided on a case-to-case basis.How do informants lead to wrongful convictions? ›
Informants are frequently given incentives, such as payment or reduced jail sentences, to provide testimony against a defendant, but these incentives are not always shared with the jury. Such testimony is often the central evidence by which innocent persons have been wrongfully convicted.How much can you make from snitching? ›
IRS states that if a tip turns out to be fruitful, the whistleblower — or a snitch, if you ask me — can get between 15 and 30% of the recovered unpaid tax amount.Do confidential informants make money? ›
The FBI's Confidential Human Source Policy Guide makes clear what anecdotal evidence in criminal cases has suggested: Informants can make a lot of money working for the bureau. A special agent-in-charge has the authority to pay each of his office's informants up to $100,000 per fiscal year.Does the IRS pay for snitching? ›
Since the inception of the Whistleblower Office in 2007, the IRS has paid more than $1.05 billion in over 2,500 awards to whistleblowers. The information provided by these individuals led to the successful collection of over $6.39 billion from non-compliant taxpayers.
In general, the IRS will pay an award of at least 15 percent, but not more than 30 percent of the proceeds collected attributable to the information submitted by the whistleblower.What are the three types of informants? ›
There are four types of informant: a member of the public, a victim of a crime, a member of an organized criminal group or police officers themselves. Informants are also referred to as "justice collaborators" or they may be known as "cooperating witnesses" (UNODC, 2008).What is a secret informant? ›
A CONFIDENTIAL INFORMANT IS A SECRET SOURCE WHO, THROUGH A CONTACT OFFICER, SUPPLIES INFORMATION ON CRIMINAL ACTIVITY TO THE POLICE OR LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENT.What is a confidential informant called? ›
An informant (also called an informer) is a person who provides privileged information about a person or organization to an agency. The term is usually used within the law-enforcement world, where informants are officially known as confidential human sources (CHS), or criminal informants (CI).