The director of the Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers was arrested and held in contempt of court Friday after he refused to reveal the identify of a tipster — even eating a piece of paper to prevent the judge from obtaining the details.
WSVN-TV reported that former Police Chief Richard "Dick" Masten and Judge Victoria Brennan have been debating a particular cocaine possession case, State vs. Lissette Alvarez, for several days.
"Ms. Alvarez, in this case, has every right to confront her accusers. But more particularly in this case, it's not the accuser, but the evidence that the State will use against her," said Alvarez's attorney, Jean-Michel D'Escoubet.
But Crime Stoppers promises to keep tipsters anonymous and Masten wasn't going to put their organization's reputation at risk, according to WSVN-TV.
"There is a possibility that looking at certain documents, a defendant could work that case backwards and put the tipster at peril, and I'm not gonna let that happen," he said.
[sharequote align="center"]"There is a possibility...a defendant could work that case backwards and put the tipster at peril..."[/sharequote]
According to WSVN-TV, the former police chief cited case law backing the Crime Stoppers program to no avail.
Thus, in court Friday, Masten ate a piece of paper to protect the tipster's identity, earning him a 14-day jail sentence, according to WSVN-TV sources.
"I was afraid that I was going to be taken into custody and that would be part of the property and there it goes," Masten said.
Brennan, however, contended that "the court would be remiss to turn a blind eye to a flagrant refusal to honor a court order, and give more value to an individual's opinion on what is right, than to the dictates of the laws."
"I think sometimes compassion can cloud judgement," she added.
Masten, nevertheless, remains unwavered.
"I can tell you that some of these things that contain information that would leave tipsters dead," he said in court.
The former police chief was allowed to go home and had his 14-day jail sentence stayed until a Thursday hearing.
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