Director of Crime Stoppers held in contempt of court - WSVN-TV - 7NEWS Miami Ft. Lauderdale News, Weather, Deco

Director of Crime Stoppers held in contempt of court

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Director of Crime Stoppers Richard "Dick" Masten Director of Crime Stoppers Richard "Dick" Masten

MIAMI (WSVN) -- The Director of Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers has been arrested and is being held in contempt of court for failing to divulge information and eating a piece of paper that had the details about a tipster that had called into Crime Stoppers.

According to Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers, former Police Chief Richard "Dick" Masten and Judge Victoria Brennan have been going back and forth for several days about a particular tipster.

Brennan called for Masten to come into court Friday to meet her at her chambers to go over the case.

Masten, a director since 2008, cited a case law backing the Crime Stoppers program and said he couldn't divulge information to be reviewed in closed court to determine whether it would then be discoverable as evidence. "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.

He then ate a piece of paper that held the tipster's name. "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.

According to sources, Masten will be held behind bars for 14 days.

Masten was heard inside the courtroom saying to the prosecutor, "What is personal to me, is the promise," Masten said. He added, "Some of these tipsters could end up dead. Not on my watch."

The incident is all stemming from a cocaine possession case, State vs. Lissette Alvarez. Alvarez was arrested in 2013 and charged with cocaine possession. "But 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.

Masten said judges have honored the privacy of tips in previous cases. "I can tell you that some of these things that contain information that would leave tipsters dead," he said in court.

Brennan's order read in part, "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."

"But I think sometimes compassion can cloud judgment," Brennan said.

Questions arose as if tipsters would think twice before giving out potential helpful information if that information were to find itself in a court room. "I wouldn't mind," one person said.

"That's wrong," one woman said. "I feel like that's kinda manipulation."

Crime Stoppers tips have helped catch attackers and killers in the past.

According to Masten, giving up tips could jeopardize future busts. "If you give somebody your word, you keep your word," he said.

According to the Crime Stoppers website, a slogan reads, "You will remain anonymous. We want your information, not your name."

Masten was allowed to go home until Thursday, March 20, when a hearing has been set. His 14-day sentence has been stayed until the case can be addressed.


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