Fla. Crime Stoppers director eats paper rather than reveal sourc - WFLA News Channel 8

Fla. Crime Stoppers director eats paper rather than reveal source

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Crime Stoppers executive director Richard Masten ate paper in court rather than reveal the source on an anonymous tip. Courtesy WTVJ Crime Stoppers executive director Richard Masten ate paper in court rather than reveal the source on an anonymous tip. Courtesy WTVJ
MIAMI, FL (WFLA) -

A Crime Stoppers director in South Florida gained national attention for eating a paper containing an anonymous tip rather than turning it over in court this week – but Tampa Bay tips have also been sought out by those who want their sources revealed.

Usually, it’s a defense attorney seeking the information, said Lisa Haber, the program coordinator for Crime Stoppers of Tampa Bay.

“I have received many a subpoena to present that tip to the defense,” she said.

When that happens, Crime Stoppers asks the state to file motions to keep the information from being released.

“Anonymity is the cornerstone of Crime Stoppers,” Haber said.

Usually, the defense is looking for the source of the tip who can be turned into a witness who can be questioned on the stand, she said.

But Crime Stoppers doesn’t collect names or even phone numbers from tipsters, only identifying them with a special code number. Even so, a tip could have some identifiers if only certain people knew the information, so Crime Stoppers wants to keep it secret.

As a non-profit organization, Crime Stoppers doesn’t fall under public records laws, Haber said.

Even payments for anonymous tips that lead to arrest are cloaked in secrecy. The organization has arrangements with banks to cut the approved checks according to those “code numbers,” not names.

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