Phantom Informants

“I’m not saying we willfully violate people’s rights.
It’s just that you get caught up in a whirlwind where
the only thing that’s important is to make seizures,
and you end up cutting corners.”
—Unidentified customs agent following the shooting
of an innocent homeowner during a wrong-door raid

The homes of many American citizens have been raided and searched on the basis of police claiming information from an informant that doesn’t exist.

You may be astounded to learn that, in the past 20 years, at least 40 innocent people have been killed by law enforcement offices taking part in such raids.

Tonight, Mike and Mark speak with Dennis Fitzgerald, an expert on the subject of informant handling, on this profoundly disturbing story.

About the Guest:

Dennis G. Fitzgerald has been assisting the defense bar for more than a decade. He has 35 years experience in both international and domestic law enforcement and law enforcement training. He has served as a police supervisor with the City of Miami Police Department and as a Special Agent with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. He was the co-founder and director of the National Institute for Drug Enforcement Training and a visiting faculty member at the FBI’s International Law Enforcement Training Academy.

Fitzgerald is the author of Informant Law Deskbook (West Publishing, 1997), Informants and Undercover Investigations: A Practical Guide to Law, Policy, and Procedure (CRC Press, 2007), several criminal justice training manuals and related magazine articles, including Inside the Informant File.

Some excerpts from Fitzgerald’s résumé:

Provided counsel to CEE and NIS government and law enforcement officials on the development of initiatives and legislation to combat corruption, organized crime, money laundering and related white-collar crimes. Focused on undercover operations, the use of informants and electronic surveillance. Those countries included Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.

Assisted Lithuania’s Ministry of Interior in the creation of its first Witness Security Program. The initiative has led to the signing of the Baltic States Witness Security Trilateral Agreement. The pact allows for the movement of threatened witnesses between Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania.

Credited by international observers for being instrumental in the development of Lithuania’s first anti-corruption agency, the Special Investigation Service. His efforts continued with assistance to the State Security Service in the design of a national anti-corruption strategy for Lithuania.

EDUCATION:
Seattle University School of Law, J. D., 1988.
Florida International University, B. S., Criminal Justice, 1974.
U. S. Drug Enforcement’s National Training Academy, Commissioned as Special Agent, Criminal Investigator, 1974.
City of Miami Police Academy, Commissioned as Police Officer, 1969.

SPECIALIZED TRAINING:
Witness Protection Training, U.S. Marshals Service
International Money Laundering and Asset Forfeiture Training,
National Institute on Economic Crime
Bank Secrecy Act Compliance and Money Laundering and Asset Forfeiture Training, National Institute on Economic Crime
Financial Manipulation Analysis Training, ANACAPA Sciences,
Miami-Dade Police Training Institute
DEA/FBI Asset Removal Training, DEA National Training Center
I.R.S. Financial Investigation of Economic Crime
Financial Manipulation Analysis Training
Wiretap and Electronic Surveillance
Electronic Surveillance Training, National Institute on Economic Crime
Management of Drug Investigation Training
Conspiracy, RICO, and Continuing Criminal Enterprise Training
U.S. Department of Justice
Drug Diversion Investigation Training
PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE:
U.S. Department of Justice and the American Bar Association Central and East European Law Initiative (DOJ/ABA/CEELI), Anti-Corruption Strategy Coordinator – Armenia, Georgia, Moldova, Russia, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.
Headquartered – Kyiv, Ukraine (2000-2002)

U.S. Department of Justice and American Bar Association Central and East European Law Initiative (DOJ/ABA/CEELI), Criminal Law Liaison. Headquartered – Vilnius, Lithuania (1996-2000)

National Institute for Drug Enforcement Training, Director/Instructor (1989-2000)

U.S. Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration
Special Agent/Criminal Investigator. Planned and conducted both domestic and international investigations of persons and organizations suspected of engaging in the illegal manufacture, diversion, importation, or sale of narcotics or dangerous drugs and related money laundering offenses (1974-1986)

Intelligence Coordinator – The Vice-President’s Joint Task Group. Evaluated overall effectiveness of drug enforcement activities, both domestically and internationally. (1982-1983)

City of Miami Police Department
Police Officer (1969–1970)
Detective (1970–1972)
Sergeant (1972–1974)
Group Supervisor, assigned to Federal Office of Drug Abuse Law Enforcement (1973–1974)

PUBLICATIONS:
Informants and Undercover Investigations: A Practical Guide to Law, Policy, and Procedure
CRC Press, New York, 2007

A Practical Guide to Witness Protection
© 2003 Dennis Fitzgerald

Informant Law Deskbook
West Publishing Company, New York, 1999

“Inside the Informant File,” The Champion magazine
National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers

“Snitches, Narcs and Making Cases,” The Champion magazine
National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers

“Informants: Handle With Care,” Narc Officer Magazine
International Narcotics Officers Association

Related Links:

Dennis Fitzgerald’s article on wrong-door raids. (pdf)