DEA Drug Informant Is Caught Lying 

DEA Drug Informant Is Caught Lying 
Posted by FoM on July 11, 2000 at 21:32:01 PT
By David Scott, Associated Press Writer
Source: Washington Post
In 16 years on the street, working in cities across the country as an informant for the Drug Enforcement Administration, Andrew Chambers put up some big numbers. Seized: 1.5 tons of cocaine and $6 million in assets. Arrested and convicted: 445 drug dealers and other criminals. Earned: at least $2.2 million in rewards and other compensation. 
But Chambers' detractors can point to some big numbers of their own: He has been arrested at least 16 times, and lied over and over on the witness stand about those arrests  as well as about his educational background and whether he had paid taxes on his DEA earnings. Because of those lies, prosecutors have dropped charges against 15 alleged drug dealers around the country, and at least 12 others who were convicted in part on Chambers' testimony are demanding release. Those numbers could grow. The DEA is going through each transcript of every trial Chambers has ever testified at, looking for lies. "It's information that we think we have an ethical responsibility, if not a legal responsibility, to be able to provide to prosecutors who still have pending cases," said DEA spokesman Terry Parham. "This information, on top of that, needs to be turned over to the defense." The DEA insists Chambers never lied about the drug deals he busted up. But Dean Steward, the former federal public defender who is generally credited with bringing Chambers' lying to light, questioned that. "When you got a guy that would lie about just about everything else, why do you think he would tell the truth about what led up to the deal?" Steward said. "That's just common sense." In any case, Chambers' lies deprived defense attorneys of information they were legally entitled to have to try to undermine his credibility in front of the jury. The DEA considers Chambers, 43, the most valuable undercover informant in its history. But he was dropped in February, and his actions are forcing the agency to take another look at how it uses informants in the war on drugs. One thing the DEA has determined is that Chambers started lying in 1985, one year after he began work as an informant. The agency also determined that DEA agents knew he was lying in 1985 but continued to use him without telling prosecutors and defense attorneys about the problem. There is no telephone listing for Chambers in the St. Louis area. But Chambers appeared recently on ABC's "20/20" and took questions during an online chat after the broadcast. He insisted he lied only about himself. "I was truthful about what happened when the deal was going on," he said. "I didn't think that what I said about myself was that important. Everything that happened during the deal was recorded on video and I was accompanied by federal agents. The guys were drug dealers. They had prior histories before I even met them." According to Parham, Chambers was embarrassed to admit he had been convicted of soliciting a prostitute, and arrested on suspicion of assault, forgery, writing bad checks and impersonating a federal agent. Chambers had also testified that he had paid his income taxes; it turns out he didn't pay taxes on $100,000 the DEA had paid him over six years. He had also testified that he studied criminal justice at Iowa Western Community College; the school has no record of his attending. The high school dropout from suburban St. Louis got his start with the DEA after a stint in the Marines. He walked in to the St. Louis field office seeking to join up as an agent. Without a four-year college degree, Chambers wasn't eligible. But the DEA signed him up as an informant. Chambers' work took him all over the country conducting "reverse sting" operations. He would fly into a city, and using rolls of cash, brand-name clothing and luxury cars, make contact with drug dealers and sell them cocaine. The DEA would make the arrest and pay Chambers for his expenses and his information. His highest fee: $250,000. "He built his reputation on being good  based on the results being achieved in both federal and state courts," Parham said. "The fact is, he had an innate ability to infiltrate some of our country's most dangerous and violent trafficking organizations." It was Steward who first drew attention to Chambers. Representing a man charged in a murder-for-hire case in Southern California, Steward filed a Freedom of Information lawsuit and obtained background on Chambers in 1999. Now Steward is trying to use Chambers' lies to get the evidence against his client thrown out. So far, no convictions stemming from Chambers' testimony have been overturned. Chambers is unrepentant. "I don't know how the DEA or the defense lawyers or prosecutors feel, but I did a good job and maybe now some person's kid won't be touched by these drug guys," he said during the online chat. Parham, in fact, considers Chambers a hero for his DEA work: "For what he did for the American public in working for us in the fight against drug trafficking, he has to be considered as that. Without a doubt." St. Louis, MissouriBy David ScottAssociated Press WriterTuesday , July 11, 2000  2000 The Associated Press Related Articles:Top U.S. Drug Snitch is a Legend and a Liar Agency Looks Again At An Informer's Career Agency Investigates Its Own Cover-Up
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Comment #1 posted by Dan B on July 12, 2000 at 00:58:06 PT:
DEA Motto: We'll Fraud You Any Way We Can!
"It's information that we think we have an ethical responsibility, if not a legal responsibility, to be able to provide to prosecutors who still have pending cases," said DEA spokesman Terry Parham. "This information, on top of that, needs to be turned over to the defense." Of course they make these concessions, now that they (the DEA) have been caught. Funny how they believe all of his testimony against others to be true, even in the face of lies he told about himself while under oath (an offense against which even the president is not immune, remember?). Yet, these same people will hold the testimony of a drug user to be unreliable simply because the person uses drugs, regardless of the person's history of telling the truth. By the way, that $250,000 fee he received for lying under oath? Our tax dollars paid for it.
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