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Witness protection programs in America : hearing before the Subcommittee on Crime of the Committee on the Judiciary, House of Representatives, One Hundred Fourth Congress, second session, on witness protection programs in America, November 7, 1996 online

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WITNESS PROTECTION PROGRAMS IN AMERICA

Y 4 J 89/1:104/126

Witness Protection Programs in America, Serial No. 125,
November 7, 1996 (104-2 Hearing) _ _,

iiii.i\itiNG

BEFORE THE

SUBCOMMITTEE ON CRIME

OF THE

COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
HOUSE OP REPRESENTATIVES

ONE HUNDRED FOURTH CONGRESS

SECOND SESSION

ON

WITNESS PROTECTION PROGRAMS IN AMERICA



NOVEMBER 7. 1996




Serial No. 126






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Printed for the use of the Committee on the Judiciary



U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE
57-652 WASHINGTON : 1999



For sale by the U.S. Government Printing Office

Superintendent of Documents, Congressional Sales Office, Washington, DC 20402

ISBN 0-16-059563-0



)\



WITNESS PROTECTION PROGRAMS IN AMERICA



Y 4.J 89/l:10V126

Kitness Protection Programs in America, Serial No. 126,
November 7, 1996 (104-2 Hearing) _^

BEFORE THE

SUBCOMMITTEE ON CRIME

OF THE

COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

ONE HUNDRED FOURTH CONGRESS

SECOND SESSION

ON

WITNESS PROTECTION PROGRAMS IN AMERICA



NOVEMBER 7, 1996



Serial No. 126 c^ci o



DEi




' ^ ^ 1999



^URlin>..



Printed for the use of the Committee on the Judiciary



U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE
57-652 WASHINGTON : 1999



For sale by the U.S. Government Printing Office

Superintendent of Documents, Congressional Sales Office, Washington, DC 20402

ISBN 0-16-059563-0



COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY

HENRY J. HYDE, Illinois, Chairman



CARLOS J. MOORHEAD, California
F. JAMES SENSENBRENNER. Jr..

Wisconsin
BILL McCOLLUM, Florida
GEORGE W. GEKAS, Pennsylvania
HOWARD COBLE, North Carolina
LAMAR SMITH, Texas
STEVEN SCHIFF, New Mexico
ELTON GALLEGLY, California
CHARLES T. CANADY, Florida
BOB INGLIS, South Carolina
BOB GOODLATTE, Virginia
STEPHEN E. BUYER, Indiana
MARTIN R. HOKE, Ohio
SONNY BONO, Cahfomia
FRED HEINEMAN, North Carolina
ED BRYANT, Tennessee
STEVE CHABOT, Ohio
MICHAEL PATRICK FLANAGAN, lUinois
BOB BARR, Georgia



JOHN CONYERS, Jr., Michigan
PATRICIA SCHROEDER, Colorado
BARNEY FRANK, Massachusetts
CHARLES E. SCHUMER, New York
HOWARD L. BERMAN, California
RICK BOUCHER, Virginia
JOHN BRYANT, Texas
JACK REED, Rhode Island
JERROLD NADLER, New York
ROBERT C. SCOTT, Virginia
MELVIN L. WATT, North Carolina
XAVIER BECERRA, California
ZOE LOFGREN, California
SHEILA JACKSON LEE, Texas
MAXINE WATERS, California



Allan F. Coffey, Jr, General Counsel/ Staff Director
Julian Epstein, Minority Staff Director



Subcommittee on Crime

BILL McCOLLUM, Florida, Chairman

STEVEN SCHIFF, New Mexico CHARLES E. SCHUMER, New York

STEPHEN E. BUYER, Indiana ROBERT C. SCOTT, Virginia

HOWARD COBLE, North Carolina ZOE LOFGREN. California

FRED HEINEMAN, North Carolina SHEILA JACKSON LEE, Texas

ED BRYANT, Tennessee MELVIN L. WATT. North Carolina
STEVE CHABOT. Ohio
BOB BARR. Georgia

Paul J. McNulty, Chief Counsel
Glenn R. Schmitt, Counsel
Daniel J. Bryant, Counsel
Nicole R. Nason, Counsel
Tom Diaz, Minority Counsel



(II)



CONTENTS



HEARING DATE



Page

November 7, 1996 1

OPENING STATEMENT

McCollum, Hon. Bill, a Representative in Congress from the State of Florida,

and chairman, Subcommittee on Crime 1

WITNESSES

Callahan, Richard, Prosecuting Attorney, Cole County, Missouri 14

Cummings, Robert E., Assistcmt Commissioner, Florida Department of Law
Enforcement 11

Gierbolini, Miguel E., Deputy Director, Special Investigations Bureau, De-
partment of Justice, Commonwealth of Puerto Rico 6

TKach, Stephen J., Associate Director, Office of Enforcement Operations,
Criminal Division, U.S. Department of Justice 38

LETTERS, STATEMENTS, ETC., SUBMITTED FOR THE HEARING

Callahan, Richard, Prosecuting Attorney, Cole County, Missouri: Prepared

statement 16

Cummings, Robert E., Assistant Commissioner, Florida Department of Law
Enforcement: Prepared statement 13

Gierbolini, Miguel E., Deputy Director, Special Investigations Bureau, De-
partment of Justice, Commonwealth of Puerto Rico: Prepared statement 9

TKach, Stephen J., Associate Director, Office of Enforcement Operations,
Criminal Division, U.S. Department of Justice: Prepared statement 41



(III)



WITNESS PROTECTION PROGRAMS IN
AMERICA



THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 7, 1996

House of Representatives,

Subcommittee on Crime,
Committee on the Judiciary,

Washington, DC.

The subcommittee met, pxirsuant to notice, at 12:40 p.m., in
Council Chambers, City Hall Building, 400 South Orange Avenue,
Orlando, Florida, Hon. Bill McCoUum (chairman of the subcommit-
tee) presiding.

Members present: Representatives Bill McCollvmi, Robert C.
Scott, Bob Barr, and Stephen E. Buyer.

Also present: Dan Bryant, majority counsel; Melanie Sloan, mi-
nority counsel; and Aerin Bryant majority professional staff mem-
ber.

OPENmG STATEMENT OF CHAIRMAN MCCOLLUM

Mr. McCOLLUM. This hearing of the Subcommittee on Crime will
come to order. I will ask everybody to be happy that we are here
in the sunshine today. Our colleagues that have come down from
the North tell me that the weather is not nearly so nice there. I
welcome you to Orlando, gentlemen.

The oversight hearing of this subcommittee today is one that is
of a very important nature to not only Florida and our area, but
to the Nation. I extend a special welcome to everybody who is here.
I want to express my special appreciation to Mayor Glenda Hood
for letting us use these chambers today. We do not often have an
opportunity as congressmen to sit in commission chambers, so my
chair is not hiked up as high, and I do not get to look down as far.
We are more with the people than we normally would be.

Our hearing today provides us with an opportimity to examine
witness protection programs, one of the indispensable tools to com-
bat violent crime. Successful prosecution of cases depends on the
quality of evidence that the State can produce, as well as on the
cooperative testimony of the witnesses.

In the cases of drug trafficking and criminal orgamizational activ-
ity, documentary evidence often is not available. In such cases
prosecutors tend to rely on the testimony of witnesses who were in-
volved in some facet of the illegal operation.

It has long been recognized that in order to prosecute drug traf-
fickers and members of drug orgEuiizations more effectively, pros-
ecutors must be able to encourage witnesses to testily and one of
the important ways of doing so is by offering protection before, dvir-

(1)



ing and even after the judicial proceedings when witnesses fear re-
taHatory action by defendants or associates.

Six States — Colorado, Maryland, Missouri, New Jersey, Rhode Is-
land and Virginia — have enacted witness protection by statute. The
Commonwealth of Puerto Rico also has a witness protection pro-
gram. Certain States such as California, Iowa £uid New York have
some form of a witness protection program that was established
without any legislation.

State witness protection programs vary widely in program so-
phistication and formality. Some States have programs but have
chosen not to fund them such as Virginia. Other States have no
post-trial witness relocation capability. Even those progr£ans that
do have such a capability appear to v£u*y a lot.

For example, it appesu-s that most programs rarely relocate wit-
nesses out of State while others, such as Puerto Rico, do so with
some frequency. There is currently no Federal law addressing the
interstate relocation of witnesses. As such, unless required by State
law, programs are under no obligation to notify local law enforce-
ment of relocated witnesses.

The potential problems associated with failing to provide notifica-
tion were highlighted by the June 15th, 1996, incident in Osceola
County. On this occasion, Florida Highway Patrol troopers and
pladnclothes Puerto Rico police officers moving a witness narrowly
averted a shootout. The Florida troopers thought the officers from
Puerto Rico were criminals posing as FBI agents, while the Puerto
Ricans thought the Florida troopers were assassins sent to kill
their witness.

As a result of this incident, discussions were initiated with the
Puerto Rico Department of Justice leading to a memorandum of
understanding to regulate the relocation of witnesses to Florida.

I was pleased to see the cooperation occurring between the De-
partment of Law Enforcement in Florida and the Puerto Rican De-
partment of Justice in developing this memorandum of understand-
ing.

On a personal note, I appreciate the recent opportunities I have
had to work with the law enforcement leadership in Puerto Rico.
My trip to Puerto Rico this past August has only increased my re-
solve to fight for additional Federal drug interdiction resources to
help restrict the flow of drugs moving through the eastern Carib-
bean and negatively affecting the Island of Puerto Rico, as well as
our part of Florida.

I believe the Osceola incident should serve as a wake-up call for
all of us. As criminzd orgEuiizations become more organized and
gangs proliferate, it is likely that States will be making greater use
of witness protection programs. Consequently, we can expect more,
not less, witness relocations in the future.

The Osceola incident should not cause us to call into question the
use of witness protection programs; rather, it should encourage pro-
grams to be carefully constructed and developed and vigilantly
monitored to ensure that public safety is in no way compromised.

This hearing is not being held with Euiy predetermined plem in
mind to introduce Federal legislation regulating the practice of
Federal witness protection. Nevertheless, given the interstate na-
ture of this practice. Congress has an interest in examining the



programs and asking questions that get to the bottom of incidents
like the one in Osceola County.

In addition to hearing today from witnesses representing the
State's perspective, we will have an opportunity to hear about the
Federal Witness Protection Program. The Federal program was es-
tablished in 1970 and plays a significant role in helping to combat
organized crime, public corruption, and narcotic organizations.

More than 6,600 witnesses and 8,000 of their family members
have been admitted into the progrsun since its inception. The pro-
gram's success has led to duplication in numerous other countries.
The Federal program is noteworthy for its emphasis on protecting
the relocation community fi^om potential harm.

The process for reviewing applicEuit witnesses is rigorous and, in
my view, a model. It includes a determination as to whether the
witness' testimony outweighs any risk of danger to the public fi^om
the witness; psychological examination for all adults entering the
program; a law enforcement assessment of the risk that the wit-
ness may pose to a new community; and the completion of a memo-
randum of underst£uiding between the Department of Justice and
the witness detailing what is expected of the witness while in the
program.

I believe that the Federal Witness Protection Program can serve
as a model to other States in developing their own programs, but
I don't think we should expect that to be the exclusive domain of
the Federal Grovernment. Again, I want to emphasize we are here
today to examine the entire spectrum of witness relocation and wit-
ness protection programs across State lines and in the Federal
Government's aegis. We are not here with any predetermined dis-
position about outcomes whatsoever.

I am particularly impressed by the fact that there has been in
our local media here in Orlando considerable focus on the incident
itself in Osceola County, which is understandable, but perhaps
there has come out of this an exaggerated sense that the Puerto
Rican relocation program is unique. I don't think that it is. I think
we Eire going to hear that today.

I think that we are going to hear that what we are facing with
the interrelationships here could occur in any State in the Union,
and between any number of States at any given time. And so it is
important for us to take a look at this and determine if, indeed.
Congress has a role to play and even if it doesn't, to have the op-
portunity as a fact-finding body to have a public exploration of
these matters.

With that said, I would like to turn to my colleague, Mr. Scott
of Virginia, who has come to join us Eind ask if he has £in opening
comment or two to make.

Mr. Scott. Thank you, Mr. ChEiirman. I do not have a complete
statement, but I would like to thank you for welcoming us to Or-
lando, and we look forward to the testimony.

These witness protection programs are certainly essential in
helping to get prosecutions that could not be possible without the
witness protection program. But sometimes programs like this can
get out of control. There are lots of different programs. Some pro-
tect witnesses just pretrial, some for a lifetime, and they are de-
signed to increase public safety by getting convictions that would



not be possible otherwise. And I join you, Mr. Chairman, in making
sure that the programs — these programs fulfill that goal without
causing more harm than good.

Mr. McCOLLUM. Thank you very much, Mr. Scott.

Mr. Buyer.

Mr. Buyer. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I also thank you for hav-
ing me in Florida, considering it was 35 degrees Euid raining this
morning in Indiana. I want to talk about fairness suid equity. You
get to live in the sunshine while I get to return to snow tonight
when I go back to Indiana. I cadled my wife and they expect snow
flurries, so please enjoy Florida.

Mr. McCoLLUM. We are glad you are down here to promote our
public relations.

Mr. Buyer. I note that there is no exchange rate between the
dollar in Indiana and Florida, so you like our money from the
North.

I want to thank you for this hearing, Mr. Chairman. We were all
involved in our campaigns across America when we got notification
of the hearing down here, and so I was quick to ask what is it?
What is going on? And the first reaction was that, well, there is
a hearing because there is dumping of witnesses into Orlando fi-om
Puerto Rico. And, of course, that is an inflammatory word £uid it
is provocative to our emotions. It compels you to immediately ask
questions. Why wouldn't someone be notified? What kind of wit-
nesses are they?

But also the word "dumping" can be very insensitive. Even if
they were witnesses fi"om Indiana coming down here, I would take
offense to that. I would think that even people from Puerto Rico
could take offense to such words as "dumping' because you do not
want those words to tap or tie into any forms of tendencies of prej-
udice or anything like that. But I will say, you were very helpful
and you sent out a lot of the statements and they were very helpful
in preparing for this hearing, and I want to thank you for holding
this hearing.

I have learned a lot before this has even begun and we will learn
more here. I didn't know there was the lack of coordination among
the States in the witness protection programs, let alone letting
locals know when they are bringing a dangerous situation into a
community. I think a lot of people in America do not realize this
and they thought there was a imified judicial system with coordi-
nation and unification and we are finding out that it just is not so.
So, Mr. Chairman, I thank you for holding this hearing.

Mr. McCOLLUM. You are welcome. And I thank you for coming
out of Indiana, the snowy region, to the sunny climes for this hear-
ing.

Mr. Barr.

Mr. Barr. Thank you, Mr. Chsdrman. I appreciate — as my col-
league fi*om Indiana, I appreciate the materiads that the sub-
committee sent out. They have already been helpful. I have looked
through them and as a former U.S. attorney, I am relatively famil-
iar with the Federal program and also aware of some of the prob-
lems and lack of coordination. I appreciate the opportunity for this
hearing and I am sure through some follow-up work that we will



be doing in the subcommittee and committee level this coming Con-
gress we will get into that a little bit more.

I appreciate your comments that we are looking at this, as al-
ways through the subcommittee's business, with an open mind and
looking to see what problems there are and whether there is in-
deed, as there is here, a proper Federal role that might assist in
developing some better coordination from the interstate £mgle here
of witnesses crossing State lines and being relocated to other juris-
dictions.

I would like to say that I appreciate the opportimity to be here
in the Chairman's jurisdiction, and I also appreciate the oppor-
tunity to see one of your former colleagues, my good friend from
home, former Congressman Buddy Darden. As Yogi Berra said, it
is deja vu all over ag£un. So I feel doubly at home with you, Mr.
Chairmzm, and seeing our good friend. Buddy Darden.

Mr. McCOLLUM. Thank you. I was hoping you would mention
Mr. D£u-den. We are glad to see him, too. Georgia is a next-door
neighbor of ours and we are always happy to have Georgians come
down here. Still, we are impressed more with the expenditure of
money that comes from the northern climes.

With that in mind, I would like to introduce our first pzuiel. We
have two panels of witnesses today. Our first witness is Richard
Callahan. Mr. Callahan began his 24-year career in public service
as the assistant prosecuting attorney for the St. Louis Circuit At-
torney's Office. Since that time, he has served as special prosecutor
in the Cole Coiuity Prosecuting Attorney's Office £uid the Missouri
Attorney General's Office. He is former President of the Missouri
Association of .Prosecuting Attorneys and the former Chairman of
the Criminal Law Committee in the Missoiui Bar Association.

Mr. Callahan is the elected prosecuting attorney for Cole County,
Missouri, and a council member of the Criminal Justice Section of
the American Bar Association. He served on the boards of directors
of the Missouri Prosecuting Attorneys and the National District At-
torneys Association. He is a graduate of Georgetown Law School.

Our second witness today is Miguel Gierbolini. Am I pronouncing
that correctly?

Mr. Gierbolini. Correct.

Mr. McCOLLUM. He currently serves as the Deputy Director of
the Special Investigations Bureau of the Puerto Rico Department
of Justice. Prior to his service for the Commonwealth in Justice, he
worked as an attorney in the corporate department of O'Connell &
Valdez in San Juan, Puerto Rico. He is a graduate of Boston Col-
lege Law School and a former participant in the PVogram for Senior
Executives in State smd local governments, John F. Kennedy
School of Government at Harvard.

Robert Cummings is the Assistant Commissioner of the Florida
Department of Law Enforcement. He began his career with the
FDLE in 1971 as a special agent. He progressed through the ranks
holding a variety of supervisory positions, including Director of
Criminal Investigations and Executive Investigations. He is a grad-
uate of the FBI National Academy. He is past President of the Na-
tional Alliance of State Drug and Organized Crime Committee — I
should say State Drug Enforcement Agency and served on the Nar-
cotics Committee and the Organized Crime Committee of the Inter-



national Associations of Chiefs of Police. He is a graduate of Flor-
ida State University and I welcome you today as well.

And with that, I would like to ask the witnesses to proceed. You
may summarize your statements. The witnesses' statements will
appear without objection in the record in full, or you may give any
portion of your statement that you wish. I recognize Mr. Callahan
to proceed first.

Mr. Callahan. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I won't refer to my
statement. I think that is there in the record. I was actually hoping
I could go third this morning, because — this afternoon, it is morn-
ing back in Missouri.

Mr. McCOLLUM. I understand.

Mr. Callahan. Because in looking through the statements I at
least have the impression that the situation that developed here in
Florida, £uid between Florida and Puerto Rico, is probably more
unique than common to the rest of the prosecuting jurisdictions
across the country.

Mr. McCoLLUM. Mr. Callahan, you certainly do not have to go
first. My staff was under the impression that you wanted to, and
if that is not the case, I would be delighted to have Mr. Gierbolini
explain the Puerto Rican situation and have the Floridian situation
discussed if that would help you.

Mr. Callahan. The advantage might be, I might be able to give
more of a different perspective that is not unique to this situation,
and with my contacts with the prosecutors.

Mr. McCOLLUM. If Mr. Gierbolini has no objections, I will be glad
to let him proceed first.

Mr. Gierbolini.

STATEMENT OF MIGUEL E. GIERBOLINI, DEPUTY DIRECTOR,
SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS BUREAU, DEPARTMENT OF JUS-
TICE, COMMONWEALTH OF PUERTO RICO

Mr. Gierbolinl Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Good afternoon, Mr.
Chairman and members of the committee. My name is Miguel
Gierbolini. I am the Deputy Director of Specizd Investigations Bu-
reau of the Puerto Rico Department of Justice. My duties include
the supervision of more than 225 agents to conduct investigations
of government corruption and organized crime. My office also man-
ages Puerto Rico's victim and witness protection program.

On behalf of Attorney General Pedro Pierluisi, I appreciate the
opportunity to appear and testify before you today about our vic-
tims of crimes and witness protection program. I request that my
entire statement be entered into the record of this hearing.

Mr. McCoLLUM. Without objection, it is so ordered.

Mr. Gierbolinl In 1986 the Government of Puerto Rico enacted
our comprehensive victim and witness protection law. This statute
establishes that the public policy of our government is to offer pro-
tection and assistance to victims of crimes and witnesses in judicial
proceedings and related investigations.

The purpose of this policy is to secure their full cooperation and
pgirticipation free from intimidation and harm. The law requires
the Secretary for the Dep£ui;ment of Justice, also known as Attor-
ney General, to establish the program with the Division of the Spe-
cial Investigations Bureau. It grants broad powers to agents as-



signed to the program, including the power to arrest, and the
power to carry and wield firearms.

Among the services included in the program are the maintenance
of a 24-hour emergency line for victims and witnesses, protection
and transportation for victims and witnesses at their residence and
places of employment, financial assistance and relocation services
within Puerto Rico or to another community.

Our legislature appropriates sufficient funds each year to estab-
lish and maintain a staff of approximately 65 persons employed to
support this program. Because Puerto Rico is a small island, we
have unique circumstances that have caused us to develop a com-
prehensive strategy to deal with the problem of witness £uid victim
intimidation.

Our island is less than 100 miles long, 35 miles wide and it is
densely populated. This small geographicsd area coupled with the
dense population severely limits our ability to conceal the identity
or location of an endangered victim or witness.

Another unique feature of Puerto Rico is that our system of jus-
tice is almost completely unified. We do not have county and mu-
nicipal law enforcement agencies comparable to those here in the
States. With the exception of enforcing municipal ordinances and
traffic laws, which is done by our municipal guards, all law enforce-
ment personnel are State officials that ultimately report to a cen-
tral police authority.

All prosecuting attorneys, criminal investigators and other police
agencies are part of a unified system of justice which enforces
Puerto Rico law. Due to these unique circumstances, we have de-
veloped a victim and witness protection program that is more com-
prehensive than other State £ind local programs in the United
States.

The relocation of a victim or witness outside of Puerto Rico is
only one of a number of services provided by Puerto Rico to protect
victims and witnesses subject to its jurisdiction. The following is a
list of the services that we provide: Protection to and fi-om the
courthouse; safe house protection; temporary hotel accommoda-
tions; an emergency victim and witness hotline; relocations within
Puerto Rico; relocations outside of Puerto Rico; and other services
to facilitate the goals of the program.


1 3 4 5 6 7 8

Online LibraryUnited States. Congress. House. Committee on the JWitness protection programs in America : hearing before the Subcommittee on Crime of the Committee on the Judiciary, House of Representatives, One Hundred Fourth Congress, second session, on witness protection programs in America, November 7, 1996 → online text (page 1 of 8)