The executive director of Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers is facing up to two weeks in jail after he stuffed evidence in his mouth during a court hearing Friday to avoid handing it over to a judge.
Richard Masten was charged with contempt of court for eating a Crime Stoppers tip instead of giving it to Judge Victoria Brennan.
The tip was related to a cocaine possession case and the defendant's attorney had asked what the tip contained.
Brennan ordered Masten to share the tip, without the source name, but Masten ate it instead.
“We promise the people who give us information to solve murders, serious violent crimes in this community, that they can call with an assurance that they will remain anonymous and that nothing about them or their information would ever be compromised," Masten said. "The case today started creeping into that ... it’s not going to happen on my watch, and I understood the consequences."
The attorney insists nobody asked for the name of Masten’s source.
"In this case, there’s absolutely no information that I am looking for that has to do with the name or the identity of a tipster," said attorney Jean-Michel D’Escoubet. "It's only the evidence that would be used in trial against her that the tip provided."
Masten said the judge may have considered releasing the name of the source and he couldn't allow that.
“If you do it in this case, the question comes down the road, well you did it in that case why not this case," he said. "Well, I’m not going to do it in this case."
Brennan held him in contempt of court and Masten now faces up to two weeks in jail.
"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, rather than to the dictates of the laws enacted by the people of Florida," Brennan wrote.