Thursday, May 4, 2006 12:42 pm
Detective must cough up identity of confidential informant
Springfield police detective Paul Carpenter must reveal the name of an informant whose weekly tips led to “numerous arrests and convictions” over the past two years, according to an order entered Monday by Robert Eggers, chief judge of the Sangamon County Circuit Court. Carpenter and his former partner, Detective Jim Graham, are on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of an Illinois State Police investigation into allegations of misconduct. Before being placed on leave, Carpenter and Graham had worked in SPD’s major-case unit, the squad assigned to investigate homicides and other serious crimes. Monday’s ruling came in a comparatively minor case — the Feb. 15, 2005 drive-by shooting at a house on East Cedar Street in which no one was injured. Police arrested Ryan Roberson and his half-brothers, Micah and Stanley Morgan, but subsequently dismissed charges against Roberson. The Morgans face felony charges of aggravated discharge of a firearm. The day after the shooting, Carpenter requested a warrant to search Micah Morgan’s home, citing a tip from a “very reliable” informant. In a motion filed last month, Micah Morgan accused Carpenter of being “less than truthful” in this affidavit and asked the court to compel Carpenter to disclose the identity of the informant and a list of cases this informant had helped solve. Angela Fyans, assistant corporation counsel assigned to SPD, told Eggers on Monday that she didn’t realize she had to produce the informant’s name but said that officials were gathering reports involving this informant. Documents identifying the informant will be given to the judge for an “in camera” review rather than being handed to the Morgans’ defense attorney, Bruce Locher. Fyans said the city would not be able to produce a case file on the informant because he was never paid for his tips. “And that’s typical,” she told the court. “If the informant wasn’t paid, there’s no file.” However, SPD’s policy on confidential sources defines informants as “paid or unpaid” and requires officers to keep a file listing names, aliases, criminal history, associates, phone numbers, addresses and other information on all confidential sources. The detectives’ habit of not documenting informants has been called into question in a lawsuit filed by another former officer, Ron Vose, who was supervisor of SPD’s narcotics unit. Vose resigned earlier this year after submitting a 20-page memo accusing Carpenter and Graham of misconduct. That memo formed the basis of the ongoing ISP probe. Fyans did not answer phone and e-mail messages seeking comment for this article. At Monday’s hearing, Locher also asked why a videotape entered into evidence by Carpenter has no accompanying written report and no audible sound. The tape shows a woman named Amy Brown apparently being questioned by Carpenter and another detective. Locher told Eggers that he believes that Brown is connected to a gun purportedly found in Morgan’s house, because records show that the weapon was purchased by Amy Brown’s husband, Sean Brown. However, the gun had never been reported stolen or sold, and it didn’t have Morgan’s fingerprints on it. “The plot sickens a little more,” Locher said, as he held the videotape up in court. “The plot what?” Eggers asked. “The plot sickens — I mean, thickens!” Locher replied.