MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A man who’s dedicated his life to putting bad guys in jail, may soon have to join them there.
Miami-Dade Crime Stoppers Executive Director Richard “Dick” Masten will find out Thursday just how long he will spend locked up after a courtroom student where he ate a piece of paper containing information regarding an anonymous tip.
“I probably shouldn’t have eaten that piece of paper,” Masten told CBS4’s Lauren Pastrana Monday night.
But he doesn’t regret his courtroom snack.
“I don’t have any regrets. I mean I don’t like the idea of going to jail, but I didn’t really have any alternative,” Masten said. “The way I look at it, we make a solemn promise to our tipsters that we’ll never let them be identified.”
Last week, Judge Victoria Brennan held Masten, a retired police chief, in contempt for his refusal to hand over details of an anonymous tip in the cocaine possession case against a woman named Lissette Alvarez.
Masten said, more and more often, defense attorneys want to learn tipsters’ identities.
“They would like to see them made into a witness and have to answer for that. But once that ever happens, we’re going to lose our program. No one will trust us anymore,” Masten said.
The video of Masten munching on the paper is making the media rounds.
His story was featured on HLN’s Nancy Grace show Monday night, with the outspoken host siding Masten and calling on the judge to change her tune.
While he’s a bit surprised by all the attention, Masten says he doesn’t mind it, because it helps shine a spotlight on Crime Stoppers programs across the country.
Masten’s sentencing is set for Thursday.
He has to pay a fine and could spend anywhere from two weeks to the maximum of two years in jail.
“We see everyday the individuals that commit these violent crime the question is ‘Why weren’t they in jail.’ Well maybe the answer will be there wasn’t any room because Chief Masten was in jail,” he said.
Masten said Crime Stoppers will continue to operate uninterrupted even in his absence.