MIAMI, FL (NBC) - Crime Stoppers programs protect the identity of tipsters. The head of Miami's program went to great lengths to protect a tipster there.
You could say that's really putting your mouth where your principles are. Crime Stoppers director Richard Masten ate a printed Crime Stoppers tip rather than turn it over to a judge for examination.
"We promise the people who give us information to solve murders - serious violent crimes in this community - that they can call us," said Masten. "The insurance that they will remain anonymous and that nothing about them and their information or whatever will be compromised. The case today started creeping into that first compromise. It's not going to happen on my watch and I understood the consequences."
The consequences are a lot for the former police chief to chew on. Judge Victoria Brehhan declared Masten is in contempt of court.
All Crime Stopper tips are anonymous, but the defense attorney for a woman accused of cocaine possession asked for the tip itself. The judge asked to see the tip and be allowed to determine herself whether revealing it would somehow compromise the tipster's identity. Masten said he couldn't trust that process.
"If you do it in this case and the question comes down the road, well you did it in that case why not this case. Well, I'm not going to do it in this case," said Masten. "In this case there is absolutely no information that I am looking for that has to do with the name or identity of a tipster. It's only the information that I would use in trial against her that the tipster provided."
The judge wrote in her order that 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.
She sentenced Masten to two weeks in jail. He has another hearing next Thursday.
"I'll be back on Thursday to see if I go to jail or not," he said. "I'll bring a toothbrush and some pajamas incase I do."