Pubdate: Wed, 12 Mar 2014
Source: SF Weekly (CA)
Section: Chem Tales
Copyright: 2014 Village Voice Media
Author: Chris Roberts


Who Stands to Benefit From Outing Informants in a Dirty Cop

Daisy Bram and Jayme Walsh were in trouble. So the streetwise couple
did what most would do: They went to the police for help.

Now, they're in worse trouble.

Bram and Walsh - alleged former heroin users and, now, former heroes
of the medical marijuana movement - were outed as former San Francisco
Police Department confidential informants on the front page of the San
Francisco Chronicle.

They were enlisted by Mission Station officers to provide details
about the street to police in exchange for leniency on their own drug
troubles - and then became key witnesses against the same police in
the biggest scandal to hit the SFPD in recent memory.

Their names, pictures, and exactly what they are said to have done for
the six alleged dirty cops indicted by the federal government -
selling dope with police protection in exchange for information on who
was selling, then selling marijuana and splitting the proceeds with
the cops - should've been kept secret, but somehow ended up in the
March 2 story by Jaxon Van Derbeken.

"I have never seen an informant identified this quickly," says Public
Defender Jeff Adachi (whose office in 2011 released video of the
officers apparently hauling suspects out of SRO hotel rooms without
warrants, which kicked off the federal investigation).

Now, Bram and Walsh are branded as snitches, and could be in real
trouble among the wrong people. Even the SFPD admits their safety is
in jeopardy.

The feds are in trouble, too. U.S. attorneys don't file a case until
it's airtight. And now their witnesses, who are not in a protective
program and were not named in any document available to the public,
have every reason to refuse to cooperate.

So who outed them? A better question may be: Who does the leak help?
Only the cops on trial.

Bram is not shy, and makes an impression - as she does in the photos
of her nursing two of her sons, fully nude, posted to Facebook - but
it's the screams that stay with you.

An audio recording of her wailing like a banshee as Butte County
Sheriff's deputies explain why they're taking away the couple's
children in September 2011 is nightmarish to hear, and was the chief
cause of the outpouring of sympathy the couple received from the
medical marijuana movement.

Her story made drug war opponents' blood boil: Cops visited the
couple's home on a compliance check for their sizable but legal
marijuana garden. All is well, those cops say - but more cops returned
a few weeks later to raid the farm, cut down the plants, and take the
kids away.

That was the story Bram told time and again, to national libertarian
magazine in an eight-minute documentary, and to a pavilion
full of drug war opponents at California NORML's 2013 conference.

The story told in court was different. The gardens weren't entirely
legal - all they had was an "oral" doctor's recommendation, from a
dead doctor - and Walsh was making deals to sell the weed to East
Coast dealers, according to Butte County prosecutor Jeff Greeson.

Worse, cops found evidence of heroin use: Residue and syringes were
found at their home in Butte County, Greeson said. A few months after
the Butte raid, their new home in Tehama County was raided and the
kids taken away again - alleged neglect and drugs, again - by the same
narcotics investigator.

Walsh will go on trial in May on drug and child endangerment charges.
After losing her case, Bram did about 30 days in jail this year for
child endangerment. She was supposed to do more, but was somehow
released exactly one day before she was named as a police informant.

Who snitched on the snitches? The list of people who knew the details
that ended up in print is slim: the feds; the alleged dirty cops and
their brothers and sisters in SFPD; the cops' lawyers; and Walsh and
Bram themselves.

About a week before the indictments were unsealed, a man identifying
himself as "Jay" contacted several local newspapers, SF Weekly
included. Dirty cops were going to be charged in federal court,
sometime very soon, and he knew all about it. All he needed was some

The man was Walsh, and it appears he also made contact with Van
Derbeken, who "knew everything" before he interviewed the couple, Bram
tells SF Weekly. They agreed to speak with him in order to keep what
secrets they could. Now, "we feel burned," Bram says. "We don't know
who to trust."

The federal government is notoriously tight-lipped. Multiple attorneys
and other law enforcement sources contacted by SF Weekly all agreed:
The chance of a U.S. Attorney or FBI agent outing the couple is almost

That leaves the defendants - the only people the leak helps. Attorneys
for the cops, Michael Rains and Harry Stern, did not respond to
messages seeking comment. Neither has Van Derbeken.

SFPD is known for leaks. And the golden age of confidential informants
- - the crack cocaine era, when low-level drug busts crammed court
dockets and lined cops' pockets with court pay - is over. Narcotics
busts are way down.

Outing Bram and Walsh won't help other cops get street people to
cooperate. But that's okay. They don't need them anymore. 
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