HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Informer's Lies Free Another Drug Dealer
Pubdate: Sun, 08 Apr 2001
Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)
Copyright: 2001 St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Author: Michael D. Sorkin
Bookmark: (Corruption)


Dave Daly, already convicted five times of drug dealing and awaiting trial 
on his latest drug charge, is such a bad guy he should be imprisoned for life.

That's what a government prosecutor told a federal judge in a Los Angeles 
courtroom in January.

Now, the government has changed its tune. It reduced the drug charge to 
illegal use of a telephone and released Daly. He's home, enjoying his 
unexpected freedom.

What was Daly's get-out-of-jail card?

His attorney asked the government to produce a document that two federal 
agencies are trying very hard not to make public: the report of an internal 
investigation by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. It details how 
the agency's most celebrated supersnitch - Andrew Chambers, formerly of 
University City - lied in court over 15 years while sending hundreds of 
people to prison.

The DEA report remains secret. Described only as 157 pages long, it is 
believed to document a cover-up by drug agents. They watched as Chambers 
perjured himself by claiming over and over that he had never been arrested 
or convicted. The agents knew he was lying. Some of them had even helped 
get him out of trouble when he was arrested.

Senior officials in the DEA also knew Chambers was lying. They waged a 
two-year court fight to keep his history of lies a secret.

Since the DEA scandal broke last year, prosecutors across the country have 
dropped charges against at least 14 accused drug dealers rather than risk 
putting Chambers on the witness stand again.

In the current California case, Daly, 39, had to make some promises to the 
government to get out of jail, where he had been awaiting trial for more 
than three years.

His attorneys and an assistant U.S. attorney signed an 11-page plea 
agreement last month that says Daly:

Gives up his right to try to see the DEA investigation.

Withdraws his motion accusing prosecutors and drug agents of misconduct.

The plea agreement goes further, adding: "Defendant further agrees that 
there was no government misconduct."

The Deal

"That was the price of getting Daly out of jail," said one of his 
attorneys, John Martin, who had filed 250 pages of evidence documenting 
lies by the prosecutors and the DEA.

The government has acknowledged that it had failed to tell the defense, as 
required by law, that Chambers was the chief witness against him and that 
the government knew about Chambers' long history of lying in court.

"There were a lot of agents who knew that," Martin said. "And I think 
that's what they wanted to cover up."

Asking the prosecution to produce in court the DEA investigation is "what 
made the deal" to free Daly, Martin said.

The plea agreement, he said, allows the government to save face by pointing 
out that Daly is pleading guilty to a felony: using a phone during a PCP 
sale. Neither the DEA nor the U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles would 
answer questions last week about the deal to release Daly or their refusal 
to divulge the DEA investigation.

In a one-paragraph statement, the agencies said only that "it was 
determined that this was the appropriate disposition for this particular 
case." John Gordon, head of the criminal division for the U.S. attorney's 
office in Los Angeles, said he would answer no questions.

In 1997, Daly was a four-time loser who had just pleaded guilty in state 
court to a fifth drug charge: manufacturing PCP. While awaiting sentencing, 
Los Angeles police began using him as an undercover drug informer.

At a car wash, Daly met an even bigger snitch: Chambers. He had been a 
free-lance undercover DEA informer since 1984, when he signed up at the 
DEA's Clayton office. Chambers, now 43, had worked dozens of cases in 
Missouri, Illinois, California and elsewhere.

The DEA has acknowledged paying him at least $2.2 million.

Chambers told his DEA handlers that Daly had agreed to help set up the sale 
of a small quantity of PCP. The government indicted Daly, and the U.S. 
attorney's office asked for life in prison. Daly was faced with a sixth 
possible drug conviction.

Prosecutor Lizbeth Rhodes said the case against Daly was strong, even 
without Chambers' testimony. She told a judge the trial would take only a 
couple of days.

When the government started the latest investigation against Daly, in 1997, 
the name Andrew Chambers was not yet in the public eye.

In January 2000, the Post-Dispatch published the first of a series of 
disclosures about Chambers. The articles documented how he had become a 
legend within the DEA by gaining the trust of suspected drug dealers.

The articles also documented Chambers' repeated courtroom lies.

The result: Then-U.S. Attorney Janet Reno ordered the DEA to suspend Chambers.

Chambers later went on nationwide TV and said he had lied about his 
background in a misguided effort to make himself look good in front of 
judges and juries. He said he never lied about anything else.

Promise To Disclose

Last April, Richard Fiano, then chief of operations for the DEA, said an 
internal investigation was under way to determine what about two dozen 
agents had known and whether they had covered up Chambers' lies.

Fiano also said investigators were questioning federal prosecutors who 
worked on the cases.

In an interview at DEA headquarters outside Washington, Fiano promised to 
make public the investigation's finding.

That never happened.

The DEA has since replaced Fiano and sent him to Italy. Spokesmen for the 
DEA have since said the agency won't release the findings of the 
investigation. In January, they said they would answer written questions 
about the still-secret report.

They never have.

Martin said he believes that the report shows that the DEA's agents 
condoned perjury and reveals governmental misconduct so serious that 
prosecutors would have been forced to drop charges against Daly.

Because of the plea agreement, Martin and Daly may never learn the results 
of the DEA investigation. If the government has its way, neither will the 

As for Daly, Martin said: "He's home painting Easter eggs."
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