The witness protection program is a popular trope used in television and movies. But, how safe and effective is it really? While the U.S. Marshalls boast their program has never lost a witness, there are plenty of other witness protection programs and witnesses in general that have been major failures. From dead witnesses to paying out crime bosses, it’s not exactly always a flawless program. Here are 25 Awful Witness Protection Program Failures You Won’t Believe.
Michael Anthony Drew
Violent St. Louis gang leader Michael Anthony Drew ended up in the witness protection program after cooperating with the government over a racketeering probe. However, once in the program, he was sent to Maine and up to his old ways. He was arrested for using a gun to threaten and terrorize a drug informant.
Jonathan Barclay, a man with a long criminal history, figured out how to use a loophole in the witness protection system. By using his witness protection name when he was arrested, he was considered a first-time offender and avoided being locked away for good. Later, he was drinking and driving and smashed into Debbie Ashton’s vehicle, killing her.
After agreeing to testify against a shooter that shot him twice and killed his friend, Javad Marshall-Fields was marked and told he was going to die. Sure enough, he and his fiancee were gunned down at night on the street just days before he was going to testify. Worse yet, Colorado had a fund to protect witnesses like this from harm, but no one told Marshall-Fields it existed.
According to a man in the witness protection program that goes by the name of “Tony,” there’s no incentive to stop crime after you’ve been in the witness protection program. In fact, he claims many become “career informants” and feed off the government for money and assistance. He said some can make up to $280,000 per case.
Shawn Balch and Tammy Spooner
Shawn Balch and Tammy Spooner were two drug dealers who cut a deal with the Canadian government in hopes of a fresh start in Saskatchewan’s witness protection program. They claim they were promised treatment for their addictions and a new life. Instead, they were forced to move to an unknown city, lost all their possessions, and continue to live in fear. In retrospect, they said if they had to make the same choice, they would not do it all over again.