WASHINGTON — An informant for the Drug Enforcement Administration compromised dozens of drug prosecutions across the country by lying under oath, but the DEA continued to employ him for 16 years despite knowledge of his wrongdoing, the Washington Post said Thursday.
The newspaper, citing interviews, court records and an internal DEA report, said informant Andrew Chambers had wrecked prosecutions of street-level drug traffickers in Florida, Colorado, Missouri and South Carolina by the time the Justice Department removed him from the DEA payroll last year.
During that time, he earned about $1.8 million from the government as a paid informant, the Post said.
As a result of his lies under oath, charges against 12 suspected drug dealers have been dismissed and a convicted drug dealer in California was freed this year without a trial, the newspaper said. Other defendants around the country continue to challenge their convictions, it said.
Chambers, 44, has never been prosecuted for the false testimony, the Post said, and now travels the country as a motivational speaker. The newspaper said he has declined to comment on the allegations and his attorney did not return its calls seeking comment.
A 157-page internal DEA report released in May said the federal drug agency knew Chambers had lied under oath in at least 16 of 25 sworn depositions and trials about his personal arrest record, his failure to file tax returns and education, the paper said.
Despite his numerous arrests, Chambers has been convicted only of a single charge of soliciting a prostitute, it said.
The DEA report said the agency hid Chambers's actions from some prosecutors and defense attorneys. And on at least three occasions, DEA agents paid Chambers's bail, had it reduced or persuaded judges and prosecutors to drop charges against him, the internal report said.
DEA agents "were addicted" to Chambers, Los Angeles defense lawyer John P. Martin told the Post. Martin's client, Dan Daly, was released from jail in March because of questions about Chambers's credibility.
"They were willing to overlook his perjury—if not assist him in continuing to perjure himself—because they were able to make cases," the Post quoted Martin as saying.
A federal public defender in California was largely responsible for having Chambers removed from the government payroll in February 2000, the newspaper said. The official, H. Dean Steward, investigated Chambers on his own and sent his conclusions to numerous defense attorneys, prosecutors and then-Attorney General Janet Reno, the Post said.
A spokesman for the agency told the Post the DEA realized it had not done a good job handling its confidential sources.
"We realize a lot of mistakes were made," spokesman Michael Chapman told the newspaper. "This was not one of our finer moments."