Whosarat.com reveals informants' IDs - and prosecutors want it shut down

Whosarat.com reveals informants' IDs - and prosecutors want it shut down

Summary: Hey, all you convicted felons out there! Want to find out who snitched on you?

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Hey, all you convicted felons out there! Want to find out who snitched on you? Check out whosarat.com, the website that exposes the identities of witnesses and informants cooperating with the government. But you better hurry, federal prosecutors are getting wind of the site and they are mad.

Prosecutors are trying to block the site from displaying information about plea agreements, reports the New York Times.

The site posts witness names and mug shots, along with documents detailing what they have agreed to do in exchange for lenient sentences. The site boasts that it has identified 4,300 informers and 400 undercover agents.

"We are witnessing the rise of a new cottage industry engaged in republishing court filings about cooperators on Web sites such as www.whosarat.com for the clear purpose of witness intimidation, retaliation and harassment," a Justice Department official wrote in a December letter to the Judicial Conference of the United States, the administrative and policy-making body of the federal court system.

For those who want to read the details on cooperating witnesses, whosarat.com charges between $7.99 for a week and $89.99 for life. The latter option comes with a free "Stop Snitching" T-shirt.

"The reality is this," said a spokesman for the site, who identified himself as Anthony Capone. "Everybody has a choice in life about what they want to do for a living. Nobody likes a tattletale."

It isn't just people with names like Capone who are unhappy about the bid to block access to plea agreements.

"If there is an issue in a particular case, then let's address it, but to sweep everything under the rug isn't right," said David O. Markus, a criminal defense lawyer in Miami. "It doesn't advance any of the stated safety goals, and it just serves as a roadblock to the public's constitutional right to access to their court."

Of course, defendants whose cases go to trial will learn the identities of the witnesses who testify against them. However, the site also posts those people who are involved in undercover operations and those whose information is merely used to build a case, as well as informants. This leaves them open to possible retribution.

Judge John R. Tunheim, a federal judge in Minneapolis and the chairman of a Judicial Conference committee studying the issue, acknowledged the gravity of the safety threat posed by the Web sites but said it would be better addressed through case-by-case actions.

"We are getting a pretty significant push from the Justice Department to take plea agreements off the electronic file entirely," Judge Tunheim said. "But it is important to have our files accessible. I really do not want to see a situation in which plea agreements are routinely sealed or kept out of the electronic record."

Topics: Browser, Government US

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6 comments
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  • Shut it down!

    The only purpose for this web site is to make money at someone's expense. And the expense here could be someone's life. I assume the owners and operators of the site are ready for major lawsuits from victim's of their listings. I can see lawyers right now signing on so they can gather lists of people who have provided witness and be there on their doorstep when bad things happen to them for 'snitching'. I sincerely hope this 'service to the public' can be shut down.
    Omnius
  • I actually saw a "stop snitching" T-shirt yesterday

    I was on my bike during my lunch break. Was tempted to stop and question the young man (high school student, from the looks of him) wearing it, but decided not to.

    The whole attitude has always bothered me (I called it the "mafia mentality" when I was younger) as it has the effect of encouraging impunity and contempt for rules (and those who follow them) by making enforcement efforts ineffective. Of course, the "no fink" principle never applies to information passed to criminals, only to police and other legitimate authority figures.

    The site is actually misnamed; a better domain name would be "omerta.com".
    John L. Ries
  • This is crazy:

    To endanger someone's life, who is trying to help, get the bad guys, off the
    streets, is crazy. I have known for a long time. That defense lawyers have
    suggested to their clients. That if a witness doesn't show up to testify, the
    prosecutor doesn't have a case. And witnesses have been intimidated(sometimes
    with deadly force) to the point, where they won't testify. I can guarantee if
    whosarat.com isn't shut down. People are going to get killed. With out a doubt,
    people are going to get killed.
    blackjack861@...
  • Simple Solution

    When the first person is killed due to information released by this site; we go for conspiracy to commit murder for the owners. Conviction should make them eligible for the death penalty. I say, give them the maximum punishment. And if they need someone to push the IV, call me.
    Dr_Zinj
  • Slander

    I don't think it a good idea to encouage slander, especially when a prosecutor can elicit slander for a reduced sentence.
    epcraig
  • entertainment

    whosarat.com is for entertainment only .In 2006 do to wrong information that was posted on this site , I was shot and almost killed ! I have the paperwork to prove that I did not snitch on anyone but no one really cares about that at all . Melissa kllgore / brown entered my name on the site because I was pressing her to pay money that was owed to me . obviously anyone can submit your name on it and without evidence post anything they choose to . you have to be a real moron to believe anything that this site has posted on it . thank you . . . greengiant38
    greengiant38