Undercover prostitute uncovers in drug stings
By Mark Harrison, November Coalition contributing writer
North Central Washington Drug Task Force knowingly used an HIV-positive
prostitute as an undercover informant to lure men into selling
John Danny Shearer was arrested for delivering marijuana to the
31-year-old woman who made sexual advances toward him, according
to a lawsuit filed by attorney Rodney Reinbold. Shearer stated
in court documents that the prostitute showed her "surgically
augmented" breasts to him and a friend in a Twisp, Washington
laundromat, persuading Shearer to give her a small amount of
marijuana. Shearer obliged and the three proceeded to smoke together.
The following day there was sexual contact between Shearer and
Other men, fearful that the deadly HIV virus may have infected
them after providing drugs to the informant, have come forward.
One man who can't smoke because of emphysema was able to scrounge
up a bit of pot when he was propositioned in a Twisp Tavern on
January 20. It had been a while since the 62-year-old man had
sex, according to court documents, and if it weren't for the
seductive overtures of the "the strikingly good looking
woman," he wouldn't have bothered tracking down the marijuana.
Several men insisted in sworn statements that the woman made
sexual advances before persuading them to get small quantities
of drugs for her. When they did, four said there was sexual contact.
One man who knew the woman claimed "she intended to infect
as many men, women and children as possible before she died."
County Prosecutor Rick Weber said her testimony helped convict
eight or nine drug suspects but insists the womanarrested
28 previous times, mostly on prostitution and drug charges-did
not have sex with any of them. One man said in his affidavit
that the woman was a porn star featured in film available in
his Omak community's video store.
The woman was busted for drugs last year and signed on to the
Task Force after undergoing drug treatment. Apparently, smoking
marijuana during drug stings is part of her "treatment"
regime. In a public relations move, the police no longer pay
the woman $75 a day for snitching, but she continues to testify
against the suspects she lured.
The Task Force reviewed her rap sheet and knew they were hiring
a prostitute, but Okanogan Sheriff Mike Murray said he didn't
know that she was HIV-positive. He defended his ignorance by
saying it's illegal to question someone about AIDS for hiring
purposes. He said he found out about the virus later, but was
not sure when. It became clear in a June 19 hearing, however,
that officers were aware their informant was HIV-positive.
Twenty-two million people have already died from AIDS, and there
are 40,000 new HIV infections in the U.S. each year. Yet, law
enforcement had more important public safety matters to addressabout
forty grams of illegal drugs, 90 percent of it marijuana seized
with the help of an HIV-infected informant from nine different
people. By exposing innocent people to a contagious killing virus
the Sheriff's Department has again demonstrated the "drug
warrior's" blind obsession to arrest non-violent drug users.
Superior Court Judge Jack Burchard refused to dismiss drug charges
against the men arrested with the help of the informant, as she
and the Sheriff's Department deny that sex played a role in the
drug stings. Without evidence of sexual contact with the men,
the judge ruled no risk was posed to the public. He did wonder
if sharing a marijuana cigarette could expose people to the HIV
virus. Judge Burchard, who served as director of the North County
Drug Task Force from 1986 to 1992, chose to believe the paid
police informant, with 28 prior arrests, over nine citizens living
in small towns in north central Washington.
Prosecutor Weber defended the practice of using prostitutes carrying
a deadly virus to entrap (induce to commit a crime) people for
drugs. He pointed out that using felons as confidential informants
is a well-established procedure in law enforcement.
Attorney Reinbold is filing a class action civil rights suit
seeking to prohibit the use of confidential informants convicted
for drugs and prostitution. Prohibition has driven intravenous
drug users--a high-risk group for spreading HIV/AIDS-underground,
exacerbating the spread of contagious diseases.
Prostitutes are also in a high-risk category.
The lawsuit seeks to protect the public from viruses and diseases
now spread by police work. Infections through direct contact
with police informants, through families of those targeted in
police stings and others in the general public are at risk when
police send infected informants into compromising situations.
Law enforcement defends using informants with drug and prostitution
felonies, claiming they are necessary to convincingly infiltrate
cultures in certain neighborhoods. In practice this means older
neighborhoods where poverty and unemployment are high. The lawsuit
seeks to prohibit this sort of profiling by economic class. To
illustrate, Reinbold points out that it's hard to find a doctor's
son or daughter who was set up by police as a snitch to beat
a rap for an amphetamine habit. The social implications of the
federal suit are enormous, the constitutional logic indisputable.
John Danny Shearer faces 22 months behind bars for the small
amount of marijuana that a seductive, HIV-infected informant
persuaded him to provide. If police work is about protecting
the public from harm, then the North County Drug Task Force should
be on trial. But as it is, Reinbold will be defending Shearer
whom the attorney calls "a brave man." Shearer had
not accepted a plea bargain that would reduce his sentence to
40 days at press time. The prosecution and the Drug Task Force
are surely praying the case will be concluded without incident,
and that the public will have amnesia. Sounds like a great day
for about 50 people to dress up like prostitutes and fill the
Okanogan County Court to seduce a little justice out of a system
gone to pot.
The court date is set for September 11 at 9:00 am. The Okanogan
County Court is located at 149 3rd North, Okanogan, Washington.
Those interested in impersonating a prostitute to decry this
adulterated miscarriage of police ethics can email: firstname.lastname@example.org.