Tampa Police Department's use of informant under scrutiny - FOX 13 News

Tampa Police Department's use of informant under scrutiny

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TAMPA (FOX 13) - In an unusual move, a Tampa judge is now demanding the Tampa Police Department turn over notes, records, payments and promises made to a confidential informant.

And it’s not just any confidential informant, according to Tampa attorney John Fitzgibbons.

"There is no doubt she had a most unusual relationship with the police. An extraordinary relationship with the police, and with numbers of police officers," Fitzgibbons said.

Rita Girven has been making headlines lately after a cozy relationship was revealed with Tampa police detective Eric Houston and his wife Lajoyce Houston. Both were recently fired from TPD.

RELATED: Tampa Police Department fires detective | TPD fires, arrests one of their own

Lajoyce is accused of using Girven’s food stamp card to go on shopping trips to Walmart.

And Eric Houston is now under federal investigation for possible tax fraud.

Detectives say the tax return checks were being mailed to Girven’s home.

"Historically, these informants, they are just dangerous people to deal with who will double cross the police , double cross their best friends, play both sides against the middle," Fitzgibbons said.

Tampa police say they are complying with the judge’s order, but they don’t expect Girven to impact any open cases.

They say as an informant, she was used mainly for tips and leads, and never called as a witness because of credibility problems.

But Fitzgibbons says the documents could be eye-opening.

"The question is, what did she get in return? Did she get a pass on her own criminal activity? Was she getting paid large amounts of money? These documents should give us a good idea what the story is here," Fitzgibbons said.

Tampa defense attorney Jeff Brown called it a “Pandora’s Box” of information not typically available to the public. He says the biggest question is, what was the benefit to Girven?

“We’re going to see the whole underworld of what happens with confidential informants. Are there favors that have been done for her over time? Confidential informants, 99 percent of the time, are either working off charges or getting paid.”

The department has 30 days to comply with the judge's order.



 
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