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Crime Stoppers Official Faces Contempt Of Court For Eating Evidence

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To protect the identity of an anonymous tipster, the head of a Florida Crime Stoppers group ate a sheet of paper rather than give it to a judge who demanded it.

Richard Masten, the executive director of Miami-Dade's Crime Stoppers hotline, was sentenced on Friday to 14 days in jail for contempt for swallowing the paper related to a cocaine possession case, the Miami Herald reports.

“We promise the people who give us information to solve murders -- serious violent crimes in this community -- that they can call with an assurance that they will remain anonymous and that nothing about them or their information would ever be compromised," Masten said, according to NBC Miami.

"The case today started creeping into that... it’s not going to happen on my watch and I understood the consequences."

The contested sheet of paper didn't contain the hotline caller's name, but Masten believed there were enough details that the whistleblower's identity could be deduced.

He chewed on shreds of paper with his mouth in front of cameras before the judge entered the courtroom.

"I think your client's very passionate," Judge Victoria Brennan told Masten's attorney, according to WPLG-TV. "But I think sometimes passion can cloud judgment."

A lawyer for the drug suspect said he wasn't interested in learning the tipster's name.

On top of the jail time, Masten was fined $500. He must turn himself in by Thursday or provide the information demanded in court, Reuters reports.

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