Report from Chesapeake: Possible Second Informant Emerges in Ryan Frederick Case

Twenty-eight-year-old Ryan Frederick currently sits in a jail in Chesapeake, Viginia for killing Det. Jarrod Shivers during a drug raid on Frederick's home. He had no criminal record, and just a misdemeanor amount of marijuana in his home. He also says someone broke into his home three nights before the raid. He's being charged with capital murder and felony manufacture of marijuana.

The raid was conducted based solely on the word of a confidential informant. Police made no attempt to buy drugs from Frederick. A couple of weeks ago, local TV station WTKR identified the police informant in the case, a 20-year-old man named Steven who had several charges pending against him at the time of the raid, was dating the sister of Frederick's fiance, and had a standing grudge with Frederick. The station reported that Frederick and his friends and family believe Steven was the one who broke into Frederick's home the same week of the raid.

Last week I received a tip that there may have been a second man involved in the break-in at Ryan Frederick's house. My source has spoken to the man a few times over the last few months, and says the man has confirmed not only that he and Steven together broke into Frederick's house at the behest of the police, but that the two had been working as paid police informants for months—and had actually broken into several houses around Chesapeake, all with the blessing of Chesapeake police officers.

The second man is currently in the Chesapeake City jail. I don't see any point in revealing his identity right now, so I'll just call him "Reggie." I called the jail and arranged an interview with Reggie set for last Saturday afternoon. The jail checked with Reggie, who then asked what the interview would be about. I mentioned Steven's name, and Reggie agreed to the interview.

Reggie initially was reluctant to talk to me (more on that later). Between the time I arranged the interview and the time I drove to Chesapeake to speak with him, his attorney had instructed him not to talk to me at all. I asked if he'd be more willing to talk if I didn't use his name. He responded that he's not worried about retaliation for being a snitch, he's worried about retaliation from the police.

Still, after a few minutes, he did begin to corroborate some of the things my source told me.

Reggie told me he knows Steven "from the streets." He confirmed that the two had been working as paid police informants for several months. The police would pay them to find stashes of drugs or evidence of burglaries. I asked Reggie if the police ever encouraged him to actually break into a home to look for information, as he had told my source. Reggie hesitated, then declined to say. "I don't want to get into any more trouble," he said.

I then mentioned my source, and asked if Reggie he had spoken with him. He said "yes." I asked if what he told my source was true. He again said "yes," but added that he was scared, and "that's not something I can get into right now. I just want to do my time and go home."

Because they were regularly working with the police, the two men seem to have started to think they were above the law. Last January, just a few days before the Ryan Frederick raid, Steven was arrested and charged with credit card fraud and grand larceny for some credit cards police say he stole last December.

Reggie told me Steven contacted him shortly after that arrest, and told him about the charges. He says Steven told him he had worked out a deal with the police where they'd help him with the credit card charges if he could bring back evidence that Ryan Frederick was growing marijuana.

Reggie says he and Steven then broke into Frederick's detached garage to obtain evidence against Frederick. Once again, I asked if the police knew about the break-in. Reggie again refused to answer, and again explained that he was afraid of possible retaliation from the police.

Reggie said he's personally never met Frederick, and that the break-in at Frederick's house all went through Steven. He said he saw television reports of the raid later that week, and immediately knew it was the same house he and Steven had broken into days earlier.

Reggie was arrested a few weeks later on February 12 on a burglary charge he says was trumped up.

Reggie has a long record. In May 2007 he pleaded guilty to burglary, grand larceny, and breaking and entering. He served six months of a three-year sentence on those charges, with the rest suspended. He was released in August. In 2006 he was charged with burglary and arson of an occupied dwelling. Those charges were nolle prossed, meaning the prosecutor could refile them within the statute of limitations if he wished.

But Reggie says the burglary charge on February 12 was concocted to keep him quiet about the Frederick raid. If what he told my source is true—that the police were encouraging informants to break into private residences to gather evidence—that's pretty damning. It would amount to actual criminal conduct by members of the Chesapeake Police Department.

Reggie explained to me last weekend that one reason he was reluctant to talk to me is that shortly after he spoke to my source earlier this year, the police added additional charges to rap sheet. He believes this too was retaliatory, and designed to keep him quiet. This, he said, is why he couldn't be as forthcoming with me. He was denied bail on February 14th, and has been in the city jail ever since.

A search of the Chesapeake General Court's public records presents a time-line that supports Reggie's story. He was arrested on February 12 on charges of burglary, grand larceny, and credit card larceny. He spoke to my source a few times over the next several weeks. On June 5, the police then added another grand larceny charge, and a charge of entering a house to commit assault and battery. At that point, Reggie stopped talking to my source.

We also know that the credit card charges for which Steven was arrested in January were dropped in April. They were then reinstated in May, and Steven was indicted. On May 19 a warrant was issued for his arrest. I was able to get in touch with a friend of Steven's, who made it rather clear that Steven isn't interested in talking to journalists right now.

So at the very least, here, we now have more confirmation that informants working for the police illegally broke into Ryan Frederick's home three days before the drug raid. At worst, they may have done so with the consent of the police, this may not have been the first time they've done so, and the police may be intimidating the two men to prevent them from talking about it.

Moreover, you also have the unfortunate scenario where two men who may be the most important witnesses in Ryan Frederick's trial are facing a slew of charges of their own, and basically at the mercy of the very police department their testimony could implicate.

Back in January, Chesapeake City Manager William Harrell hired an outside firm to conduct a top-to-bottom review of the city police department. So it seems clear that some officials in Chesapeake city government know there are problems. Given the circumstances of this case, though, and that a man's life may be on the line, these latest allegations merit an outside investigation of Chesapeake PD, if not by Virginia Attorney General Bob McConnell, then by U.S. Attorney Chuck Rosenberg.

Prior archive of Frederick posts here

MORE:  I should have included in the original post that I attempted to contact Reggie's attorney for comment.  She didn't return my call.  The Chesapeake Police Department also had no comment.  I have not yet tried to call Ryan Frederick's attorney, but plan to this morning.  Thus far, he hasn't been all that interested in speaking to the media.

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  • M2||

    This is getting good...

  • Billy Beck||

    I suggest that everyone drop what they're doing and go read Vol. I of Solzhenitsyn's "Gulag".

    Welcome to the snitch-state, ladies and gentlemen. We hope you enjoy the ride.

    Ps. -- you'll get to vote this year.

  • Jason||

    Ho...ly...shit.

  • T||

    Somebody help me out: why exactly should I cooperate with the police under any circumstances? I'm having a hard time remembering.

  • ||

    Again, Thank god for the valiant men in blue!

    I gotta go brush my teeth after that..............

  • ||

    Even giving the cops the benefit of the doubt, they were using informants of questionable reliability (yes, I know that was a tautology) and overly aggressive tactics to prosecute an overly aggressive war on drugs.

  • Detective Donut||

    Somebody help me out: why exactly should I cooperate with the police under any circumstances?

    Because you are stupid and haven't spoken to an attorney.

  • ||

    Holy Crap

    A pseudonym isn't going to protect "Reggie". While he held back the most incriminating stuff, what he said is damning enough. I don't see how the police can afford not to make an example of him. Ten to one he winds up in the infirmary in the next sixty days. Even money he's DOA.

  • ||

    Ten to one he winds up in the infirmary in the next sixty days. Even money he's DOA.

    Oh good Christ, Warren. Unbindest thou panties.

  • Elemenope||

    I'm starting to feel a bit of honest sympathy for Iraqis (beyond the standard "gee it's a bummer they're dying, etc."); having an out-of-control occupying army chock full of douchebags on your front doorstep is a real bummer.

    Oh wait, we were talking about cops! No, I guess that doesn't change *anything*.

  • ||

    He was arrested on February 12 on charges of burglary, grand larceny, and credit card larceny.

    You might as well have posted his name.

  • ||

    Er, "and" should read "in addition to". If I were Ryan Frederick's family I would be beside myself and if I were Det. Shivers' family, I would be pissed that Det. Shivers died in the process of carrying out such a bullshit raid. At the very least, Frederick should be exonerated. "Steven's" handlers should definitely be on trial here. But, of course...

  • ||

    If what this article says is true, I'd like to see some of the staunch police defenders continue to argue that Frederick deserves a death sentence.

    Beyond that, I'd like to hear a drug warrior argue that drug dealers are worse than burglars and identity thieves. Because if you're dismissing charges against the latter to get the former, that's exactly what you're saying.

  • Elemenope||

    Not to impugn the nice qualities of the members of the military who manage to not be douchebags (including some of our wonderful H&R contributors).

    Not kidding.

  • ||

    Beyond that, I'd like to hear a drug warrior argue that drug dealers are worse than burglars and identity thieves. Because if you're dismissing charges against the latter to get the former, that's exactly what you're saying.

    This is a really, really fine point.

    Not to impugn the nice qualities of the members of the military who manage to not be douchebags (including some of our wonderful H&R contributors).

    You're one of the good guys Elemenope. Very few libertarians have breathless and unthinking hatred for any sort of "authority", anyway (cough...liberty mike). Now thinking distrust of authority is bolstered very, very stringly by this sort of thing.

  • ||

    er, stringly="strongly"

  • ||

    If what he told my source is true-that the police were encouraging informants to break into private residences to gather evidence-that's pretty damning. It would amount to actual criminal conduct by members of the Chesapeake Police Department.

    It would also mean that none of the evidence against Frederick resulting from the raid is admissable. Basically, these two were acting as deputies, and that means they needed warrants for their break-ins. Not having a warrant means any evidence they gathered, or any evidence it led to, is inadmissable.

    If I'm Frederick's attorney, I'm getting this guy on tape, under oath. And I'm burning up the phone lines to the US Attorney for that area, wanting to know where the fucking federal investigation into an apparent conspiracy to violate civil rights is.

  • chuckpony||

    elemenope ... no, it's cool. I am in the Navy ... I understand what you are saying and I am not offended in the least. All I can say is ... I am in the belly of the beast. And I have two more years here. Goddammit.

  • ||

    Oh, and mad props to Balko.

  • kinnath||

    If there was ever a time for the federal government to stomp on a local jurisdiction, this would be it. Unfortunately, the Justice Department is in the hands of worse wackos than the Chesapeake police department.

  • ||

    Damn, Radley, that's good research.

  • ||

    I am in the belly of the beast. And I have two more years here. Goddammit.

    I got less than two years, too. :) But Army deployments are way longer than Navy deployments :(

  • Episiarch||

    Why in the name of Jesus H. Christ on a Popsicle Stick does the FBI not have undercover agents in major police departments across the country? A few major busts would seem to come immediately from that and would send a chilling message to the corrupt pigs (which is all of them if you count the ones who don't arrest the truly corrupt ones).

    Oh, I know why! Because the FBI is composed of...cops. ARRGGHHHH

  • ||

    affenkopf | June 13, 2008, 10:03am | #
    He was arrested on February 12 on charges of burglary, grand larceny, and credit card larceny.

    You might as well have posted his name.



    Unfortunately, there's really nothing Radley could do to post this story and not more or less reveal the identity. The police are going to know who it is.

    I can't even put this into words. It's... wow. I mean.... this may be worse than any of the

  • ||

    Unfortunately, the Justice Department is in the hands of worse wackos than the Chesapeake police department.

    The Justice Dept. has a great opportunity to undermine this assumption, but I have a feeling that they won't.

  • ||

    er... that was supposed to say "any of the stories you've ever posted, Radley".

    Stupid me hitting Submit instead of Preview.

  • Most Impressed||

    This is some top notch reporting. Thank you for being what a fourth estate should be.

    Have you contacted police about these allegations? Frederick? What is the current status of Reggie?

  • chuckpony||

    artpog ... yes, I know. I do sincerely sympathize with my army brethren on this matter ... seriously, WTF is going on in our country? Is freedom dead?

  • Neil||

    Remember that the police are the good guys. If a few of them stretch the rules to put drug dealers in jail, so be it.

    Ryan Frederick may not have been a dealer, but he was a user with a gun. He deserves whatever he gets.

  • ||

    "And I'm burning up the phone lines to the US Attorney for that area, wanting to know where the fucking federal investigation into an apparent conspiracy to violate civil rights is."

    And to state the obvious, it isn't just this case--they should review every damn conviction this department's been involved in using a snitch.

    What are the chances this is the first time this department's done this?

  • Other Matt||

    Keep going. AR, I don't think Warren is that bound, personally.

  • ||

    Radley Balko, by the way, is a libertarian journalist superhero.

  • ||

    Oh, to any n00bs, "Neil" is a troll in the purest sense, so don't bother arguin' with 'im.

  • Miggs||

    "Neil" has definitely seen better days. He's starting to sound alot like Juanita, but with slightly better diction.

  • ||

    Neil:

    Very many people in the US have a gun at home. And very many people use illegal and/or perscription drugs.
    By your standard, having 10% of the population in jail would be about right?

  • Episiarch||

    This new "Neil" can't hold a candle to Cesar's "Neil". Give it up, dude.

  • ||

    Art-P.O.G.:

    It looks like I need to spend more time reading H&R.
    I'll try not feeding him the next time..

  • drawnasunder||

    I especially like when Dick starts dropping hints that its not just Deckard that seems suspect, but that entire police department might be full of replicants - who are unaware that they are replicants even as they hunt other replicants that are in turn equally unaware that they are replicants. There's a moment in the book there when you realize "holy fuck this is some messed up shit", and put the book down to ponder it for a little while.

    Oh wait...

  • Police Bootlicker||

    This just can't be. Most cops are honest. The would never tolerate law breaking by their fellow officers. Police would never intimidate witnesses or drop charges for perjury/silence. Cops would never tolerate burglary just to pump up their drug bust stats. Just as he did with the Kathtryn Johnston story, Radley's got it all wrong.

  • ||

    Lars, no big deal.

  • ||

    drawnasunder,

    PKD always did have some interesting stuff to say on the "police state". Billy Beck, I'll keep your suggestion in mind, too.

  • ||

    What are the chances this is the first time this department's done this?

    Zero point zero zero.

  • ||

    Police Bootlicker:

    All cops are honest.
    Assholes in cop uniforms are not.

    I've met both kinds, and you almost spot the difference in their walk alone.
    Some cops serve, others do it for the power.

  • ||

    Radley, thanks again for all of your efforts.

  • Neil||

    This new "Neil" can't hold a candle to Cesar's "Neil".

    I'm so hurt by that.

  • ||

    "You might as well have posted his name."


    Momma used to tell us, "You made your bed, now you gotta lay in it."
    reggie played russian roulette with the cops as the gun. booooo frickin hooo

  • Episiarch||

    I'm so hurt by that.

    Good. I miss the better Neil.

  • ||

    If there was ever a time for the federal government to stomp on a local jurisdiction, this would be it. Unfortunately, the Justice Department is in the hands of worse wackos than the Chesapeake police department.

    Maybe if some of the cops had naked pictures in their lockers...

  • Elemenope||

    Art-P.O.G., Chuckpony --

    Thanks, guys. That means a lot coming from you.

    This new "Neil" can't hold a candle to Cesar's "Neil".

    LOL. "Rat out your parents, and Keyser Soze Neil will getcha."

  • Neil||

    Good. I miss the better Neil.

    You'll just have to filer Neil then, won't you.

  • ktc2||

    So the only guys who know what went down (other than the corrupt cops) are in jail at the mercy of the corrupt cops?

    Yeah, they're gonna kill him, and if necessary those two "witnesses". They will meet with "accidents" in jail or be murdered by some other prisoner who will "mysteriously" not be punished.

  • drawnasunder||

    Also, in A Scanner Darkly, when the informant tells the cops about his buddies' (imagined?) terror plots, the police thank him for his help. Then they explain that, for his own safety, they're going to keep him in custody. And just so it looks legit and doesn't spoil his cover, they're going to go ahead and charge him with the plot, but don't worry, its just for the paperwork...

    I like that part too. Paints a bleak picture of a scary, confusing alternate reality where you can't tell who's the good guy, and who's the bad guy, and who's out to get whom. Alternate reality, right?

  • ||

    I don't think "Reggie" would be wrong to fear for his life. How else are they going to make him shut up?

  • T||

    Paints a bleak picture of a scary, confusing alternate reality where you can't tell who's the good guy, and who's the bad guy, and who's out to get whom.

    Just assume if they work for the state, they're not particularly interested in your welfare and act accordingly.

  • ||

    AI used to give cops the benefit of the doubt, mostly. Now, thanks to Radley, I'll never give the possibility that a cop might be telling the truth even a second thought.

    Just operate from the default assumption that politicians operate under, lips moving and all, and you'll come out on top statistically. And I say that having known many cops personally. This job just attracts the wrong type, power hungry and ethically compromised, but it's the only type it seems to attract.

  • Old Bull Lee||

    Radley, that is some top-notch investigative reporting, my compliments.

    And drawnasunder, your Electric Sheep comment is the funniest thing I've experienced all week. Mercer bless you.

  • Elemenope||

    Also, in A Scanner Darkly...

    "And those grifters, lacking proper tools and technical knowledge, just left these orphan gears all over the ground..."

    I love that film.

  • chuckpony||

    the trajectory of authority in this country is towards ever increasing amounts of fear-mongering
    and loss of liberty. Your local police department has been transformed into a militarized goon-squad, carrying out the wishes of the big boys in D.C. ... nothing can stop the power hungry, fascist Drug Warriors so long as they have the explicit sanction of the Feds.
    In military-speak (and being a member of the military, I am more than familiar with the logic/lingo of the New Brownshirts) the only way to defeat this is by "cutting off the head". This will require upsetting the DOJ and the executive, along with electing representatives that pass laws prohibiting such widespread abuse ... what are the chances of that? That is a tall order ...

  • Nigel Watt||

    Damn. Tarring and feathering needs to make a comeback in Chesapeake.

  • ||

    THis could truly be a scoop, but I will wait until "reggie" is publicly acknowledged by Fredricks attorney as a "man with interest in the case" before I totally fall all over myself to praise Balko. Not that I really doubt him, but a little confirmation would be nice.

  • ||

    If true,it seems like a RICO investigation should be taking place against the Police!

    If true, then this was a conspiracy by the Police and the raid, even though they had a subpoena, it was illegally obtained. If that is correct, then those involved are the ones committing a crime and should be on trial for their lives since someone was killed in the commission of a felony!

    edge.

  • ||

    If all this is true which I tend to believe it is going on historical events. Then the only thing I can say is I have ZERO sympathy for the Cop that got HIMSELF killed.

    Sounds like the criminals are already all at the police station someone just needs to go lock the door.

    Bad apples my ass we have entire bad harvests with bushels full of corrupt cops. Finding a good one will be the challenge not finding the bad ones.

  • ||

    Quick analysis:

    If this information, that the informant were acting under police instructions, is true then the break ins were a gov't action and the 4th amendment attaches and the initial break-in was a search without a warrant. The evidence produced during the search falls under the exclusionary rule and can not be used at trial. Further, anything discovered as a result if the illegal search is also excluded as the fruit of the poisonous tree.

    The police can rely upon an illegal warrant but there is a requirement that the reliance be on good faith. If these accusations are true, there was no good faith.

    In plain English: this prosecution will crumble to dust if a court finds these accusations to be credible.

  • ||

    Obama's going to fix all this, right? I mean democrats are all for civil rights...

  • ||

    Maybe, but wouldn't that only pertain to the possession and the already dubious "drug manufacturing" charges?

  • ||

    David

    You're correct that the shooting itself won't be excluded. However, with the exclusion of the drug evidence, the entire theory of the case dies.

  • ||

    Specifically:

    The two big factors for the death penalty, vileness and future dangerousness, evaporate.
    Premeditation becomes becomes much more difficult to prove as does malice.

    Unfortunately, manslaughter might still be on the table but his case for self defense is also bolstered by the removal of the drugs.

  • Dave W.||

    This case is getting good because the government should not have the right to keep informants secret. Allowing that is an invitation to abuse, and now we have the abuse. Time to change CRI law.

  • thoreau||

    Radley Balko's work is so amazing that I'm doubling my subscription!

    (Spits out drink.)

  • ||

    I have no problem with using secret informants if three practices are maintained:
    1. They have some degree of reliability
    2. They are not secret to the neutral magistrate who gets to decide if they are reliable enough for a warrant.
    3. The neutral magistrate is genuinely neutral.

    Let's not lose sight of the fact that we still need police who can do their legitimate jobs and that this often means associating with slime. Of course that brings us back to the inevitably corrosive effects of prohibition, its mindset and incentives.

  • Johnny Nowhere||

    I've got an open question, partially OT, but relating to some of the posts in this thread:

    I'm curious about the difference in prevailing opinions on H&R between police officers and military personnel. In general, it seems that the military folks are supported while cops get shellacked. Why is this?

  • Ken||

    The problem with the system is the set of incentives. The prosecutors have a big incentive to ignore misconduct by the police and the police have a big incentive to engage in misconduct and to ignore it in other cops.

    We will continue to see these kinds of abuses as long as the incentives don't change.

    This poor guy will probably be executed. At best he will spend the rest of his life in jail with a "cop killer" label on his forehead.

  • ||

    In general, it seems that the military folks are supported while cops get shellacked. Why is this?

    It also seems like there are more military personnel on here than cops. Why is this?

  • ||

    I'm not just saying this to be snarky, either. I want to hear some LEOs' perspective on the WOD, informants, etc. Dammit, I wanna meet a libertarian cop!

  • ||

    Great work, Radley. Interestingly enough, about a week after the botched raid at Frederick's house, the Portsmouth PD (Portsmouth and Chesapeake are adjacent to each other) raided a trailer home based on a tip from an informant. It made all kinds of news because the informant was an admitted thief. The local news even interviewed the thief, who claimed to have had a guilty conscience when he broke into a trailer to steal stuff and instead found a large marijuana farm inside. The police gave the media access to the trailer before any of the plants were removed as evidence and the "thief" was not charged at that time in light of his service to the public. Could it have been "Reggie?"

  • ||

    Umm, it seems like it would be legally a bad idea to follow a tip a burglar gave you. I mean, couldn't the guy plant stuff in people's homes? And, "claimed to have a guilty conscience"? So he's about to steal from a dude, then narcs him out to a cop? WTF?

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