Drug Policy

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

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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.