As it's explained to me by several different law enforcement officers, you're to give the witness this form and ask them to fill it out the facts of the crime to the best of their recollection WITHOUT ANY HELP FROM LAW ENFORCEMENT. That makes sense doesn't it? After all, this statement is to be in their words, their recollection of events not in the Detectives words or how the detective wants things stated. It's pretty straight forward isn't it?
Now, let's take a look at a purely hypothetical situation, let's say that someone reports their credit card stolen and finds out while the card was missing someone purchased some merchandise with the stolen credit card. The victim calls the cops, they show up, debrief the victim and then ask him to fill out a MDPD statement form. Now, let's just say that the victim isn't the smartest or most articulate person in the world and renders the following statement:
"homeboy stole my credit card and bought some stuff."That's it?! The witness isn't the most eloquent person in the world but he did sum up the crime in one sentence didn't he? His credit card went missing and someone made some purchases using the credit card, short and sweet! What good does that statement do the cops? It's restating the obvious, but let's say they know who took the card and purchased the "stuff", doesn't this statement make their job a little more difficult? Wouldn't it be nice if the victims statement could speak directly to the elements of the crime? Like I said before, I was told that the cops are not supposed to meddle or participate in the writing of the witness statement. Imagine if that same witness gave a statement that looked like this:
On October 3, 2008 I discovered that my American Express credit card card # 3715-357741-92130 exp 12/12 was missing from my wallet that was located on my kitchen table in my home which is located at 1351 NW 12th street, Miami Florida 33125. The person who stole my credit card went later that day at approximately 2 pm to the Brandsmart located at 4320 NW 167th street, Miami Florida 33054 and purchased two 52" LG flatscreen TV serial #908RMFP237195 and serial #908RMCJ237323. The Brandsmart security cameras show the televisions being taken out of the store and being loaded into a black 2005 ford F150 four door Florida license plate number 412-ewr which drove to a pawn shop located at 9800 NW 27th avenue, Miami Fl 33147. The Brandsmart security cameras identify the subject as being the victims roommate Rolando Barrero.Imagine reading something that precise on a witness statement? A statement that speaks to the elements of the crime, has essential details necessary for preparing a warrant and clearly lays out what happened for the prosecutor? This statement seems a lot more useful than "homeboy stole my credit card and bought some stuff" doesn't it? As nice as that statement is, how likely is it that it came from said victim? Or even worse, does that sound like something a witness who wasn't the victim would say? In my humble opinion that sounds like a statement that was heavily coached or even dictated by the cops, now that would go against everything I've been told about how these statements are collected.
What does this hypothetical situation have to do with our discussion of Mortgage Fraud? Am I accusing Detective Jorge Baluja of coaching a witness during the writing of a witness statement? What do you think? That's right boys and girls, not only am I accusing Detective Baluja of dictating to a witness what to write on their statement, I'm going to go one step further and suggest that when he wasn't satisfied with what the witness stated, he went on to write a new statement himself.
Now maybe I'm stupid, if you're going to dictate what a witness is to put in a statement or worse, write the statement yourself, what's the point in even taking the statement? Why not just sit there and write it from the comfort of your office and put in whatever the hell you want without having to deal with that pesky witness? WHOOPS! That isn't what happened now is it Jorge? You didn't dictate what to write to a witness in the Bernardo Barrera mortgage fraud case now did you? That would be wrong wouldn't it Jorge? Worst of all Jorge, do you think I'd make this kind of accusation without proof? Don't worry, I'll "refresh your memory" a little later this week.
Looks like I'll have to call Internal Affairs today and get some clarification on this subject. Till tomorrow...