Strong Message: Don't Intimidate Confidential Informants
by Nick Beres
WARREN COUNTY, Tenn. – Detectives said a suspected drug dealer has pleaded guilty to accusations of attempting to intimidate an informant who was supposed to testify against him. Officials said he will now face consequences because of the threats.
Detectives said 41-year-old Robert Garrison secretly planted pipe bombs to kill or at the very least try to intimidate a key witness against him. As a result, the district attorney wanted to send a strong message in this case.
"We will not tolerate doing that to our informants," said Warren County Sheriff Jackie Matheny.
This month, Garrison received an eleven year sentence. He will serve one year and then be considered for probation.
Garrison was arrested in July 2013. Deputies said he planted the pipe bombs in the back of a pick-up owned by a confidential informant who was going to testify against him in a drug case.
In an exclusive interview with NewsChannel 5 after his arrest, Garrison denied planting the explosives.
"No. I'm not the Unabomber. I'm not out to hurt anybody," said Garrison.
Detectives have since unraveled his plot and when confronted, Garrison pleaded guilty.
"The evidence proves he's the one who orchestrated the whole thing," said Matheny.
Matheny said Garrison planted the bombs, along with meth making equipment and then tipped deputies to check the confidential informant's truck. He said he believes Garrison either wanted to intimidate the CI or frame him for drugs, so he'd be taken off his case as a witness.
Prosecutors said it's critical that CIs be protected from intimidation or they may stop coming forward to help testify in criminal cases.
Prosecutors also said CIs play an important role in law enforcement. They often wear wires and go undercover before later testifying as witnesses in criminal cases.