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Moost
10-02-2009, 07:22 AM
I'm working on a humorous mystery/thriller. Be gentle with me- other than watching too much Law and Order I don't know diddly squat about police procedure.

My protagonist unknowingly lives next to a former DEA agent who has changed his identity in lieu of testifying against a drug lord.

Protagonist is on verge of a nervous breakdown. He freaks out and starts a huge fight with neighbor over dog poop on lawn. They beat the crap out of each other: someone calls the cops.

I need a plausible way for the retired DEA agent's cover to be blown. I was thinking to have him break the MC's nose and get arrested for battery. Would it be too far fetched for the cops to run his finger prints through the system and find out he is not who he says he is?

Thank you!

jeseymour
10-02-2009, 04:43 PM
My protagonist unknowingly lives next to a former DEA agent who has changed his identity in lieu of testifying against a drug lord.


Do you mean he didn't testify? He quit his job and ran? So he's not in a witness protection program? Or he did testify and is now a protected witness? Or he's just a civilian at this point?

Keeping in mind that I am not a federal cop, nor do I play one on television, I can offer some knowledge based on extensive research of witness security. A protected witness who breaks the law can go to jail. Lots of them have. It tends to be hard for people who've spent their lives living high (I'm thinking mobsters, but it applies to others as well) to find themselves having to live on a normal salary, with a normal job. They often go right back to whatever they were doing before, and they get arrested, and they're out of the program.

For your scenario, it's entirely plausible for him to get arrested, but if he wasn't in the witness security program because of a former crime, his prints wouldn't be in a criminal database. Somebody who is an actual fed might have to help you there. There are at least a couple of them on this board.

But as far as plausibility of your entire scenario, why would a DEA agent need to change his identity? They can testify without revealing their identity, there is precedent for this. If he testified in secret against this guy, he could just go work in a different part of the country. Maybe he got transferred to Alaska. But there'd be no reason for him to quit his job. If he got fired because he wouldn't testify, that's a whole 'nother can of worms.

Can you clarify?

RJK
10-02-2009, 05:13 PM
To answer your question about the prints, if the person went into WitSec, all records of his prints would have been deleted. Therefore, there would be no match to anything in his former life.

icerose
10-02-2009, 05:29 PM
Cops/agents don't usually go into the witness protection program, not unless people are out to kill them as far as I know. Sometimes they'll be transferred for safety, but most just go back to what they were doing before, if he was an undercover cop, chances are he'd go right back undercover just under a different assignment.

PeterL
10-02-2009, 06:46 PM
As others have pointed out, the scenario is dubious. I don't know what you want the former DEA agent to do, but I think that the story would be more interesting, if the next door neighbor was a former Mafia guy who talked and went into witness protection. While there wouldn't be prints on file, there could be people who remembered something about the case.

Moost
10-02-2009, 11:55 PM
As others have pointed out, the scenario is dubious. I don't know what you want the former DEA agent to do, but I think that the story would be more interesting, if the next door neighbor was a former Mafia guy who talked and went into witness protection. While there wouldn't be prints on file, there could be people who remembered something about the case.

I wanted the neighbor to be some sort of law official who changed his identity on his own terms. I didn't want him to be in WP because if his identity were exposed the feds would have to get involved. I'm trying to keep it simple and funny.

I want him to be an ex dirty cop- he helped a drug ring in exchange for money. But the protagonist and the guy's colleagues don't know this. Once the MC blows his neighbor's cover, the neighbor disappears and scary men come after the MC hoping he knows the guy's whereabouts.

In my head this is a cross between the movies Burn After Reading and Pineapple Express (although the latter was INCREDIBLY stupid, I like the theme of an idiot guy getting himself into trouble with crooks)

I might just have to drop the cop idea and make him just a snitch in hiding.

PeterL
10-03-2009, 12:35 AM
I want him to be an ex dirty cop- he helped a drug ring in exchange for money. But the protagonist and the guy's colleagues don't know this. Once the MC blows his neighbor's cover, the neighbor disappears and scary men come after the MC hoping he knows the guy's whereabouts.



This would work, if you then had him turn on his partners in crime and become a snitch. Your original post ignored the dirty part of him being a cop. You could blow the cover casually. A picture in the local paper would be enough, and it might get reprinted on the internet. Think of all the silly ways that photos get into the news. There doesn't have to be a confrontation. The DEA guy could trip on a rake and break his ankle. The local rag would pick it up as something that would fill a hole on page three... If that's too contrived, then try the old water main break that creates a sink hope that swallows his driveway.

Moost
10-03-2009, 12:43 AM
This would work, if you then had him turn on his partners in crime and become a snitch. Your original post ignored the dirty part of him being a cop. You could blow the cover casually. A picture in the local paper would be enough, and it might get reprinted on the internet. Think of all the silly ways that photos get into the news. There doesn't have to be a confrontation. The DEA guy could trip on a rake and break his ankle. The local rag would pick it up as something that would fill a hole on page three... If that's too contrived, then try the old water main break that creates a sink hope that swallows his driveway.

D'oh! That's what I get for posting after a long day of class. Totally forgot to mention I wanted him to be a bad guy.

I think it would be perfect to have his picture show up in the news with the caption "Man Gets Pummeled Over Dog Feces."

I think you've given me an epiphany :)

cbenoi1
10-03-2009, 01:24 AM
> I need a plausible way for the retired DEA agent's cover to be blown.

Incidentally, I once lived two doors from an active SCRS agent (Canadian's version of the FBI/CIA). He changed cars every two weeks, hair color every three. Nice chap otherwise, albeit not very talkative...

One day he moved. Out of the blue. We later learned he'd blew his own cover by going to a special fishing store downtown, the kind of place for fly fishermen. He loved the sport and probably mentionned it to someone he shouldn't have (or maybe he sounded like an expert when he talked about it) and that's how the mobs tracked him down.

From what I know, he's a pencil pusher in Ottawa now...

-cb

Wayne K
10-03-2009, 01:36 AM
The first thing that jumps out at me is that Witness protection wouldn't do this if he refused to testify. It's not there to protect even their favorite agent, it's a program for people who help law enforcement by testifying and putting their lives in danger.

PeterL
10-03-2009, 06:12 PM
Having him pull a double cross wouldn't have to even make him look all that dirty. Undercover agents do that as a way of life, and many of them come to enjoy the life until eventually they have to turn everyone in.

Moost
10-03-2009, 08:23 PM
The first thing that jumps out at me is that Witness protection wouldn't do this if he refused to testify. It's not there to protect even their favorite agent, it's a program for people who help law enforcement by testifying and putting their lives in danger.

In the scenario I'm creating he didn't testify- but the MC is under the impression he did. When people come looking for the dirty cop when he disappears, the MC freaks out because he mistakenly believes the guy was kidnapped.

Wayne K
10-03-2009, 09:41 PM
You have some cool plot twists there.

Moost
10-03-2009, 10:25 PM
Thank you!

I want this to be really funny so I need to get the technical stuff down first. Thanks everyone for your help!

Stijn Hommes
10-04-2009, 12:11 AM
As people said before, if you're gonna find the prints at all, they're not going to lead to his old identity, so if you want his cover to be blown, you need to do it another way.

STKlingaman
10-04-2009, 01:26 AM
Will all U.S. Marshall's who work
in witness protection, who post in this
forum please raise your hand.

Everyone else is just guessing.

JulieHowe
10-04-2009, 05:17 AM
I need a plausible way for the retired DEA agent's cover to be blown. I was thinking to have him break the MC's nose and get arrested for battery. Would it be too far fetched for the cops to run his finger prints through the system and find out he is not who he says he is?

Yes, it is too far-fetched. Also, at the scene of the crime, most of the time, the cops just call in your driver's license number to see if there are any outstanding wants or warrants.