Teen Drug Informant Murdered in California
After his January 5, 1998 arrest for methamphetamine possession, seventeen-year-old Chad MacDonald from Brea, California agreed to become a police informant. Two months later he was murdered, allegedly in retaliation for his alliance with the police (Bill Rams, "MacDonald's Former Dealer Didn't Believe He'd Inform," Orange County Register, April 4, 1998; Bonnie Hayes, "Slain Youth's Informant Role Detailed," Los Angeles Times, April 4, 1998, p. B1; Bill Rams & Stuart Pfeifer, "Slain Informer Snitched on Friend," Orange County Register, April 3, 1998; Bonnie Hayes & Scott Martelle, "Files Detail Teen's Work for Brea Police," Los Angeles Times, April 2, 1998; Stuart Pfeifer and Tony Saavedra, "Lawyer: Teen's Killers Called Him `Narc,'" Orange County Register, March 28, 1998).
Brea police told MacDonald that if volunteered to work as an drug informant, they would explain to the district attorney that he was fully cooperating with them, increasing his chance for a reduced sentence. MacDonald agreed, and provided information about drug sales and made one undercover methamphetamine purchase. On January 19, police arrested Daryl William Hood and Ryan Patrick McGreevey in their methamphetamine lab based on information from MacDonald. Hood and MacDonald were good friends, according to Hood's stepmother.
When the police discovered that MacDonald was using and selling methamphetamines outside of his agreement with them, they terminated his informant status. Ten days later, on March 1, MacDonald and his girlfriend went to a Norwalk home where she was raped and shot, but survived. MacDonald was found dead in a Los Angeles alley on March 3. Michael Martinez, 21, Florence Noriega, 28, and Jose Alfredo Ibarro, 19, have been arrested as suspects in MacDonald's murder. All three resided in the house where it is believed that MacDonald was murdered (Keith Sharon, "Family Relieved by Arrest," Orange County Register, April 27, 1998).
Cindy MacDonald, Chad's mother, claims that her son was forced into becoming an informant out of fear of a harsh sentence. Though Cindy MacDonald signed a police waiver allowing Chad to act as an informant, her brother, Chris Saroli, feels the police took advantage of her. "They forced her to do something she couldn't really even understand the full consequences of. She trusted them and they let her down," said Saroli (Scott Martelle & Bonnie Hayes, "Fatal Deception," Los Angeles Times, April 5, 1998, p. A3.
Brea police said that the first-time punishment for minors is usually lenient. Sometimes charges are dismissed if the juvenile shows a "willingness to reform," according to Dean Allen, the supervisor of the Orange County public defender's juvenile division (Michael G. Wagner & Davan Maharaj, "Debate Flares After O.C. Teen Informant Dies," Los Angeles Times (Washington Edition), March 25, 1998).
Taped conversations between MacDonald and the Brea Police indicate that Chad felt endangered by his reputation as an informer shortly before he was killed. Police declined to comment on the tapes, but said their use of MacDonald as an informant ended ten days before his death, which they believe to be due to his involvement with drugs, not his actions as an informer (Lorenza Munoz, "Tapes Suggest Young Informant's Fears Before Being Slain," Los Angeles Times, April 16, 1998, p. A20).
The MacDonald family attorney, Lloyd Charton, reported that they are considering a civil lawsuit against the Brea police department for Chad's death. Charton is working with California State Assemblyman Scott Baugh (R) on a bill that would ban police from using minors as drug informants in most cases (Keith Sharon, "Family Relieved by Arrest," Orange County Register, April 27, 1998).
Brea Police Chief William C. Lentini - 1 Civic Center Circle, Brea CA 92821, Tel: (714) 990-7633, Fax: (714) 671-4424.
Lloyd Charton Esq. - 400 N. Tustin Ave., Suite 401, Santa Anna CA 92705, Tel: (714) 953-5033, Fax: (714) 953-5750.