U.S. Seventh Circuit - The FindLaw 7th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

No Reduced Sentence for a Snitch Who Ran Too Soon

Tyran ran.

That was the problem for Tyran Patton, a government informant who lost out on a sentence reduction because he took off in the middle of an investigation. A major drug dealer in the Chicago area, he was supposed to testify before a grand jury but disappeared before returning to face his own charges.

Because he had helped authorities bust some street-level offenders, Patton wanted prosecutors to ask the court for a lower sentence. They declined, and the court sentenced him to 224 months in prison.

The Bigger Guys

On appeal, Patton argued that he helped the government in several cases but the government attorneys were "embarrassed" to seek a sentence reduction because they had blown the prosecution of other bigtime offenders. The appellate judges, reviewing arguments in the trial court, saw it differently:

"This exchange shows that the government concluded that Patton had not fully cooperated because he caused the government to miss the "bigger guys"; not because the government looked terrible for missing the bigger guys," Judge Daniel A. Manion wrote for the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

The judges unanimously affirmed the trial court decision, and revealed a record that branded Patton as a snitch in prosecutions against seven people. Police also seized 60 guns in the investigations.

"Word is out on the street that Tyran Patton is cooperating," said a government attorney about that time. "He is a snitch. He needs to get himself back in the good graces of ATF ... basically for some protection."

Lost Time

The government had agreed to move for a sentence reduction after Patton agreed to cooperate with agents for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Agents had arrested him in a firearms investigation, and arrested his courier with eight kilograms of cocaine and three kilograms of heroin in a separate case.

In a deal with prosecutors, Patton confessed to illegal firearms and drug-trafficking in exchange for a possible sentence reduction for cooperating with authorities.

He worked with law enforcement for about a year, but then disappeared for six months after prosecutors told him he was needed for a grand jury. Prior to sentencing on his own charges, he said that he had been hospitalized and that his phone didn't work during those missing months.

Prosecutors said that Patton re-emerged after several trials revealed he was a government informant and that he wanted government protection.

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