When a case such as this one is allowed to proceed to begin with, one must question those in authority at every level of government. Paul Bergrin was a criminal defense attorney, a guardian of the gate, the one that stood between freedom and incarceration for the many that sought his assistance in War on Drugs cases more often than not. He defended soldiers fooled into joining the farcical War on Terror only to have it slammed in their faces when they followed orders from a much higher authority, and he did it pro bono. He defended your brothers and your sisters no matter what the accusations entailed.
For prosecutors to claim that there was no benefit paid or gain promised to the testifying criminal informants is an insult to anyone with a modicum of intelligence. It's a play on words at the least and certainly intended to deceive the unaware. While major time off of a long prison sentence was probably not promised, it was definitely alluded to. There are few absolutes in this world, but if the government prosecutors developed a reputation of not assisting the criminal informants in exchange for testimony, there would be none to testilie. Of course each had something to gain - freedom holds a much greater value than money, and then some were paid in $cash too.
Blame the faux War on Drugs
If not for the seriously long prison sentences in this War on Drugs in the US, there would not be criminal informants. It's a scam cooked-up by so-called academics, government actors, and government workers and representatives a long time ago. It keeps the lot of them in money and feeds the system of incarceration in the US. Why do so many Americans accept this today? I admit that I do not understand, but then I was not born and raised here. From the age of 16 onward, I was driving or taking the train to Amsterdam to party at the Melkweg with friends. Few nations dole out sentences as draconian as we do here over drugs and I would not want to live in any that do.
When a person involved in the sale of drugs is threatened with 20 or 30 years in a cage, that person is likely to say anything at all to get a reduction of time. Our drug laws are set-up to incarcerate for what remains of a person's life for such offenses, unless that party agrees to play, of course. As much as I am disgusted by the lies told on the stand by a lengthy list of criminal informants in this case, I also am hard-pressed to find fault with most because I am acutely aware of the decision each faced.
The criminal informants in this case did not create the system that oppresses each. While the participating government workers also did not create this system of injustice that incarcerates so many over drugs, each is complicit in its existence from the lowly participating agent or prison guard to the POTUS that refuses to enact real change by abolishing mandatory minimums and promoting real change of drug sentencing ranges, or even ending the War on Drugs in its entirety.
The system that creates these criminal informants and places each in a situation in which the only choice is decades in a failing prison system or turning over other Drug War victims is indeed Kafkaesque in its origins. For that matter, this case against Paul Bergrin certainly involves a disorienting complexity - ask any one of the jurors.
No matter which choice the Drug War defendant makes, he will suffer for it. Choose to be an informant when threatened with decades in a cage as Kemo Deshawn McCray did and someone(s) somewhere will want you dead. Choose to tell the story that the government demands and live in fear and suffer mentally for your participation for the rest of your life. Choose the cage and languish year after year in a planned system of enslavement wherein solitary confinement at some point is a given and torture is more than a mere possibility. There is no winning choice in this game.
Of course this is all on the backs of the US taxpayer and with his permission. It wouldn't be possible if everyone denounced it. While Oscar the criminal informant collects $4K for his testimony immediately after testifying, the slave wage workers and the poor will never see that amount of money altogether in a lifetime, unless the lottery or some other anomaly comes to fruition, of course. As I sit here with $200 to my name, I could testify to that. Participating in the entrepreneurial system we are supposed to live by is also out for me, the acquitted, yet forever tracked, defendant. What some of us wouldn't give for that $4K today, indeed.
And then there are the Vincent Esteves defendants of the system. Oscar offended him by dropping only $20K towards his defense costs. Do realize who paid that $20K for the Esteves commissary tab and defense costs: you, the American taxpayer. Do realize who foots the daily bills accrued in this War on Drugs with its many, many criminal informants that live on the edge.
I encourage you to read Paul Bergrin's summation. It begins on page 8586 in Volume 34 of the trial transcripts. I do intend to discuss various points that he made as soon as I am able.