“What you got was just the tip of the iceberg,” a man identifying himself as confidential police informant Daniel Victor Lee said in an interview. Lee called New Times hours after an article featuring his work for the SLO County Sheriff’s Department hit the news stands on July 9, eager to tell his side of the story. According to court documents, Lee was a paid informant for the sheriff’s department for about seven months during 2006. He worked on several high-profile cases, usually involving marijuana. His story shed light not only on the practice of using informants, but on the lengths the sheriff’s department would go to incriminate local marijuana and medical marijuana users. Despite many attempts, New Times was not able to reach Lee in advance of the story.
During the phone call, he provided such information as his birth date to prove his identity. New Times described ten cases, confirmed by court documents, involving Lee. But Lee said he was involved in more than 100. He didn’t say how much he was paid in total.
“You got some of it,” he said, “but it goes way deeper, back to 2002. What you got was just the tip of the iceberg.”
Lee seemed unfazed by the coverage of his performance as a snitch. In fact, he offered to provide many more details, including the cases he worked on and how he turned informant, but said he would need to be “compensated.”
When a New Times reporter declined to pay him for a story, he said he might give up the details anyway, if the sheriff’s department didn’t do something to fix his situation. During the call, he said he was upset at his “handlers” at the sheriff’s department for not protecting him and his family better.
Brian Hascall, a sheriff’s spokesman, said the department will no longer comment on the matter. Hascall would not confirm the number of cases Lee worked on.
“This is a case involving a confidential informant,” Hascall explained, “as such, we believe that the issues surrounding them should remain confidential.”