This deep and detailed series of articles from The Intercept uncovers a prosecutor’s heavy reliance on a snitch ring in the federal prison in Beaumont, Texas, and the discredited convictions that it produced. In the capital murder case against Ronald Prible, for example, a federal judge found that the prosecutor, Kelly Siegler, suppressed exculpatory evidence about the jailhouse informant whose testimony led to Prible’s conviction. Siegler is the television star of the true crime show “Cold Justice.” All three Intercept articles here: The Prosecutor and the Snitch Ring.
The Beaumont prison snitch ring has been in the news before. Ten years ago, Ann Colomb and her four sons were wrongfully convicted of federal drug charges based on dozens of lying Beaumont informants (here’s the original story from Radley Balko in Reason Magazine). Federal Judge Tucker Melancon who presided over the Colomb case complained specifically about Federal Rule 35 which permits federal prisoners to get sentence reductions in exchange for information. (This is the same rule that Siegler used in the Prible case to incentivize her informant, Michael Beckcom, to testify.) As Judge Melancon put it, “Everyone in the federal prisons knows what’s going on . . . . [T]hey realize they can tell the government things that happened years ago—true or not—and get time off their sentences.” And he warned that “[w]e potentially have a huge problem with this network in the federal prison system.”