Murdered Teen Informant Made Deal Directly with Brea Police 4/3/98

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- Barrington Daltrey for DRCNet

Last week, DRCNet reported on the death of Chad MacDonald, a minor who was murdered in the Los Angeles area after having been used by the Brea police department as an informant. In that report, we indicated MacDonald may have been acting pursuant to a court plea arrangement. Further investigation reveals that the case may not have ever made it as far as court.

According to Lloyd Charton, the attorney for Chad MacDonald's mother, MacDonald entered into an arrangement with the Brea police department to avoid filing of charges stemming from his arrest by the department. MacDonald's mother, Cindy MacDonald, signed a "release" form at the department's request.

Charton reports that the boy had been apprehended by police. Mrs. MacDonald was contacted, and she proceeded directly to the police station. However, by the time she arrived, she was told that Chad, who was in tears, had "sung like a canary" and was looking at substantial jail time if charges were filed. Mrs. MacDonald was assured he would not be in danger if she agreed to allow him to act as an informant as they proposed.

Thereafter, the department decided MacDonald should make a "buy" while wearing a wire. Mrs. MacDonald was not informed of this arrangement until after the buy had taken place.

In our story last week, we concluded the arrangement had been the result of a court plea agreement, based on the fact that Brea police department had filed a petition with the juvenile court seeking authorization to release details about the arrangement. When asked whether the petition had been filed in the action pending against MacDonald or separately, Brea police chief Lentini indicated the petition was filed in a separate action -- not mentioning that in fact, no proceeding had been brought involving MacDonald in the first place.

The unilateral action by the police department to coerce MacDonald into acting as an informant by offering not to file charges effectively prevented any involvement of the district attorney or the juvenile court in determining whether such activity would be in the best interests of the minor -- who, if successfully prosecuted, would have become a ward of the court.

According to Charton, MacDonald was arrested with 1/2 ounce of speed in January. He also had a glass pipe at the time of the arrest, but his mother, Cindy MacDonald, was not told about the pipe, nor was it suggested to her that her son had a drug problem, which may have qualified him for drug treatment rather than the prison term that his mother was hoping to avoid by signing the release. MacDonald was accused of dealing the drug, along with other persons.

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