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  • They say crime doesn't pay, and  you've learned that the hard way.  

  • Taking a job with the largest ferret-smuggling  ring on the East coast seemed like a good idea,  

  • but less so when you're locked up facing hundreds  of charges. But you're a tough guy, and you're not  

  • going to break easily. You can do hard timeand you're not worried about trial - until you  

  • realize the next big superhero movie is coming  out this Friday. You've got to get out of here!

  • A pair of sharp-dressed men show  up at your cell one morning,  

  • and they tell you they've got good newsThey don't really want you - they want to  

  • get to the head of the smuggling ring, and  you're the guy with the most information.  

  • You're going into the US federal government's  program for high-value assets - the United  

  • States Federal Witness Protection ProgramGet ready to leave your old life behind.

  • Entering its fiftieth year  of keeping witnesses safe,  

  • the witness protection program was designed  to help the government nail organized crime  

  • syndicates by ensuring the bosses couldn't  assassinate witnesses before trial. Since 1970,  

  • they've protected over 19,000 witnesses and  families - 95% of which are criminals. After all,  

  • who knows more about the inner workings of  a crime syndicate than the people working  

  • in it? But the program is closely guarded  to keep its participants safe, and you're  

  • going to learn all about its deepest secrets  as you prepare to leave your old life behind.

  • The first surprise? It's very organized, and  your first step is orientation. Originally,  

  • relocated witnesses were left to fend for  themselves with only basic documents and training,  

  • but now your first stop is a clearinghouse in  Washington DC, the WITSEC Safesite and Orientation  

  • Center. Essentially a dorm that can house up to  six families at one time, you're transported there  

  • in a secure vehicle with black windows. What's  awaiting you inside this mysterious campus?

  • Inside, you learn all the details of your new  identity and location, given new documentation  

  • including a birth certificate and social security  number that will allow you to do anything your old  

  • identity could, and informed of your obligations  to the government. When they're ready to put your  

  • boss on trial, you're obligated to testify  in exchange for your place in the system.  

  • Don't expect to meet new friends, thougheveryone entering the program is segregated  

  • from each other at the facility, and you'll only  meet with your handlers for private orientation.

  • One of the biggest worries you have  about the program is getting a new name.  

  • You were named after your Great Uncleand he taught you everything you know.  

  • So many memories of collecting your first  protection money with him. But your handler  

  • surprises you when he tells you that many  members of the program keep their first name!  

  • This is to make the adjustment easier, and  to make it less likely that a rookie in the  

  • program will blow their secret identityWhen someone calls you by your first name,  

  • they expect you to respond, and even a few  seconds' delay could raise the attention of  

  • someone in your new town. You will get a new last  name, though, and your handlers are going to make  

  • sure you know it inside and out. Expect lots of  practice signing documents with your new name.

  • The good news is, for the first time in your lifeyou get to decide exactly who you want to be!  

  • You'll have a role in customizing your new  identity, and your handlers will ensure your  

  • documents match. Never finished college and want  to make sure you look good to your new neighbors?  

  • It's a lot easier for the government to give you  a fake degree than it is to go back to school.  

  • For parents who are taking kids into the  program, some even ask for their kids to  

  • be given new transcripts that make them look  like good students when they enroll in school.  

  • Man, you should have gone into witness protection  when you were trying to pass chemistry.  

  • The government doesn't grant unnecessary  requests like that regularly, though.

  • The more you hear about witness protectionthe more you like it, because you're going to  

  • be living on easy street - for a while at leastThe government will relocate you to a new town,  

  • give you housing and furnishings, and pay yousalary based on the cost of living in the area.  

  • The average relocated witness receives a total of  $60,000 from the government, but don't expect the  

  • gravy train to last forever. By six months, the  government expects you to have landed a job in  

  • the area and be sustaining yourself in your new  living situation. But for witnesses who are under  

  • close guard and required to testify frequentlythe government gravy train can go on much longer.

  • Don't expect to spend all your time in your  new life lazing around, though - you'll have  

  • someone to keep you accountable. One of  the biggest secrets of witness protection  

  • is that you'll have a shadow following you at  all times. This is your personal US Marshall,  

  • and that assignment is for as long as you're in  the program or alive. US Marshalls regularly work  

  • undercover to catch criminals, so yours might  integrate themselves into the community to keep  

  • an eye on you. When it comes time to testifyyour marshall will escort you to the trial to  

  • keep you safe. But once you settle into your new  life, the Marshall will become a smaller part of  

  • it - some witnesses in the program for a while  only check in with their Marshall once a year.

  • But where are you going to live in your new  life? Your liaison at the safe house asks you  

  • for your preferred setting, but you soon  find out that you're going somewhere else  

  • entirely. This is one of the biggest secrets of  the witness protection program - no one goes where  

  • they're hoping. That's because they know you've  probably told people all about your plan to retire  

  • to Nashville to pursue a career in country music  after that one big ferret score. Lots of people  

  • are going to be after you, and the odds are  one of them knows to look for you in Nashville.  

  • That's why you're going to NowheresvilleUSA, where no one will look for you. Making  

  • sure witnesses are where people would least  expect it is the key to the program's success.

  • You're already starting to get stir crazy thinking  about it, and you're wondering - what if this  

  • program isn't for you? Surely the heat will die  down after a while once you've testified, right?  

  • What happens when you want to go back to your old  life? The good news is, nothing is stopping you.  

  • The Marshalls won't volunteer this information for  your own safety, but many residents of the program  

  • go back to their old lives eventually, taking back  their old name and even telling all about their  

  • crimes. No one's stopping you - but that also  means no one's protecting you if your old enemies  

  • decide to say hello at your book signing. Leave  the witness protection program at your own risk.

  • The Marshalls want you to keep your  head down, stay out of trouble,  

  • and embrace your new life. And most do, but up  to twenty percent of witnesses commit new crimes  

  • while in witness protection. That's probably  not a great idea with the US Marshalls watching,  

  • but old habits die hard. Still, with up to  40% of people on parole committing new crimes,  

  • the witness protection program has a better rate  of success. If someone is determined to go back  

  • to their old life, few things can stop themThat was the case for Sammy the Bull Gravano,  

  • a notorious mobster who turned witness  and escaped a life sentence for murder.  

  • He couldn't hack the quiet life, left the  program once the heat had died down - and  

  • was eventually caught in a massive drug ring  that sent him back to jail for twenty years.

  • So how far will the government go to get  someone into the witness protection program?  

  • That depends on how valuable the witness  is. During the early days of the program,  

  • when the government was breaking up some of  the most powerful crime syndicates in history,  

  • they would grant bizarre and elaborate wishes from  witnesses as they relocated them. Most famously,  

  • this would include free plastic surgery. New  life, new you! Mob informants would get dental  

  • work done, facelifts, and breast implants for  their wives. One witness even claimed he needed  

  • an operation to enhance his manhood, and gotpsychologist to sign off. Those days are long  

  • behind the program, but new and thorny issues  are cropping up for the Marshalls every year.

  • You're heading into the program single, and you  want to know - what if you meet someone while  

  • you're in the program? The good news is, there's  no rule saying you can't date or even get married  

  • while in the witness protection program. The  bad news? You'd better get used to lying to your  

  • significant other. The program doesn't advertise  it, but keeping your identity secret means just  

  • that - even when you're on a date. That's because  many new relationships end in a nasty way,  

  • and would you want your ex to knowsecret that could possibly get you killed?  

  • Of course, some witnesses take the secrecy  further than others. When mobster Henry Hill  

  • entered witness protection, he soon  got married - without letting his new  

  • wife know he was still married to a woman  who didn't go into the program. Awkward.

  • Things get even more complicated if  you're bringing kids into the program,  

  • especially if you're a divorced parentCustody battles are tense enough as is,  

  • but when the witness protection program  is involved, seeing your kids can become  

  • a labyrinth of regulations. In the 1970's,  Thomas Leonhard's ex-wife went into the  

  • witness protection program with her new husband  and took Thomas' kids with her. His visitation  

  • rights were terminated due to security issuesand he had to go to court to get their location.  

  • It took years of battling with the government for  WITSEC to make an amendment allowing parents with  

  • joint custody to see their kids, although they  still don't make it easy - to fly to the kids'  

  • new home, you'd have to do it under an alias viacomplex plane route to throw people off the track.

  • You don't have any of that baggage, so it sounds  like you'll be on easy street soon enough.  

  • Some minor ferret fraud isn't a big deal for  the government to forgive if you testify,  

  • so you'll be walking into your new life  with a clean record. But what about the  

  • heavy-duty criminals who enter the systemSome mobsters who turned state's evidence  

  • are among the most dangerous people out thereincluding mob hitmen with body counts of dozens.  

  • Do the Marshalls just let them go scott-freeOne of the witness protection program's biggest  

  • secrets is that a chunk of their witnesses are  still in prison. They get their new identity  

  • and serve their sentence under an aliasusually with a shortened term and added perks  

  • including unlimited phone calls and better  food in prison. Most will be released into  

  • the regular witness protection program soon  enough, but some serious criminals including  

  • Washington DC drug kingpin Rayful Edmond are  doing life sentences in witness protection.

  • The federal program is well organized  - so well-organized, in fact,  

  • that big states decided to copy it. While most  of the residents are in the federal program,  

  • states and major cities have a scaled-down  version of the program designed to help people  

  • who witness lower-level crimes. If a witness  sees a gang killing and is too scared to talk,  

  • the city will give them a new place to live  and the protection they need to testify.  

  • But without the access to federal documents  that you'll get in WITSEC, this is ideal  

  • for short-term protection and not for someone  who's going to cross a powerful crime syndicate.

  • So how long should you expect to stay in the  program? Well, I wouldn't make any plans back  

  • home. Crime bosses have a long memory, and while  no one who stayed in the witness protection  

  • program has ever been killed, the same can't be  said for those who stray. Daniel LaPolla decided  

  • to come home after testifying to attend a friend's  funeral. When he opened the door to his home,  

  • it had been rigged to explode right in his  face, and his furlough from the program was  

  • cut violently short. Once you're in the witness  protection program, there's only one way to stay  

  • safe - get used to your new life. You're going  to become the mask. And stay away from ferrets.

  • For more about why you should steer  clear of the mafia check outCrazy  

  • Italian Mafia Crimes”. And for some  witness protection blunders to avoid,  

  • check outMost Epic Fails of  the Witness Protection Program”.

They say crime doesn't pay, and  you've learned that the hard way.  

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Witness Protection Program Insane Secrets

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    林宜悉 posted on 2021/01/04
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