What Really Happens When Someone Enters the Witness Protection Program?

What Really Happens When Someone Enters the Witness Protection Program?


How does the Witness Protection Program Work? Born of the Organized Crime Control Act of
1970, and the brainchild of longtime Department of Justice attorney, Gerald Shur, the U.S.
Marshall Service Witness Security Program (WITSEC) has successfully protected more than
18,000 people since it first began operations in 1971. Membership in the witness protection program
is typically for life, and usually begins with a visit from U.S. marshals, whether anticipated
or not. While many of the witnesses and their family members have time to make the decision
and prepare for their new lives, others are forced to choose rather quickly. Even occasionally
having to leave within moments of the marshals arriving. Family members also join, and typically this
includes a spouse and children, although sometimes even mistresses have been protected. And,
since the program requires that all participants leave everything behind – including parents,
siblings, assets and identity – innocent family members and informants alike are faced
with an impossible decision: join the program and lose your “life,” or stay and potentially
lose your life. Relocation sites are chosen by WITSEC marshals,
although families are allowed to choose from several options. The location ultimately chosen
is then disclosed to only a few people within the program. Before beginning their new lives, family members
are given new identities. One woman, Jackee Taylor (née Jacqueline Crouch), who was 7
when her family entered the program in 1981, later remembered spending hours practicing
writing her new name while waiting to be placed. Once a witness has finished testifying, the
family is transported to the new location where they are often put up in a hotel until
a suitable home is chosen. Relocated families receive a monthly stipend, along with money
for housing and other expenses that are eventually phased out after the adults have had enough
time to find new means of supporting themselves. Early on when the program was being developed,
many things fell through the cracks. WITSEC marshals often either had to forge documents
or simply failed to provide them for everyone; for example, Jackee Taylor was never given
a birth certificate nor, obviously, is she able to get one from anywhere. So when she
was little, she couldn’t play softball, and later in life, she had a difficult time
enrolling in college and getting married. In addition, although today there are set
limits for expenses, that policy only came about after some serious growing pains. For
example, after the acting head of the Los Angeles crime syndicate, Aladena Jimmy “The
Weasel” Fratianno, turned informant in 1978, he was paid nearly $1,000,000 over the next
10 years while in the program. Perhaps worth it, Fratianno’s testimony
ultimately helped to convict more than 2 dozen gangsters; on the other hand, in addition
to paying for food, housing, living expenses and health care, WITSEC was also paying for
unnecessary expenses including Fratianno’s wife’s plastic surgery and even a monthly
stipend for her mother. So, in 1987 when Fratianno’s information
dried up, so did the government’s patience, and WITSEC cut off his income and stopped
providing 24/7 protection. Although Fratianno claimed to fear for his life afterward, he
lived for another 6 years and died in his sleep in 1993. Today most of the bugs have been worked out,
and legally sealed name changes, new social security cards, birth certificates and drivers’
licenses are all routinely issued; in addition, medical and school records are quickly transferred
and fake credit histories are created. In sum, since 1971, about 8,500 witnesses
and 9,900 family members have been protected by WITSEC, and no one who has followed the
program’s guidelines has ever been killed. However, not everyone successfully transitions
into the program. In 1980, Henry Hill testified against his former associates in the Lucchese
crime family, and was placed in witness protection along with his wife and two kids. Having difficulty
adjusting, the Henry Hill’s (changed to the Martin Lewis’s and later the Peter Haines’s)
had to be relocated 10 times from places including Independence, Kentucky; Redmond, Washington;
and Omaha, Nebraska. Bored to tears, Henry (or Martin or Peter)
continued with his criminal activities and during the 1980s was arrested for crimes ranging
from assault to drunk driving to burglary. In 1985, he outed himself a bit when he worked
with Nicholas Pileggi to write his memoir, Wiseguy, which became the 1990s Goodfellas.
Shortly thereafter, in 1987, Henry/Martin/Peter was arrested for trying to sell a pound of
cocaine to two DEA agents, which ultimately resulted in his expulsion from the program.
Apparently, however, exile didn’t cause him too many problems with those he’d testified
against, since Henry lived to 2012, dying of
a heart attack.

100 Replies to “What Really Happens When Someone Enters the Witness Protection Program?”

  1. I'm not really surprised that some of these guys survived long enough to die of natural causes after leaving the witsec program. I mean, by the time they left, anyone left with any motive to hurt them was probably too old to get out of a chair without help from two people whose combined ages wouldn't equal their own.

  2. noticing you mention the causes of death without saying "natural causes" leading me to suspect that the "Today I Found Out" channel is covering for seemingly natural deaths created by the mafia.

  3. i am writing a book and I have a character who went into protection program. He was the kids father but the grandmother have always raised them. is impossible that the grandmother can refuse to go in to protective costudy and keep the kids?

  4. i wonder what happens to debt or assets. if you owe substantial money are you forgiven? if you have substantial savings can you take it?

    Also, today's digital world I wonder if people could insist on taking their computer, hard drives, games, etc. it could probably fit in a single box and I know people who'd risk death to keep their data. Especially now that assets are held in bitcoin wallets. Alternatively, what stops them from logging into social media accidentally giving away a position when trying to access important information.

  5. Bonus points if every single word in this video is a lie. 10/10 Would rat out mysterious shadow-organization's billionaire leader again, and definitely follow these exact steps.

  6. What happens to your previous identity? Are you declared "officially" dead or something? That could affect things like loans or pending court cases (not related to the one you are being protected for) and other things like that.

  7. We don't actually know if anyone has been killed after following protocol because we'd probably never hear about it.

  8. Huh never knew my hometown had a connection to Goodfellas, it’s otherwise pretty small hence why he was sent there

  9. We are thankful and need your help continually when a mysterious feature goes into witness protection what is the name of the modal that assumes the developers identity again thanks

  10. Hey, Jackie didn't ask to join W.P.P. the prosecuted begged for their witness to put away the gabgsters… the way I look at ut, her plastic surgery was given to her FAIR AND SWUARE. You want something from me, you give something to me. Works both ways. Only W.P.P. prosecutors got the better bargain, so giving her plastic surgery, stipend which was only $950 per month is more then reasonable since they couldn't see another anymore to help their mother anymore… it was a fair and square bargain. Nothing was over helped with… so stud and quit acting like she was being selfish. The country begged HER for the help, so shit, use want some stuff in return for having to erase my entire life too!

  11. So what happens if you end up becoming rich and famous while in the program? Do you just keep the new social security number and name, without any protection? What if youre already famous? Doctor, actor, etc??

  12. Those stock pictures of a family makes it look like Mike and Carol Brady types are secreted away. They are not. SCUMBAGS are. At taxpayer expense.

  13. Now that you know all about the Witness Protection Program check out this video and find out What Really Happens to a Person When They are Tarred and Feathered:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ncL0miC_NQ

  14. The cause of death you mentioned "dying in sleep" and death from a "heart attack" suspiciously resembles methods of killing from "Hitman" a very popular video game where the lead character "Agent 47" who is an assassin makes a death look like an accident.
    Just saying, BTW great video!

  15. I used to work as a courier and I had a daily stop in Ocean Park, WA at the near end of the Long Beach peninsula. I always got the feeling that it would be the perfect place for someone in the witness protection program. About as far as you can get from the East coast, no major airport for hundreds of miles, and it literally feels that you are at the end of the earth. I mentioned this to a grocery clerk one day and she didn’t seem to find the humor in it LOL. They even have a classic car show called ‘Rod Run To the End of the Earth”, which I only found out about later.

  16. I came here to gain info on where 6ix9ine will potentially end up after he just took that plead deal and snitched out trey way lmao.

  17. 69 is a rat im wondering how long till he gets popped we knew be was fake but he folded and now when he gets out nobody gonna see him hes not gonna be on social media 69 is dead hes just Daniel hernandez be cant do music better be careful wit tht cash

  18. FBI agent: Remember now, you are Homer Thompson

    Homer: Got it

    FBI agent: Hello, Mr Thompson

    Homer: …..

  19. Was in the witness protection program with my family for 10 years. dad was a witness to his friend murder by the IRA but before the trial started he was shot 5 times and survived he later sued the government because the gardi had 24 hour surveillance on him to make sure he was safe for the trial.. he was able to go to the trial to give his evidence they were sent down for 8-12 years it's been 20 years since the trial and were back in Ireland with our normal identied we're not worried about them coming after us they all moved on plus they don't wanna risk going back to prison they never caught the shooters but dad reckons he knows who done it..funny we see some of them around were we live they don't do anything. think they just want the pass to be the pass and live normal Life… When we moved back we had to signed a form that stated that if any of us got killed that we couldn't sue the government and that your getting your identity back at your own risk when my dad sued the government because of his shooting he was rewarded €750,000 compensation but sadly he spent all of it within 4 years on drink drugs gambling and now he's locked up for 3 year's.. but I'm happy he survived I got to know my dad some people don't have the opportunity to know who the dad are I'm very lucky

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