The U.S. government has paid Sagastume $9 million for his work as an informant over the last 15 years, the story says. The biggest chunk of the money—$7.5 million—was from two rewards for work he did for the Drug Enforcement Administration. He earned another $1.6 million for work on 150 investigations, although some of the money covered his expenses.So essentially if you are accused of a crime, you are going up against an opponent that can pay witnesses enough to live for a lifetime for testimony against you. This is just an example of how the deck is stacked against Denver criminal defense lawyers and their clients.
Now naturally this is a federal case. Most people aren't charged with federal crimes. The vast majority are charged in state courts with state offenses. State prosecutors do not have nearly this sort of money at their disposal. However, it still is a glaring illustration of the resources available. If the testimony is not forthcoming, they can pay a lot of money for it. Now of course the defendant can ask that witness if he got paid for his testimony. However, a lot of times these payments are to get somebody to testify when they are being intimidated. This line of questioning can just serve to make the defendant look even worse.