The Witness Protection Program is one of the most intriguing departments in the U.S. government. Even though its operations and actions are kept completely secret from average citizens, all of that secrecy only means we’re increasingly interested in what happens when witnesses to crimes enter the Witness Protection Program.
Shrouded in mystery, the Witness Protection Program — or, as it’s officially known, the Witness Security Program (WITSEC) — was created by the Justice Department in 1971. The program’s sole purpose is to help people who testify as witnesses for the federal government stay safe. Testifying for the government often means you become a big target for murder. But, thanks to the Witness Protection Program, you can instead create an entirely new life and live out the rest of your life under a new identity.
Although the secrets of the Witness Protection Program are well-hidden, some of the program’s most surprising, shocking details have leaked out in recent years. And if you’re looking to learn what happens to those who give up their lives for Witness Protection, here are a few incredible facts that will shock you.
The Witness Protection Program Used to Pay for Witnesses’ Plastic Surgery
Ever wonder how the Witness Protection Program is able to hide its participants in plain sight? Well, for some former witnesses, plastic surgery could be the answer.
Until the 1990s, the Witness Protection Program actually used to pay for witnesses’ plastic surgery. The program and its witnesses were so effective at putting criminals behind bars in the 1970s and 1980s that the Justice Department had no problem paying for people’s plastic surgery. In fact, they even let some witnesses get some… unusual and unnecessary surgeries.
Former mob hitman Aladena Fratianno actually asked WITSEC to pay for breast implants, a facelift, and some dental work for his wife — and WITSEC said yes! Another witness claimed that he needed a penile implant because he had bad self esteem and, surprisingly, WITSEC paid for that too.
95% of People in the Witness Protection Program Are Criminals
You’d think people who volunteer to testify against major criminals are on the right side of the law. After all, taking the stand against deadly Mafia bosses and other murderous criminals isn’t exactly a task that you’d want to perform if you didn’t want to put bad guys away for life.
But here’s a shocking statistic about the Witness Protection Program: fewer than 5 percent of all the witnesses who’ve participated in the program have been good, upstanding citizens. That means 95 percent of all witnesses have actually been criminals — just like the people they testify against. These protected individuals have murdered, stolen money, and committed some other pretty terrible crimes themselves.