The New York Times profiles Robert Weston, 45, who for the past 15 years has been providing police in the Bronx with “fillers” — the decoys who accompany the suspect in police lineups. Detectives often find fillers on their own, combing homeless shelters and street corners for willing participants. But in the Bronx, detectives often pay Weston $10 to find fillers for them.
Across the nation, police lineups are under a fresh round of legal scrutiny, as recent studies have suggested that mistaken identifications in lineups are a leading cause of wrongful convictions. But for all the attention that lineups attract in legal circles, Weston's role in finding lineup fillers is largely unknown. Few defense lawyers and prosecutors, though they spar over the admissibility of lineups in court, have heard of him. Fillers are paid $10 in the Bronx, and Weston gets $10 for every lineup he fills–sometimes four a day, sometimes none. He says it is his primary source of income.