[Labor Day Weekend]
Things were as usual pretty quiet in Custer County. I’d given everyone but Kelly and myself the weekend off to be with their families.
As was the norm for Holiday Weekends, I was busy catching up on some paperwork while Kelly was busy sorting her garden out but was only a phone call away should the need arise.
Even Harry Wong’s store and bar were quiet as the station clock slowly ticked its way round yet another hour. Hardly a car was moving outside and the later summer heat was tempered but a slight breeze. Sadly, I could hear the odd rumble of thunder in the distance.
I was sure that a lot of BBQ plans would be going to get ruined if the forecast storms came in our direction.
Just before 5pm the CB Radio burst into life. Since the advent of cellular phones, the use of CB had decreased considerably, but a good few truckers still used them especially since using a non-hands-free phone was made illegal in many states.
“Calling the County Bears, come in please. This is ‘Big Brown Daddy’.”
I picked up the microphone and switched it to send.
“Sheriff Matt Harker here. What is your problem ‘Big Brown Daddy’?”
“Hiya Sheriff. Just to let you know that there are some cows on Cedar Creek Lane. Just two at the moment but it looks like more will be following them. It seems that the grass is really greener on the other side of the fence.”
“Many thanks Big Brown Daddy. We will get onto right away. Safe Trucking.”
I knew that the owner of the ‘Big Brown Daddy’ handle was a local named Bill Brown who was a former Linebacker and father of twins hence his handle. He lived in the next county and was probably on his way home for the weekend after a long haul. I could trust the report so I called Kelly.
Less than twenty minutes later we were on the way to Cedar Creek Lane to investigate.
My heart sank when I realised that the errant beasts belonged to Joe Cummings.
“They belong to Joe Cummings. He won’t welcome a visit from us,” I remarked.
“He does not like visitors especially those in uniform.”
“Ah. Perhaps I should do the honours this time? He might not be so anti police when he sees that it is a woman?”
“The last time Sue-Ellen went to see him she got a right telling off but you are more than welcome to have a go. But first let us get these beasts back in the field. Are you up for a little cow herding with your cruiser?”
Kelly grinned back at me.
“I’ll try everything once. You know me Boss.”
I did at that.
Some thirty minutes later the Cows were back in the field and I was stringing the hole in the fence with some baler twine. It would have to do as a temporary fix until after the holiday.
“Can you call me on your cell before you go and see Joe Cummings. I’ll record the whole conversation so if his lawyer gets uppity we can use the recording to keep him quiet.”
“Is he that bad?”
“Yeah. Ever since he bought the place some years back he’s been a virtual recluse. He only keeps the cows because there is a covenant on the land. He uses the Parker Twins to manage them and you know how bright they are.”
“Sure, thing boss. Where will you be?”
“Right here keeping an eye on those cows. Those critters aren’t as stupid as most people think.”
Kelly grinned as she climbed back into her cruiser and took off to see Joe Cummings.
[The following is what the Sheriff heard over the phone].
“Good afternoon Mr Cummings. I’m Officer Kelly…”.
“I know very well who you are.” Interrupted Mr Cummings.
“Can’t you read? The signs clearly say Keep Out. No Trespassers. That especially means the Police. I do not appreciate your blatant flouting of the laws of Trespass. Perhaps you should go back to the Station and read up on them before breaking them so easily?”
“My Cummings, I am here on official business.”
“Then it should be conducted through my lawyer. I am sure that this has been made more than clear to your Sheriff many, many times and in writing?”
“Sir, according to the notice pinned on his office door, your lawyer is away for the weekend and this is urgent. That is why I am here right now.”
“So, what is so urgent that it can’t wait until Tuesday? Or do I have to show you the business end of my Shotgun to get you off my property?”
“Sir, I am here to report that some of your cows broke through the fence and onto Cedar Creek Lane. They present a danger to traffic. The Sheriff and I have herded them back into the field but the fence needs fixing.”
“So, call my Ranch Manager. That is his job to fix not mine.”
“Mr Cummings, in case you hadn’t noticed, it is Labor Day weekend. Your Ranch Manager and his brother are off at biggest Rodeo of the season in the next but one county. They are your cows and ultimately their wellbeing is your responsibility. You have been officially notified of their escape. If they break out again then you could be liable for charges and be summoned to appear before Judge Holmes. Do you understand?”
“Of course, I understand. Now get the hell off my land. The next time I see you here I will not be so understanding. In future speak to my lawyer first. Got it?”
“Yes Sir. I understand.”
I heard the sounds of Kelly beating a retreat to her car. She kept the call open until she was off his land.
“Got all that Boss?”
“Yes. You did everything by the book. Well done. You can go home now.”
Then I added,
“I’ll be over around 7pm ok?”
“Of course,” came her cheery reply.
I closed the call and sat right where I was hoping that Joe Cummings would venture out to see where his cows had broken through.
My wait was fruitless so just after 6:30pm I gave up and headed back to town fully expecting to hear the lawyer on the phone before the evening was out or that the Cows had escaped again.
Kelly wasn’t her normal self that evening.
“What’s wrong? You seem pre-occupied with something tonight?”
“I’m not sure. I need to do some thinking and some investigation before I can tell anyone. I don’t want to look a complete jerk you know.”
“You could never be that but I’ll wait but my guess that it has something to do with Joe Cummings.”
“But I want to be sure before I say something.”
“Ok but don’t hold onto it for too long ok? I’m here to help if I can.”
“I know and thanks. Did you say that it was 2009 when he bought that spread?”
“Around about then. I was away in the Army but I remember Ma telling me that the place had been sold at last. It had been on the market for a couple of years but no one wanted to buy it with the covenants about raising beef around their neck. As a result, and with the aid of Tracy Davis he managed to know a good deal more off the already reduced price. Why?”
Kelly smiled back in a way that said ‘you ain’t gonna get any more outta me like that’.
“Tracy, has he always been the only Lawyer in town?”
“Nah. He went off to some fancy Law School back east. The next thing we heard from him was that he’d bought out Old Man Tomkins, who’d run the practice since he came back from Vietnam in seventy-three. This was around mid 2008 if my memory serves me right. The rumour is that he paid cash for it and that the cash was a payoff from his job back east. One of them jobs where they pay you a whole year’s salary just to get rid. Some people have all the luck.”
“Thanks Matt. That is very good information. I promise to tell you my theory as soon as I’ve done some more research.”
Then she paused and added,
“If you don’t mind, I’d rather be alone tonight.”
“Sure. I understand,” I said as I stood up and gave her a peck on the cheeks.
With the holiday weekend over things returned to some sort of normality at the Station. Tracy Davis had been over and read us the riot act for trespassing onto his Clients land but, when he heard the recording of what actually took place he calmed down a bit especially when we told him that if the cows escaped again we’d confiscate the beasts and sell them in aid of the Old Folks Thanksgiving Dinner.
I say some sort of normality because Kelly was still pre-occupied with whatever had been sparked when she’d met Joseph Cummings at the weekend. I knew better than to press her on the matter. She could flare up quite dramatically when backed into a corner.
On the following Thursday morning, just after I’d sent the troops off on patrol she returned to the station with a concerned look on her face.
“Boss, I think we need to talk about Joe Cummings,” was her matter of fact request.
“Sure, come on into my office and you can unload whatever has been consuming you these past few days.”
Kelly sat down and pulled out a folder. She opened it and handed me a sheet of paper. I knew in a second what it was.
“This is a New York State Supreme Court wanted Poster. It is for one Alec Barratt,” she pronounced.
“The photo on that posted bears a striking resemblance to Joe Cummings,” she added.
I looked at it and yes it did look a lot like Joe.
She wasn’t finished yet. Not by a long chalk if the number of pages in the folder.
“Alec Barratt was a senior official in the division of Smithson Brothers dealing with Sub-Prime loans to Fannie-Mae and Freddie-Mac.”
The memories of the turmoil from those days in 2008 came flooding back. I was stationed near DC at the time. A good number of soldiers, sailors and airmen suddenly found themselves with a major housing problem and there were a lot of foreclosures.
“He disappeared on 17th September 2008, exactly one day before both Smithson’s and Lehman’s collapsed. Smithson’s was a tiny outfit compared to Lehman’s but it was large enough to have collapsed with debits close to one billion. He is alleged to have taken nearly $50M with him on the way out of the door via some dodgy transfers to the Caymans and other places made the day before the collapse. This is why the New York DA wants to question him.”
“Are you sure about this identification?”
“I wasn’t until last night when the last bit of the jigsaw fell into place.”
I waited for her to continue.
“I spent several hours going through all the news reports in the WSJ of the time of the Lehman collapse and for the previous year. In October 2008, I found this small item.”
She handed me a screen capture to read.
“It was announced today that T. Dan Davies currently special council to Alec Barratt at Smithson Brothers will be leaving his post to return home to be with his sick mother.”
“Tracy’s mother is alive and well as we both know only too well,” I remarked not fully understanding the contents of the piece.
“That’s not the important bit. The important bit is that Tracy worked for Alec at Smithson’s before it went belly up. My theory is that he was getting out early in order to prepare a bolt hole for the two of them should the shit hit the fan later on. Then I found this picture from a few days later in one of the gossip columns.”
She handed me another screenshot.
The picture told the real story.
It was taken at a NYC restaurant on Halloween 2008. Tracey and Alec were obviously enjoying a romantic dinner together before Tracey left town. They were holding hands.
“Could it be that Tracy is gay and Alec’s lover?”
“That’s how I read it. It explains a lot does it not?”
I considered things for a minute.
“This is all circumstantial. It will be torn to shreds in a minute in court and you know it.”
“But it is something to work on. What if you call your friend in the FBI? Could you call in a favour and find out if either of them have been paying taxes and if so under what names?
The old Al Capone opening gambit.”
I looked at Kelly and my admiration of her went up a good number of notches.
“No. This is your baby. You run with it but I suggest that things are kept very far under the radar until there is some proof. How do we really know that Alec is Joe?”
Kelly looked a bit coy.
“Ok, what have you done?”
“I went to Joe’s place and took his fingerprints from the door to his truck.”
“Oh dear. You know that is illegal. We can’t use it and you know it.”
“But… can’t we just find out if Joe is really Alec so that we won’t be wasting our time if he isn’t?”
“Don’t you realise what will happen if…”
I looked at her sternly.
“You haven’t tried to run the prints yet have you?”
“If there is a match then the FBI and god knows what other three letter agencies would be on their way here right now if there was a match. All sorts of alarms would be set off in DC, NYC and god knows where else.”
“So, what shall we do?”
I thought for a moment before answering.
“As I said, this is your baby. You can take your theory and go to Omaha and speak to the FBI personally. I don’t hold out much hope and please don’t let on about the fingerprints. We have to do this legally. If Joe really does turn out to be Alec then he had more than enough money to put out a hit on you.”
“He wouldn’t. Would he?”
“There is no telling what he’ll do. A cornered rat and all that.”
I took a deep breath.
“What I’m trying to say is be careful. All this is totally outside what this Police Department is geared up for. This is not the Big Apple. We don’t have a SWAT team on call just around the corner like you did back east. We are out on our own here. So, we have to be careful, and extra careful.”
Kelly got up and came around my side of the desk. Then she kissed me gently.
“You care. That’s so nice…”
“It is not about caring. It is wanting to keep all my people safe and able to do their jobs when this is all over. We have not had a death in service for a lawman since 1902 and I don’t want one on my watch. Got it?”
Kelly looked sad.
“Ok. Boss message understood.”
“May I suggest that you put this folder in your bottom drawer and sit on it for a couple of days. Don’t forget we have to be out in force at the Lions Dinner tonight.”
“Talk about bringing a girl down to earth with a bump eh?”
“That’s the spirit. Keep on digging. If there is something we can use to prove that Joe is Alec that does not involve breaking the law, then go for it. Ok?”
“Yes boss. Message understood.”
[Three days later]
“Matt, I have an idea about where I can get Joe’s fingerprints without breaking the law,” said Sue-Ellen as she came bounding into my office.
“Yes… And what might that be?”
“The papers he signed to buy his ranch. Won’t they have his prints on it?”
“Ah. I see. A public document. A document that has no rights to privacy. I like it.”
“Can I go over to the land registry then?”
I knew that it would be useless to even try to stop her. The building was just across the street from my office.
“Ok but be circumspect. Concoct a story about looking for irregularities in a number of land deals. Pretend to look at around half a dozen. You never know who will gossip to someone else and before long we have a certain lawyer on our backs again.”
“That’s the reason why you are Sheriff and not me!”
“Pah. You and I both know that you’d make a good Sheriff. Your problem is that you are scared of trying this seat out for size.”
“So, when are you gonna retire then?”
“The lure of spending my time riding and fishing is getting harder to refuse especially when we get cases like this.”
She looked at me slyly.
“Are you sure that it’s not your involvement with a certain deputy?”
“I really do not know what you are talking about?” I replied grinning.
She just rolled her eyes at me and left me alone again. Ten minutes later Sue-Ellen and Kelly disappeared off to the Land Registry. I was happy that they were working well together.
Two days later I was sitting idly watching the traffic go into and out of town from my Office window when I heard that truck. The monster truck that Joe Cummings drove was coming into town.
My heart skipped a beat when I saw him driving with his phone cradled in his shoulder.
“Got him!” I said to myself as I leapt into action.
Grabbing my hat and gun, I raced out of the Station and down the street where he was just pulling up.
I ran in front of the truck and quickly used my phone to capture him still on the phone.
He saw me and his face went beetroot red.
“How dare you photograph me,” he shouted from the open window of the truck.
“Sir, would you please step down from the vehicle,” I said firmly.
“I will do no such thing until you tell me what law I have broken?”
“Sir, I have reason to suspect that you were driving a motor vehicle on public roads and at the same time using a cell phone without hands-free equipment. Now Sir, I will ask you once again to step down from the vehicle.”
The red face went even redder.
“I’m going to call my lawyer right now. I will not step down.”
I put my hand on my gun.
“Sir! If you do not step down immediately I will be forced to arrest you on the spot. Do not attempt to use that phone as it is evidence in the criminal case against you.”
By now a small crowd had gathered.
He sat there getting angrier and angrier.
I stepped forward with one hand still on my gun and tried to open the truck door.
It didn’t move.
“Sir! Please unlock the door and step down this instant. Otherwise I will be forced to take steps to disable your vehicle.”
“Yeah! Try it. This thing will roll over anything you put in front of it!”
I pulled my gun out of the holster and chambered a round.
“Last chance. Step down right now.”
He gunned the motor and started to move.
The crowd scattered as I put two rounds into the front left tire. Then I put two more into the rear tire.
The truck immediately started to list. This didn’t stop him. He kept it moving.
Sadly, for him, he wasn’t paying full attention to what was in front of him. He ran smack into the rear of a UPS delivery truck.
He tried to reverse but by now both tires were almost flat. I climbed up onto the step and put my gun up against his head.
“Sir! I insist that you stop this vehicle. If you don’t the next shot will be to disable you as I judge that you are a danger to the citizens of the town. What’s it to be then?”
He turned his head and looked up the barrel of my gun.
Reluctantly, he switched off the engine and with my gun still trained on him, he opened the door and climbed down.
“You won’t get away with this. Do you realize how much those tires cost? I’ll sue you personally and I’ll win. My lawyer will make sure of that.”
“Sir, I am arresting you for refusing the legitimate instructions of a Police Officer, using a mobile telephonic device while driving a vehicle in contradiction of State Law, not wearing a seat belt again contrary to State Law, resisting arrest and for dangerous and reckless driving. Anything you say may be used in evidence against you in a court of law. You are entitled to an attorney. If you cannot afford one the state will provide one. Do you understand these rights as I have said them to you?”
“You won’t get any of those charges to stick!” he said triumphantly.
“Do you understand those rights as I have said them to you?”
“Yes. Now will you let me call my lawyer?”
“You will get your one phone call as provided by the law when I take you to the Police Station. Now I am going to put these handcuffs on you. This is standard procedure.”
“You can’t do this to me! I am a prominent landowner in this county. I know people.”
“Sir! I am merely doing my job according to the book of rules that we have to follow.” I said slightly gleefully as I ratcheted the cuffs home probably a bit too tightly.
I looked up and saw several people were filming the proceedings on their phones.
As I held Joe tightly, I said to them,
“If any of you would like to submit the footage you have taken to the Police Department then we would be very appreciative. Especially if you have footage of the crash.”
“Is there a reward?” came a shout from behind me.
“If the evidence you submit leads to the conviction of the suspect then yes we would pay an award.”
I escorted Joe to the station. The UPS driver was scratching his head wondering what had happened. I’d managed to slip a card onto his seat before we headed for the Police Station so I reckoned that we’d be seeing him pretty soon.
“I demand to speak to my lawyer,” he said more and more urgently as I locked him into one of the two cells we had at the station.
“When I sort out the removal of your truck and start processing you I will let you speak to your lawyer. Until then sit down and try to calm down before you have a coronary.”
He glared at me.
“You won’t get away with this. I’ll see you in ruins. I know people who can make things happen to other people. Mark my words, you won’t get away with this.”
“Sir, I am following the law and recording everything you say. You might like to remember that before you say anything else that you later come to regret in court. Making threats against an Officer of the Law is a serious matter.”
He glared at me again but thankfully didn’t say anything.
“I’m going to start the paperwork then I’ll call your lawyer. I think that it would be better all around, if I have specific charges to talk about with your lawyer rather than mythical offences don’t you agree?”
I got another stiff glare back from Joe. I smiled as I locked the cell door and retreated into my office to start drawing up the charges once I’d bagged his phone as evidence.
I’d nearly finished when three people burst into my office. The first two were Kelly and Sue-Ellen. They were closely followed by Tracy Davis.
“Sit down Mr Davis. If you would wait just a minute or two, then I’ll have all the charges documented for you to read.”
“What charges? My client is innocent of everything and you and your idiot police department are going to be on the end of a really huge wrongful arrest suit unless you release my client immediately.”
“Innocent? Failing to stop when directed to by a Police Officer? He crashed into the back of the UPS truck.”
“Only after you shot out his tires! You had no cause to even ask my client to stop!” protested Tracy.
“Mr Davis, as I said, I will have all the charges fully documented within a couple of minutes.
Then and only then will I start to discuss them with you.”
I turned to Sue-Ellen.
“Sue-Ellen, can you go and see if any of the bystanders with mobile phones are interested in helping the police. Although I fully expect that the whole thing is already on the Internet where Mr Davis can see it for himself.”
She grinned back.
“Sure, thing boss.”
Then I addressed Kelly.
“Kelly, I’d like you to start processing the prisoner. Please refrain from violating his rights by talking about his crimes without his lawyer present. You are to follow standard procedure to the letter.”
I turned to his lawyer.
“Is that good enough for you Mr Davis? I have given specific instructions not to violate the rights of your client.”
He just grunted so I nodded at Kelly who left with a smile on her face.
The next few minutes were difficult. I could sense that Tracy wanted to get himself and his client out of her in as little time as possible. He was busy on his phone doing something. I had my suspicions but wasn’t sure but it didn’t matter because his client wasn’t going anywhere for at least the next twelve hours. All the county judges and magistrates were away at a conference and would be back until very late tonight.
I finished writing up the charges and after making copies of the charge sheet, I handed them to Tracy.
The virtual steam erupting from his head only seemed to get worse as he read the list and the reasons for the charge.
“All this because my client was using a cell-phone while driving?”
“Yes. The State legislature passed the law last session. Fines start from $2500.”
“When asked your client to get down from his vehicle, he refused. I asked again and he refused. This time he tried to flee the scene so I put two shots in two of his tyres. Rather open and shut if you ask me.”
There was a light knock on my door.
Kelly entered the room.
“I have processed the prisoner and taken his mugshot, fingerprints and also a DNA sample as required by State Law.”
She handed me a set if evidence bags. I examined them. They were all correctly labelled.
I passed them to the lawyer.
“My Davis, can you please examine the evidence bags and confirm that my officer has filled them out correctly. I don’t want any challenges later on about incorrect chain of control of the evidence.”
He hardly glanced at them before returning them to me.
“Very good Mr Davis. You may speak to your client. The officer will show you to his holding cell.”
“I know the way.”
“Mr Davis! I am doing this by the book. I want to make sure that no high-falluting sweet talking lawyer can challenge the procedure I am following in court. Got it?”
He didn’t respond beyond another glare.
“Deputy, please escort Mr Davis to the cells so that he can speak with his client. May I remind you that such discussions are confidential and they must be left to speak in private.”
“Yes boss,” replied a grinning Kelly.
Once the door was closed, I picked up the phone and called the regional FBI HQ.
“Special Agent Jackson please,” I said when it was answered.
“This is Sheriff Matt Beecher from Custer County”.
To my annoyance, I was put on hold for what seemed an eternity.
Eventually, I was put through.
“Hi Bob. Long time, no speak eh?”
I laughed as he reminded me that I owed him several beers.
“Well, you know where we are if you want to drop by…”
“Yes. I’d like you to do me another favour. I have a set of prints that I’d like run through the federal system, especially those wanted for questioning but it has to be kept very quiet.
There is no telling who in DC the suspects have in their pockets.”
I laughed again.
“Yes Bob. You know me too well. I do have a good idea who it is but I’m going to leave that surprise to you. If my suspicions are correct, there will be a lot of backslapping heading your way. Just don’t forget who gave you the tip eh?”
“Yes, you can have all the glory. I’m just a small-town lawman and want to keep it that way.”
It was Bob’s turn to laugh.
“Sure. Give my best to Sissy and my God children and tell her that I haven’t forgotten that it is her big year this year.”
I hung up the phone with a smile. Bob and I went back to my time as an Army MP. Bob was my Navy opposite number so our paths crossed more often that we’d liked. We’d both tried to date Sissy when we were posted to San Diego. In the end, she chose Bob but I knew she’d made the right choice so there were no hard feelings on my part. I’d even been best man at their wedding.
Half an hour later I faxed the prints off to the FBI and busied myself with some paperwork while the FBI did their thing.
A few minutes later, I had an idea and made a call to the state bar association. They were able to answer my question after a couple of minutes. I hung up the phone and let out a ‘Gotcha!’ quietly.
While I was waiting for the FBI to respond, I did a little searching of my own. The results brought a wry smile to my face.
Exactly 43 minutes after I’d sent the details to the FBI, my phone rang. The caller ID said that it was Bob.
“Hi Bob. Well?”
“They did eh? Now there’s a surprise. Go on put me out of my misery.”
I listened intently.
“Thanks for confirming the Identity. It confirms that we have the right person in custody.”
“How did I know? One of my Deputies used to be an officer in the NYPD and recognised him from there.”
I sighed as Bob outlined what would happen next.
“Yeah, I know. Lots of paperwork. There always is when the you Feds are involved.”
“His Lawyer? He is about to get arrested on a charge of aiding a fugitive. Can you check to see if there any warrants out for a Tracy Dan Davis. He was assistant to our suspect before the collapse. My suspicion is that the two conspired to avoid justice. The lawyer will also be charged with operating a legal practice without a state license or membership of the State Bar Association which for some reason is the law here.”
“Why? We have given that a lot of thought. All I can think of is that they are hiding in almost plain sight waiting for the statute of limitations of their crimes to expire. Then they’d be home free but I also have to wonder if either of them have paid their dues to the IRS since 2008. The old Al Capone gambit we covered in MP school if you recall.”
“Yes. They won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. Get the evidence in front of the judge sooner rather than later eh?”
I hung up and sat still in my office with a smile on my face.
Less than five minutes later, my phone dinged with a text message.
“T Dan Davies wanted in NYC. Go get em!”
Kelly had done good, really good.
I walked out of my office. Kelly looked at me slightly concerned.
I could tell that she was anxious to know what the FBI had said.
“Is Tracy still in with his client?” I said trying to deflect the obvious question that she was itching to answer.
“She nodded. Did they…”
“Yes, we have the Master and the Servant,” I replied as I stepped towards the door that separated off the two cells from the main office.
I’d taken two steps when I stopped.
“Why don’t you do the honours eh? You deserve it.”
A huge grin spread over Kelly’s face as I escorted her to the door.
We were about to open the door then it opened in front of us and Tracy stepped out of the cell and into the corridor.
“Ah. The very people I want to speak to. I demand that my client is released on his own recognisance without delay. He has a very good explanation for everything that happened today.”
I grinned and nodded to Kelly.
“Tracy Davis, you are under arrest for aiding a fugitive from justice. You are also wanted for questioning in NYC. Do I need to read you your rights? I can if you don’t know them?”
He stopped dead in his tracks. The smile that was on his face disappeared in an instant.
This body language was one of resignation. His only reaction was to pull the door closed behind him.
“Can we do some sort of deal over this?”
Kelly looked at me for guidance.
“You will have to wait for the Feds to arrive. They will probably be taking you to their HQ in Omaha or Denver and then onto New York to face the Federal Prosecutor. Then there is the IRS. I’d fully expect that they’ll want their pound of flesh. And, if you survive that, the victims of your little scheme will want to sue the both of you until there is nothing left.”
I could see that the reality of the situation was starting to hit home.
“You will also be charged with operating a Legal Practice without a state license and not being a member of the state bar association.”
“Your New York license is no good here. For some reason, you failed to apply for a local one or register with the state bar association.”
Tracy’s demeanour was one of a beaten man. The bravado he’d shown when he’d arrived at the Police Station was long gone. This pleased me because I never did like him. He was always a wily kid at school. No mud would ever stick to his back. In our Senior year, he was awarded the title ‘The one most likely to succeed’. It was only later that it turned out that he’d bribed many of those eligible to vote into casting theirs for him.
“It was all his idea. He knew the end was coming and got me to leave and come back here to find a place to hide out until things died down and the statute of limitations ran out.”
“Tracy, remember your rights,” I said trying to get him to shut up.
“Let me get both of you new Lawyers,” I offered.
He shook his head.
“It can wait until we get processed by the FBI. Should I tell him?”
“No. You are a prisoner remember?”
“Kelly, the cuffs please. I’ll inform our other prisoner of his new situation.”
In an instant Kelly had her cuffs on him. The grin on her face told me that she was enjoying herself.
I had to suppress a grin as I went into the room where our other prisoner was locked up.
“Hello Sam, or should I say Mr Alec Barratt, formerly of Park Avenue West, of New York City.”
He put his face in his hands and mumbled,
“Has that idiot Tracy ratted me out? I’ll make him pay dearly for violating confidentially.”
“I’m afraid not. He didn’t need to ‘rat you out’ as you so eloquently put it. He will soon be joining you in custody. You were recognised by one of my deputies who was in New York when your little get rich quick Ponzi Scheme collapsed.”
He just shook his head and said, “We were so close to getting away with it.”
“But you didn’t. The game is up. Now it is time to pay your dues.”
He nodded his head. The angry man that had defended his privacy was nowhere to be seen.
A Team of agents from the FBI arrived a little over four hours later. Neither of our prisoners objected to being transported to the state capital so they were on their way within an hour.
I was glad to see the back of them.
Six of the FBI team executed warrants to search Tracy’s Office and Home as well as the Ranch. They were going to be with us for a couple of days. Thankfully they’d brought their own command post trailer with them so they weren’t under our feet all the time.
That couldn’t be said for the phalanx of media trucks that turned up about an hour after the prisoners had left.
I took Kelly to one side and said,
“Kelly, I think you should keep out of sight. You know only too well what those leeches could do if they latch onto your past.”
She reluctantly nodded her agreement.
“Where should I go?”
“Change out of uniform and slip out the back and head for my place. It is not the sort of place those newshounds will invade at the drop of a hat or they might have to get their feet dirty. Besides Ma will give them a going over with that buckshot loaded shotgun she keeps by the back door. They won’t forget the episode if they come anywhere near her.”
Kelly didn’t say anything except to give me a brief kiss.
“I’ll be home later. The press mob will want to file copy for their 11pm news broadcast on the East Coast. That is four hours away. Once that deadline has past I’d expect them to gravitate to Harry’s Bar for the evening. They will probably all be gone by tomorrow. Another day, another story to cover.”
We kissed again. This time it was a longer embrace.
“Do you regret taking up with me?” asked Kelly when we’d done kissing.
“Not in the slightest. I wouldn’t be standing here with my arms around you if I regretted getting involved with you.”
Then I smiled and looked her in the eyes for several seconds before saying,
“Besides, Ma approves of you. I’d be plain crazy to go against her.”
We both laughed.
It was no surprise to us when Tracy and Joe or rather Alec were charged a few days later. What did surprise us was that all their property was seized by some people who’d flown in from NYC. It was in effect a foreclosure on their properties. Sadly, that left both the county and the town without a lawyer in residence.
The Town Mayor started a campaign to get that resolved ASAP after all it was election year. That was not something I relished but it looked like I’d get re-elected without much of a fight if any. The Mayor was having to fight a proper campaign as Harry Wong had decided that it was time that the incumbent had to put forward some real policies rather than get through on more of the same as before.
It would not surprise me if Harry actually won on election night.
[The End of this episode].
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