Authors: Edwin Attella
Tags: #crime, #guns, #drugs, #violence, #police, #corruption, #prostitution, #attorney, #fight, #courtroom, #illegal
The second case was going to be dismissed at
the request of the Commonwealth. It was on for discovery compliance
in the morning, and what the government was supposed to produce was
a video tape from a grocery store where my seventy-seven year old
client was alleged to have attempted to shoplift a half of a pound
of Italian Roast Beef, sliced thin. The ADA and I had watched the
film together. What it clearly showed was my nice little old
grandmotherly client holding the deli package under her arm while
she looked through her coupons before entering the check-out line.
What it also showed was a nasty, middle aged security guard giving
her a hard time about not putting the package in her grocery cart.
She gave the hard time right back to him, so he called the cops and
claimed he had caught her shoplifting. She of course had no police
record of any kind, was a widow and good citizen living on her
pitiful social security income and was totally humiliated by the
whole process. Recognizing what was on the tape for what it was,
the ADA agreed to dismiss the case. I told the ADA, a good guy
named Rick Wall, that I was going to ask that the record be
expunged, meaning that as far as the paperwork went it would be as
if this mess had never occurred. He said he wouldn't object. I had
also told my client, Mrs. Footman by name, that we should sue the
grocery store on a theory of false imprisonment and emotional
distress. A little revenge for her trouble. She decided that her
revenge would be that she just wouldn't shop there anymore. She
just wanted to forget about the whole thing. I didn't blame
IT WAS SIX THIRTY
by the time I finished. The third beer was still
half full, but had gone warm, sitting unattended next to me while I
worked. I carried it out to the kitchen and poured it down the
drain. I opened the refrigerator and stood staring into it, as if
rendered mindless by the light. I was hungry but the choices of
what to eat were too overwhelming for me to make a decision. I
could have what was behind door number one; a stick of butter and a
plastic pod of sweet and sour sauce. Or I could take the cover off
that blue bowl that had been sitting there in suspended time, sent
home with me from a party by the well meaning wife of a friend. But
I knew that if I opened it up, after all this time, it would have
morphed into a strain of plague against which the human race had no
defense. And worse than that, I would have to wash the bowl and
return it to the wife who would grill me mercilessly on subjects
best avoided. I pulled open the crisper and a blue onion rolled
crookedly across the bottom of the drawer at me.
I decided to give the third beer another try.
The phone rang and I answered it and carried my beer out to the
"Kato, my small minded friend, how goes the
business of binding the wounds of
"Hello, Alex," I said smiling.
It was getting on toward seven o'clock, but
the day had plenty of light left in it. I scanned the opposite
shore for fisherman with my spyglass. There were none, but I did
locate a shapely neighbor lying face down on her deck. She must
have fallen asleep while sunning herself. The back of her bikini
top was undone and flopped to either side, no doubt in an attempt
to sun away bothersome tan lines. I have noticed that there is
never a snot-nosed little brother around when you need one. One
that might come racing along right now and do a cannon ball off the
deck, lofting cold water up out of the lake and onto his sister's
back, causing her to leap up and display what was hidden.. He'd
show up for sure if we were sitting on a porch swing in the
"Always a pleasure to hear from
He laughed marvelously. "Of course it
"If I'm following the papers right, you've
been among the unclean yourself just recently."
I looked in the trees above the dock, where
sleeping beauty lay. Perhaps a mischievous squirrel could pitch a
timely acorn at the maiden below.
"Nonsense dear boy, as the scribes have
written, Mr. Braverman's money is immaculate!"
The Martin Braverman case was running in all
the papers: The Immaculate Deception it was being called. The story
was gathering steam. Television cameras had ambushed Braverman when
he emerged from the Federal District Court earlier in the week.
There were harsh lights and a barrage of questions screamed at him
from a jostling mob of reporters, hungry for a story. But before
they could terrorize him into blurting out something he would
regret, a cool and handsome Arthur Alexander Andreason, stepped in
front of the cameras, shielding his client. He was tall and blond,
not a hair out of place, dressed in a two thousand-dollar suit,
seemingly much younger than his thirty-eight years, his smile
brilliant and made for television. He answered every question
patiently and at length, without revealing a scintilla of
"But how will you find it?" I inquired
innocently enough. In response I got only a soft
Braverman was an investment broker and banker
that had managed a very successful mutual fund portfolio for
Western Bank, a large New England based predator that had been
swallowing up smaller banks in bunches. All nature of high tech
banking was going on at Western, and with new acquisitions an
almost daily occurrence; reorganization was a way of life. A title
wave of money sloshed in and out of accounts with ever changing
names and this, it was alleged, created an opportunity for the
savvy and the corrupt. Braverman supposedly skimmed capital off the
top of the waves and invested it in non-existent Internet start-ups
that then went out of business. His take was supposedly twenty
million over a period of only thirty-two months. The Feds alleged
his program was a bait and switch routine whereby money was lost on
investments that were never made. The problem for those who would
prosecute Martin Braverman was that the bank couldn't (or wouldn't)
show that they were missing any money. The principals of the
start-ups (if they had ever existed in the first place) were widely
dispersed and couldn't be found and Braverman himself had not said
a single word with regard to the Department of Justice
DOJ believed that Braverman skimmed the twenty
million off the top of the extraordinary profits that his mutual
fund investments were generating. That he created a paper trail
that showed that he had invested the money in start-ups so he could
later say the money was lost, when in fact it had been diverted to
Swiss bank accounts that were not subject to subpoena. Braverman's
lawyers were arguing that start-ups are risky, but could yield huge
returns if they hit. As a fund fiduciary, if Mr. Braverman had not
risked a portion of the profits on such investments, considering
the upside potential, he might be sued for breach of his duty to
maximize fund profits. The overall fund was raking it in with both
hands, and everyone was diversified to the point that no one had
lost a dime. Just what exactly was the Federal Government
investigating? Alex Andreason was wondering aloud about abuse of
The problem was that Braverman had
girlfriend. A deadly combination if ever there was one. At some
point, a twinge of conscience got him, and he dumped the
girlfriend. Unfortunately for him, the girlfriend was vengeful. She
had been an accounting secretary at Western Bank, which is how they
had met, and over the fourteen months that they had been intimate,
she had pretty much figured out just what was going on. Between the
sheets the pillow talk had been vaguely about a new life in another
part of the world, funded with the illegal money that Braverman was
gathering. The illegality of the loot didn't bother the girlfriend
when she thought that she was going to be spending it, but when
Martin broke things off, she saw it all in a different light. She
called him and begged, threatened all kinds of humiliating
disclosures, and when none of that worked, she turned rat.
Braverman denied it all. If in fact the allegations were true, he
had covered his tracks meticulously. No victims complaining, no
missing money that anyone could show, huge profits for fund
participants. What crime? Arthur Andreason had two words for the
Justice Department: Prove it.
"With luck I'll find enough to draw a modest
fee," Alex said. "So tell me Kato, have you heard from Miss Carolyn
''Not only have I heard from her," I said,
"but I've met with her and been
"An intriguing woman may I suggest … in many
"You may, and thank you. I'll be sending you a
"Please don't. I'm delighted to send her
along. Take good care of her though, she
loved her father and is in quite a
"That's very true,” I told him, "in fact she
thinks he was murdered.”
''I know," he said softly.
"What do you think, Alex'?"
I knew Alex knew what he thought, but still he
"Quite frankly, Kato, I don't know what to
think. I would agree," he said, "that we are dealing with a young
girl driven by emotional impulses."
"You would agree?"
"Yes. Let me say this, Ms. Carolyn's fears
maybe wholly without merit, but Malcolm was a very wealthy man,
with business interests throughout the world and," he paused, "how
shall I say ... enemy's consistent with his stature."
Alex the Cat was giving me a little of what he
had given the television reporters. I
tried the direct approach.
"Alex, listen carefully to the question, do
you think Red Whorely took a header and drowned in his pool or
He gave me that quiet chuckle. "Despite the
childlike state of your mind, my dear Kato, you have been educated
in one of this nation’s finest law schools, and therefore you know
intuitively that all supposition, not supported by fact, is mere
speculation, to be discarded out of hand."
I laughed out loud and, after a moment, he
began to purr merrily along with me. It was clear that if he had
answers, he was keeping them to himself.
"My friend, represent your client with the
utmost vigor. Let us see just where your diligent efforts lead you.
If there is nothing there, then you will have earned a handsome
fee, and found comfort in the knowledge that you have quieted the
fears of one so young and beautiful. I am available for
consultation. Of course I would never betray the confidence of a
client, nor the obligations of our friendship."
I sighed. He wasn't going to tell me anything.
The translation was obvious. Something in his legal dealings with
Red Whorely made him at least curious about the timing of his
death. He wasn't going to tell me what made him feel that way, but
he was sending me the message that he thought my poking around was
a little bit was a good idea. He was also telling me he intended to
stay in the background, but that he had my back.
There was silence between us as for a time.
''I'm encouraging you, for God's sake."
"Okay. Thank you," I said, "As always you are
"I've already sent Walter off to do some
digging at the coroner’s office and with the newspaper
"He will serve you well in that capacity," Alex
said. "Such a vile, detestable fellow will thrive in the midst of
the dead and the parasitic." He knew Walter well and loathed him. I
''I'm also going to talk to the cops and to
the immediate family, kind of get the lay of the land, and go from
"Good," he said. "You might also want to talk
to a fellow by the name of Jeb Archer at Loading Dock Headquarters.
He's head of procurement for the company. Needless to say, do not
mention my name."
"Listen, Alex, do you know something that I
''No. I know nothing. Of course I have been
Mr. Whorely's attorney for years. I am also never surprised by
depravity of the human condition. Make your efforts more than
''I will," I said.
''Excellent,'' he said, and then he was
I sipped my beer and looked at the lake, then
I gathered my neighbor up in my spyglass and watched her for a
moment - just to make sure she was safe.
"Procurement?" I asked her.
"WILL I BE GOING TO JAIL
today, Mr. Knight?" Mrs. Footman wanted to know
when I met her at the courthouse the next morning.
At that moment I wanted to strangle the little
grocery store dick with my bare hands. I had never seen a more
tortured face in my life. She was so nervous that I was sure she
would pass out. She was dressed in what must have been her very
best clothes. She had on a gray skirt and a red cashmere sweater
under a three quarter length navy blue coat, despite the fact that
at 9: 15 in the morning it was almost eighty degrees. She had a
white scarf knotted at her throat and a matching hat pinned at an
angle on her head. I didn't have the heart to tell her that the
court officer was going to make her take her hat off when she
entered the courtroom. Her swollen hands worried a tan clutch bag