فصل 14

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فصل 14

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Chapter fourteen

Settlements

At first Bogan and Vitrano were happy when Patrick was found, but soon it became obvious that the money wasn’t following him back to Biloxi. Then they remembered the bugs Stephano had discovered in their office. They’d forgotten about Patrick’s tapes. Now they were worried. Too much had been said in the offices. “Do you think we’ll get the money?” Vitrano asked. “No.” There was a long pause. “We’ll be lucky if we’re not indicted.”

Sandy went to Parrish’s office at 10 A.M. Parrish had asked for the meeting. There was a lot of missing information about the murder, and he wanted it. What was the cause of death? And the big question, who was killed?

After a short discussion, Parrish said, “I have a suggestion: If your client gives me information, I can reduce his crime to accidental killing instead of capital murder. The penalty is twenty years in prison. Would he consider this?”

“Go do it. Then we’ll talk.”

Sandy returned to his room at the Biloxi Nugget Hotel, which he’d organized as his office. His first visitor was J. Murray Riddleton, Trudy’s lawyer. Riddleton gave Sandy their suggested divorce settlement. They knew it would be changed to whatever Patrick wanted.

The second visitor was Talbot Mims, the Biloxi lawyer for Northern Case. “Do you know Jack Stephano?” Sandy asked. Mims said he didn’t. “I didn’t think so. He’s an investigator hired by Aricia, Northern Case, and Monarch-Sierra to find Patrick. Look at these,” Sandy said with a smile as he slid a set of photos of Patrick’s burns across the table to Mims.

“These were in the paper when you sued the FBI.”

“The FBI didn’t find Patrick. We sued them to make people feel sympathetic toward Patrick. Anyway, the men responsible for these injuries were working for Stephano. Northern Case was one of his clients.”

Mims hid his surprise. “Can you prove this?” he asked calmly. “What do you want?”

“The FBI can prove it. I want to talk to someone with the power to make decisions. Tomorrow at 4 P.M.”

“We’ll be here,” Mims said, and left in a rush.

Hal Ladd, working for Monarch-Sierra, arrived in the afternoon. Sandy repeated the questions, information, and demands.

When Ladd left, Sandy went to a coffee shop to meet Cutter. “We need to have a serious talk,” he said. “I can prove that the Aricia claim against Piatt & Rockland was completely false, that he hired the Bogan firm to cheat the government, and that he had help from a senator.”

“There’s still the matter of the dead body.” Cutter drank his coffee, and then said, “What kind of proof?”

“Documents, recorded phone calls.”

Cutter stared at Sandy. “Patrick gathered the evidence before he disappeared. And now he wants to make an agreement with us. But what about the murder?”

“That’s a state matter, not really your concern.”

“Let me talk to the people in Washington.”


The following morning, after a phone call from Cutter, Jaynes and several people from his office, Parrish, and Mast, the US Attorney for the district, met Sandy in his hotel room office. Two court reporters were also present. No one smiled, but they weren’t unhappy to be there.

Sandy gave greetings from his client and discussed the charges against Patrick. “The government charges are serious, but they’re small in comparison to capital murder. We’d like you to drop them so we can concentrate on the murder charge. We have an offer that includes money.”

“We have no claim to the money,” Jaynes said. “It wasn’t stolen from the government.”

“That’s where you’re wrong.” Sandy explained how Aricia had worked with Bogan’s firm to cheat the government out of 600 million dollars. He told them about the documents and tapes. Then he said, “Here’s our suggestion. We’ll hand over the documents and tapes. Patrick will return the money, all of it. In exchange, the government will drop its charges. His Brazilian attorney, Eva Miranda, must be released immediately.” Jaynes looked at the floor. “And it has to be done today,” Sandy added, “or my client will keep the money, destroy the evidence, and spend his time in prison.”

“Let’s talk about this,” said Sprawling, one of the government officials with Jaynes.

“Great idea,” Sandy said, as he put a tape in the tape player. “The date was January 14, 1992,” he said. And he played a conversation between Bogan, Vitrano, and Aricia that mentioned the senator’s cooperation. “Gentlemen, this is just one example,” he told them when it finished.

The others left the room to talk. It soon became obvious to Mast that the rest had already made their decision. “So, we’re going to accept it,” he said, acting as if he didn’t care.

“Yes,” Sprawling said. “We look good by getting the money back. Patrick stays in jail for a long time. We arrest more important criminals.”

The group returned to Sandy’s office, and Sprawling spoke for them. “About the money, how much is your client willing to return?” he asked Sandy.

“All ninety million.”

“The government wants all of it plus 9 percent.”

“We’ll give 3 percent extra, making a total of 113 million.”

“We’re concerned about the lawsuit you filed,” Sprawling said.

“We’ll drop the charges against the FBI,” Sandy said, “but I need Jaynes to do something for us. We’ll discuss it later.”

“All right. When can your client come before the grand jury?”

“Whenever you need him.”

“When would you like Ms. Miranda to be released?”

“Tomorrow. Anything else?”

“Nothing from the government,” Sprawling said.

“Good. Here’s what I suggest,” Sandy said. “We’ve already prepared a settlement agreement and an order to drop the lawsuit. You can sign it, I’ll take it to my client, and within a couple of hours we’ll be finished.”


Mrs. Stephano was sleeping well again. The FBI had left their street, and the neighbors had stopped calling. Her husband was relaxed. Then, at 5:30 A.M., the phone rang.

“Who’s calling?” she demanded when she picked it up.

“Hamilton Jaynes, FBI.”

“Oh, my God!” she said. “Jack, it’s the FBI again.”

Stephano took the phone.

“Good morning, Jack. This is Hamilton Jaynes. I wanted to let you know that we’ve got the girl, Eva Miranda. She’s safe, so you can tell your men to stop looking for her.”

Stephano sat up. Their last hope was gone. The search for the money was finally over. “Congratulations,” he said.

“Look, Jack, I’ve sent some men to Rio. You have twenty-four hours to release her father. If he’s not free by then, I’ll arrest you and Aricia, and probably Mr. Atterson at Monarch-Sierra and Mr. Jill at Northern Case.”

“I hear you.” And the phone went quiet.

Mrs. Stephano was in the bathroom with the door locked, too frightened to face him. Stephano went to the kitchen and made coffee. He was tired of Benny Aricia. He waited an hour and then called him.

When Stephano called, Benny knew his dream was over. He’d hoped to find the money and then disappear with it, just like Patrick. But he still had a million dollars, and he had friends in other countries. It was time to leave, just like Patrick.

He and Guy left Biloxi after dark. Guy went to Mobile, and Benny went to New Orleans. He watched closely as he drove, but didn’t see anyone behind him. He went to the airport and flew to Chicago. Then onto New York at dawn.

The FBI was in Boca Raton, Florida, watching Benny’s home. His Swedish girlfriend was still there. She’d leave soon, they thought, and it would be much easier to follow her.


It was almost dark when Paulo, his eyes covered, was led from the house. When the car stopped, he was helped from the back. A voice said, “To your left, 300 meters, is a farmhouse with a telephone. Go there for help. I have a gun. If you turn around, I’ll have to kill you.”

Paulo’s body shook as the man uncovered his eyes and said, “Walk forward quickly.”

Paulo walked to the farmhouse and called the police. Then he called his son.

In Miami, Mark Birck delivered to Eva the news that her father had been released and hadn’t been harmed.


Patrick called Karl and invited him for lunch. They sat outside and ate sandwiches.

“I hear they caught your lady friend in Miami,” Karl said. “Yes. But she’ll be out of jail soon. Just a small problem with her passport.”

Karl ate a bite of his sandwich. He was getting used to long silences in their conversations.

Finally Patrick said, “Have you ever been to Brazil?” “No.”

“You should go sometime. The land’s beautiful, and the people are gentle. It’s my home, Karl. I can’t wait to go back there. I’m not Patrick now. Patrick’s dead. He was trapped in a bad life, fat, and unhappy. I’m Danilo Silva, a much happier person with a quiet life in another country.”

“Listen, Patrick. I think it’s time for me to give your case to Judge Trussel. I’ve done all I can to help you. I’ve told him about your awful injuries and how important it is for you to stay here as long as possible. He understands. But you have to realize that at some time you’re going to be put in jail. And you might be there for a long time.”

“Do you think I killed that boy, Karl?”

Karl put the rest of his sandwich down. “It looks that way. First, there were parts of a human body in the car, so somebody was killed. Second, the FBI has investigated everyone who disappeared around February 9, 1992. Pepper is the only person within 450 kilometers who hasn’t been heard from.”

“Do you think I killed him? Do you think I could kill someone?”

“No. But your recent history is full of surprises.”

Patrick returned to his room, and Sandy arrived a few minutes later. “We did it!” He threw the agreement on Patrick’s worktable. “We got everything we wanted.”

“How much money?” When Sandy told him, Patrick closed his eyes. That was a lot of his fortune, but there was plenty left; enough for him and Eva to settle down somewhere safe one day and have a large house full of kids. He signed the agreement, and Sandy raced back to the hotel.

At 2 P.M., Talbot Mims and a manager from Northern Case arrived at the hotel. Sandy took them to his office. Hal Ladd and a lawyer from Monarch-Sierra joined them. Sandy repeated the information about Patrick’s torture and reminded them that Stephano was working for three clients: Benny Aricia and their two companies.

“How do you plan to prove this?” asked Mims.

Sandy opened a door and asked Jaynes to join them. With great pleasure, Jaynes described the things Stephano had told them about the search for Patrick, the capture, and the torture. All done with money provided by Aricia and the two insurance companies.

“Any questions for Mr. Jaynes?” Sandy asked happily when Jaynes finished. There were none. Both companies were rich, and neither company wanted this problem.

“Here’s the agreement,” Sandy said. “First, Northern Case is trying to recover the 2.5 million paid to Trudy Lanigan. We prefer that you drop the lawsuit. Besides, most of the money has been spent. If you do this, my client will drop his claim for personal injuries against your company.”

“Is that all?” Mims asked, not believing it.

“Yes. That’s it.”

“OK. We agree.”

Sandy gave them their settlement agreement and asked them to leave so he could talk with Ladd and his client.

“Your settlement’s a bit different,” he told them. “You paid Stephano twice as much as they did. And you have a lot more cash than Northern Case.”

“How much do you have in mind?” Cohen, the Monarch-Sierra lawyer, asked anxiously.

“Nothing for Patrick. He’s very concerned, however, about the child. She’s six, and her mother spends money quickly. Patrick would like a quarter of a million to go into a special account for her, money that her mother can’t use. Plus, he wants the same amount to pay his legal costs. Total of half a million, paid very quietly so your client won’t be embarrassed by those pictures of his injuries.”

The company was anxious to finish. “We’ll do it,” Cohen said.

Sandy handed him copies of their settlement agreement and left.


At eight that evening, Sandy visited Patrick. “It’s all done,” he said, as he handed Patrick a pile of paperwork. “We gave the documents and tapes to the FBI an hour ago.”

Patrick took the settlement agreements and read them carefully before signing them. “Good work, Sandy.”

“We had a good day. Tomorrow we’ll finish with Trudy. It’s too bad the dead body is in your way.”

Patrick stepped to the window, his back to the room. The curtains and the window were open.

Sandy watched him. “You have to tell me sometime, Patrick,” he said. “Why don’t we start with Pepper?”

“OK. I didn’t kill Pepper.”

“Was Pepper alive when you disappeared?”

Patrick shut the window, closed the curtains, and sat on his bed. Then he said in a quiet voice, “I knew Pepper. He came to the cabin asking for food in December of ‘91. He told me he lived in the woods most of the time. He was very shy. I cooked for him and asked about his family. He said he hadn’t been home in two weeks.

“A couple of weeks later, he came again. I cooked and we ate. He said he’d had a fight with his mother. He hated her. When I told him I was a lawyer, he told me about his legal problems. At his last job some money was missing, and they blamed Pepper. He didn’t take it. It was another very good reason to stay in the woods. I said I’d help him.”

“And your plan began.”

“Something like that. We saw each other a few more times in the woods. I told Pepper the police were going to arrest him soon. This was a lie, but he was scared. I suggested disappearing. He liked the idea of going to the mountains in the West. I got him a new name, a new driver’s license, and a passport. On Sunday, February 9 - “ “The date of your ‘death.’”

“Yes. I drove Pepper to the bus station in Jackson. He was excited. I told him he could never come back. I gave him 2,000 dollars and left him.”

“His gun, tent, and sleeping bag were found in the cabin.”

“I wanted them to think Pepper burned in the car.”

“Where is he now?”

“I don’t know”

Sandy was angry. “If I ask a question, I deserve an answer. Why can’t you tell me everything?”

“Because you don’t need to know everything.”

Sandy picked up the settlements. “I’m tired. I’ll be back tomorrow, and you’ll tell me everything.”

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