12-11-2012, 10:18 PM
Mr. Carlyle, the Social Services director, sat in his office with Investigator Melanie Reisler, going over Harold Webber's financial records and the discrepancies found therein. Reisler was a specialist dealing in white-collar crimes: computer fraud, identity theft, tax evasion, and, of course, embezzlement. She had been assigned to the Webber case just hours after the crime was reported by Social Services. If anyone could sniff out financial fraud, it was she. She had been studying accounting in college when a dishonest clerk in her father's hardware store dipped into the till a few times too many and sent him straight into bankruptcy. The clerk had skipped town and was never caught. She switched to law enforcement, but her accounting skills were not wasted. Reisler had investigated everything from petty larceny in mom-and-pop stores to Enron. She was LIPD's best financial fraud officer.
Now she was here in the Social Services office, looking into what was on the surface a rather routine embezzlement case, but what made her skin crawl was that these were foster care funds, meant to pay for children's food, clothes, medical care and other needs. This guy was robbing orphans, for chrissake! How low can you get?
Reisler and Carlyle poured over the ledger, compared them to the vouchers, and sorted out the check stubs. From what they found from the bank records, Webber had simply cashed the checks at the bank into his own personal account, withdrawing only a third of the money to be placed into a separate account for foster care, pocketing the rest. There were falsified documents as to what the money had been spent upon. A comparison to Dimitra's financial records, given freely, revealed that she had spent not only two thousand dollars of her personal money upon them, but had also received a wire transfer of nearly four thousand dollars from her famous son, Christopher, aka Criss Angel. She had spent it mostly on medical bills, especially on the baby, Mia. No sign of theft on her part. She was clear as glass.
Webber, however, was a different story. He had been spending money like a drunken sailor, trying to impress high-end clients for their business. It was all show, Reisler discovered. Webber was virtually drowning in red ink. What was worse, as Reisler had heard, he tried to pin it all on the caregiver, Mrs. Sarantakos, by calling shock jock Artie Creed and having it broadcast on the radio. It had caused such an outrage the studio was besieged by angry Criss Angel fans.
Reisler was no devotee of the Cult of Personality. Let the infotainment people take care of that, she thought. Her job was to crunch the numbers to see what added up. And from the look of it, it was adding up to a very long prison sentence for Harold Webber. The question was, where was he?
Harold Webber was on his way to Mexico, with what cash he could pilfer from company coffers and the stipend checks. He wiped his sweaty brow as he drove to the airport in New Jersey. He had to avoid New York, just in case his little scheme backfired. Besides, he got a better deal in Jersey on airfare. He should have destroyed those records, he cursed himself. But it would take time to sift through them all, and by the time they were finished, he'd be out of the country, living it up, while that little Greek lady would be taking the rap. And Mexico still had anti-extradition laws.
But there was still that long drive to Jersey, and an even longer wait for the flight. He could not breathe easily until he was on that plane to Mexico City. He just had to play it cool until then, arouse no suspicions on anyone's part. He sped along the freeway to the New Jersey Turnpike, only to see red and blue flashing lights in his rear view mirror. He had a momentary panic attack, but composed himself. No one knew anything, he reminded himself. He pulled over to the shoulder, setting his flabby features to a more serene expression. The patrolman approached his car and bent down to Webber's level.
"Good afternoon, Officer." Webber greeted the cop jovially. "Is there something wrong?"
"Yes, sir, you were going about fifteen miles over the speed limit. I need to see your driver's license and registration, and proof of insurance."
"Oh, dear," Webber said, flustered. "Well, I am so sorry about that." He fumbled in his wallet for his license. "I was in such a hurry to get to the airport, I didn't know how fast I was going," he said apologetically.
He fished out his car paperwork from the glove compartment and handed it to the patrolman with his license. "Here you are, my good man. I trust you will find everything is in order."
"Thank you, sir," the patrolman said as he took the card and papers and returned to his cruiser. The driver seemed a little nervous, he thought, but that was normal for anyone being pulled over--no one wanted a ticket. But he was sweating more than the usual person. A bit suspicious, but nothing to go on. The license number and registration was recorded into the cruiser's vehicle retrieval system via a built-in computer terminal. The information flashed onto the monitor.
Webber, Harold Arthur. Birthdate: 10-12-47. Owner of 2005 Lincoln Continental, black. License plate number: BFD 690, New York. Warrants Pending: Fraud, embezzlement, child neglect and abuse.
The patrolman got out of the cruiser and walked toward Webber. "Mr. Webber?"
Webber still tried to play it cool. "Yes?"
"Step out of the car please. There is a warrant out for your arrest. I'm afraid you will have to come with me."
Artie Creed drained the last of his third Scotch and soda of the afternoon and pondered his next move. He could file a wrongful discharge suit against the station, but it wouldn't be worth the effort. KLOL had been bleeding red ink for years now. Why beat a dead horse? He could find better stations to work for, LA for instance. That was where it was happening. Or he could go back to Washington State, to Seattle, where he started. It still had a thriving music scene, and, as he was familiar with the area, he'd score a job at one of the major stations.
Seattle. Home. Where he got his feet wet in the broadcasting business, made a name for himself, met and married Brenda--no, that ship had sailed. Brenda was history to him, the ungrateful little--. Seattle was out. No sense trying to recapture the past. He had to look forward to the future. He had to put out feelers for new radio spots. He'd leave Sin City behind and start a new life somewhere else. Surely there was a place for him in this great country of his.
He heard the mail drop flap clatter as the morning post arrived. He rose to retrieve it. Phone bill, water bill, ad, ad, credit card statement, something from the FCC--
The FCC! He dropped the rest of his mail and ripped the envelope open. He quickly unfolded the tri-folded page:
Dear Mr. Creed:
This letter is to inform you that in light of your past and recent violations of FCC protocol and regulaions, your broadcasting license has been revoked, effective immediatly. This decision has been based on the following:
a) Persistant use of vulgar, obscene and abusive language on the air.
b) Falsification of data and non-verification of news sources.
c) Defamation of character.
d) Lack of respect and courtesy to the public.
Due to the seriousness of these charges, and the number of past complaints about your conduct, this decision is final; there will be no consideration for reversal.
David C. Bargerman,
Federal Communicaions Commission.
Artie stared at the letter clutched in his hand. They revoked his license! How could they do that to him? They said there was no way he could appeal; they said it was final. Over. Done with. Kaput.
He sank down on the couch. They destroyed his career. Artie Creed, king of the airwaves, dethroned by the powers-that-be. He could never find work in radio again. There was only one thing to do.
Artie got up and mixed himself another Scotch and soda.
Last edited by Veritas; 12-11-2012 at 10:25 PM.