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The betrayal, p.9
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       The Betrayal, p.9

           Jerry B. Jenkins
 

  “Of course.”

  13

  The Evidence

  Friday, February 5, 5:00 p.m.

  Despite being known for playing his cards close to the vest, Friedrich Zappolo appeared to have trouble hiding his unease. He didn’t look either Boone or Haeley in the eye and seemed distracted even as he hung their coats.

  They sat at his side table, and the attorney stacked next to him his notes and an overstuffed envelope. He tapped it. “Disclosure from the other side.”

  “Disclosure of what?” Haeley said.

  “We’ll get to that. Now, Ms. Lamonica, I want you to know that it makes zero difference to me whether or not you are guilty.”

  “I assure you I am innocent—”

  Zappolo held up a hand. “I don’t want to hear it. It’s irrelevant. My job is to defend you in every way possible and make the other side prove their case. There is no legal finding of ‘innocent.’ You’re either guilty or not guilty. If you’re guilty and I get you off, that’s on you. If you’re not guilty and I fail to keep the other side from making it look otherwise, that’s on me.”

  “I don’t want a lawyer who doesn’t believe whether—”

  “What you want is the best lawyer you can find, and you have that. It doesn’t matter what I believe. It’s all about the defense I can construct for you.”

  Haeley stood. “I want another lawyer.”

  “No, you don’t,” Zappolo said. “Another lawyer won’t know how to work around the evidence the other side has against you. Please, sit down. If you decide after we chat that you would be more comfortable with other counsel, of course I can’t stand in your way.”

  “Fritz,” Boone said, “just tell her what you’ve found.”

  Haeley turned to Boone. “You know what he’s found?”

  “No, but it obviously doesn’t look good or he wouldn’t have had to give you the guilty-or-not-guilty speech.”

  Haeley sat. “Is that true? Something makes you doubt me?”

  Zappolo sat back and sighed. “Let’s just say they have a case, and we have a problem. But I like a challenge.”

  “Just get it all on the table,” Boone said.

  Zappolo opened the envelope and slid out documents and two photos.

  “This is a copy of a cell phone photo of a classified document entrusted to you and which bears notes written by you in code, revealing the location and timing of the transfer of Pascual Candelario from the original safe house to a lockup near where the grand jury was to be seated. Is that your handwriting?”

  Haeley leaned forward. “Yes. And after the last meeting, that went into a locked file.”

  “The question will be asked, how was an outsider able to photograph this?”

  “Well, I—”

  “No need to answer now. This other photo is of you making a deposit at your bank on the same date stamped on the other photo.”

  Haeley studied it, pulled a tiny calendar and her checkbook from her purse, and leafed through both. “That was payday. I deposited my check.” She turned her check ledger so Zappolo could see it.

  “Mm-hm. When do you get your bank statement?”

  “The end of the month in the mail, but I can see it online anytime.”

  “Checked it lately?”

  “No.”

  “I have been given a copy of your current balance.”

  “And?”

  “It shows the deposit of your check.”

  “Of course.”

  “And a separate deposit the same day.”

  “To my account?”

  “Yes.”

  “Not by me.”

  “And yet it appears in your new balance. Five thousand dollars.”

  “Well, the deposit slip won’t have my signature on it. How does someone deposit money into my account without my knowledge?”

  Zappolo raised a brow. “You tell me. The deposits were both processed by the same teller.”

  “I’m telling you I made one deposit,” Haeley said. “So what is all this?”

  “Here’s their case,” Zappolo said. “Only someone familiar with CPD lingo would understand your notes. Former detective Garrett Fox has an acrimonious relationship with Mr. Drake due to a previous Internal Affairs investigation that cost him his job. Plus he had been in line for the job Mr. Drake was awarded. He had a personal relationship with you, Haeley, that went sour—”

  “Absolutely untrue!”

  “Ms. Lamonica, I’m telling you what the US Attorney believes, based on his staff’s discovery, which included lengthy interviews with all the subjects.”

  “Except me.”

  “Except you, of course. That will happen in court.”

  “I never so much as even ran into Garrett Fox outside the office. I couldn’t tell you where he lives, and we never, ever, socialized.”

  “He’s claiming an intimate relationship.”

  “A lie.”

  “His testimony is that it went south and you expressed a desperate wish that knowledge of it never reach Mr. Drake. Your new relationship becomes another motive for Mr. Fox.”

  Haeley shook her head, and her voice grew quavery. “They’ll never be able to prove something so far from the truth.”

  “Fox’s testimony will be that he assured you he would never reveal the truth of your relationship if you would merely leave on your desk the file in question, just for the duration of your afternoon break.”

  “And five thousand dollars?”

  “Exactly.”

  “I never took money. I never would.”

  “Naturally it will need to be retrieved from your account.”

  Haeley looked as if she were about to explode. “What did I ever do to Garrett Fox?”

  “It was more likely what you wouldn’t do with him,” Boone said. “Didn’t you tell me he was always after you?”

  “Yes, but how will that look now? Like he wore me down? My own lawyer doesn’t believe me, so—”

  “Please, ma’am,” Zappolo said, “we need to be clear about this. It isn’t that I don’t believe you. It’s that what I believe is wholly irrelevant.”

  “I need you to believe me.”

  The lawyer shrugged. “I’ve never liked Garrett Fox. So I’m willing to give you the benefit of the doubt, if that makes you feel better.”

  “That’s all?”

  “That’s more than most of my clients get. ’Course most of them are guilty.”

  Haeley shook her head. “Boone swears by you, but let me ask you something. If you’re known for defending guilty people, doesn’t that make me look guilty?”

  “He gets most of them off,” Boone said.

  “I want to be acquitted because I’m innocent, not because of a tricky lawyer.”

  “You don’t mean ‘innocent,’” Zappolo said. You mean ‘not guilty.’ Big difference. But it’s your call. Let me tell you where I think things stand. You’re going to have a tough time explaining away the deposit.”

  “Keller has been trying to talk me into direct-depositing my check as it is. This sure makes that an easy decision. If I ever get my job back.”

  “That’s my goal. But then there’s the matter of explaining the relationship.”

  “I’ve told you, there’s never been a relationship.”

  “He’s claiming otherwise and may come up with corroborating witnesses.”

  “They’ll have to be lying.”

  “If we can prove that, and if you’ll let me, I’d like to sue the City of Chicago for false arrest and myriad other things, which may result in a settlement that would keep you from ever having to work again.”

  “Oh, no you don’t. That’s not me.”

  “Don’t be silly. There are all kinds of reasons to accept a settlement.”

  “Because someone tried to make me look bad?”

  “Because if you’re right, the CPD didn’t determine you were somehow set up.”

  “So now you believe me, when a settlement would get you a hef
ty fee?”

  “Whether I believe you or not—”

  “Yeah, I got that.”

  “If I can get you a settlement, provided they don’t prove their case, let me have my percentage and you can give away the rest, if that’ll make you feel better.”

  “And what’s your percentage?”

  “A third is standard, though if the settlement were in the high seven figures, I might reduce that to a quarter after a certain level.”

  Haeley looked gobsmacked. “Seven figures?”

  “Potentially high seven figures.”

  “Hold on,” Boone said. “Where is Fox in all this? Out on bond?”

  “Yes, awaiting trial. But he’s in deep trouble and he knows it. He’s ready to tell of his involvement with Ms. Lamonica in exchange for a lighter sentence.”

  “Something’s not adding up,” Boone said. “Haeley never left that file out, which means Fox had to be working with someone else inside. And what was in this for him, anyway? Just getting our star witness killed to ruin the case and my major collar? He had to be getting big bucks.”

  “Want to know what I think?” Zappolo said. “I think he takes a reduced sentence, trying to take down anyone he can in the process, serves his time, and then still gets a big payday on the other end. The one hole in your sting case is that you have not rounded up all the cash the gangs have hoarded over the years. Millions? Billions? You realize they brought in so much cash it was easier to weigh it than count it to know how much they had? Anyway, we know why Jazzy wanted Pascual dead. That had to be worth quite an offer. The question is, how did Fox get connected with people like that?”

  “He was undercover for a few years,” Boone said.

  “Well, there you go.”

  Haeley said, “How do I prove Fox is lying about a relationship with me?”

  “The burden of proof is on him,” Zappolo said. “But be prepared. Your reputation is going to be dragged through the mud. Do I understand you have a child out of wedlock?”

  “Tell me Max won’t figure into this.”

  “I can keep his name out of it, but no, I can’t get that fact excluded. It speaks to your character and lifestyle, which will be under attack.”

  “What it speaks to is a period of my life that is long past.”

  “That may be, but the other side will try to make you look like a bed hopper. Sorry.”

  Haeley buried her head in her hands.

  “Rethinking the idea of a settlement when this is all over?”

  “Maybe,” she said quietly. “If they really do this to Max and me.”

  “Before you decide you’re dead set against profiting from a debacle like this,” Zappolo said, “think of your son. You could set him up for life: college, the whole thing.”

  “You’re pretty confident you can win.”

  “I’d better be. If I just get you off, Boone’s five grand pays a few of my expenses. We take it to the next step, my third can more than pay off my boat.”

  Haeley stood and paced. “How ugly can this get?”

  Zappolo shrugged. “Everything’s fair game. It wouldn’t surprise me if they called the father of your son to testify.”

  “You have got to be kidding.”

  “And if they’re smart, they’ll get him to paint you in a pretty bad light.”

  “Meaning?”

  “You sure you want to hear this?”

  “Better from you than in court for the first time. I can’t believe I might have to face him again.”

  “Maybe they won’t want to go to the expense of flying him in. Where does he live?”

  “He works in a casino in Hammond.”

  “Then you can bet he’ll be here. If I were on their side, I’d get him to portray you as a loose woman.”

  “It won’t be hard for you to impugn his character, Fritz,” Boone said. “He’s still never seen his own son.”

  Zappolo shrugged. “They’ll get him to say it was because he wasn’t allowed and that he isn’t even sure the baby was his.”

  Haeley shot him a double take.

  “I’m just telling you what you’re facing.”

  6:00 p.m.

  As they headed back to Haeley’s mother’s car, Boone was exhausted. At times like this he was reminded of the trauma done to his body and how much worse he was bound to feel ten days hence when he would come out of surgery. He had the feeling he had a lot to accomplish before rehab.

  The parking garage was cold and drafty, and Boone was eager to get in the car. But as he stood there with his good hand on the door handle, Haeley seemed paralyzed on the other side of the car. “I can’t leave it like this,” she said.

  “What?”

  “I need to tell him.”

  “Zappolo? What?”

  She marched off toward the elevator.

  “Could you leave me the keys?” Boone said.

  “You’re not going with me?”

  “I guess I am.”

  They met Friedrich Zappolo in the foyer of his law firm, dressed for the weather. “Forget something?” he said.

  “You need to hear this from me,” Haeley said. “That’s all.”

  “I’m listening.”

  She got in his face. “I don’t care about the legal mumbo jumbo, whether I’m innocent or not guilty or whatever you want to call it. And I don’t care whether it’s relevant or you want or need to hear it, but I need you to. I never had any kind of a relationship with Garrett Fox, and I never would. I never left any classified documents out where anyone could see them, least of all an outsider. And I never took money to do anything wrong.”

  “Okay.”

  “Okay? That’s all?”

  “I’ve got it,” Zappolo said. “Feel better?”

  “No. Because you’re not buying it, and I need you to. I have to have a lawyer who believes in me.”

  “I have the capacity to believe whatever you tell me to believe.”

  Haeley caught Boone’s eye and set her jaw, shaking her head as if she were so angry she couldn’t even speak.

  “Ms. Lamonica,” Zappolo said, “your odds of success are better with me than with anyone else you could choose. The other side, even if it’s the US Attorney, is going to have to perform miracles to make any of this stick against you. You need to trust me.”

  “I’ll let you know,” Haeley said through clenched teeth, spinning to head back to the elevator.

  Zappolo nodded to Boone as if he wanted him to lag for a moment. “Meet you at the car,” he told Haeley. She looked surprised but left.

  Zappolo led Boone around the corner and leaned back against the wall, clearly out of earshot of anyone else. “You need to tread very carefully with this woman.”

  “What’re you saying? You believe the other side’s discovery?”

  “I didn’t show all of it.”

  “How much more is there?”

  “Plenty. There was some kind of a relationship, probably closer to what Fox maintains than Ms. Lamonica says.”

  Boone felt a stab in his lung, indoors for the first time. “What evidence?”

  “E-mails.”

  “From her?”

  “Both.”

  “From what computer?”

  “His laptop and her office unit.”

  “Get out. How stupid do you think she is?”

  “Hard to argue with the evidence, Drake.”

  “C’mon, Fritz. It’s got setup written all over it.”

  “The techies will spend a good deal of time on the stand, is my guess.”

  “Why didn’t you hit her with this?”

  “Oh, I will. She won’t hear it first in court, you may rest assured.”

  “What else?”

  “Her signature is not on either deposit. You don’t sign a deposit slip unless you’re taking some of the money as cash.”

  Boone shrugged. “They still have to prove she deposited the payoff, if there was one.”

  “Don’t be naive. The money’s in her
account and Fox corroborates the amount. Hey, you don’t look so good, Drake. You all right?”

  “A little short of breath.”

  “Need to sit?”

  Boone shook his head. “You’re telling me this woman I believe I know is loose, a liar, and a criminal?”

  “I’m telling you to tread carefully, and I’m also reminding you that she has the best lawyer money can buy.”

  “Who believes she’s guilty.”

  “Give me a break, Boone. It doesn’t matter. I know my job, and I’ll do it to the best of my ability.”

  “She’s going to want to know what you wanted.”

  “That’s on you. Tell her or don’t tell her; I’m okay either way.”

  “She’ll probably fire you.”

  “That would be a mistake.”

  “I hate to say I agree, Fritz. But I also want to prove everyone wrong, especially you.”

  “That would be most helpful. Nobody’s restricted you from the case, have they? I can’t afford a private investigator on what you’re paying. You want to handle it?”

  Boone snorted. “It would only be my career.”

  “Your career? That’s as good as over anyway, isn’t it?”

  “Hardly.”

  “Admirable. If you want to risk it by digging into some of this stuff for me, I’ll be all ears.”

  Boone was grateful to climb into a warm car, but naturally he dreaded the questions from Haeley. Her look said it all. She didn’t even have to ask.

  “I may have a new part-time job,” Boone said. “’Course it doesn’t pay.”

  “What?”

  “I’m gonna act as PI on your case.”

  “If I keep Zappolo, you mean?”

  “Haeley, you really need to decide that right now. With the US Attorney nosing around, you could wind up at MCC and lose Max to DCFS.”

  “Don’t even say that. I’d die first.”

  “Zappolo can make sure he stays with your mom, but this is the wrong time to be switching lawyers.”

  “I don’t like him, Boone.”

  “You don’t have to. But I’m telling you, he’s the best.”

  “Even if he doesn’t believe in me.”

  “Maybe especially because of that. He has no illusions. What if you had someone who totally believed you but couldn’t mount an effective defense? The result is all we care about.”

 
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