Riverville Murder - Chapter 36

riverville cover lg

Case of the Riverville Murder

A Short Story by Ernie Whitenack

Chapter Thirty Six

Previously:

“Chief Cosmo Natali. In a hundred years, who would suspect him of being dirty! A sad ending to an illustrious career,” Matt said. “Time for this department to move on and concentrate on getting all of those crooks in jail. The DA and his crew have a huge task ahead of them.”

“I just started to wonder what is happening in that regard. I’ve been so busy rounding up offenders, I haven’t been able to keep up.”

“The best I can do is give you an abbreviated summary of charges and convictions. Thanks to the team from the Steno pool who went beyond the request you gave them and with unbelievable speed.” Matt Said.

“You already know that Goddard is serving one hundred and ten years.”

“About one-third of those arrested, here and in Somerville, has been turned over to federal custody. Several have been deported for processing elsewhere in International Court or by the country receiving them. Callan is fortunate to be in FBI hands and be charged under federal laws – money laundering and gun-running. I doubt he would last a week in a Mass. state prison. Of course, he could be tried and convicted for state offenses while still in federal jail but must finish federal time before serving a state sentence. Those state charges are hefty; murder, racketeering, prostitution, illegal gambling, and probably several I can’t think of now. He’s sixty-two years old, so I doubt he will live that long.

“The remainder, those doing the street work for the gangs, will be going through district courts rapidly when the DA approves the compilation of charges the steno pool worked out. Another couple of weeks should be the end of that.

The cases against Albert Nunsay for murder and Jerry Mc Dougal and John Byrne, as accomplices to the murder or attempted murder of two FTA agents, are in progress in Boston Federal Court. As it was discovered, all are in the U.S. illegally. That’s good for deportation, but I think they will be required to serve the murder charges first. Nunsay will get a life stretch if he is lucky. Either way, he’ll never be deported. James Hurley has already been deported to Interpol in Dublin. What charges Agent Sullivan will bring is not yet known.”

“What about Gustloff Hofstadter, Jason Atkins, and his father, Danial Atkins?” Scott asked.

“The two Atkins men are in FBI custody and will be charged with interstate racketeering. Danial has a Rhode Island charge as well, consorting with known felons for personal profit.”

“Looks like Hofstadter is in the same boat, but with a possible accomplice to an attempted murder charge. He hired the guys that made a try at you on the highway. This office will get a report on every trial, state, or federal, and I’ve left instructions that you be included in the distribution.”

“Matt, I hope you can arrange for some kind of an award for the steno pool folks who did the work.”

“Oh, yes!” Matt replied. “I’ve already talked to the lieutenant Governor about it. He promised to pass it by the Governor. It will be good for morale, he thinks.”

“In any case, I will personally see that they are rewarded in some way. Please call me if anything comes to light about the impending charges,” Scott said as he left Matt’s office.

Qualter and Guatino showed up as Allan and Scott were heading out for lunch. “Sorry it took so long, Boss. We had difficulty hunting down the state police Salinger phone.” Qualter said. “Give me yours, and we’ll return everything.”

“OK, leave everything on the table and join Allan and me for lunch. We’re going to walk down to the Parker House and have lunch at Parker’s Bar. It’s on the state’s attorney’s office.”

During lunch, Al Guatino asked Scott if he has another assignment for Qualter and him, mentioning how hard and unexciting it will be to return to regular detective duty.

 “Not at the moment, I’m sorry to say. You two are perfect partners, and you’ll be the first I’ll call when I need help. It would be great to bring you on board, but Mark Simmons has the one opening I could get, if he still wants the job, that is. But I might arrange something for you both.  I’ll try.

Frank Gray entered Parker’s Bar and immediately spotted Scott’s party. “They told me you would be here. I hope you don’t mind me butting in.”

“Of course not,” Scott said. “Pull up a chair. What can I order for you? What are you drinking these days?”

“I’ve had my lunch, thanks, but I’ll join you all in a celebration drink. Dewar’s Twelve-Years-Old on ice with a twist, please, he said, turning to the attentive waiter.”

“The real reason I decided to interrupt this occasion, other than I’ve got printer’s ink in my veins, is to confirm the rumors I hear about Cosmo Natali. As yet, I can’t believe what I’m hearing. I’ve listened to several accounts. What can you tell me, Scott?”

“Let’s hold off on that until we get back to the office. I have something interesting to show you and another scoop for Consolidated News Service.”

Frank nodded in agreement, and Scott ordered another drink all around. It was another hour or so before they returned to Scott’s office. Qualter and Guatino left to return the loaned Salinger equipment and then report in with their old commander, while Allan settled in his usual spot by the window.

Scott lit his freshly filled pipe, reached in his desk drawer, and retrieved Cosmo Natali’s note. “Here, read this,” Scott said, as he handed the paper to Frank. “And hold onto your seat.”

Franks jaw dropped open, and his face drained of color as he plopped into a chair and read Natali’s suicide explanation. He let his arms flop into his lap, sending the note floating to the floor, and looked up at Scott with blank glazed eyes.

Scott hurried around his desk and put a hand on Frank’s slumped shoulders while Allan poured a glass of water from an insulated pitcher and handed it to Scott, then picked up the dropped note.

“Frank, drink some water, then put your head between your knees. You look terrible – like you’re going to pass out,” Scott demanded, as Allan put the note on Scott’s desk and then refilled the glass.

Three or four minutes later, Frank slowly raised his head and shook it vigorously, as if to make the blood return quickly. He looked at Scott and Allan and said, “Thanks guys, I don’t know what came over me. I knew he was dead and probably killed himself. But as I read the letter, it was like listening to him speaking to me. I wanted desperately to talk Cosmo out of it.”

“I should have prepared you for the letter. I’m sorry.” Scott said. “I simply forgot what good friends you and he became over the years. We were all looking out for Abe Müller then, remember? Cosmo was a rookie cop attempting to fathom the plans to capture the Nazi punks. I, of course, have seen and talked to Cosmo over the years, but seldom socially. The last time was at that big party the force had for him when he was appointed Chief of Police

“I’d like a copy of that letter, please,” Frank said, “I need it as a news reference, and then I’ll put it in the family Bible until I get over his death. Please don’t let his family see the letter. I’ll explain it to them.

“It’s not my place to show the letter to them. That chore belongs to a Priest or friend, preferably a Priest. On another track, Mark Simmons is home, so I’ll set up an interview day for you. He might not want any publicity, you know, but I’ll ask him to do it. Is my law office OK? You’ll have a room to yourself, and Annie takes shorthand if you need her.”

Allan returned with a copy of the letter, “You know, those Xerox machines are popping up everywhere. I spotted this one in the greeting card shop down the block on my way to the library. You could save money if you got one Boss. It would pay for itself if you sold copies to the people in this building.”

“Good Idea,” Scott responded. “You can run the concession for a percent of the business. It won’t be hard for me to find a new driver. Naturally, that percentage will be after the monthly payment is made from the proceeds.”

“Forget I mentioned it,” Allan said, shaking from silent laughter, and retreated to his spot by the window.

The next morning Annie told Scott, as he opened the outer office door, “The Lieutenant Governor called. He’s waiting for your return call. Better get on it before doing anything else.”

“This is Scott Wadsworth. I’m returning the Lieutenant Governor’s call. Yes, I’ll hold on.”

“Good to hear from you, Sir. What can I do for you?”

“The Governor is planning an award ceremony for the actions culminating in the clean-up of the gangs in Boston and Somerville. He wants you to make a list and get it back to him. He wants to send personal invitations from The Office of the Governor.

 “I’ll be happy to, but I’m not sure how many will want public recognition of their work. You see, it is often essential to maintain anonymity in investigating and detection work. That and the recent demise of the Boston chief of police hasn’t left us in a celebrating mood. Please pass my thoughts along to the Governor. Oh, yes, I’ll include those people in Riverville. That’s where it all started.” Scott answered.

“Yes, Sir, I’ll let him know your thoughts. He will be disappointed, considering he’s looking for a public display of his commitment to and the recognition of law and order. He might reject your remarks. Between you and me, you should put them in writing. Thank you, Mister Wadsworth.”

“Well, what do you think of that, Allan? The Governor wants to give us a medal!”

“Without a lot of press, I hope. But I guess that’s asking too much with an election in the wings.”

Scott laughed for a minute, thinking, “That boy has an uncanny ability to correctly appraise a situation almost immediately – wish I could do that.”

At that, a gentle knock came to Scott’s door, and Annie came in with Mark Simmons. “He just showed up, Sir, but I thought you would like to see him,” Annie said.

“You’re right, Annie, thanks. Have a seat, Mark. I was about to call you. I’m a bit anxious to know your plans, but I’m not pushing you into a decision. I want you to be sure.”

“It has been a struggle, Sir. The folks in Riverville are some of the finest I’ve met, and I’m sure they like me. I’ve been offered a spot in the police department, a desk job, out of respect to being shot. It has a sergeant’s rank that will come in time. I’m tempted.”

“On the other hand, my family is here along with many friends. I’ll be forever grateful to you and Allan for your efforts to protect me after the hospital visit. That was far beyond your job description. During our recent joint action, my association with you and the state policemen has inspired a greater respect for law enforcement. And, my family likes you both as well. Watch out for my sister, Allan. Sarah took a real shine to you.”

“So, what are you telling us? Are you staying or going, or are you still ambivalent?” Scott asked. “I’m not pushing you but would like an answer within a week.”

“I’m staying, but only if you still want me, now that the case is closed, and there might not be much for me to do.”

“There will always be something to do,” Scott emphatically said. “Being Chief Investigator is not a full-time job, and the State’s Attorney, Matt Hart, understands that I have a law practice to look after. Aside from investigating, I want you at the statehouse to act for me. We will discuss the limits on that later. Oh, yes, if I didn’t mention it before, I’ve managed to have you come in at your old sergeant wage. Your first increase will be to state police sergeant’s pay.  Also, I can use your help within my law business on occasion. I’m quite sure there will be no objections to that. You will still get paid by the state when that happens, and I’ll look into some additional remuneration for that -- if I can determine it isn’t illegal

“Now, you have only been home a few days, so you won’t start for a week. I want you to relax and enjoy your family. I’m sure they will like you being around.”

“I’d like that, Sir. I wasn’t expecting to start at my old pay and then step-up so much with my first raise. Frankly, I’d be happy with whatever you offered. I owe you, Sir,” Mark humbly replied.

“That’s enough owe-me talk. Also, forget the Sir unless we’re in a meeting with our uppers. Allan, Qualter, and Guatino call me Boss -- you do the same. You’ll be Mark unless someone hits on a good nickname.”

Mark smiled, looked at his watch, and said, I have to get going. I have a check-up scheduled at the hospital. Doctor Colligan says I’m well overdue.

Scott went to the door with Mark and, after he left, said, “Annie, see if you can get Judge Millstone on the phone, please.”

“Make it fast, Scott. I have a meeting very soon.”

“The governor wants an award celebration for the closing of this case. He wants a list of recipients from me. Where you were so interested and supplied all the warrants, I thought I’d include you, Sir.”

“I get paid for my work and do not need awards to find satisfaction in it. The answer is no. If it is a public ceremony, the governor is nuts. He should slow down and let the whole thing cool off. All he is doing is introduce some fine, hard-working policemen to the world. I’d think they would rather remain unknown to all the crooks out there. I’m going to talk to the governor – let him know it’s a lousy idea.

“Got to go now – we’ll talk later.”

Scott spent the rest of the day making a list of possible recipients for the governors and calling each. The majority of those called said no that they didn’t think an award is necessary. Others said they didn’t care one way or the other; they would go with the majority.

Annie typed the list putting a No after those declining. And an X after those who didn’t care. Annie included a line explaining the X

Scott dictated a letter reiterating his objections. He pointed out that most of his selections considered it unnecessary and unwise to publicize individual policework. The next morning, Allan hand-carried the manilla envelope to the Lieutenant Governor’s office.

“We just had a call from a Federal Judge who Wadsworth selected. His objections alone were enough to have the governor abandon the idea. He sort of chewed out the governor,” The Lieutenant Governor told Allan.

“Well, what’s next,” Allan asked Scott while driving him home.

“We are going to just float for a while, Scott replied.  Everyone needs to get their minds cleared of the Riverville murder case and everything it brought to light. Then, I’m going to rent Angelo’s Restaurant for an evening and have a party for the key figures who helped bring the case to an end. I’ll even invite the Governor of Massachusetts.”

As he pulled up in front of Scott’s gate, Allan snickered at Scott’s last remark and said, “Maybe he’ll bring some medals.”

“Wouldn’t be surprised,” Scott said. “Now, come on in and have a drink with Nancy and me. We might as well start relaxing tonight.”

END

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Ernie Whitenack was born in 1928 in Springfield, Illinois and moved to Massachusetts in the mid 1930's. He is a Korean War veteran, worked as a photographic illustrator for 43 years and is now retired. Oh, and in case you didn't notice.... he's a pipe smoker too.

Copyright © Ernest N. Whitenack 2020
All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced, stored in, or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, printing, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the copyright owner.

Riverville Murder - Chapter 34

riverville cover lg

Case of the Riverville Murder

A Short Story by Ernie Whitenack

Chapter Thirty Four

Previously:

Grant motioned to Scott for an answer. “I think that PIRA contact is over,” Scott offered.  “Gus Malone, the Provo contact, is presently in Interpol’s hands, and Global Mortgage and Loan no longer exists. Callan has no interest in Ireland. He needs money to keep the gang going and for recruitment. Naturally, there might be others somewhere in the U.S. with a PIRA interest. I don’t know any.”

“That is certainly reasonable, Scott, and I’ll pass it up the ranks, “Guilford said. “I would like to hang in the fringes of this operation, as before, just to witness the finale.”

“Fine with me,” Scott said. “Be at my law office at eight o’clock tomorrow. We will be doing the final strategy for the arrests, which might occur that afternoon or evening.

Somerville:

As often happens during the late fall in New England, Somerville was enveloped in dense fog. The patrol cars keeping watch on the warehouse moved slower than usual as the officers attempted to see through the mist. Shadows around the building took on the shape of human forms, making the task more difficult. Over the radios, alerts were sounded and then rescinded.

Inside, Somerville and Massachusetts State Police held strategic positions where the weapons were stored and near the large abandoned air intake protruding through the ceiling. At Loading Dock C, stationed behind crates and boxes, two officers wait on each side.

Soon after four A.M., sounds are heard echoing through the air intake, and a knotted rope falls through the duct. One by one, three men climb down the rope, followed by a canvas bag and a fourth man. An officer presses the transmission button on his radio and whispers “lights.” Every light in the warehouse comes on. Moving in, the officers find the thieves in total confusion and moving about, not knowing what to do. The arrest was almost uneventful, with the robbers surrendering immediately except one, who attempted to run.

Charles Street South:

Everyone was on time the next morning. Qualter and Guatino, as usual, were waiting when Scott and Allen arrived. Then came John Guilford, Dick Taranto, and Harry Malison. In the conference room, Scott introduced John Guilford and explained his part in the case from its start in Riverville.

Guilford greeted everyone, then said, I have news you’ll all want to hear. Before I left Somerville this morning, Chief Grant called me. He told me that shortly after four o’clock this morning, four men were arrested in Somerville. They were charged with attempted robbery of the firearms held under the ATF’s protection. The arrest went as smoothly as expected, with no injuries other than a sprained ankle a thief obtained while trying to run. A Summerville policeman threw his baton at the fleeing man’s legs, tripping him and sending him sprawling. The identity of the thieves is not yet known.

“I’d call that a great beginning to ending this mess,” FBI Director Malison said.

“I wonder how that is going over at the Italian Club. With all the leaks, they probably know! Now, to start the meeting, I have four officers at the ready, Scott told them. Plus, two cruisers patrolling in Southie on three shifts. We have direct radio contract capability, and they can be at the club in minutes.”

Taranto spoke next, saying, “Under the circumstances, I don’t want BPD officers in on these arrests. Callan might not be the only one of his kind on the force. We can’t risk a leak. If necessary, I can enlist a limited number, three or four, detectives -- old-timers -- I can trust from a couple of precincts. They must be volunteers, however.”

Malison said. “Smart move, Dick. I must admit but hesitated to say, the thought of a leak from the BPD crossed my mind. I’m glad I didn’t have to bring it up.”

“So, let’s see,” Malison continued, “Eight from your group, Scott, four from the BPD, and I have five that I can free-up – seventeen at the most. That’s a lot of men to arrest four or five surprised crooks. I think we should follow dick’s reasoning and forget BPD involvement – other than Dick himself.”

“Perhaps,” Scott said. “But let’s hold off on that until we work out an attack strategy. I would like to see three men inside the building before our subjects get there. I don’t think there is an alarm system, so it will be a matter of picking a lock on one of the doors and hiding somewhere inside. My people will be listening on the Salinger Radio bug, and we will know when the subjects arrive. The rest of this team will either go to assigned doors to prevent escape or enter the front. At the same time, the inside men will come up behind the subjects. Harry, Dick, and I will enter with our people and make the arrests. Harry, you get Gustloff Hofstadter, Dick, you, and whoever is assigned to you, grab Callan and the lieutenants. Then, I’ll speak to them about the charges and how each one might be charged under federal and Massachusetts state laws. We will want to be close to our appointed positions and move together quickly. John Guilford, you follow us in at a safe distance. Dick, Harry, how does that sound?”

“Sounds workable,” Dick said. “I think we need a floor plan and someone who knows how to pick a lock and agree on a signal to start.”

“We have a lock picker among us; our very own Allan Rockford. He told me he learned how from an allegedly retired locksmith.  Anyway, he got us into Goddard’s bar on the first raid.”

“And I’ll get right on the floor plan,” Dick said. “I can get it faster than anyone else, being a top cop.”   

“For a signal to move in, either Qualter or Guatino will be listening in the car close by. How about three short beeps on the horn followed by one long beep, something that might be commonly heard and ignored,” Harry offered.

All agreed as Dick Taranto returned from Scott’s office after making a call to the Boston Planning Board. “The floor plan is on the way by messenger,” Dick announced. “What did you decide for a signal?”

Scott told him, then said, “Let’s take a break until the floor plan arrives unless anyone has questions or comments.”

“I can sure use some coffee. Anyone else?” John Guilford asked. “It’s unanimous. Come on, Allan, show me where the coffee shop is.”

Scott moves to where Qualter and Guatino are drinking coffee and says, “You two know the building, so I think you should get to the club. Keep me informed by radio of anything important. I doubt we’ll attack today. We have yet to go over the floor plan, and Taranto and Malison have to inform and assemble their people. Be here in the morning with the recording. I need to talk to Judge Millstone about any new evidence.”

Later, surveying the floor plan, Guilford looking on with interest, they positioned each man and decided the BPD men are not needed.

“We need an assembly point near the club, assign men to cars according to their position, and go over the plan one more time,” Malison said.

Laughingly, Allan said, “I can get us into Goddard’s bar again. It’s not far from the club.”

“Why not?” Scott said. “It worked well before as a headquarters.”

“What about electricity? By now, it has probably been shut off.” Dick Taranto commented. “We have large battery-operated lamps, or I, as BPD, might be able to have electricity turned on for twenty-four hours.”

Allan said, “I like your second alternative. “The lamps will require a truck, and acquiring the lamps could attract attention from the wrong people. Besides, flashlights won’t be so bad for an hour or so.”

Scott jumped in, saying, “Dick, give the electric company a try, please. It’s the simplest. All they can say is yes or no.”

“I’m wondering about the four troopers in two cars waiting for a call from the hand radio,” Malison said. “They will have no knowledge of our discussions. Why not pick four troopers, have them meet us at Goddard’s bar, and give them a rundown of the attack. I think there will be plenty of time before we get the call from Qualter to move in.”

Scott replied, “Out of sight, out of mind, I guess. At first, the radio seemed the best solution. Thanks, Harry. Good catch. I’ll get right on it.” The Captain of the closest State Police Division quickly agreed to release only two detectives and two troopers to Scott’s operation.

The group worked on the attack plan for hours, checking and rechecking timing, deciding who will guard which doors, what to do in case of gunfire, and a hundred other minute details.

During a break, Scott’s radio sounded, and Qualter said, “I don’t know how he found out, but Callan is livid over the arrests in Somerville. To quote him, “All the money I paid those dumb bastards down the drain. The loss of funding from the weapons is worse. Just wait until those incompetent goons are in jail. I’ll have their lives made so miserable they’ll wish they were dead.” Then he ranted about the failure to kill you on the highway – said he saw it in the afternoon newspaper – said another wad of cash gone with nothing to show for it. What is this, Boss? Are you hurt or anything?”

“No, both Allan and I are OK. I’ll tell you about it later. Bring the recorder in today. I want that transcribed for the judge.”

Ironically, Judge Millstone called shortly after Qualter’s radio call. Annie announced the call and put him through.

“Scott, my God, man, are you alright? I read in the newspaper account of the attack on your car. That was some experience. Did you know the assailants?”

“Both Allan and I are fine, Sir. No, I didn’t know them and haven’t seen the papers, so I don’t even know their names. But I know who hired them, Callan. He talks of it on today’s recording.”

“Good,” the judge almost shouted. “After reading random transcripts and listening to recordings, I can safely authorize you to move forward with your plans. If the FBI is included in this, step right into it. We’ll take care of the warrants, although you might not need them. You certainly have probable cause and witnesses to the conversations, and there is precedent for the action, particularly in federal cases.”

“We thank you, Judge Millstone. I’ll give you a report as soon as possible after arrests are made.”

Annie came into the room and turned on the lights. “It’s near four-thirty, gentlemen. The daylight slips away much earlier these days.” As she left the room, everyone acknowledged Annie with a verbal response of one sort or another.

Qualter and Guatino arrived soon after everyone left, other than John Guilford. “Set the recorder to the beginning of today and give it to Annie,” Scott commanded. “Judge Millstone will want to see a transcription. I can listen anytime.”

“Have you two decided who is going into the club early? Allan will let you in by picking the lock on the rear door. So, whoever it is, Allan and I will pick you up in the morning at seven. Two FBI agents, probably the ones you met earlier, will go in with you. The rest will meet at Goddard’s bar and move at your radio command. It might be a long day waiting in hiding, but then, it could be over in a couple of hours.”

“I’ll be going into the club,” Guatino said.

“Fine. Qualter, you get on Callan in the morning and radio the minute Callan, Hofstadter, Ned Zebrine, and Chuck Cressey are all at the Italian Club. If anyone else is there, I want to know when you radio me.”

“Yes, Sir, to the word,” Qualter said.

Annie came into Scott’s office with the recorder and the typed transcript. “Anything else, Mister Wadsworth?” She asked. I’m meeting Mic after work.”

“No, Annie. You go ahead and give Mic my regards, please.”

On the drive to Scott’s Walnut Street home, Allan asked, “Boss, why is that called the Italian Club?  Most of the Italians don’t live anywhere near Southie.”

“I asked Commissioner Taranto the same question the other day. It seems that the building and the Soccer Club were both built just after the war. It was some kind of civic project for the returning veterans and the youth of the area. As it happened, the Soccer Club had moderate use by some vets who learned the game in Europe and for Rugby by the Scotts and Irish. Since both games have flourished over the years, more extensive and more centrally located facilities have emerged. That left it to youth leagues and high school use.”

“That which is now the Italian Club had a few weddings and parties. It soon became apparent that the kitchen facility was not adequate for such functions. It was turned over to the Boston Police Department for education and training use under Lieutenant Callan’s management. That purpose lasted a couple of years before the building, ostensibly finagled by Callan, was deemed unsafe for use. Callan managed to hang onto the building somehow. Dick speculates the C Street gang used it for purposes unknown.”

“That’s some story, Boss. Looks like Callan has been crooked for a long time. He must have a lot of unethical friends in the city government to pull it off. Maybe some will come to light after Callan is arrested.”

“Dick says he intends to make sure that happens. Have a good evening, Allan. See you tomorrow at six-thirty,” Scott said as he exited the vehicle.

At home, Scott was greeted warmly by Nancy, had a brief conversation with the boys, then finally relaxed. He poured some Scotch over Ice from the sideboard, settled in his leather chair, and called Frank Gray of Consolidated News Service.

“Frank, Scott here. Tomorrow is the day we bring an end to the C Street gang – thought you might like to be there. I know you have been chomping at the bit to get some copy on our progress for your service. I’ll fill you in on how we reached this point later. After, or perhaps during, the trials, I’ll give you transcripts of recorded evidence. Also, if he is willing, I’ll set up an interview with Mark Simmons. His story will give you a good follow-up to the main story.”

“Elephants couldn’t pull away, Scott. What time and where?”

Be at my house at six-thirty and be prepared for a long day.

The next day, Allan drove to near the Italian Club's rear door and saw two men there.

“It’s OK, they’re FBI,” Guatino said quickly.

Allan picked the rear door lock for the three with deft hands, and a musty, stale odor escaped the club. He returned to the car and drove to Goddard’s bar.

Inside, Guatino and the FBI agents searched for a secure hiding place. An FBI man shouted, “I've found it – over here in the coat check room.”

The men entered the room with flashlights probing the dark and discovered a large quantity of dust covering everything, indicating a lack of use for many years. The paneled swing-up door over the service counter window squeaked loudly as Guatino released the locks and opened it, finding that the small room overlooked the main function room and the front door.

“I’ll leave this open a crack so we can see under it. One of you guys go out there and see if the opening is noticeable.”

Guatino peering through the narrow opening, saw the FBI man walk side to side in the function room before stopping in the center and giving a thumbs-up sign, and returning to the coatroom.

“When all of those bums get here, you throw open that swing-up door while my partner and I rush them.” the FBI man said upon returning. “Guatino, make some noise with that door and have your weapon out. We’ll separate quickly, so if one of them tries anything, he won’t have a prayer. I don’t think it will happen, though. They aren’t that stupid.”

John Guilford is the only one waiting as Allan pulls up in front of Goddard’s bar. They exchange greetings before Allan makes quick work of the lock and opens the door. Again, the smell of stale air blasts out at them. Scott enters first and finds the light switch. “Well, Dick came through,” Scott said, as the room came alive with light.

The rest drifted in over ten minutes, collected a chair, and moved it to where Scott was sitting. Scott stood and asked, “Who, other than the four new state troopers, have any questions as to why we are gathered here this morning?”

“Good. Commissioner Taranto and Director Malison, please take your men to where you can instruct them on what and where they will take part in this operation. My people stay here.”

When chair scuffing stopped, and the room was quiet, Scott told the new troopers what the operation is about and what various people will be doing. “Two of you troopers will be with me, Sergeant Rockford and FBI Agent Bud Strome. We will be informed by radio when all the subjects are at the Italian Club. Sergeant Qualter will be watching from his car. When each group is in place, you will hear a car horn sound, three short honks, and one long. At that, we will go through the front door. Those concealed on the inside will come forward, and we will have them in custody. Formal arrests for federal, state, and international charges will then be made. It will take a while. Oh, yes, you other two troopers are to stay outside and watch the right side of the building; other officers will be on the left side. This is cautionary should someone try to exit by a window. Wait five minutes from the time we go in, and come inside to assist with guarding and escorting the prisoners. Is everything clear to you? No questions? OK, relax. It might be an hour or several before we are called.”

The noise level rose as the officers broke away from groups and started talking. Allan and Scott stayed seated and spoke with John Guilford.

During a lull, Allan asked, “Boss, do you have any reservations about this going smoothly? I know it will take really tight timing to pull this off without any resistance. Any shooting inside the club might be disastrous and really bad P.R.”

“You know, Allan, I hope everyone here has those thoughts. If they do, the operation can’t help but be a smooth-running success. No, I have no reservations at all.”

Time went slowly until someone found the coffee machine that Qualter found when the bar was used on the previous raid. Bottled water and coffee were still in the storeroom. Playing cards were found under the serving bar.

The four-hour wait ended when the Salinger Radio squealed, and Qualter said, “Everyone is in the building, Boss. The two FBI agents following Hofstadter have taken positions on the left side of the building. I waited ten minutes before contacting you to see if anyone else came. None did. You can come ahead.”

-------------------------------------------------------------

Ernie Whitenack was born in 1928 in Springfield, Illinois and moved to Massachusetts in the mid 1930's. He is a Korean War veteran, worked as a photographic illustrator for 43 years and is now retired. Oh, and in case you didn't notice.... he's a pipe smoker too.

Copyright © Ernest N. Whitenack 2020
All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced, stored in, or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, printing, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the copyright owner.

Riverville Murder - Chapter 30

riverville cover lg

Case of the Riverville Murder

A Short Story by Ernie Whitenack

Chapter Thirty

Previously:

“Then let me show you at least one of Boston’s splendors. It’s close to closing, so let’s head for the Parker House for a couple of drinks, some dinner, good conversation, and then we’ll take you to the airport. Where is your luggage?”

“In a locker at British Airways terminal,” Sullivan answered. “I took the time to take it there before looking you up.”

Qualter called before the three left for the Parker House. “Where will you be in the morning, Boss? There are conversations on the recorder you will want to hear. Things are popping, and I think you will soon be hearing from Alice Nadeau. These conversations will give you a jump on her. We’ll be there at eight o’clock if you like.”

On the way, Scott gave Allan a summary of Qualter’s call and asked to pick him up for the eight o’clock meeting.

The evening with Frank Sullivan went on until ten o’clock, with swapping stories of adventures, humorous incidents, and family, all accompanied with Parker’s Single Malt. Allan had Pepsi. They made Sullivan’s flight, after the sumptuous meal, with time to spare.

Allan was waiting at seven-thirty when Scott walked through his front gate to Walnut Street.

“Are you OK this morning, Boss?” Allan asked.

“Are you asking if I have a hangover? If so, the answer is no. It’s all in the timing, Allan. Pace yourself correctly, and you will never get a hangover -- and that’s today’s lesson.”

Allan smiled as he moved the car away from the curb, thinking he hasn’t seen Scott that jovial for quite a while – since this case started, he decided.

Qualter and Guatino, waiting in the hall outside Scott’s office, Guatino holding a cardboard tray housing four cups of coffee, started jabbering about the recording as soon as they saw Scott.

Inside, Scott said, “OK, now, one at a time, tell your story, and let’s get the playback going.”

Rather than continuing, Guatino opened the case, rewound the wire, and started the playback. It consisted of several arguments and heated conversations. The first voices were those of Callan and Jason Atkins discussing Zebrine and Cressey.

Annie arrived and, hearing the voices, came into Scott’s office. She listened for a while and left. Annie retrieved a new steno-book from a cabinet, sharpened several pencils, and sat everything on the corner of her desk in anticipation. Then, she set about sorting the morning mail and wondering how long it will be before someone comes in with the recorder and how long it will take to do the transcribing.

Scott suddenly said, “Stop the machine. Do we have first names for Cressey and Zebrine?”

Qualter and Guatino glanced back and forth at each other with vacant looks on their faces before Allan spoke.

“Of course, we do. Cressey and Zebrin’s first names must be on the list we received from the DMV.”

“Oh, my,” Scott gasped. “If we forget things like this, we have too much going on. I wish Mark Simmons could be on-board. Well, wishing won’t make it real, so let’s get on with it. Thanks, Allan.”

They continued until Scott said stop. “Run it back, if you can, to the place where Nadeau gave them an ultimatum. They were discussing how the money will be used.”

Qualter found the spot, and they carefully listened as Nadeau said:

“Your total is way too much. I cannot justify that amount to my sources! Give me names and cut the amount in half. Then, I might have a chance. Otherwise, I don’t see how I can help you. Actually, you are in a much more vulnerable position than Nathan ever was. I’m sticking my neck out here. You and your friends have no money left to guarantee repayment, Goddard is in the pokey, funds confiscated, and you’re a poor cop. I shouldn’t even be talking to you just because Nathan was a friend.

“Come on, Allice, be reasonable. OK, I need the money as an inducement to recruit fillers for the organization. I don’t have names as yet. But I’ll cut the amount in half and make promises for the cash. You’ll get their names when I know them. Ned Zebrine and Chuck Cressey are in Providence right now putting out feelers through some friends there.”

A telephone ring is the next thing heard on the recording, and Scott again says, “Stop.”

Rewind, and take the machine to Annie. There is too much here to absorb by listening. However, we did get those first names I asked about. I’m going to have those two looked into.”

“Looks as if Miss Nadeau has the upper hand, Boss,” Allan added. “If she gives Callan money on a signed contract and stating the purpose, she’ll really have him. She has to be working for some government agency, or maybe the police commissioner.”

“You might have hit square on, Allan. What if the cops are on to him and haven’t told us?” Scott replied. I’ve known Dick Taranto, the assistant commissioner, going way back when he was a sergeant. If it weren’t vitally important, he would have asked for my help or informed me of the issue. Folks, I don’t think it will be long before we hear from Miss Nadeau.”                                                                                                                                                                    

Somerville:

In Interrogation Room 1 of the Somerville Police Headquarters, Bobby Clark sits wringing his hands and tapping his toes. An officer is at a desk in the Squad Room, making out an arrest report on Clark when his sergeant comes in.

“Where did you find Clark?” the sergeant asks.

“Clark was on a fire escape attached to the warehouse building that was the Compton Hill Gang’s hangout. I was patrolling with my partner when we were hailed by Buzzy. We pulled into an alley, and he told us of a break-in about to happen at that address. Buzzy said the word on the street was about a stash of guns the gang hid in the building.”

“Buzzy? Is that the homeless guy that’s been feeding the department tips once in a while? The sergeant asked.

“He’s the one, homeless in name only, though. He’s wealthy. I understand someone ran a check on him, and he just likes to live on the street and look like a bum. Buzzy, I don’t know his real name, was a big man in Silicon Valley – president of a company until the stress got to him and he had a breakdown. I guess he is harmless, but he needs a keeper, I think.”

            “I’ve never met the man,” the sergeant said, but it seems he needs some psychiatric help. We could bring him as an indigent. When the court hears his story, he will, more than likely, be put in a hospital until he is straightened out.”

            “Heck, Sergeant, Buzzy isn’t hurting anyone except the bad guys. I understand he helps-out at the Seamans Shelter – even donates money when needed. He has his quirks but is a responsible person, both civically and financially. I’d like to see him left alone, at least until he does something really goofy.”

            “The whole thing, the guns and how you stopped the break-in, is interesting, but I’ll wait for your report before I start asking questions. Oh, and we’ll leave Buzzy alone.”

Two days later, Winston Grant, Somerville Chief of Police, called Scott and told him of the arrest and the guns.

“This Bobby Clark, just a kid of nineteen and no record other than juvenal, told of talking to one of the Compton Hill Gang named Dino Marcus. We now have Marcus in custody. He didn’t know just where the weapons were hidden. He did understand from overhearing a conversation that the guns were for a second shipment to Northern Ireland. Apparently, Marcus was a small cog in the gang and was invisible to us. He also mentioned hearing the name of a Captain Callan in association with Goddard. We have no clue as to who Callan is. I’m calling to find out if you know anything of a Captain Callan.”

“You bet your life I know about Callan. However, I don’t want to discuss it on the phone. By the way, just what did you find at the warehouse?”

About a hundred weapons – seventy-five thirty-eight caliber pistols, the rest are Thompsons along with ten thousand rounds of ammo. Don’t ask how much of each, please. We locked it all up in an old meat refrigerator at the warehouse and have twenty-four-hour guards watching over it.”

“Not as big as the earlier shipment that didn’t quite make it to Ireland. Have you called the ATF, or are they still hanging around?” Scott asked.

“Oh, sure. John Guilford, you remember him, will be coming here soon.

“You don’t know it, Winston, but you have made my day. I’ll come to Somerville the day after tomorrow if that’s OK. I’ll tell you about the captain, and I would like to talk to Dino Marcus.”

“Sure, Scott. You are welcome here anytime.”

“Allan, we are going to Somerville the day after tomorrow. Let’s leave at about ten A.M.,” Scott said as he hung up the phone.

“You’ve got it, Boss. From what I heard and the tone of your voice, you have something more on Callan.”

“With a cooperative witness, he’s a dead duck. I think we know what the money Callan wants from Nadeau is really for.”

The special frequency radio sitting on Scott’s desk squealed. Pressing the transmitting bar, Scott said, “Yes, Scott here.”

“Callan and the three lieutenants are at the Italian Club. Do you want to bag them today?” Qualter asked.

“No, we’re not quite ready. Anything interesting on the recorder?”

“No, Sir. Some arguing, a lot of cursing Alice Nadeau, and discussing whose running at Suffolk Downs. One thing though – a call Callan made before the others showed up. It didn’t have much meaning to me. Callan and another man, no name was mentioned, talked about getting more ammo for the tommies. Weren’t British shoulders called Tommies in the first world war?”

Scott silently chuckled and said, “That’s true, but that isn’t what they were talking about. It ties in with something I just learned from the Somerville police. You will know in a couple of days. Keep listening and see if you can get a name for the guy Callan talked with. I’ll be away the day after tomorrow but keep on with what you are doing. Annie will be here if you think something is essential and needs transcribing.”

The next morning, Scott, surprised at seeing Guatino and Qualter waiting at his office, asked, “What are you guys up to so early this morning?”

“We have the name of the guy who talked about tommies with Callan – thought it important enough to bring in the recorder. Also found out tommies means Thompson machine guns.”

“It’s no wonder you didn’t know what they are. The Thompsons were outlawed some time back. They played havoc in the hands of crooks in the nineteen-thirties. The military and some government agencies are the only ones allowed to use them now. Set up the recorder, and we’ll have a listen.”

“It appears Callan knows about the confiscation of the guns, Boss,” Allan said as they listened.

Annie came in, and they all stood around Scott’s desk listening. About two minutes into the playback, Annie said, “I’m not a stranger to colorful language, but that Callan is a foul man. I’ve never heard such talk. I’m leaving.” And she stormed out of Scott’s office.

As soon as Scott heard what he wanted, he buzzed Annie, “Please get Alice Nadeau for me. Try her home first, and then her office.” Then, turning to the men, said, “It’s time to end this cat and mouse game with Miss Nadeau.”

“Hello, Alice. I have new information that makes it essential we get honest with each other. I want to meet with you today and get it all out and above board. What time is good for you?”

“I’m sure I don’t know what you are talking about,” Alice responded. “But I’m not opposed to seeing you today. I’m free from two to three at my office.”

“Fine, I’ll be there at two o’clock.”

“Do you actually think she will respond to the new info?” Qualter asked.

“If she doesn’t. I’ll get an obstruction of justice warrant and arrest her. She will be forced to reveal her employer and what the game is. Now, you two, if you can locate him, get back on Callan. I want to know everything I can before I arrest him.”

Allan pulled into the parking lot next to Nadeau’s building at ten of two.

They are greeted like old friends and offered coffee -- or something more robust. “It’s nice to see you both,” Alice said as she motioned them to plush leather chairs. Looking around, Scott could not help noticing the office is expensively decorated, to the extent of what appears to be two Monet’s on opposing walls.

“Are those Monet’s?” Scott asked. “The style is his, but I don’t recognize them.”

Smiling with delight, Alice, somewhat surprised, replied, “Why, yes, they are. You don’t recognize them because they have never been cataloged. Until they were gifted to me, they were never outside the family’s possession. They were willed to my great uncle, but he passed on. The Monet descendants, rather than have them put to auction and end up with strangers, gave them to me.”

“They are wonderful,” Scott said, “But now to business, and what I say is sure to surprise you. The money Callan wants from you is not for recruiting new gang members. Its intended use is to purchase a stash of illegal arms hidden away by the Compton Hill gang in Somerville. I have no knowledge of where Callan intends to sell them other than the name Gus Hofstadter, who, momentarily, is not known to me. The weapons are presently locked up and guarded by the Somerville police. Rumored it is a second part of the thwarted shipment to Northern Ireland, and because of the murder of an ATF agent, the ATF has been called back in.

“Through a tip, a young man is in jail in Somerville on attempted robbery of the weapons. I have some questions about the arrest. It might not be legal as he was caught on the fire escape and not actually breaking in the building. He is a low-level member of the Compton Hill bunch, and I’ll be questioning him soon to determine if there is any association between Hofstadter and Goddard or the Somerville gang.

“My goodness, haven’t you been busy?” Nadeau said. “I don’t know how you came by all this. Believe me, I wasn’t negotiating for any personal gain. The effort was to get Callan to agree to a loan. It was necessary, for prosecution purposes, to have it look legitimate with a signed contract. This new information will nullify all my work. And, for your information, I did not approach Captain Callan. Knowing about my friendship with Nathan Goddard, he thought I might help him and asked for a meeting. I talked to some people about it and was asked to follow through and report back to them.”

“You do realize that you have diluted my efforts to keep you off the witness stand, as promised. The thing I can do now is to try and keep your relationship with Goddard out of it.”

Alice thought for several minutes before nodding affirmatively.

“Now, I need two honest answers,” Scott said. “Do the names Gus Hofstadter, Dino Marcus, and Bobby Clark mean anything to you? And the big one, for whom are you doing this dangerous thing that can also be detrimental to your business?”

“Early on in the negotiations, I heard Hofstadter’s name mentioned by Ned Zebrine, but Callan managed to shut him up quickly, and I never heard it again. The other two names are not familiar at all. Now, before I answer the other question, I have one of my own. How do you know so much about the money, negotiations, and this Hofstadter?”

“Through a revolutionary new listening device and recorder, we were asked to test.”

“So, it’s more than hearsay, being a recording.”

“Yes,” Scott said with a slight shrug. “There is some question if that type of thing is legal – privacy invasion, and such. However, a  notarized transcription of recordings has been accepted as evidence.”

Alice continued, “For some years, I have worked anonymously with the state’s internal revenue department. I’ve been able to help them bring forward several tax fraud cases. Not having any previous suspicions about Callan, they suggested I talk to the police commissioner and set up a meeting with them. On the tax people’s say-so, the commissioner asked me to go ahead and be extremely careful.”

“I can understand why,” Scott replied. “The commissioner and his assistant are the only people in the police department who know about Callan being a dirty cop. I’m just astonished they didn’t let me in on your efforts.”

“I can’t answer that. You’ll have to take that one up with the commissioner,” Alice said, sounding dejected.

 “Richard Taranto is an old friend of mine, so I intend to. He’ll give me a straight answer.”

“Thanks for being cooperative, Alice. You’ve confirmed what we assumed about your connection with Callan. I had no idea who you were working for, but I was always sure it wasn’t for yourself. Again, I’ll do all I can, through legal action and personal favors, to keep you out of the whole thing. In the meantime, may I suggest you end contact with Callan. Despite the weapons now being confiscated, Callan will probably continue his quest for money. He isn’t accustomed to living on a policeman’s pay. He is also dangerous if he gets angry. There is little doubt he is responsible for the attempt on my life and the shooting of officer Mark Simmons. Should you feel you are in danger, I can provide protection for you with a phone call.” 

“Thank you, Scott. I really disliked having to keep you in the dark, and I’m glad it’s over. Yes, I’ll call for help if I feel threatened.”

Later at his statehouse office, Scott updated Matt Hart on the recent revelations regarding Nadeau and the weapons in Somerville.

“This case, from its very beginning, has more twists than a corkscrew. I’m glad you can keep it all straight,” Hart said. “Why don’t you leave Assistant Commissioner Taranto to me? I doubt he knows the latest, much less the depth of evidence we have against Callan, and might let us take it all over. He will always be here for testimony if needed. Besides, he’s a long-time friend of yours. I’d hate to see anything happen to that.”

“I don’t know, Matt. Being a friend, he might take it better from me. However, you’re the boss, so do it your way. One thing, I’ve promised Alice Nadeau anonymity. If she doesn’t get it, it will end her use to the tax people, although I question its legality, and kill her business future. Please impress that on Dick Taranto.

In Scott’s office, Allan sat, coffee in hand, watching a flock of pigeons on the ground, fighting for food. Scott came in, and Allan turned and said, “I got a coffee for you. I hope it isn’t cold.”

“I’m sure it is OK, thanks.”

Allan walked to Scott’s desk and pulled a chair close. “How did it go with Mister Hart?”

 “Everything is fine, but instead of me talking to Dick Taranto about Callan, he wants to do it. I think he’ll be much firmer with his demands to leave the Callan problem to us. His excuse is the possibility of injuring my friendship with Dick if I talk to him. I Didn’t argue about it. Perhaps he’s right. Anyway, it’s been a stressful day. Let’s head to my house and have a Scotch. The boys will be glad to see you.

The minute Nancy saw Allan, she said, “It’s been too long, Allan, I hope you like beef stew.”

Despite Allan’s persistence that he hadn’t come to have dinner, Nancy insisted.

“Don’t argue, Allan. When her mind is made up, you’ll get nowhere, Scott said as he handed Allan a Scotch over ice.

A horn sounded at nine-forty-five just as Scott finished his breakfast. He grabbed his briefcase, kissed Nancy, and went to the waiting car for the trip to Somerville. “Had a great time with the boys last night, thanks. And Nancy’s beef stew is terrific”, Allan said as the car moved from the curb.

-------------------------------------------------------------

Ernie Whitenack was born in 1928 in Springfield, Illinois and moved to Massachusetts in the mid 1930's. He is a Korean War veteran, worked as a photographic illustrator for 43 years and is now retired. Oh, and in case you didn't notice.... he's a pipe smoker too.

Copyright © Ernest N. Whitenack 2020
All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced, stored in, or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, printing, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the copyright owner.

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