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Nothing but Money_ How the Mob Infiltrated Wall Street Part 13

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"You gotta be forty-two," Jeffrey said.

"Why?"

"Because you gotta be a year older than me 'cause your vision is worse than mine."

Pokross sipped his vodka and asked Cary what he was up to.

Cary said, "Disappearing to L.A. for six months, then I'm going to move off to London, then I'll disappear into an Eastern European country like Prague or Hungary for a year or two, let it all blow over. I'm not fleeing the law because I'm not under indictment," he said. "There's no warrant for my arrest, so if I'm in a different country, I'm not on the lam."

"What do you expect a problem from?" Jeffrey asked.

Cary replied, "Anything we've done in the past. It's going to come up and bite us in the a.s.s."

Pokross had heard the concerns before. They had come up quite often with Cary, who could not seem to understand that fearing imminent arrest was just part of the game when you're a full-time criminal. He knew, more or less, where this was going.

The two men ordered and joked and argued about moneys owed and waited for the waiter to leave before continuing their talk. The restaurant was full and loud, and it would be very difficult to hear the substance of what Cary and Jeffrey were discussing, but any observer could tell this was not a conversation filled with laughter and good feeling. Pokross mentioned a CEO named Manas in one of their schemes who'd pleaded guilty and was testifying against others they knew.

"The U.S. attorney, f.u.c.k them," Pokross said.

"USDA," Cary joked. "Department of Agriculture."

"Fish and Wildlife," Pokross said, laughing. "In your case, it's Fish and Wildlife, the filthy animal that you are."

Pokross said he'd heard their names had come up in the other case. They discussed getting the court transcripts and splitting the cost. "This is hot off the presses," he said. "Jeffrey and Cary were the promoters. Or Cary and Jeffrey. You and I are joined like brothers."

"I like that," Cary said, scribbling something on some paper.

"You're writing down quotes now?"

"My biography," Cary said. "My life story."

Pokross asked Cary if he'd approached any of his friends to see if they'd been questioned.

"What do you mean?" Cary asked.

"Well Warrington has vanished," Jeffrey said. "Where's Warrington? Down at his folks' farm?"

"Yeah. Why don't you call him?"

"Why don't you call him?"

"I don't speak with him anymore," Cary said. "We had a huge fight."

Jeffrey knew all about Cary and Warrington. He'd heard the original tape, which he'd turned over to the FBI, and he also suspected (but did not know for sure) that Warrington was, like him, cooperating. He'd heard all kinds of things. Warrington had fled New York after his arrest, even while his case was still pending. He'd moved back to his mother's horse farm in Maryland, and despite his rich upbringing, he was actually desperate for money. Pokross pointed to his gla.s.s and ordered another Absolut, this time with tonic. Cary ordered a Diet c.o.ke.

"Do you think it's better to let sleeping dogs lie with him or what do you wanna do?" Jeffrey asked.

"Why don't you call him?"

"And ask him what?"

"Has he been approached by the Feds? He got arrested. It was sealed."

Pokross: "What happens when something gets sealed?"

Cimino leaned forward and answered, " 'Cause he's cooperating."

"Then why would you want to call him?"

"Right."

Pokross handed Cary two recent news releases from the Dow Jones newswire, about two stock promoters who'd been convicted of securities fraud in the s.p.a.ceplex deal. They discussed what Pokross called "our mutual exposure points." This was another name for anybody involved in their schemes who might now be talking to the FBI. Warrington was a "mutual exposure point."

"Let's go over Warrington for a minute."

"There's nothing to go over," Cary said. "He's about to turn state's evidence. He's untouchable. Unless you want to whack him."

"I think you broached that issue at one point before," Jeffrey said, recalling Cary's reference to a "dirt lunch" some months before. "I really don't think that's the way to do it."

"Why?" Cary persisted. "If you whack him, you, um, his testimony is no good in court. Because you can't cross-examine the witness."

Jeffrey couldn't resist: "As they say, dead men tell no tales."

"Right. So the bottom line is . . ."

"What do you suppose I do with him?" Jeffrey asked. This appeared to be a carefully worded question. He was not suggesting that he himself should do anything regarding Warrington. He was just exploring what Cary might think to do with the guy.

"Have Jimmy take care of him," Cary said, obligingly. "I don't care how it's done, just take care of him. He's not married anymore," he added, as if this might seal the case. "His wife left him."

"She did?"

"She lives in New York now."

"Who lives in New York?"

"She does," Cary said. "He can't even feed his family. He's been living in the same cottage without electricity. Go down there, have them put a gun in his mouth."

"No," Jeffrey said. "You never pull a gun unless you're willing to use it."

"No, no, no," Cary said. "You miss the point."

"What's the point?"

"Put the gun in his hand, put the gun in his mouth, pull the trigger, make it look like suicide. It's not hard to believe he committed suicide, he's so down and out."

"Oh, I mean, I think that's a little involved, don't you?"

"What's it going to cost us, ten Gs?" Cary asked. "You got to get rid of him."

"Why don't you put the whole ten grand up? I don't want any part of it."

"What are you afraid to kill someone now?"

"It's not the first thing on my wish list, no."

"But you don't want to go to jail. What would you rather have, five years in jail or whack Warrington? They are going to use the majority of his testimony against us. Do you want to destroy the case against us?"

Jeffrey asked, "Do you think he's a credible witness?"

"Yeah."

"You do?"

"He has checks," Cary said.

"Did you ever give him checks?"

"No," Cary said. He paused. "Yes. As a matter of fact, I did. He cashed a check that had a fict.i.tious name, but it doesn't matter. He's a credible witness. The core of the case against you is Warrington. The core of the case against us requires testimony. If you eliminate the testimony, you eliminate the case."

Cary claimed that besides his own words, Warrington had their words on two hundred and thirty hours of secret recordings of phone calls implicating everyone in everything. He said, "Do you want to take care of the problem, yea or nay?"

"Personally, I have to think about it," Jeffrey said.

"Think about it. Let me know because my vote's yea.

I'm tired of, when push comes to shove, people backing down."

"Well I don't back down from s.h.i.t," Jeffrey snapped. "Where we're taking us, which is like . . ."

"Naw," Cary interrupted. "He deserves it."

Pokross said he'd decide whether to mention Cary's request to Jimmy Labate. "That may spook Jimmy," he said. "So I got to think about it a few days."

"Want anything to eat, by the way?" Pokross asked.

It was clear that Cary truly believed Warrington was the source of all his problems. If there was no Warrington, there would be no problems. It was also clear that Cary was not at all like the gangsters Pokross had known for years. They would never discuss something like this in a restaurant with a million tourists and businessmen in white shirts and ties and who knows who else sitting all around them. They wouldn't use terms like "put a gun in his mouth" and "make it look like suicide." No way. It would all be arranged by implication, without anything explicit uttered. Cary, it was clear, was an amateur. A pseudo-gangster who was so trusting of his longtime pal Jeffrey Pokross that he'd say things like this and expect no one would ever know. In this regard, already he was wrong.

When they finished, Pokross left Sparks and walked around the corner. He got into a leased car parked on the street, pulled up his shirt and pulled off the wires taped to his chest. He handed the wires and the tiny recorder tucked in his waistband to Special Agent Kevin Barrows of the FBI. Jeffrey Pokross, after all, was a reliable cooperating informant, skilled at coaxing out culpability. With Cary Cimino, they were learning, you didn't need much coaxing.

CHAPTER TWENTY-NINE.

October 26, 1999

By the time the sun rose across the sweeping horse country of central New Jersey's Monmouth County, there were enough cop cars in the driveway of the house to open a Crown Victoria used car dealership. There were the locals from Colts Neck and the state troopers and the unmarked variety that signaled the feds. Lights red and blue revolved in the growing autumn light, making clear to the waking neighbors that this would not just be another Tuesday in suburbia.

The house was of the cla.s.sic New Jersey striver variety, an enormous beige stucco McMansion with crushed white clamsh.e.l.l driveway encircling a pseudo-Venetian fountain. It practically shrieked, "Look at me! I have arrived!" It sat in the middle of a horse farm subdivided when the housing market got hot. There were probably two dozen just like it, each with two acres of open s.p.a.ce parceled out of what was once rolling green farmland, far enough apart that if you needed to borrow a cup of sugar from your neighbor you'd have to get in your car and drive over. No way you'd hear what was going on next door from that distance. Even the sound of gunshots didn't carry that far.

When the cops arrived, they viewed what would appear to be a typical upper-middle-cla.s.s new-money New Jersey neighborhood a few days before Halloween. There were pumpkins on doorsteps and fake scarecrows propped against lampposts. When they approached the house, they were greeted by two workmen who had done jobs for the owner and were there to pick up his two pugs while he went to Florida on a quick trip. They had found the front door open and entered, calling out the name of the owner, Albert Alain Chalem. They found the two dogs upstairs in a closed bedroom and a good reason to call the cops lying on the floor of the dining room.

Investigators first noted that the door was unlocked. Inside they entered a grand vestibule with a fifteen-foot ceiling and a wraparound staircase leading to the upper floors. A ma.s.sive crystal chandelier that would look great in a casino hung overhead. There was very little furniture and almost nothing hanging on the gleaming white walls. They walked through the living room and straight to the back of the house, where a huge, thick wood dining table dominated a room that looked out on the backyard. The table was covered with papers spread out in a way that indicated work was under way when events were suddenly interrupted. They noted that the back door was slightly ajar. On the floor of the dining room they found what they were looking for.

There were two men, blood pooling beneath both. One was the owner of the house, Chalem. He lay sprawled on the floor, the baseball cap he always wore next to him. The other was a friend of Chalem's, Maier Lehmann. He still had his cell phone in his hand.

At first it was just the locals and the state police, but within a couple of hours the FBI showed up. It was clear right away that Chalem was anything but a stranger to the Bureau. In fact, Chalem had long been involved in multiple over-the-counter stock scams and had tangential connections with multiple Mafia families and was involved with a platoon of corrupt stockbrokers and promoters. It was believed he'd been involved in shorting the house stock of a mob-run boiler room and driving the price down before they could unload and make a profit. He was also a sometime informant for the Bureau, tipping them off occasionally to the comings and goings of his criminal brethren. There were many reasons why he would wind up lying on the floor of his own expensive home. The other guy, Lehmann, appeared to be just a guy who had really bad timing. He was a computer whiz who worked for Chalem. When they began to look into the matter, they started with Chalem.

Lehmann was helping Chalem with a penny stock Internet site he'd started called stockinvestor.com. Chalem had been sued by the Securities and Exchange Commission for his role in penny stock manipulation, and his name had come up as a conspirator in a major arrest by the Manhattan district attorney of a boiler room known as A.S. Goldmen. They learned that he was supposed to be driving down to the Carolinas to meet a business a.s.sociate, then flying the rest of the way to Fort Lauderdale to meet up with his girlfriend, Kim, at a condo he owned there. He called her around 5 p.m. to say Lehmann would be joining him on the trip to Florida. His last phone call had come at 8 p.m. Monday night, to a business a.s.sociate. Whatever had happened, happened sometime between that call and the early hours of Tuesday when the two workmen showed up to get the dogs.

There was a quite a bit of blood, but it appeared that there had not been much of a struggle. It must have occurred quickly, and investigators theorized that Chalem and Lehmann were shot almost at the same time. This indicated more than one shooter. There was no sign that anything was missing, and the papers on the table appeared to have been left alone. It seemed that Chalem, at least, knew whoever had killed him, and that after they were done, they merely walked out of the house and drove away.

Chalem's girlfriend, Kim, learned what had happened when she awoke around 7 a.m. She had seventeen messages on her cell phone, all from their neighbor in Colts Neck. She called back, and the woman said there were about one hundred cop cars outside Kim's house and two dead people inside. She got a ticket back to Newark Airport right away, and when she stepped off the plane two FBI agents were waiting at the gate.

The appearance of the FBI was not exactly shocking to the girlfriend. She was vaguely aware of Al's involvement with criminals and those who wanted to be criminals. She'd been with him when they hung out with Allie Boy Persico, the acting boss of the Colombo family, in the Hamptons, and had once attended the wedding of one of Persico's relatives. She was vaguely aware that a guy named Phil Abramo who Al said was "connected" was involved in some of Al's business deals. Al was not your average businessman. The house in Colts Neck was in her name; the Florida condo was in the name of one of Al's employees. Al had made it clear he had certain credit issues, but it was also clear he wasn't crazy about having too many known a.s.sets.

The FBI was very interested in everything she had to say about when Al had planned to be in Florida and why that hadn't worked out. They asked about his friends, his family, his business a.s.sociates. She didn't really get into Allie Boy Persico and Phil Abramo. They asked about his work habits. He would disappear into his office inside the house in the morning and emerge after the closing bell on Wall Street, having spent all the hours day trading. She would write down each trade to help him track his money. As far as she knew they were all real companies. She was happy to have the money, and didn't ask a lot of questions.

The story hit the papers in a big way. This was not your usual Wall Street tale of merger and acquisition. This was more America's Most Wanted America's Most Wanted than the than the Wall Street Journal Wall Street Journal. Here were two stock pickers murdered by the mob. There were no gambling wire rooms, no corrupt union leaders, no tainted captains of the carting industry. This was the mob on Wall Street. Although the cops and the FBI really had no idea who specifically to blame for Chalem and Lehmann, and certainly could not say that it was a mob hit, it sure looked like one, and that was the way it got written. The manner of killing-no robbery, no big mess-made it obvious this was just business. This was clear evidence that the gangsters of New York had, like millions of law-abiding Americans, decided to get their slice of the Wall Street boom. They just did it a little differently than everyone else.

A day or two after the Colts Neck murders. .h.i.t the papers, Frank Persico called up DMN. Pokross took the call. All Frank would say was "I want to talk." Pokross met with Frank, and Frank asked a lot of questions about what Chalem did for DMN and what kind of records there were to connect Chalem to Frank. It was Frank, after all, who had introduced Chalem to DMN three years earlier.

The FBI knew all about this call and had no reason to think Frank Persico was involved in the murder of Al Chalem any more than about a dozen other gangsters across New York. Chalem had been into so many schemes with so many different organized crime families it was hard to tell who wouldn't want to kill the guy. Besides Persico they quickly saw connections with Phil Abramo, the self-proclaimed father of pump and dump. But Abramo himself was sitting in a prison cell in Tampa, Florida, where he faced charges that had nothing to do with DMN. Instead the FBI began pulling together information on the exact whereabouts of some of Abramo's mob cohorts during the evening of October 25, 1999. They'd found blood at the scene that did not belong to either Chalem or Lehmann, and while they awaited the test results they took blood and hair samples from several members of the DeCavalcante crime family, to which Abramo belonged. Nothing came of any of it.

Francis Warrington Gillet III didn't really care who killed the two guys in New Jersey. He didn't know them. He'd never even met them. Whoever put a bullet into them probably had his reasons, and Warrington was not in a position to know those reasons. He was simply upset that such a thing could occur to guys who were, in a way, just like him.

Two years after the FBI had come to his apartment and taken him away, Warrington's world was continuing its downward spiral into the abyss. Nothing was going as it should. He'd split from his wife. His mother wouldn't talk to him. His father didn't return his calls. His half-brother made fun of him every chance he could. He'd been forced to quit Wall Street and couldn't go near the securities industry. These days he was working around the stables at his mother's home in Maryland, living there in a converted barn. He had just turned forty-one. He was the father of a three-year-old. He was supposed to be a responsible member of society, contributing to the tax base and partic.i.p.ating as an able-bodied consumer of goods and services. Instead he was struggling to get control of his life, and now there was this awful thing in New Jersey.

What caught his eye was the mention of a possible theory in the deaths of the two guys in Colts Neck. One of them, Chalem, was believed to have been an informant. The word jumped off the page like a hand to the throat.

For months, Warrington had been spending long hours in anonymous government offices, sitting and talking with Special Agent D. True Brown of the FBI. He had been telling Brown everything he could remember about all of his former friends in the underworld and nearby environs. It hadn't been easy. He'd gone back and forth, trying to decide for himself whether he was a victim or a conspirator.

Sometimes he blamed others. For a time, he launched a lawsuit against a Florida law firm that had been involved in helping him set up the Discovery Studios model search debacle. He'd alleged fraud and a.s.sorted skullduggery, claiming that the law firm he'd hired had a conflict of interest that ultimately blew up the deal. In a newspaper story in the Palm Beach Post Palm Beach Post, Warrington didn't mention his arrest by the FBI but instead whined that he was just another working man stiffed by greedy lawyers.

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Nothing but Money_ How the Mob Infiltrated Wall Street Part 13 summary

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