Rated: E · Fiction · Crime/Gangster · #2289190
Episode V: Part II - The Case of the Nefarious Nephew
“Damn … this is mind boggling,” Matt blurted in disbelief.
Standing next to a portable table used to examine and organize numerous documents related to pending cases, Delia nodded in agreement. “Holland was right. It wouldn’t be a stretch or hyperbole to describe the contents of the binder he threw on your desk as a Pandora’s box of nightmares … particularly if they’re true.”
“For sure,” Matt quietly mumbled. “A conglomeration of greed, corruption, and evil … right here in front of us. I cannot begin to imagine what's going in that so-called mental hospital..”
“A modern day snake pit.”
“Holland asked me to bring this folder when we meet with Melissa’s Attorney. Now I understand why.”
“All of which begs the question as to how or where Holland obtained these documents,” Delia said.
“My thoughts exactly,” Matt replied. “And one you can rest assured Attorney Lauber will be asked when we meet with her tomorrow.”
Law Office of Erin Lauber, Esq.
“Please have a seat,” Attorney Lauber graciously offered after introductions, escorting Matt and Delia into her private office.
“Would you care for coffee, tea, or some other beverage,” she asked.
“No thank you,” Matt replied.
“I’m good,” Delia chimed in.
Smiling softly, she sat behind her desk. She switched her computer monitor off, pushed it to the side, then moved a large file on her desk to a credenza behind her. Lauber pressed the intercom button on her desk phone.
“This is Erin. Hold my calls.”
A very attractive natural blonde, Erin Lauber wore a braided bun hairstyle with multiple weaved strands on top and twirled in a bun at the nape, with light make-up that highlighted her features. Wearing a simple navy blue suit with heels and a white blouse, she exuded an air of confidence and professionalism. Her jewelry was simple and tasteful.
Engaging in several minutes of informal small talk, Matt finally got down to business. “Delia and I are here on behalf of your client Melissa Barton subsequent to a visit yesterday by J. Everett Holland, the late Spencer Barton’s personal assistant.”
“Yes, it’s my understanding he briefed you yesterday regarding the situation involving Melissa’s involuntarily commitment to Paragon State Hospital,” Lauber said.
“He did,” Matt confirmed.
Delia exchanged looks with the Attorney. “What have you done to get her released?” she asked, not mincing words.
Lauder craned her head and gazed sharply at Delia. “First of all, you just don’t waltz into a state run mental hospital or a court and demand a patient’s release following a commitment order from a Judge, Ms. Perez,” Lauder explained in a prickly tone.
Matt raised his hands. “Whoa …" he bellowed, making the time out gesture. Everett explained that you were in the process of filing legal action. We just want to know what it is you’ve done to secure her release before we discuss with you what we have in mind should your efforts be delayed … or denied.”
Matt’s assistant pushed her chair back slightly and crossed her legs. “Oh, and please call me, Delia,” she added, a slight smirk appearing.
Attorney Lauber uttered a weary sigh, then placed her hands on her desk. “Before we go any further,” she began, “Why don’t we all agree to address one another on a first name basis,” she suggested, a pleasant smile returning. “Then I’ll provide you with a quick summary of events leading up to Melissa’s involuntary admission.”
“We’re all ears,” Matt piped.
Attorney Lauber stood and paced slowly around the room. “Melissa has been treated for depression and anxiety since she was a teenager. While it may seem odd, this is a common affliction amongst children from affluent families. The pressure to succeed, get good grades, be model children, etc. And being an only child can exacerbate the problem.”
“I’ve read and heard about it,” Matt noted.
Attorney Lauber continued to pace. “She had no siblings she could lean on or relate to. Add the fact that her mother died when she was eleven didn’t help. Her father did his best to be there for her, but running a business the size of Barton Shipping placed a huge demand on his time.”
“So ... what happened,” Delia asked.
“When Melissa turned eighteen, her father began the process of grooming her to takeover the business. At some point the pressure became too much; she suffered a nervous breakdown. He again sought treatment for his daughter, and that’s when Barton’s estranged nephew suddenly crawled out of the woodwork.”
Matt raised a hand. "Okay, so who is this so-called nephew, and what exactly in his involvement?" he asked, a dubious look appearing.
“I'm getting to that." Lauber returned to her chair and sat. “Shortly thereafter,” she continued, “Spencer Barton died; a massive stroke according to Everett.”
Delia gave a sympathetic look. “You don’t have to be a shrink to know that the cumulative effect of those events exacerbated Melissa’s illness. An only child feeling the pressure to excel, then her mother dies when she’s eleven, followed by a diagnosis of depression as a teen, accompanied by a nervous breakdown as her father begins grooming her to take over the business; and if that isn’t or wasn’t enough, her father and only surviving immediate family member dies unexpectedly. That’s more personal tragedy than the strongest person should have to deal with.”
Processing Delia’s summary of events, Matt paused before shifting in his chair. He exchanged a look with Lauber. “Please continue.”
Erin pushed her chair back slightly. “That’s when Holland stepped in and assumed the role of surrogate father. He personally handled Mr. Spencer’s funeral arrangements, and worked very closely with Melissa to run the shipping business, balancing those duties with the outpatient mental health treatment she needed.”
“How did that work out?” Matt asked.
“According to Everette it was working well; that is, until Ray Sutton cooked up plans with the current chief hospital administrator, a psychiatrist by the name of Jacob Lundsten. Sutton had previously worked for the hospital as an orderly. He used his knowledge of the system in cahoots with his new partner-in-crime Lundsten and their bunco attorney Marvin Shyner to Baker act Melissa after falsely reporting she was expressing suicidal ideations during therapy with her mental health counselor."
"Did I her you say 'Marvin Shyner?'" Matt asked, a curious expression appearing.
"Yes, more widely known in and outside the legal community as 'Marvin Shyster,'" Lauren replied. "Have you heard of him?"
"Yeah, I've heard of the crook," Matt said in a disparaging tone. "Word has it the state bar court judge has been after him for permanent disbarment following repeated suspensions."
Delia uncrossed her legs and leaned forward. “Hold on … let’s back-up a bit. My understanding of the law is that a person cannot be held for involuntary psychiatric examination longer than 72 hours ... is that correct?"
Attorney lauder nodded. “Correct, that’s the law. However, Sutton and his two confidence men were able to convince a Judge that it was in Melissa’s best interests for her 72 hour stay to be extended.”
“Allowing the time needed to document her stay with falsified medical records and reports recommending permanent institutionalization,” Matt jumped in.
Delia leaned back in her chair and crossed her legs again. “You said something about Sutton working previously for the hospital as an orderly. Can you elaborate more on that?”
“He was fired by the former administrator, Milton O’Toole, for assault, stealing from patients, and shaking down family members,” Erin explained. “He was subsequently arrested, and with help from his consigliere wannabe they cut a deal with the prosecutor for probation and time served.”
Have you had any contact with Mr. O’Toole?” Delia inquired.
“Why not?” Matt asked, a perplexed expression appearing.
“You must not have gone through all the papers that are in the folder Everett left with you,” Lauber replied, pointing at the file. “He’s locked-up in his own hospital.”
“What? Explain that to me,” Matt barked, a look of disbelief working its way across his face.
“We didn’t go through every single document,” Delia chipped in. “The first thing we noticed was an envelope attached to the inside of the folder; there's an undated, unsigned handwritten note inside stating that the enclosed admission records are of patients involuntarily committed; none of whom met the requirements for a forced admission.”
“That’s correct,” Lauber acknowledged with a confirming nod before responding to Matt’s bid for an explanation. “O’Toole was taken into custody by MPD two weeks ago. A security guard called 911after noticing an adult male running around a known car dealership approximately two in the morning, naked as a jaybird, howling and covered in mud and debris after a severe rainstorm. He wouldn’t respond or comply with the officers orders, so they tased him and took him into custody. He was still incoherent and delusional 24 hours later, so he was baker acted. No one has any idea what happened or what caused this reputable physician and former hospital administrator to go off his rocker.”
Matt gave a sigh. “Don’t tell me … he’s still there?”
“Along with Melissa and more than a dozen other fraudulent admissions per that folder you’re holding,” Lauber said.
"Which begs the question, 'how was Holland able to get possession of these documents?'" Matt asked.
“I don’t know,” she replied. “He wouldn’t disclose where or how he obtained it. But he did tell me Sutton knows he has it, and has threatened to kill Melissa if it’s turned over to the authorities.”
Matt took in a deep breath, then turned and locked eyes with Delia. “You still good with this?"
Delia pursed her lips, then let out an angry sigh. "Damn right I am ... let's do it."
Click to read Episode V Part III - "MATT DUGGIN - DETECTIVE SERIES"