Episode V: Part IV - The Case of the Nefarious Nephew
Arriving at FBI headquarters later that day, Matt and Delia strolled into the decades old rectangular shaped federal building. Built of buff limestone and granite, the architectural style of planar surfaces and ornamentation gave rise to a distinguished look. After showing his PI license and badge, Matt relinquished his snub-nosed revolver to a senior member of the security staff. They were scanned using hand held metal detector wands followed by a full video body scan. Handed chip embedded guest badges, Matt and Delia were escorted to a sizable conference room on the third floor where Blanchard, Lauber, Morelli, and FBI legal counsel Bryan Grissinger engaged in superfluous small talk as they sat around the conference table waiting for the remaining two participants. A continental breakfast cuisine consisting of light pastries, coffee and juice was available on a built-in counter. Folders, writing pads and pens were provided and placed strategically around the table, its size adjusted to fit the six participants. The red expandable file Matt left earlier with Lauber was visible next to her writing pad.
“Well, it appears Inspector Clouseau has just honored us with his presence,” Morelli playfully teased.
“Very funny,” Matt fired back, taking a seat. “By the way, I just heard you recently qualified as the best marksman amongst your fellow agents.”
Morelli stopped smiling. “What are you talking about?”
“Yeah, for real,” Matt said. “Someone told me he asked you about it the other day, and you said: ‘Nothing to it. I shoot first and draw the circles afterward.’”
The room erupted in laughter.
Morelli chuckled. “Okay, okay … everyone’s present, so let’s get on with with it. Place all cell phones on silent mode." He glanced at Matt. “You have the floor.”
The pensive private investigator cast a thoughtful glance around the room. “Thank you, agent Morelli. Everyone knows who’s who and why we’re here. Melissa Barton’s attorney Erin Lauber will begin the briefing. Please give her your undivided attention,” he politely requested, turning his head in her direction.
Pushing her chair back and standing, Lauber launched into a lengthy statement regarding her client, much like the opening remarks in a jury trial. Confining her assertions to the facts backed by documentation obtained from Paragon, she outlined her client’s history, to include the allegation that at least a dozen other patients were were knowingly and wrongfully admitted to the notorious state run lunatic asylum.
Morelli glanced at the red accordion file, then looked up at Lauber. “Who provided this documentation?” he asked.
“A confidential informant whose identify I am not at liberty to reveal,” she replied.
Morelli sighed and pursed his lips. “I must respectfully remind legal counsel that any non-law enforcement person who provides information may be required to testify in court. That’s right out of …”
“Hold on a minute,” the Bureau’s legal counsel interrupted, dropping a handful of documents from the red file he was reviewing back onto the table. Wearing a pin-striped three-button navy suit, a white dress shirt and matching blue tie, the middle aged attorney with slick-backed hair and a thin nose leaned back in his swivel chair. "You’re correct, the informant may ultimately be required to testify; we’ll cross that bridge later.” He turned and looked at Lauber. “What we have here … on its surface, appears to meet the probable cause requirements that a crime has been committed, although it could be argued it’s hearsay.
“So, what you’re saying is …
Grissinger raised his hand. “What I’m saying is prosecutorial review of all the evidence will determine whether or not we can mount a successful prosecution in court. He paused. “Plainly and legally speaking … we need more,” he stressed.
“We presumed you would make that a requirement,” attorney Lauber acknowledged, “so I’ll turn it over to Private Investigator Matt Duggan and his assistant, Delia Perez. They’ll explain their proposal for obtaining the corroborating documentation.” She sat and craned her head back in Matt’s direction. “Mr. Duggan.”
Acknowledging with a half-smile, Matt and Delia shared the floor while he explained their proposal to hack into Paragon’s computers, followed by Delia's admission into the hospital by faking suicidal ideation. “It’s Delia’s suggestion that we obtain what we believe will be matching falsified medical records and documentation; in other words, exact duplicates of the documents that are on the table and in the red expansion file next to Ms. Lauber."
“Corroborating evidence 101,” Delia added.
Legal counsel for the FBI nodded. “Exactly … solid, factual evidence. It’s what we'll need for another warrant to enter Paragon and remove those patients, arrest our three principal reprobates, ‘Slipp, Tripp & Skipp,’ and confiscate the hospital’s computers.”
Lauber stood again. “With approval of the Bureau, and assuming a warrant to hack Paragon’s computer system is issued, I will arrange a follow-up meeting with FBI legal counsel after Matt and Delia obtain the matching documentation. We’ll review and authenticate the evidence collected. If we’re in agreement at that meeting, then we’ll seek to obtain the additional court orders and arrest warrants needed.”
Morelli turned and whispered to Grissinger. “Let’s get the ball rolling with what we have and obtain the necessary warrant to hack into Paragon’s computer system. I’ll make arrangements for Matt and Delia to work with our digital forensics people regarding the malware needed.”
Continuing his review of the documents in Lauber’s red file, FBI legal counsel motioned his consent with a thumb’s up gesture.
“It’s a ‘GO,” Morelli turned around and shouted
Grissinger raised an eyebrow. “Bear in mind we need to gather enough evidence to prove Sutton, Lundsten, and Shyner are part of a conspiracy. The more we gather, the tighter their noose becomes. Keep that in mind.”
Morelli looked at Matt and Delia. “You heard what the man said.”
“Understood,” Matt replied, both nodding in agreement.
Blanchard pushed her seat back and stood. “MPD will take responsibility for coordinating a joint MPD and FBI command post on the day Delia is admitted … assuming she is convincing enough Paragon admits her.”
Delia grinned. “Trust me, I’ll be admitted.”
“Our three perps may or may not be inside the facility when we make our descent onto Paragon,” Matt jumped in. “We’ll need to know their whereabouts and take them into custody in unison with the raid. It’s likely they’ll flee if they get word, so let’s get them behind bars before they have a chance to hightail it out of dodge.”
“I concur,” Blanchard piped. “We’ll work with Matt and Delia to pinpoint their location … when the time is right.”
Delia pointed at the red accordion file on the table. "We should arrange for independent physical and psychological examinations for Melissa and every person documented in that folder.”
Lauber gave a concurring nod. “From a legal and medical standpoint it would be the smart thing to do. Add favorable IME’s to the matching documents, and that should seal the fate of the ‘gang of three.’”
Morelli stood and glanced around the room. “If there are no further comments or questions, this meeting is concluded.”
Entering the passcode and unmuting her iPhone, Lauber noticed a text message from her office imploring her to call immediately. Walking to a corner of the conference room she called her receptionist, alternating for several minutes between listening and responding in a hurried, but hushed tone.
“Everything okay?" a voice in the background asked.
Lowering her cell phone, she turned and locked eyes with Matt. “It’s Holland,” she replied, a grim expression appearing. “He’s disappeared.”
Click to read Episode V Part V - "MATT DUGGAN - DETECTIVE SERIES"