Wrong exit, p.21
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       Wrong Exit, p.21

           Vicki Graybosch, Kimberly Troutman, Linda McGregor, & Teresa Duncan
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  Wayne leaned back in his chair and frowned. “Unbelievable. I hope D.A. Jones fries these guys.” He leaned forward and held up one paper. “This one for the Schultz family is different from the rest.” Wayne put it back on the pile. “Nick said he was working on it.”

  Jen nodded, “He is.” She glanced up at the clock. “He’s been with Internal Affairs for over two hours now. I thought the Chief told them to keep it brief?”

  Wayne said, “I heard the Chief requested they bypass protocol and let him keep his gun and finish this case. They’re trying to get me off from desk duty right now, too.”

  Jen pointed to the white board. “We still have Lucas Costellano and J.T. Barrimore to deal with. It’s going to be a fun day.” Jen remembered the men in holding. “Heck, we still have three guys in holding to interview.”

  Wayne smiled, “Did that. Nick thought they’d all lawyer up. They did.”

  Jen held up the information they had received from the ‘missing persons’ division. “Not one of these people have ever been found. Are we ever going to be able to tell their families anything?”

  “Not until we have some kind of proof.” Wayne’s computer notified him that an email had been received, “Good! I’ve been waiting for this. This is a report from the World Health Organization. They have compiled a list of the organizations that Sunrise has worked with legally at an international level.”

  Wayne began reading the document displayed on his monitor. “Hmmm. They start this report out with a bold disclaimer that international organ trade information is provisional at best and often subject to international law. Here’s a quote: “Organ exporting countries like China and Pakistan are alleged to have procured organs from inmates. The insufficiency of a legal framework or enforcing mechanism is highlighted by an increase in demand.” In other words, I think they’re saying they don’t really know.”

  Jen said, “I have the lists from the U.S. organizations for the last two years. It looks like about 70% of the transplants done at Sunrise were probably through legal donor channels. Sunrise has earned the highest ratings listed.”

  Wayne said, “That doesn’t make the last 30% less ugly. Evidently rich people don’t want a prisoner’s heart.”


  Nick rolled his shoulders and adjusted his position in the chair. “You two about done with me for now? I’ve got a busy day planned.”

  The two I.A. officers glanced at each other. A full legal pad of notes sat on the table top. They both knew from experience that if Nick said he was going to be busy, they were going to be buried.

  One of the officers said, “Yeah, we can stop here for now. It’s going to be a damn month to go through all of this. Stay on this case until every last bastard is caught. We’ll go over the details when you’re done.”

  Nick grinned, “That means I’ve got my wheels and gun, right?”

  The I.A. officer smiled. “Right. Lord help us.”

  Nick knew they had made a judgment call in his favor so he could finish the case. He was grateful not to be tied to a desk or relieved of his duty weapon.

  Nick stood and smiled. “I almost forgot, I have a present for you.” Nick slid a small piece of paper with a phone number over to the lead I.A. officer. “Check this out. Sal Cutler, works for Lucas Costellano called this number between 6:30 and 7:00 last night and found out where patrol was taking our kidnap victim. I overheard Sal’s side of the conversation. Sal only gave his name; that was all that was needed. I have Sal’s phone. I also have Sal, he’s around the corner in holding.”

  Nick opened the door to leave the interview room. “I called the number myself, rings to a direct line at Headquarters, Senior Internal Affairs Lieutenant.”


  Assistant D.A. Trisha Jones had arrived at the precinct while Nick was being interviewed by Internal Affairs. She sat across from Jen’s desk and marveled at the stacks of evidence they had acquired on the kidnapping case.

  “The D.A.’s office is in chaos right now. I think every wealthy person in Chicago and New York has had a relative that swears by Sunrise Hospital. This case has become an overnight nightmare. You’ve done a tremendous job Detective Taylor. I can’t believe all of this happened in one day.”

  Jen smiled and pushed another stack of evidence across the desk. “Call me Jen. Thanks for the compliment but we’re hardly done.”

  Trisha sheepishly said, “I know. The D.A. plans to offer a deal to Dr. Scalla. I brought a copy for your review.” She leaned forward, “We need his testimony against the others. I hope you and Detective Stryker have no objections.”

  Jen frowned, “I hope the hell he isn’t going free!”

  “Who’s going free?” Nick walked up behind Trisha.

  Jen handed Nick the D.A.’s offer to Scalla. Nick scanned it and dropped it on the desk. “Fine by me.” He shrugged, “He’s going to get shanked as soon as you put him in general population anyway.”

  Trisha stood, “That brings me to part two. We have that same concern. He has to live long enough to testify for us. The FBI has offered to put him in federal witness protection.”

  “In exchange for….”

  “Lucas Costellano.”

  “Lucas is mine. I want him for murder.”

  “Agent Phillips says the FBI is building a National Security case on Costellano regarding some software program.”

  “He’s building a case. I’m ready.”

  “He has National Security.”

  “I have a six-year-old named, Allison.”

  Wayne interrupted from across the room. “Let the games begin.”


  Lucas had been sitting in his chair in front of the television since the first airing of the ‘breaking news’. How could so many things have gone wrong in just one day? He tried once again to reach his contact with the Family. The last thing he needed was for them to find out about Sunrise on television. He had to convince them that he had this under control. He dialed and waited through eight rings.

  Lucas hung up. They weren’t taking his calls. They knew. He pulled up his bank accounts on his cell phone. Gone. It was all gone.

  They were coming.


  J.T. contemplated what punishment, if any, his men deserved for failing to kill Sanford. His security team didn’t really do anything wrong other than underestimate Sanford. In truth, J.T. had underestimated him, too. The man was a genius. It didn’t change the fact that Sanford was a risk. He had to be found and eliminated. He would have to do it himself.


  Nick wasn’t surprised that he and Assistant D.A. Trisha Jones did not come to any agreement regarding the ultimate fate of Tony Scalla and the arrest of Lucas Costellano. What did come from their discussion was his realization he needed much more evidence on Lucas than he had, if he was going to win a fight with the FBI The ambulance driver, the remaining driver from the muffler shop shooting and Sal, had already lawyered up.

  Nick rolled his chair next to Jen’s desk. She was hunched over a thick stack of papers. The various cell providers of the five phones Nick confiscated yesterday had provided printouts of the last thirty days’ calls.

  Jen moved her eyes to glance at Nick. “Are you here to help me with this?”

  Nick grinned, “Nope. I want your advice.”

  Jen straightened her shoulders and twisted to face him. “Shoot.”

  “What do you think Phillips and the FBI really want?”

  Jen thought a moment. “Trisha said they want Lucas.”

  “I think they really want the software program code and whoever has it now. I think J.T. has it. Not Lucas.”

  Jen asked, “You think that’s why Sanford went to J.T.’s nightclub and then got kidnapped?”

  “It’s the only thing that makes sense. If J.T. didn’t buy the program, why risk doing something to Sanford? Why would Sanford go to J.T.’s nightclub after his daughter was shot?”

  Jen answered, “Revenge?”

sp; “Maybe. Something has the FBI thinking Lucas has the code. I wish I knew what it was.”

  Nick started clicking the end of his pen while he thought. Jen took it away from him and said, “If we can prove J.T. has it and not Lucas we won’t have to fight the FBI to keep Lucas for ourselves.”

  Nick pointed to the phone logs. “How many times are you finding Lucas’ number?”

  “I just started…a lot.”

  “How many times are you finding J.T.?”


  J.T. had nothing to do with Lucas’ operation.

  Nick stood, “I’m going to take a swing at Sal. The ambulance driver is toast but I might be able to cut a deal for Sal.”

  Jen said, “You just had a knock down with Trisha and you’re going to ask her to cut a deal on Sal?”

  Nick knew Trisha was in the Chief’s office. If he could catch her before she left, he might be able to repair any damage he’d done. “You’re saying I need to draw on my charming inner child?”

  Wayne looked up from his papers and chuckled, “You’re going to need a whole pee-wee team of charming inner children to win this one.”

  Nick knocked softly on the Chief’s office door before he stuck his head in the room. “Sorry to interrupt but I need a favor from Trisha.” Nick grinned at her.

  “Don’t think your cute grin makes me inclined to do you a favor.” Trisha rolled her eyes and then looked pleadingly at the Chief. “Nick isn’t playing well with others today.”

  The Chief smiled.

  Thirty minutes later Nick left the Chief’s office with a signed deal for Sal if he could give verifiable information on Lucas’ illegal deeds.

  Nick walked into holding and glanced at the ambulance driver and the driver from the muffler shop shooting. “You two are screwed.”

  Nick unlocked Sal’s cell. “Come on buddy, time to set you free.”

  Sal’s eyes got big and he followed Nick to the interview room. Nick pointed to a chair at the long table and shut the door.

  Sal asked, “You’re setting me free?”

  Nick smiled, “Hell no. I just wanted your co-workers to think you made a special deal against Lucas.”

  Sal frowned, “You set me up!”

  “I prefer to think of it as offering you a clearer choice. Your only choice.”

  Nick took a disclosure from his pocket and placed his pen on top. He slid the paper across the table to Sal. “Sign here that you are willingly giving up your right to an attorney.”

  Assistant D.A. Trisha Jones and Jen watched the interview from behind the one-way mirror wall.

  Sal asked, “Why in the hell would I do that?”

  Nick said, “Because Lucas is already going to believe you took a deal. Why pay the price and not get the goods? I’m going to have Lucas by the end of today. Period. What I want from you is some shit to puff up my case.” Sal wasn’t convinced. Nick continued, “The way I see it is you are either tied to the kidnapping of Sharon Perez and the murder charges of everyone associated with Lucas and Sunrise Hospital, or you were simply at the wrong place, at the wrong time in Happy Burger’s parking lot.”

  Nick pushed the paper closer to Sal. “I have the D.A. agreement in my pocket. If your information checks out, you walk.” Nick held up the D.A. agreement for Sal to see the signature.

  Sal rolled his neck and then cracked his knuckles. He picked up the pen, signed the disclosure and pushed it back to Nick.

  “How far back do you want to go on Lucas’ shit?”

  Nick ginned at the one-way mirror. “Let’s go all the way back.” Nick hit the record button on the tape recorder. He leaned forward and put his elbows on the table. “Go.”

  Assistant D.A. Jones couldn’t take her eyes off Nick. She turned to Jen and smiled, “He’s so yummy.”

  Jen held the door open and stated, “He gives me gas.”


  Derrick Sanford had worked through the night and well into the morning using his dark web account to create a new identity for himself. The channels of the dark web were such that data could both be sent and received anonymously. The developers and gatekeepers of the dark web channels constantly changed code ensuring government and law enforcement agencies were kept out. It also protected users from each other. While the fees for use were expensive, the rules were simple. The U.S. government estimated that billions, perhaps trillions, of dollars were transferred daily in illegal activity.

  Derrick had enough money for what he needed to do right now. He still had five hundred thousand left from the sale of his program. He could always sell another copy on the dark web. Maybe more than one. He didn’t care what destruction might come from its use. He wouldn’t be around to pay the consequences.

  He transferred his money an hour ago. It now waited for him in his new account at Bank of America. Surprisingly, the hardest task had been hacking the Social Security system and securing a valid social security number. After that, it was easy. He created a fake credit history, education record, and finally his bank account.

  It wasn’t like he needed money to fund a long, peaceful retirement. He didn’t expect to live that long. Just long enough to ensure he had devastated J.T. Barrimore’s life. He had spent hours last night browsing through J.T.’s computer systems. He appreciated the highly sophisticated security J.T.’s company employed. It hadn’t been easy to breach, but with a few software purchases from the dark web on encryption, he had managed. His own parasite program that Matt had uploaded to J.T.’s system had been his gateway.

  He worked feverishly to create code for a new path with dark web access and lock the gateway he had used to get in. As soon as he began implementing his plan on J.T. the first thing J.T. would do, would be to have his people scour his codes. They wouldn’t find anything.

  Derrick paused and looked at the list he had compiled of things to do today. A small picture he had taken from Heather’s apartment sat majestically on the center of the table. Heather’s beautiful smile radiated from the photo and gave him energy. Purpose. He began running his bio scan on J.T. for the basis of his attack.

  He would know as much about J.T. in a few hours as J.T. himself. Utilizing the spy tools purchased this morning and a few he had developed himself, he would have enough to know what time J.T. turned on his television and what channels he watched. If he had a “smart house’ or even a ‘smart’ appliance Derrick could command them at will to spy for him.

  Derrick reviewed his GPS interface program and his new satellite band. As soon as his tracker program was ready he could initiate it by contacting J.T. A simple one-line message could be sent to J.T.’s cell phone. Once opened, the Satellite would hone in and lock on. Not to the cell phone but to J.T.’s unique human imprints. Even if J.T. destroyed his phone and switched to another he could be found again. It was like a merging of machine and human D.N.A.

  Fingerprints, facial recognition, voice patterns, behavior histories all reporting continuously to pinpoint J.T.’s every move.

  Derrick said a soft ‘Thank you’ to N.A.S.A. for developing the program. He had heard it was completed but surprised to find a copy for sale on the dark web. It had been developed to track known terrorists through the tunnels of Afghanistan.

  J.T. was about to spend the rest of his life haunted. Derrick didn’t care if it went on for a week, a year or a decade. He had a lot of revenge to seek. Destroying J.T.’s life was his new career.


  Agent Phillips flipped through his evidence file on Lucas Costellano. It was too thin. If he was going to make the case that Lucas had bought the software program he would need more than just the payment to Derrick Sanford. He needed Sanford, who was missing, and he needed to eliminate the copy of the program that was sold.

  He tapped his pen on the file. Time was not on his side. Jason Little had been caught with a copy he planned on selling but it wasn’t the copy that was gone. Jason had no idea who Sanford had sold it to.

  Phillips moaned. It was painful
ly clear his window of opportunity was closing. The forensic lab stated they needed time to trace the upload. Whoever purchased the program had transferred it through a dark web cloud. It was going to take considerable time and there was no guarantee they would succeed.

  Phillips raised his chin toward the ceiling and closed his eyes. “Shit!”

  As soon as his outburst happened, Assistant D.A. Trisha Jones materialized in his office doorway. She smiled, “May I come in?”

  Phillips was embarrassed to have been caught acting so juvenile. “Hey, sorry about that.”

  Trisha walked in, sat across from his desk and pushed a file toward him. “Here’s the deal. You let Stryker have Costellano first, and you provide protection for Tony Scalla in exchange for what is in this file.”

  “What’s in the file?”

  “Lucas Costellano’s entire Chicago operation and some of his connections with the International Crime Family.”

  Phillips started to lift the folder. Trisha placed her palm on it. Phillips asked, “How did you get this?”

  “Stryker. He has…had a prisoner turn. This guy has been a crew leader for Lucas for years. He has been in charge of much of his dirty work and even acted as personal bodyguard for some high profile meetings. There’s a lot there.”

  Phillips rubbed his chin. “I don’t know…”

  Trisha said, “Look at it this way. When Stryker’s done you can have the leftovers. Meanwhile you can build a racketeering case.”

  Phillips slid the file from under her hand and opened it. He leaned back, read for a while and then looked up. He shook his head and said, “Where does Stryker find these guys? This is gold.” He knew he didn’t have enough to make his case yet anyway. This deal could buy him some time. He still needed to explore J.T.’s connection to Sanford more. He could take Lucas back when he was ready. It wouldn’t be the first time the FBI stole a case from Nick.

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