Investigators listen in.
FEATURED IN INVESTIGATION
My last article featured the fictional robbery of the Moh-egan Sun casino in Connecticut. The robbery was performed with military planning and precision by a well-trained, well-equipped, 12-person crew. Approximately $600,000 was stolen, and in the ensuing panic in the casino four people, all elderly, were trampled to death, two additional people died from heart attacks and numerous others suffered an assortment of broken bones and contusions.
When the massive initial investigative efforts didn t bring investigators closer to solving the case, a multi-agency task force was created headed up by Frank Kelleher, special agent in charge of the North/East Bureau of the FBI. Kelleher in turn reached out for his long time friend Detective Anthony Capriati, aka the Cisco Kid, of the Hartford Police Department to assist in the investigation.
Four months later, the task force was no closer to solving the case. Capriati s estranged, mob-connected brother told Capriati what he didn t want to hear, that he had to look inside his own family cops to solve the case. This posed an ethical dilemma for Capriati that spiraled him into depression. He was out of contact for more than a week.
Capriati s partner, Paul Amaral, and forensic specialist Shirley Bascomb finally located Capriati when a patrol officer spotted his car in the parking lot of the Hartford Public Library. Amaral and Bascomb found him in the research section, poring over a pile of law books and religious texts.
What in the world are you doing? Bascomb asked.
Cisco looked up. Research. Everything you need to know about motive is in the Bible. The reason why people commit crimes always involves one of the seven deadly sins: lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy and pride. In this robbery, it s a combination of greed and wrath.
Wrath? What the hell is wrath? Bascomb asked.
Cisco smiled. Dante described wrath as a perverted sense of the love of justice turned to revenge and spite.
Bascomb looked at Amaral and shook her head in disbelief. I don t see what any of this has to do with the robbery, she said. We need cold, hard, scientific facts, not a lesson in religion.
You re into science, Shirley. You think investigative work is done in the lab. You re very good at it. Everything to you is black or white. I deal with the dark side of human behavior, the nuts and bolts of why people do what they do. Together we make a good team, but neither of you is going with me on this one. This is going to get very dirty.
With that, Cisco got up and walked out. They followed, trying to convince him he needed their help, but he got in his car and waved goodbye.
What the hell s going on? Amaral said.
You got me, Bascomb replied. But did you notice the law journal he had open on the desk? It was on the Patriot Act. I wonder why he s studying that?
How Cisco Solved the Case
After leaving his brother, the Cisco Kid went through several days of depression, but then he went to work. People were dead he couldn t just walk away.
It didn t take a genius to figure out the planning and execution of the casino robbery required the sort of skills associated with specialized branches of the military (Army rangers, Navy seals, etc.) or the police (SWAT teams, ERTs, etc.). Connecticut consists of 169 cities and towns, but only 100 or so have organized police departments. Of those 100 cities and towns, only a few police departments are large enough to require a standalone SWAT or ERT unit.
Capriati concentrated on those. He spent a week driving through the big-city police parking lots at various times of the day, looking for greed. Most cops even those who are single can t afford luxury cars, so the typical police parking lot features standard Ford trucks and SUVs. In the New Greenwich police parking lot, Capriati came across a brand new Jaguar XJ. Loaded, it went for approximately $80,000. A check of the plate came back to a Daniel Miller. Miller was a 10-year veteran of the department and member of the New Greenwich ERT.
Further investigation revealed Miller and four other members of the ERT were also in the National Guard and had returned the previous year from a tour of duty in Afghanistan. Cisco ran a financial check on Miller and learned he had recently filed for bankruptcy, but was still making hefty alimony and child-support payments to his former wife, and living in an upscale condo with the latest in a string of recent girlfriends.
Cisco s sources told him Miller had been hurt on the job and off work for the past two months. Apparently he had responded to a fight in progress in an alley outside a local bar and was attacked by several unknown men and badly beaten. Word on the street was that Miller had been set up by his brother officers to send Miller a message.
Cisco also learned the New Greenwich ERT doubled as a forced-entry squad for the narcotics division when there was information drug dealers had fortified the premises or were more prone than usual to be armed. There were rumors of an investigation by the State Attorney s office of missing drugs and money from premises forcibly entered by the ERT team.
None of this proved Miller had anything to do with the casino robberies, but Cisco s gut told him Miller was dirty. He figured Miller was beaten because he bought the Jaguar, which was a pretty serious red flag in law enforcement circles. Cisco s sources also told him members of the ERT team who went to Afghanistan had left as solid citizens, but when they returned a year later were damaged goods.