Monday, July 16, 2012

A Surprise Phone Call from the Prosecutor

     My lawyers and I were talking about the outside audit we had done on my clinic's documentation and billing.  We had hired a coding expert to review documents representing a statistical sampling of my patients' records--we even recruited an official statistician.  The lawyers had flown to New York City to meet with the coding specialist.  I was not allowed to participate. "It's best if you're not involved at all," they said.  "We may need her to testify in court on your behalf."  
      Nothing serious was uncovered--certainly nothing criminal.  No explanation for the government's raid and forfeitures could be identified.  We were brainstorming about what to do next.  Without access to the affidavits that the FBI had presented to the judge, explaining their reasons for invading my office and draining my bank accounts, we didn't have a clue what they were up to.  The affidavits were sealed--and could remain sealed for seven years.
     "Can't you go meet with the prosecutors?  Find out what's going on?" I suggested.  This would entail a trip to Tallahassee, where the government's legal team is stationed.
     "I've had some informal talks with them," said one lawyer, "and they seem agreeable to a meeting."
     "Just call them up and schedule it," I suggested. 
     "We've got to handle this delicately," he told me.  "What are we going to offer them?"
     "We can tell them they made a mistake, can't we?"
     The lawyers laughed in unison.  Perhaps federal prosecutors don't take kindly to being told they've made a mistake.  I realized that it was important to look after their feelings.
     "Ask them for a clue about what's in the affidavits," I said.  "Tell them I need to know what they have on me, if they know I'm doing something wrong.  Tell them I don't want to continue breaking the law, if that's what I'm doing."
     "We can try, but the prosecutors aren't likely to do anything they don't have to do.  And it will be hard to persuade a judge to go back on his decision to allow the raid, unless we have an overriding cause."
     "What about the fact that my patients need their records?  I need their records.  
     "That's not their problem," the other lawyer said.  The reason is going to have to be bigger than that."
     Then the secretary buzzed on the intercom.  "It's Bobby Stinson.  He wants to talk with you," she said.  
     "Take the call!"  I said in a hushed voice.  We were on speaker-phone.  "Let's hear what he has to say."
     The other lawyer nodded gravely. 
     "Hi Bobby!" he said, and the other lawyer informed him that they were both on the line.  "Funny you should catch us together.  We were just talking about the Colasante case."
     "Ah, yes," Mr. Stinson said.  "That's what I was calling about."
     "What can we do for you?" my lawyers asked.
     "I need an extension on that forfeiture document," Mr. Stinson said casually.
     The federal prosecutors were required to file a document with the court explaining their reasons for keeping the money taken from my bank accounts.  The time-frame for filing this had passed.  Although this was of paramount concern to me, it was a minor issue for them.  They had no intention of returning the money, but they still had to tell the judge--via a routine filing--why not. They weren't required to give details.  "We think it's ours," would be effective.
     "I don't think we have a problem with that," my lawyer said.  
     "Don't hang up," I whispered.  The prosecutor didn't know I was in the room.  "Ask them what the heck they're doing."
     "By the way," my lawyer asked, "What's going on with this case?  Are you moving toward a resolution of some kind?"  They were like old pals.  He leaned back languourously and gazed at the ceiling as though we were all reclining by the pool.
     "No, we haven't done anything new," the prosecutor said.  "To tell you the truth, we've been occupied with two other cases, and we just haven't had time for this one."
     "Well," interjected my other lawyer with certitude, "there is absolutely nothing criminal going on in the Colasante case.  We've checked it out thoroughly.  She's completely innocent."  He pursed his lips, then looked at me affably.
     Mr. Stinson made a sound like, "Mmmm..."  I couldn't really make it out.
     "Ask him for a meeting," I whispered.  "Tell him you want to give him some information you have about the outside audit we did.  Tell him you think it will be persuasive."
     "We have some information we want to share with you, and it's probably best to do it in person," my lawyer said to Mr. Stinson.  "Do you have some time in the next few weeks when we could swing by and have a chat?"
     "Oh yeah, probably so," said the prosecutor.  "Why don't you give me a buzz when you're up this way?  Let me see how this other case goes.  To tell the truth, I'm exhausted from the one we just ended--been in court for weeks on it--and I need to take a few days respite."
     "I understand," said my lawyer.  "Those things can really wipe you out."  The prosecutor had just been in trial for a case that went badly.  At least it went badly for the federal government.  It seems the judge in the case had decided the FBI hadn't had cause for their raid on the defendant's business, and it went all the way to trial.   It was now a matter of public record.  The case had been a waste of government money.
     "Ask him to return my money and close the case," I said.
     My lawyers both shook their heads.  That was the wrong approach.
     "Maybe we can come to some agreement," the lawyer suggested Mr. Stinson.  "I think what we have is compelling, but we really need to hear your point of view.  Would you be open to working something out in the Colasante case?"
     "Sure would," we heard from the other end.  "That sounds good."
     "Let's check in in a week or two.  I'll be up in Tallahassee soon," my lawyer said affably, "and I can stop in for a visit."
     "Good idea," said Mr. Stinson.  Then they said good-bye.
     That was three months ago.  Nothing much has happened since.  
     My lawyer did go to Tallahassee for "other business," and he "stopped in" to see the prosecutor.  When I asked him what they discussed, I was told that the prosecutor had said he hadn't had time to work on my case.  He was just too busy with other important matters.
     "Maybe that's a good thing," my lawyer told me.  "If they had something big on you, they wouldn't postpone an indictment."
     Since then the lead FBI agent, Robert Murphy, has contacted several of my employees requesting interviews with them.  They told me they haven't spoken with him, but it's clear he is scavenging for more evidence.  
     "Either they have a big case and they're gathering last-minute evidence before indicting you," the other lawyer explained when I told him about it, "or they don't have much of a case at all and Murphy is looking for a way to revive it."
     I know they don't have a real case, but for some reason I still couldn't sleep that night.


  1. As a veteran reader of every last posting on here I have to say this blog reads a good deal like a mystery novel

  2. Get all the best alcoholic drinks on Duty Free Depot!

    All the world famous brand name drinks for unbeatable discounted prices.