Thanks to blackrandl1958 for gifting the idea to me and her most appreciated editing, and to Crkcppr for Beta reading.
The complication visited me on October 15, 2010, at 7:30 in the morning. I was at Wilcox Field, waiting to board my flight for Nassau when two men in bad suits walked up to me. They stopped in front of me and I looked up from my iPad at two impassive faces.
“Mr. Cavanaugh, would you come with us please?” one spoke. Polite fellows, they even said please.
“Who are you and what do you want?” I asked.
“I’m Special Agent Washington and this is Special Agent Brown. We’re with the FBI,” the second man spoke.
“May I see some identification?” I asked.
They produced laminated badges and the pictures matched. Since I had no idea what a real FBI badge looked like, I took their word for it.
“I’m afraid we’re here to arrest you,” Washington said. “You are being charged with insider trading by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Would you come with us, please?”
I stood up, followed them down a corridor and through a door into a room with a table and four chairs in it. They informed me of my rights and produced a pair of handcuffs.
‘Really, ‘ I thought. ‘They’re going to walk me through the airport in handcuffs for insider trading.’ It turned out that this was only half-accurate. They allowed me to carry my jacket and hide the cuffs from curious spectators. They took charge of my iPad, took me down to Miramar to their headquarters and put me in another room. There were only three chairs in this one.
After thirty minutes, Agents Washington and Brown came in and sat down. They read me a list of charges. According to them, I was involved in a hacking scheme to obtain corporate press releases before they were published and had been in a group that had made over 100 million dollars through our shenanigans. They wanted to ask me some questions.
“I’m sorry, Agents,” I said. “I intend to remain silent and I would like to speak to an attorney.” They tried to convince me that it would be in my best interests to answer their questions, but I stuck to my guns. These agents were not my friends and I intended to answer zero of their questions. They took me down to a desk and let me use the phone. I asked for a phone book, since I didn’t know any attorneys. They got me a phone book and I scanned the impressive list. I had no clue. I picked a nice looking ad at random.
A man answered the phone and I told him I needed an attorney to represent me. He asked me what kind of case I was involved in and I told him what was going on. He transferred my call and a woman answered. “This is Tyler Atkins,” she said. “How may I help you, Mr. Cavanaugh?”
I went through it again and she told me to say nothing and she would be there in an hour. They returned me to my room and I cooled my heels. 50 minutes later, the door opened and one of the most stunning women I have ever seen walked into the room. She must have been close to six feet tall. She had flaming red hair, a model’s face and that clear creamy redhead complexion. Her eyes were glacial blue and her legs in that skirt went on forever. Damn, she was gorgeous.
She introduced herself and shook my hand. Her fingers were long, slender, and cool and her grip was firm. I guessed her age as somewhere around forty. I was seven years too young, as it turned out.
She sat in a chair and read over the list of charges. She looked up at me. “You are in a great deal of trouble, Mr. Cavanaugh,” she said. “Did you do it?”
“Does it matter?” I asked her.
“Not for the purposes of me representing you,” she said. “Personally, yes, it makes a great deal of difference.”
“Well, I didn’t do it,” I told her. “I have never hacked a computer in my life, have no idea how to do it, I was not in on any scheme and I have never received one press release in advance of its public release. I would not have participated in any sort of insider trading if I had, and I am completely innocent of these charges.”
She eyed me dubiously and those eyes pierced my soul. “Okay,” she said. “We’ll operate under those statements. If I find out later that you’re lying to me, it’s going to get ugly, do you understand?”
“Perfectly,” I said.
“Let’s see about getting you out of here. Is there anyone you need to talk to?”
“My wife,” I said. “I would like to talk to my children, too, but that can wait until I get out.”
“I’ll see what I can do,” she said.
She went away and I didn’t see anyone for three hours. I was about to pee on the floor when Agent Brown came in with Ms. Atkins.
“I’ve arranged bail,” she said. “You have to surrender your passport and you should know that all your bank accounts are frozen. How are you fixed for money?”
“Will my credit cards work?” I asked.
She arched an eyebrow at Brown and he cleared his throat. “They’re all frozen,” he said. “You won’t be able to use them.”
“Am I going to get my wallet back?” I asked.
“Yes, all your personal effects will be returned,” she said. “Not your iPad, I’m afraid. That has become evidence.”
“I’m good for money, then, and I’m ready to go. Well, as soon as Agent Brown points me to a restroom, I’m ready,” I said.
They gave me an envelope with my stuff in it and I walked out with her. “Come and see me at ten in the morning,” she said. She gave me a card and she called cabs for both of us. “Would you like to use my phone to call your wife?” she asked.
I called home and the answering machine picked up. I left a short message, saying my trip had been cancelled, that I’d be home in an hour and gave her back her phone. The cabs showed up and I went home.
When I got there, there was no one home and I made myself something to eat. It was difficult to concentrate, but I managed. I needed to call the kids, figure out where Kelly was and figure some things out.
Daniel and Patricia weren’t home either, so I left messages for them to call me. After I ate, I called my boss, John Sinclair. He told me I had been terminated, and that my personal belongings had been boxed and sent to my home. I had lost my trader’s license and he was quite certain I would never work in the industry again. In fact, he was looking forward to my receiving a long prison term. Well, that wasn’t good. I was now unemployed and facing criminal charges.
Kelly didn’t come home that night and when I called her, it went straight to voicemail. I didn’t know whether she had heard or what she had heard, but, evidently, she was bailing on me. Great. Now I wondered about the kids. What had they heard? If Kelly had heard, I was sure that she’d talked to them.
I kept my appointment with Ms. Atkins the next morning. She told me we had a lot of paper trails to chase down. This was not going to be quick. “Mr. Cavanaugh, how are you going to pay me for defending you?” she asked.
“If I’m acquitted, that won’t be a problem,” I told her. “Maybe it would be in your interests to make sure that happens.”
She laughed. I liked hearing her laugh, I decided. I was going to try to make her do it often. “We have a big day ahead of us,” she said. “Let’s get started. What do you think happened and how are you going to help me prove your innocence?”
I asked for a list of the names of the people involved. She told me that they hadn’t done discovery yet, so she really didn’t have any details. That would come as soon as she could meet with the FBI and the SEC. “I’m afraid I don’t have a clue until I know for sure what happened,” I told her. “When I have a clear picture, we’ll go to work.”
We discussed a few more things and I signed a million papers. When we ran out of ink and blank lines for me to sign, I went home. I had a dozen messages on my answering machine. Surprisingly, they were from Kelly and the kids. They were having trouble. They were stranded in Belmopan. Her credit cards weren’t working. Well, no surprise there. She had a little money with her but that wasn’t going to last. She needed me to help her. Oddly enough, the kids were with her. Their messages were the same, but none of them made any attempt to explain why they were in Belize. Things were getting weird.
I hadn’t been home five minutes when the phone rang. It was Kelly.
“Hi, Seldon,” she sounded upset. “Listen, honey, I don’t have much time. We’re stranded in the airport and I need to be able to use my credit cards. Could you call the bank and see what’s wrong?”
“I’m afraid that won’t do any good,” I said. “Kelly, I’ve been arrested and charged with insider trading. The cards you have won’t work.”
“Is there any way you could get some money to me?” she asked.
“How much do you think you might need?” I asked.
“Just enough to get tickets home,” she said.
“I’ll see what I can do,” I told her. “All our bank accounts have been frozen.”
“Okay, honey,” she said. “Please hurry. Thanks for helping us.”
That was the strangest conversation I’d ever had. Again, no explanation of why she and the kids were in Belize, no questions about me being arrested, nothing about anything, really. She should have been shocked by every word out of my mouth, but nothing. Maybe it was the lack of time she’d mentioned. I’d answer all the questions when she got back.
.... There is more of this story ...