Oathkeeper Chapter 20


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Chapter 20


“…less than a week after the controversial not-guilty verdict in the Monte Turcot trial, events in the mountain town of Calumet City took a bizarre turn when the county’s chief law enforcement officer, Sheriff Bear Ellison, announced during a joint press conference with the DEA and U.S. Marshals that his department would not cooperate with federal law enforcement officials in their pursuit and arrest of Montgomery Turcot. Turcot, who was just acquitted of first degree murder, was indicted Thursday on a federal civil rights charge related to the death of DEA Agent Kevin Sniggs. In a rambling and at times cryptic rant, Sheriff Ellison made references to his oath of office and the U.S. Constitution as the basis for his decision. When asked for comment, U.S. Marshal James Weathers said that he found the sheriff’s behavior ‘perplexing’.”

“I don’t know what is going through the sheriff’s mind, right now,” Inspector Weathers stated as his face appeared on the television in front of the Calumet County Sheriff’s Department. “He seems irrational to me. We have a cold blooded killer – someone who murdered a federal agent – out there running loose in this county. We have reason to believe Sheriff Ellison knows where he is. Yet, he refuses to cooperate. I just don’t understand it. We believe Monte Turcot is an armed and highly dangerous individual who needs to be apprehended, but the sheriff would rather have a philosophical debate instead. I understand what his point is – I don’t agree with his position, but I understand it – but this is a public safety matter. This is not the time or place to argue about what the Fifth or Tenth Amendment means. Frankly, it’s not his place to even do that. That’s what we have courts for. Sheriff Ellison’s job is to enforce the law, not interpret it, and keep the people here safe, and make sure that armed killers aren’t on the loose. I just don’t get why he’s doing this.”

“We’ll keep you updated as the situation here in Calumet City develops. Chase Carson reporting, Channel 9 News…”

Ben Stern had seen enough. He turned his attention from the Wagon Wheel Saloon’s television to the emails on his cell phone, but was soon interrupted when a shadow fell across his screen.

“You have a lot of explaining to do, Stern.”

Stern looked up to find Falco hovering over his booth.

“Please have a seat,” he offered, holding back a look of surprise. He’d been expecting something like this, but Falco’s sudden appearance still startled him.

“We had a deal, Stern.” Falco sat down across from him, fixing him with an imposing stare.

The attorney sighed. “Yes, I suppose so.”

“What happened?”

“Why don’t you ask Miss White?”

“That’s not any of our concern. You were paid a substantial amount of money to ensure a specific outcome.”

“I can’t control all the variables. She was the prosecution’s witness”

“For starters, you need to start with returning the money,” Falco said. “Then we can talk about what else you’re going to do to make things right for my clients.”

“Is that so?”

“You’re on very thin ice here, Stern. My people are very upset.”

“I imagine they are, but they have no one to blame but themselves,” Stern explained. “Besides, I don’t have the money.”

“Where is it?”

“I gave it to charity.”

“How selfless of you. Go get it back.”

“I’m sorry, but I can’t do that.”

“Then go see one of your Jew bankers and get a loan.”

“One of my Jew bankers? What’s that supposed to mean?”

“I don’t need to explain myself further,” muttered Falco.

“This matter is resolved, as far as I’m concerned,” Stern said. “The DA needs to appeal. God knows I left him plenty of arguments for that. Had I pulled some of the shit I pulled here back in Philadelphia, I’d be disbarred by now. Go tell your clients to get to work. They’ll get their outcome.”

“You think you know who you’re dealing with.”

“I’m not stupid. I do my research. I know all about you, Francis Michael Gottfried. Falco’s your nom de guerre. You’re a narcotics distributor, at least you were…until Acevedo put you on the dole. It seems you’ve been working with him for five years, now. And you’re working both sides of the law – setting up shops in these rural counties, raking in the cash, then turning them over to the DEA for a finder’s fee when you’ve milked it dry. No wonder Acevedo seems to know where all the operations are. He’s amassed quite a record of busts, thanks to your help.”

“You’ve got it wrong.”

“No, I don’t think so. You got busted in San Bernardino. You were looking at ten years until Acevedo swooped down and rescued you, putting you to work. I must say that I am very impressed, but working both sides has got to be stressful. You can never know for sure when the bikers or the Mexicans might catch on. If they did, I imagine they’d come pay you a visit.”

Falco was speechless.

“Do you trust Acevedo’s boys?” Stern continued. “Do you think they’ll protect you? I wouldn’t be so sure if I was in your shoes. At best, you’re just an expendable informant who they could replace tomorrow. At worst, you’re a loose end that they might just allow the gangs to tie up.”

“So what exactly do you suggest I tell my people, Stern?” Falco growled. “Tell them to forget about our deal? Tell them to forget about the money and just walk away?”

“Sell it to them, Falco. Your life may depend on it.”

“What’s to stop them from paying you a visit?”

Stern placed his hands behind his head, leaned back in his seat, and grinned. “You really do think I’m an idiot, don’t you? It’s like this, Falco: if anything happens to me, then a file I’ve assembled gets emailed to the sheriff’s department. It’d implicate you and Acevedo and DA Chalmers, too. I can tie you all together. Phone records. Pictures. Emails. You really should update your Internet security.”

“Assuming it’s true, they aren’t going to let you just walk around with that kind of information.”

“I’m betting my life that they will.” Stern smirked. “That’s how the real world works, Mr. Gottfried. It’s called leverage.”

“Then I guess there’s nothing left to discuss.” Falco got up from the booth, as if to leave.

“Sell it to them,” Stern repeated.

“You think you got all the angles figured out, don’t you?”

“All the ones that matter.”

“I don’t think you really understand who you’re dealing with,” Falco said, and walked out.


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