Down the Road to Operation Senior Sentinel

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So there I was, all these years later just driving down the road
when it came on the radio. It was so unexpected to hear out of
nowhere, my past life flash before my mind’s eye coming out of
the speakers in my car. I felt frozen in time when I heard the
weekly FBI radio update. I might have driven another ten miles
on autopilot before I even remembered where I was and that I
was driving down Hwy 441 in Gainesville, Florida. Hearing the
FBI spokesperson bragging on the radio as he talked about an
FBI operation that went down twenty years ago and hit my life
like a tornado was so surreal.

I was swirling with emotion listening to this FBI
spokesperson explain to the public some details about one of the
biggest and most successful undercover FBI operations in the
history of the agency. How I became the face of that operation I
will never know. All I knew was that I did not think people
watched the news anymore. However, just my luck, everyone I
knew from family and friends, down to my priest just happened
to see the FBI drag me across the streets of downtown Tampa
that day. I was being paraded in handcuffs across all of the
major television networks on the evening news.

There I was in cuffs while they did their perp walk in front
of the press. Even my drunken cousin in New York looked up
from the bar and caught the vision of me on TV being arrested
by the FBI. He screamed at the bartender to turn the TV up.
“That’s my cousin!” he yelled. All I remembered thinking was,
“That fucking bitch got me.” The bitch I was referring to at the
time was the Attorney General of the United States, Janet Reno.

I remember calmly thinking how I warned everyone I knew
this was going to happen years before it did. Every network
covered it and there I was on the television as the face of this
crime.

Most people do not know but one of the biggest and most
successful undercover operations in the FBI’s torrid history was
call “Operation Senior Sentinel.” No other operation before or
after it has ever made such an impact on a particular crime.

The crime was white collar in nature, so they say.
However, telemarketing was much more than some white collar
enterprise at the time. It was the central gathering place for all
of the Jewish, Italian and Irish mobsters. All of the kinds of
people everyone has seen in any mafia movie you can think of
were just characters in and out of my life. It was a way of life.
Telemarketing was a criminal trade that one could learn and I
learned it from some of the best. To think that I was involved up
to my neck in something that got the attention of Congress and
the Attorney General’s Office, still blows my mind to this day.
When Janet Reno sat in front of that Senate Subcommittee and
asked for a billion dollars to combat illegal telemarketing, I
knew the difference between a million and a billion with a B. I
understood at the time that this kind of money being given to
the Justice Department would have dire consequences for my
world. What I did not know was how what I was doing, would
actually change the laws in the United States and affect every
household in the entire country.

Telling the story all these years later is a bit strange,
because our technical world today bears no resemblances to the
world I grew up in. There are entire generations alive today who
never knew what it was what like to have a rotary phone.
Millions of young people run around the world today with their
smart phones with no understanding of a world before the
mobile age or that most homes just had one rotary phone in the
kitchen with an extra-long twisted cord that we used to walk to
other rooms so we could have a private conversation.

Hell, when the last group of my family left New York for
Florida to complete our family’s migration, somewhere halfway
down Interstate 95 they lost cell signal and a cousin of mine
suggested pulling off the highway and looking for a pay phone.
Another younger cousin in the car asked aloud what a pay
phone was. Her face turned to complete consternation when
they tried to explain to her there were public phones everywhere
that people put coins in to talk to one another.

It is in that world that a young Irish criminal rose straight
out of poverty to run a multimillion-dollar criminal enterprise
that spanned from one coast to another. It was the world that
came about shortly after the breakup of Ma Bell and the phone
company’s monopoly on all communications that spawned an
entire category of crime. When the birthplace of technology just
started to crawl its way out of the primordial soup, criminals
were born.

This is how and when I was touched by history. This is
how and when I touched history right back.

2

In a distant world and time, the telephone was the one thing
in each house that connected us to the world around us.
Telephones were changing from rotary dialed phones to push
button. The push button phone was a blazing new thing.
Anyone who ever had to dial a long distant phone number on a
rotary phone knows what a revolution just pushing a button was
at the time. The time alone that was saved by this innovative
instrument, especially when you got the number wrong and
needed to start over, was priceless.

Back then, it was impossible to trace anyone’s call. If
someone called your house and said that they wanted to fuck
your mother up her ass, if you dialed zero for the operator and
asked who on Earth was that, they could not tell you. This
anonymity gave birth to an entire generation of prank callers.
Anyone could just pick up the phone, call anyone, and say
anything without any repercussions. This environment even
sparked professional pranksters who would make millions of
dollars selling albums with nothing but prank calls. We would
sit around the ball field with our boom boxes playing cassette
tapes of these pranksters like The Jerky Boys and laugh our
asses off. Each and every one of us would become our own
professional prankster of the phone lines. I personally took this
to such a level, that later on in life I was able to use these
phones skills to extract money from people’s wallets just by
using the phone. I mean who needed a gun to rob anyone when
we had telephones. I would love to call stores and ask them if
they had Dr. Pepper in the bottle. When they would say yes, I
would scream at them telling them to let him out so he could
breathe. I would call up private residences, ask if there was a
John there, and when they said no, I’d asked them, what did
they do, piss out the window?

Over and over again, I would spend hours calling up God
knows who saying God knows what. I mean after all no one
could find me. It was the training grounds for my future crimes
in telemarketing. It was the killing fields of any sense of
decency my church or anyone tried to instill in me. I was
completely out of control with this new push button phone. The
speed alone of my deviance was vast and unstoppable. I was
learning how to use a phone like a weapon. I was learning how
to manipulate people on the other end. The communication grid
was my playground and soon to be my servant. I was to master
this weapon and build an empire. I was a criminal in waiting.

3

For me, things were changing at home. My mother met a
guy and got married and I was no longer needed as the man of
the house. The new guy who called himself my stepfather was
looking for me to act like a typical teenager and act like a boy.
Too many years had passed for me to go back to that. Life and
the cards I was dealt long ago, murdered any resemblance of a
child in me. I remember having a hard time with it all back then.
A friend of mine named Robert was 16 like me and he also had
divorce issues in his family. His mother took off and just left
him the house while she frolicked about somewhere up north.
He was living all alone in the house at his age going to school
and working on the side. He decided to rent out a couple of
bedrooms in his house for some extra money. I rented one of
those rooms from him. The house was in Miramar and it had a
pool so it was a perfect fit for me at the time.

So now, I was on my own with my own transportation
living in a house that became every bachelor’s dream.

I 16 years old and still going to high school, but I found an
ad in the paper for a telemarketing job close by in Miramar. My
high school sweetheart Ann and I answered that ad to go work
on the phones. I can remember the first day we walked in. We
were standing outside this glass door and I pressed a button for
us to be buzzed in. As we entered the place, the first room we
came into was the secretary’s room and she handed us
applications. After filling those out, we went for interviews
further inside the building.

We walked right into an open phone room and there I was
standing in the middle of the space. It was magical to me.
Cigarette smoke filled the room. The sound of everyone at their
desks on the phone created a buzz and an energy in the air that
was electric. I could hear everyone giving their pitches over the
phone and trying to get their next sale. The room was filled with
all sorts of people from all walks of life. There were hot chicks
from wall to wall. You could say I felt right at home standing in
the middle of that room. You can say my adult life began that
day.

I worked the night shift after school and as time went by,
slowly but surely, I was no longer interested in the immature
world of high school. Each day I could not wait to go to work at
night picking up the phone and selling people our product from
coast to coast. I loved to be surrounded by older people and I
loved my job because I was not only good at it, I was excellent.

The company that I worked for was called C. C. Delco Inc.
and in time, I found out that factions of the Jewish Mafia
supposedly ran it. The product we sold was lock pick sets to
unlock car doors. However, we never really told the person on
the other end of the phone that was all that it was. We used a
play on words that danced around facts and made it sound like it
was something more. The misleading nature of the pitch was
identified by me almost immediately, but it never really hit me
how misleading it was until months later when I was able to see
what the picks looked like.

It really hit me like a ton of bricks when I was able to see
the product in another section of the building that was used for
shipping. The lock picks had plastic handles and were made of a
very thin metal-like substance that bent with the slightest touch.
The picks where encased in a plastic pouch. The whole thing
was a laughable sham and we were charging three hundred
dollars for it. That day I knew what we were doing was not
right. Whether it was legal or not, I was not sure, because of the
way we worded the pitch to the potential clients.

There was a chain of command among the Jews that ran the
company. In the big office was Ross Botstein and everyone in
the building answered to him. The second in command was a
man named Webster and he was the other owner of the phone
room. Bob clearly had more money, but Webster was no slouch
and he was the muscle. Webster answered to Bob, but Webster
was Bob’s connection to the Italians. Webster’s right hand man
and almost always by his side was the scariest man I have ever
met in my life and his name was Little Benny. Benny was an
alleged contract killer and a stone cold psychopath. One eye
went its own way. The man was evil incarnate. Mobsters all
over the country from multiple nationalities and families used
him for their contract hits.

Of course, I was to learn all of this later and over time that
these were the rumors of this group of guys. Whether it was true
or not, at the time I did not care; I wanted to make money.
Webster took me under his wing and taught me the tradecraft of
white-collar crime.

After I saw what the lock picks looked like, I went to see
Webster in his office and I closed the door and asked him about
the picks. I told him that I saw them and he laughed a deep belly
laugh. He explained to me that the picks did work and what we
were saying about them over the phone was part of our
tradecraft. We were to paint a picture without saying certain
things about whatever we were selling at the time. He laid out
for me the truth of the matter. He taught me that it did not
matter what the product was, that we could plug in this one or
that one, but “the sell” or “the close” was always the same.

He sat there for an hour telling me about the good ole days
when they were selling diamonds and land over the phone and
educated me on who were the legend closers in our craft. I sat
there mesmerized for that entire hour. After he explained all this
to me he came around his desk stood there with his cane and
told me all the plans that he had for me and what he had seen in
me. He told me I was a natural and I was going to make
millions in white-collar crime. Of course, he did not call it that,
he just called it “the trade.”

He explained to me how I must start to dress like a million
bucks so I can look and feel like a million bucks. From that day
forward, I completely changed my attire. When he was done, I
started to walk out of his office and I asked him whether or not
the picks open any car doors at all. He laughed that deep laugh
again and said, “Theoretically!” Then he walked me out and
instructed his phone room manager, Jimmy, to open a filing
cabinet with the picks. It took him a while, but he opened the
drawer as Webster walked back into his office thundering that
infectious laugh that he had.

Days later, I was over at my mother’s house for dinner and
I asked her what she made as a yearly income from American
Express. She said that she was on her 13th year with American
Express and was now proudly making $23,000 a year. Her face
beamed in pride as she said the number. As I ate my meal, I
thought that I had already made $30,000 in a little less than six
months. I knew right then and there that if I quit high school
and did this full time, I would at least make $60,000 a year.
Over that plate of corned beef and potatoes that night, any
thought of finishing high school was losing steam. It was time
to go make some real money. Not too long after that night, high
school and I came to an end for other reasons and I entered the
workforce fulltime.

4
Somewhere in the middle of the Bronx, a body shop phone
rings. The man answers and hears my voice. “Can I speak to the
owner please?”

“This is Guido, how can I help you.”

Back in the day, we never used our real names on the
phone. My phone name was Scott Starr.

“Hello, this is Scott Starr from C. C. Delco. We are the
guys who made the Slim Jims, you know the flat piece of metal
that slides between the window and the door panel that unlocks
car doors. Well, as you probably know, the Slim Jims do not
work anymore on the newer cars. With all the slide locks and
power locks they make cars with now, the Slim Jim has become
obsolete. We came out with a new system that goes directly into
the keyhole of the car and like your key, it unlocks the door,
trunk, gas cap and even starts the car, of any car, foreign or
domestic from 1958 up to today with the exception of the
Mercedes Benz with the laser lock key. It is called The Master
Lockout Set and it comes with a colored coded handle and a list
that tells you what color to use on what make or model. It works
on the tumblers like your key; just give it a half turn to the right
and it unlocks the car door and starts the car. Now Guido, I
know at least a couple of times a year someone in the shop
mistakenly locks the keys inside the car that you are working
on. You know as well as I do that a locksmith is not cheap
nowadays. With The Master Lockout Set those days are over.
Now you will have access to all of the cars and will never have
to spend money on locksmiths. The Master Lockout Set comes
with a 100% guarantee and a lifetime warranty. Sound like
something you could use?”

Well right away Guido is not thinking of any legal idea to
do with The Master Lockout Set. All he is thinking in his mind
is how he can open and start all of the cars of the world. We
would whack these guys in the automotive industry $300 a set
and send it out UPS C.O.D. Back then, even if you opened the
box with the UPS guy standing there and realized you had been
fucked up the ass by paying three bills for a plastic lock pick
set, the UPS guy was not allowed to take the box back once you
opened it. Knowing that a decent lock pick set could be bought
off the Snap-On truck for $20, Guido sees that he just got
jacked and he is more embarrassed than anything else.

The whole thing was beautiful, because the damn things
were lock picks and yes, before you made that half turn to the
right like your key, somehow you had to pick the tumblers like
a locksmith.

We never said it was a key, but only that it worked on the
same principle. Yes, we forgot to mention you really needed to
be either a locksmith or a professional burglar to operate them,
but hey, what did you need these for anyway? Yes, $300 was an
exorbitant amount of money to pay for this piece of shit, but
sorry, Sucker, we need to cover our Watts bill from the phone
company and all the expenses of running a phone room. After
all, what the fuck are you ordering such a product for anyway,
you greedy and shady bastard? I mean, what do you have in
mind for The Master Lockout Set, you fucking grease monkey?
Locksmith my ass; you wanted to open all the cars, but why?
Why do you need the keys to the world? What were you going
to do with them? It was questions like these that people did not
want to answer, so they did not complain.

Here is a breakdown of how the numbers worked. I am
going to use a scale that is smaller and easier to apperceive. By
sending out 100 boxes a day across the nation C.O.D. at the
price of $300, we could count on half of those C.O.D.’s as
being paid. Therefore, each and every day 100 boxes go out the
door and 50 a day come back. We did not look at the 50%
collection ratio as any loss at all, but only the cost of doing
business. We knew the other 50% would collect and 100% of
that 50% was what we worked on. So, the real gross was half of
the boxes shipped, then out of that, 100% of the 50% we
collected.

Only 18% of the people would call back and complain.
This number never moved much. Only 18% of people would
call the customer service line talking about some mistake that
was made. They were too embarrassed. They would call and say
there was some mistake; they ordered the keys not the picks.
They would never tell their spouses or business partners that
they fucked up. The shame of paying $300 for a plastic lock
pick set was not something they wanted to highlight to too
many people. Now out of that 18%, only half of that or 9% were
really hot and mad and those were the people that would receive
a refund.

There was always a bank account set aside for refunds.
That was the grease that made it work. If anyone complained to
some state attorney’s office or the Better Business Bureau, we
would say that this was some kind of misunderstanding and we
would gladly refund the money. This created an illusion that we
were on the up and up, because any complaints that were really
heated were settled.

In another room of the building was what was called the
backend room. The people who worked the backend had one
function and one function only. They took the 18% of the
people complaining, sorted through them, and figured out which
ones were going to be real ball busters and they would refund
them. That was usually around half of the 18%. Consequently,
in the end, only 9% of the people who were sold an exorbitantly
priced lock pick set got their money back and 91% of the 100%
of the money collected was pocketed.

The reason this all worked was because it was a different
time and place. It would be hard for a younger person who grew
up in today’s world, where everything is interconnected and a
world that feels smaller and smaller each day to understand how
it was.

Back then, the world was miles apart and oceans really
meant something. This was a time when our communication
grid was just starting to crawl out of the primordial, technical
ooze. No one spoke to each other. State lines meant something.
If I sold a lock pick set to someone in Oregon and I was in
Florida, whom would they complain to? They would first call
some local or state entity from whatever state they resided in
and then those people would never do more than pick up the
phone and make a call to try to resolve it. No one had the
manpower to go after some company in another state. The
authorities in each state would not work together to solve a
nationwide fraud, they had their own local problems. The
federal government was, at the time, not set up to chase down
white-collar crime with a nationwide syndicate.

The entire procedure we were following was like taking
candy from a baby. If ran correctly, our business model was
untouchable at the time. It was, in fact for telemarketing, what
was known now as the good ole days. We did not need a gun;
we had the telephone.

5
During this time and place, my life was fragmenting. My
new life was progressing and my old life was being left behind.
In the rearview mirror was high school, my high school
sweetheart and any sense of right and wrong.

It was nearly a year that I had been at C. C. Delco, but I
was already seeing that there was no place to grow with this
group. In that year, I had become their number one salesman,
but that worked against me. First, they already had two phone
room mangers running the place and they were not going
anywhere anytime soon. In addition, the fact that I was bringing
in so much money would have been like killing the golden
goose if they took me off the phones. No one was even near my
production and a promotion for me was hurtful to the bottom
line of the company. I was stuck in a box and as young as I was
and all full of beans, complacency was never going to become
my norm.

There was a book bouncing around the office that everyone
was taking turns reading that I got a hold of and it changed my
thinking once and for all on the matter of being stuck. The book
was called WiseGuy written by Nicholas Pileggi. When I read
it, my life suddenly made sense to me. I was like the Henry Hill
character in that book. I could relate to his story better than
anything I had ever read or heard of at the time. That year with
Webster, I had seen the dark side of the mob and learned all
about murders that were supposedly happening. For me having
alleged hit men and bookies in and out of the office each day
was nothing and completely normal by now. As shady as their
phones rooms were, they were partially a front to look like these
were legitimate businessmen with legit businesses. Long before
Martin Scorsese turned that book into a movie called
GoodFellas, I read the book and knew I was not alone in my
world. I was like a thoroughbred horse being kept in the stall.
Nicholas Pileggi’s book was set in New York City and I was in
South Florida; however, it all felt the same to me.

In South Florida and in the world of illegal telemarketing,
we all congregated at the same bars and restaurants. We shared
the same beaches and would rub shoulders with one another.
We would keep up with each other and what we were all up to.
We would steal each other’s pitches, salespeople and even
wives. We would all know who had a good week and would
pour over the days’ deeds at happy hour at certain watering
holes.

Because since the age of 16 I was already 240lbs, 6’3″, had
a hairy chest and already could grow a full beard, I got into bars
at an early age. I grew up in bars and pool halls and never once
got asked for my identification or “carded” as it was called.
Carding people was just starting to even become a concept back
then and I already looked over the age to ask. Again, this was a
different time and place. It was the last generation of freedom.
We still had the freedom to make bad decisions without it
ruining the rest of our lives, or so we thought.

I had many watering holes back then and many places I
would belly up to the bar. One of my favorite places was a bar
and restaurant on the intercoastal waterway called Le Tub in
Hollywood, Florida. It was the coolest place because it was
secluded, on the water and had tables outside that overlooked
downtown Hollywood and its skyline. Like many of my favorite
spots, you could just pull up to it with a boat or yacht.

Years later Oprah Winfrey would highlight this place on
her show and declared it had the number one burger in the
entire country. I remember being so shocked to hear this. I was
beyond shocked that this little place on the water was even
known by her and that it won some “best burger in the country”
thing, and I was blown away because in all my years to this day,
I have never ordered a freaking burger there, ever! I laughed
thinking if she or the proprietors of Le Tub only knew of the
shady conversations that would transpire over cocktails,
whether it would be the mob, white-collar crooks like me or any
of the drug cartels that would meet there, maybe that episode
with Oprah would never have happened.

One day I was out on the deck enjoying some conch fritters
and a beer at Le Tub while many in my world were there
kicking back. A man who I did not know very well and had
only briefly heard of his name, approached me. He was a Cuban
dissident that fled Castro and made a name for himself moving
this, brand new at the time, kind of marijuana called “Krypto”
which was the beginning days of hydroponically grown weed.

His name was Louis Alberto and he was an older
gentleman with a great smile and personality. He sat down at
my table, introduced himself, explained that he knew of me and
that he opened up a phone room in North Miami Beach and
wanted me to take it over and run it for him. He explained that
the guy who was running the room now was an idiot and that he
needed someone in there who understood the business. He
offered me the phone room manger job only if I could also
physically throw out the man in there running it, because he
would not leave and he was a relative of his wife’s and could
not hurt the guy and stay married.

Of course I told Louis that I needed time to think about the
offer and that I would meet him back here at the same time next
week. What I did not tell Louis was I did not need any time to
accept that offer, but needed time to figure out a way out from
under Webster’s thumb. As I drove home that night, I could feel
the blood coursing through my veins. The thoroughbred horse
was about to break out of the gate. I just needed to figure out a
way to do that without any injury to the racehorse.

6
Leaving C. C. Delco was not has hard as I envisioned. Our
world was changing very fast. Totally unrelated to me, someone
among our C. C. Delco family was leaving too. However, his
departure way overshadowed my exit. One of our sales guys
went by the name of Peter Giovanni. Pete was a steady earner
and was with Webster and Bob for more years than I ever was.
Pete was Italian and came from a family that people knew in
South Florida. Peter not only decided to leave C. C. Delco, but
he went and opened his own phone room selling lock picks
backed by his mother.

Pete’s mom was Italian and was loved by many in our
world. Pete also had had a friend that was Cuban and this man
already made his bones in South Florida and was a man of
respect and no one to fuck with. Manny was his name and he
was to be feared, because he was allegedly able to bring
contract killers up from Cuba to do the job. Fingerprints meant
nothing because there was never any record of Manny’s guys,
so I was told. Peter had many friends that people around him
did not realize. It was a deadly and stealthy way of doing
business.

This departure was a straight affront against Webster and
Bob and completely took the spotlight off my Irish ass. After
all, I was nothing but a sales guy and I certainly was not starting
my own phone room, but only taking the job to run another. My
new life sparkled in front of me and I never looked back. I
simply never returned to work at C. C. Delco and never
explained myself to anyone.

Accepting this job to work for Louis was so exciting to me,
but there was no escaping the fact that I had to confront this guy
who ran the place. Coming from Miramar, I had no shortage of
fistfights over my life. I had already earned a reputation of
someone who would win more fights than he would lose. I
simply did not feel fear the way I knew other people did in this
regard. This was a good thing and a bad scenario for me over
the course of my life. In this situation it was a little of both.

I decided not to involve anyone I knew and would just walk
into the phone room and take it as it came. I never even knew
what the guy, who I was to remove from the office, looked like.
My plan was to walk in the door, figure that all out on the spot,
and take it from there.

The office was located in North Miami Beach in an
industrial section off Dixie Highway. Anyone familiar with
North Miami Beach knows that this section of Dade County
does not resemble Miami Beach in any way. It is the northern
section of Dade County that has the railroad tracks running right
down the middle of it. These were the tracks that were used by
not only The Tri-Rail, but also the same tracks Amtrak used to
connect New York City to Miami. The Tri-Rail is a commuter
rail line linking Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach.

Louis had rented an office right on Dixie Highway facing
these tracks and by no means was there any glamour to this
operation. I pulled up to the front of the strip plaza and parked
in front of the office. I looked into the mirrored glass that faced
me knowing my new life lay on the other side of that glass, but
I had no idea at the time what that looked like or who I was to
throw the fuck out of there. I got out of my car with my heart
pounding and just opened the glass door and walked it.

I stepped into the office to find one open room. One desk
was at the end of the room and the rest of the tables were long
tables with phones on them with one sales person after the other
on the phones. When I walked in the room half the people
looked up at me and the other half kept pitching to the people
on the phone. Unfucking believably to me, sitting at one of
these tables was my old fucking whore name Maria from West
Miramar. I had no idea she worked in this phone room, let alone
even had a damn job.

Maria was a hot Italian Dancer from the neighborhood who
I used to use as some whore that I would pass around to my
friends. She was beautiful with long brown hair and thick
thighs. Miramar or Broward County was spreading out west
toward the Everglades and she lived in a new development that
was outside the suburbs and more rural. I found the girls on the
outskirts of the city were very na‹ve and Maria was the queen of
naivety, always wanting to please. The bitch was one of the
greatest whores I knew and she just absolutely loved anything
to do with being naked or dancing.

One day I was driving down Griffin Road in Broward
heading towards the beach and my friend Steve Bonestein who
was a longtime friend of the family was in the back seat. He
told all of us in the car that he had not been laid in a long time
and asked whether or not I could help him with this problem.
As I was driving towards the coast on our way to the beach I
told Steve to call this number to a girl name Maria and tell her
that “your name is Bob and that I want her to take care of you.”

Steve thanked me and that was all I knew about the
situation until Maria called me one day and told me that Steve
called her and told her that I said to lie to her and give her
another name. Steve said to Maria that he did not want to do
that and he wanted to start their relationship with the truth.
Maria told me that she was now in love with Steve and that she
was no longer going to have sex with me or any of my friends
anymore.

The stupid fuck fell in love with the neighborhood whore
and took away one of the greatest pieces of ass we ever knew at
the time. He betrayed us all, but that was not going to be the last
time Steve betrayed me. Later on he was to have a role on the
FBI tracking me down.

Now I was standing in this phone room and all I could see
was Maria and nothing else. I walked right up to her and
grabbed her by her head with a handful of that long beautiful
hair. I snatched up her purse with my other hand and dragged
her kicking and screaming out the front door by her hair. I just
dragged her out the front door, threw her out into the parking
lot, and blasted her in her face with her purse. I close the door
behind me, locked it and looked at everyone who was now
staring at me in complete silence. I said, “I run this phone room
now!”

One girl ran towards the door past me, screaming, and in
front of the room started shaking the glass door trying to unlock
the lock. She got out the door and a man stood up with a face
full of abject fear, turned around, and ran out the back door. I
knew immediately who he was and everyone else knew at that
moment there was a new sheriff in town. I just looked around
the room feeling like I was here now and I couldn’t wait to start.
I looked at everyone who was now staring at me and asked if
anyone else wanted to leave. No one did and I told them to get
back to work.

7
Running a phone room came so natural to me. I was only
seventeen years old at the time, but all these people, some who
were twice my age, had to answer to me. Some I could tell
resented that fact, but over time, they would learn to respect me.
I changed the entire way the place was run and my changes not
only made their job easier, but also filled everyone’s pockets.

I soon learned as a manger that all that mattered was the
bottom line. How much my room was bringing in a week was
my main function. A phone room manger lives and dies by the
entire room’s numbers. Since I was the best salesperson, I
knew, and the thought of leaving my livelihood to this bunch of
misfits was so terrifying to me, I came up with a structural
change as to how this was done.

I took a method that was used in another fashion called
“The T. O.” and I made it a permanent stable in my arsenal. The
T. O. was used when a salesperson would get close to a sale and
needed the help of a manger to bring the mark over the top.
How it worked was a salesperson would tell the person on the
other end of the line that he or she was going to connect them to
the president of the firm to further explain things. The
salesperson would cover the mouth piece of the phone, stand up
and scream through the room “T. O.!” which meant “turn over”
and the closer would get on the phone and reel the sale in.

What I did with this method was instead of using it every
once in a while, I wanted everyone to do it all the time, on every
sale. So all my sales crew had to do, was get them close and
turn over the call to me and I would close the deal. The system
worked brilliantly and now I was in charge of my own destiny
instead of depending on the sales skills of the Bad News Bears
of telemarketing on any given day.

It wasn’t long until I grew this little phone room into a high
powered “Boiler Room” that made incredible money for the
owner Louis and his wife Connie. The term Boiler Room in
regards to phone rooms meant typically that a crowded room
full of sales people using high-pressure, often illegal sales
tactics on unsuspecting victims over the phone would look like
a boiling cauldron of water if you were near it. The imagery
also referred to a room in a building (typically the basement) or
a compartment in a ship containing a boiler and related to
heating or steam-generating equipment. It was all about the
pressure and the high pressure of a phone room that thundered
out over the communication grid is what resembled a boiler
room and for me, was a beautiful sight to behold.

Very quickly, I outgrew this operation and needed to move
the office to a bigger and more prestigious location. As they
sang in the TV show The Jeffersons, we were “moving on up.”
Moving on up to a deluxe office in a bank building in Miami
was our piece of the pie.

The owners that I was working for were such a strange and
odd couple. Louis would drive around South Florida in his 380
SL Mercedes two-seater with the top off. I loved that car. He
would sometimes let me drive it to run errands. The man always
had a high dollar, leather briefcase near him and its only
contents at all were an ounce of Krypto bud. The man loved his
weed. He loved selling it and he loved smoking it. I do not think
I ever saw him sober or straight ever at any time. He claimed he
had a heart condition and needed this for medicinal purposes,
but whether that was true or not, the man was always stoned
with a smile on his face.

His wife Connie on the other hand, was his exact opposite.
She was not Cuban but was Jewish and she died her hair blond.
She was in good shape for her age. She was a sexy flat-belly
who was at all times so wired on cocaine, that I would wonder
why it wasn’t she with the heart problem. She was a cold bitch
and I resented everything about her. However, they were a
couple and I had to deal with her whether I liked it or not. They
both lived in a millionaire’s paradise in Turnberry Aisles on the
intercoastal water way.

Only the rich and famous lived in this high-rise. I was now
rubbing shoulders with a segment of society that was miles
from the Irish neighborhood I came from. I remember just
sitting on the wooden dock with my legs hung over the edge
above the water smoking a joint with Louis. The whole place
was bumper-to-bumper yachts and Louis pointed out the one
right next to us.

He said, “You see the name on that yacht?”

I said, “Yes.”

He said, “You know who that is right?”

I said, “Oh yeah, the whole country does.”

We were sitting there smoking pot right next to the yacht
called “Monkey Business” which of course was the infamous
boat the Presidential hopeful Democrat Gary Hart was fooling
around on before he was brought down to his political knees. I
just looked around at the scenery. I was musing about how far a
guy like me had come. I was a long way from the world of
Miramar, Florida. Even the pot I was smoking was much better.
I felt like I had arrived. More to the point, I realized the higher
you climb, the more shady things get. It is just a different level
of monkey business, hierocracy and crime. In the end, the only
suckers were the worker ants who never got into the game. It
was the sheeple who marched lock step to the slaughterhouse
with their paychecks in hand. It was as Pink Floyd sang,
“Welcome to the Machine.”
8

Life at this point was going grand. I was running a
successful boiler room business. We landed up in a nice high-
rise where we shared the building with a bank, a radio station
and other so-called legitimate businesses. Each day I would
drive to work in my new Audi, get into the elevator, and go up
to our floor. The only space above us was an entire floor that
was empty that used to belong to a phone room that sold
diamonds and gems. The entire floor was one open space made
up of one cubicle after another. Whatever business that was
there must have been huge, because this space was covered with
nothing but cubicle workstations made out of white mica. I used
to go up to this floor all the time to smoke pot or have sex with
my employees.

Sex was plentiful back then. South Florida was and is
always just full of dirty little whores who love to bang the boss.
I just loved this aspect of the job. There on the top floor, I had
my first experience with a black woman. She worked for my
phone room and had one of those beautiful voices from the
islands. Her accent was so sexy and her body would stop a
clock. I was always attracted to black girls even back then, but
in our neighborhood, it was ok to fuck them, just never bring
one home to mama. In my family there was not even a second
thought about this code among the men of the family. This
sucked for me because not only did I just love black women, but
also I loved those very dark black women. It was not as if I was
trying to pass off some light skin to get by; I was attracted to the
real deal. This woman working for me was such a sweet person.
She was so smart and beyond sexy. We hit it off almost
immediately and it was not long before we would go up to the
top floor and smoke out and have sex in those cubicles.

Now this went on for a while. The memory of her brings
back both the wonderful experience of being with her, but also
reminds me of my utter shame of a situation in which I was
such a scumbag. After a while, we were really getting into each
other and we decided that we were going to tell our families and
we were going to go out on a public date. We both made this
commitment to each other and were supposed to go home that
night and reveal this to our families. She still lived with her
family, so it was even more of a commitment on her part. I was
to drive to her home and pick her up. Now I knew her family
was not going to be any happier than mine to hear the news. She
explained to me what a shock to the family system this would
be. However, I was to show up in a suit and a nice car to help
ease the burden of all of this for her.

That night I got dressed, put on some cologne (Austin Z-
14) and was ready to walk out the door to go pick her up. Sadly,
somewhere between my home and hers I lost my nerve and
drove instead to a bar to get drunk. I left her hanging there all
dressed up with a stressed out mother and father and I never
showed. The next day at work, I walked into the office and fired
her on the spot. I mean, after all, I did not need a daily reminder
of my shame. And what was she going to do; file a complaint?
The owner of the business was an alleged drug dealer. Would
she go to the authorities? Not likely she was even legal in the
country. No, it was now time to send my island girl packing. I
never saw her again and to this day I still think of her and what
an asshole I really was. Life went on. There were calls to be
closed, money to be made and other women to violate. Like I
said, life was just grand, or so I thought.

Slowly but surely I noticed that I was not hearing from
Louis. People were calling the office claiming they never
received the product or any shipment at all. I could not ever get
him on the phone and one Friday his wife Connie never showed
up with the payroll for everyone while simultaneously checks
were bouncing from all sorts of places.

I got in my car and drove down to see Louis at his home in
Turnberry Aisles. When I got up to his floor and banged on the
door Connie answered and let me in. They had a huge condo as
big as any house I had ever seen and she was bouncing off the
walls. I could tell she was really coked up as she kept walking
from one side of the room to the other. I sat her down and asked
her where her husband was. After babbling all sorts of
incoherent nonsense, she finally said she did not know where he
was. She said he disappeared and was in trouble of some sorts.
She mused whether or not he took a boat back to Cuba or was
maybe in New York City. She had no clue. I asked her about
payroll, the bills, and all the calls I had been getting at the
office. She had no answers for me and right there I knew this
whole thing was over. I got into the elevator and was heading
down to my car when I realized there was no way I was ever
going to return to that office. After all, this was not my
company and I was just the manager.

Louis was God knows where and it was doubtful I’d ever
see or hear from him again. His wife was a defective human
being with nothing to offer, so I felt I had no other choice. Just
like my black island queen, I was just going to be a no show.
This was not my problem, this was theirs and it was time to
move on. That day when I drove away from the intercoastal
waterway, I knew I would never return to any of that mess.
Now I needed to go find another job. My reign at that company
was over and I needed to work out my next steps. I headed
towards a bar in Broward; I wanted to drink some imported
bottle beer. I needed a drink to clear my head. My life’s history
will show that this night I picked the right bar. Once again my
life was about to change.

9

Strangely enough, most of my life I can point back to
certain places and times and see what a pivotal moment it really
was. Leaving Louis’ house and driving to a bar called Waltzing
Matilda, I went into the bar and bellied up to it, ordered some
exotic beer from the other side of the world, sat back, and took a
sip. My head was spinning with the day’s events when I felt a
hand on my shoulder.

“Long time no see,” I hear in a familiar voice. I spin my bar
stool around and there stands my old coworker from C. C.
Delco, Peter Giovanni, who left Webster and Bob to open up his
own phone room. Peter took a seat next to me and struck up a
conversation.

I asked him how he was doing with his new phone room
and he went into a tirade about the crew. He continued how the
crew he has in there now couldn’t hold the jockstrap of all of us
back in the C. C. Delco days. He was making a living, but he
wasn’t getting rich. He complained about being robbed by the
phone companies and all their charges. This was commonplace
for all of us in telemarketing back then.

Often I think back and remember how the phone companies
just raped us for thousands a month. Phone rooms did not get
unlimited calling, there was no such thing back then. We paid
for every minute of every out of state call. Since we never
called anyone in Florida out of fear that someone would knock
on the door all pissed off about lock picks, all of our calls were
out of state and the phone company was nothing short of pirates
when dealing with us.

Peter asked how I was doing in Miami with the phone room
I was running. I knew better to lie about any of it, because word
spread fast in our world and when people were not getting their
paychecks, word spread lightning fast. I laid out to Peter what
happened as we sat there drinking beer. Peter was like most
Italians and would only drink beer from Italy; so he was
knocking back his Peroni one bottle at a time.

After listening to my woes, he asked me what I was going
to do. I told him that I had been saving up for a rainy day and
that I was thinking about opening my own phone room as he
did. He just looked at me and excused himself to go to the
restroom. I struck up a conversation with the bartender who was
this blond trollop who was telling me how she lost weight on a
diet where she just drinks beer and only eats the nachos from
the bar. The woman had great tits and I went here often, so I
appeased her with my fake “I’m interested” look. So often in
this situation, I can only see their lips moving, and I don’t hear a
fucking word they are saying. All I ever think of when I meet a
woman is how she would look like naked and or whether she
had what is called a “phone voice” and if she could make me
money with it or not. I really had no other use for the female
gender at the time.

Peter returned from the restroom, said he was hungry, and
asked if I wanted to go grab a bite to eat with him. I accepted
the offer and we headed off to Ricky’s in Hollywood. Ricky’s is
one of my favorite chicken wings places and raw bars. Buffalo
wings were just taking off around South Florida and we had
some of the best joints in the country. Rickey’s, Tarks and
Mineo’s were three of our favorite spots for this kind of food
and everyone from our world could be seen each night at one or
more of these raw bars.

Ricky’s is a freestanding building. It is not in some strip
plaza, but is its own building and there was parking in the back.
We walked inside where it was somewhat dark, music was
blaring out of the jukebox, and the place smelled like wings and
beer. Peter asked if I wanted to sit at the bar or get a booth.
Given this choice even today, I always choose the bar unless
there are children with me. I’d rather eat a full course meal
sitting at the bar any day than to squeeze in some booth in the
corner. We sat up at the bar and ordered some beers and the
hottest wings they had. Among many men, it has always been a
contest to see who can handle the most heat. In this arena, I
could stand toe to toe with any swinging dick.

During the course of our meal, Peter looked at me and said
that if I was going to open a phone room that he would rather
not have to compete against me. He knew my sales prowess and
said he’d rather team up with me than go head to head. He
explained that he was already going head to head with our old
company C. C. Delco and could use my help to bury them once
and for all.

I told him I was not looking to just manage another room.
He told me that he understood where I was heading and was
asking me if I would go fifty-fifty with him on the room he had
now. Before I could get a word in edgewise, he asked me not to
make any decisions tonight and invited me to join him and a
group of friends to go down to The Florida Keys with them that
weekend. He explained that they were renting an RV and were
going to party all the way down there and all the way back. I
agreed to go along for the ride. He said we could talk more
about the merger on the trip. I shook his hand at the end of the
night and we went our separate ways.

That weekend on Saturday morning, a huge RV pulled up
outside my apartment in Hollywood. I was now living just off
what is called Young Circle, which is an area of Hollywood
Boulevard right before you hit the beach. I stepped outside, the
door opened up, and Peter stepped out in a pair of shorts, tee
shirt and flip-flops. Waving me towards the RV with a huge
smile on her face was Peter’s fianc‚ standing behind him on
higher steps in the RV. Stella was a straight out Italian fox with
dark hair and dark eyes. She was wearing a lime green bikini
and her hair was down. She had a body that called men towards
her and a face of some olive skinned goddess that just took my
breath away. Peter had been with her for years and still had not
married her yet.

I stepped into the RV and Peter introduced me to everyone.
In the RV was a black, muscled, bodybuilder type by the name
of Xavier Leesburg. I knew him already; we all called him X.
Xavier was Peter’s muscle and the guy Pete would use to do a
lot of his dirty work. Also in the RV were a couple of Stella’s
friends whose names escape me now. They never left much of
an impression on me. Peter got into the driver’s seat to drive the
RV. He yelled we were on our way, put it in drive and took off
down the street. Immediately the women pulled out a kilo of
cocaine and threw it on the table. X pulled out his driver’s
license and razor and started to chop up lines. Cocaine flowing,
music from AC/DC’s Highway to Hell blaring and we were on
our way to Key West.

Driving down to The Keys is the same for everyone; one
way in and one way out. One two-lane road goes through each
Key on the way down to what is called, “The End of the Road”
Key West. Most people outside of Florida only know about Key
West, but there are many other Keys that are just as much fun
and less of a drive to the bottom. When you look at a map of
Florida and follow it all the way down to the bottom, you will
see what looks like a tail. At the end of that skinny little tail is
Key West and one of the most famous streets called Duval
Street. That was our destination, but there was a lot of cocaine
and fun to have on the way.

The weekend we chose to go down there was a special
event weekend when all of the restaurant industry from South
Florida would go down to the Keys and party for two days. The
roads were packed and our RV was rocking. X was walking up
and down the aisle of the RV with this huge erection tenting out
his shorts like nothing I had ever seen. He took his shirt off and
was just moving to the songs. I pointed out to the ladies the
obvious rock hard member that was now on display. They told
me that is just X; he always gets hard on cocaine and he could
not help it.

One of the gals got up from her seat, grabbed his johnson,
and said to X “That’s right, you can’t help it, can you X?” and
she dropped to her knees and started to perform fellatio. The
other girls were egging her on, screaming and clapping. X pick
her up off her knees placed her on the couch, pulled off her
bathing suit bottoms, and gave it to her right there. The chick
started screaming out in pleasure in a tone I have never heard
before and certainly could not produce a woman to do with my
tool. Her ecstasy screams were so loud and panicked as if it
were in the sound of her screaming that she took on something
more than she could handle. He was pounding her and she loved
it while the other girls were cheering it all on. The ladies then
cut off more lines from this gigantic rock of coke.

I looked up front at Peter and he was driving the RV while
looking in the big mirror to see X bang this broad and Pete was
smiling a smile I simply cannot put to words. I walked up to the
front of the RV and he asked me if I was having a good time
and I said of course. He told me not to take so much powder
right now, because we were going to pull over when we got to
Islamorada and grab a bite to eat. I had no problem with that
because I wasn’t too big on cocaine and I was mostly enjoying
the weed and the vodka we had on the trip with us.

We pulled over when we got there and went into a bar
called The Tiki Bar and ordered some fancy island drinks with
umbrellas in them. The place was popping, packed with
bartenders and other service industry workers just letting loose
and having a good time. As time went by even the coke crowd
came down from the RV when they got hungry. We all went
over to a place called The Coral Grill. This restaurant was a two
story all you can eat seafood buffet that hands down was the
best seafood buffet I have ever had. This buffet wasn’t just the
normal shit you would see on an all-you-can-eat bar. This had
Alaskan king crab, Lobster and unfreaking believable shit that
was there for the ravishing. It was the best and freshest seafood
buffet in the history of my life.

Over dinner, Peter and I discussed all of our plans that we
had for teaming up together with a phone room while everyone
else was in their own conversations as to leave the business talk
to the adults. We made agreements about how we would split
the profits after all the expenses were paid and talked about how
I was going to use my new method with The T. O. and just have
the crew get the caller close and that I would reel the sale in for
the close. We agreed to all the power points we both wanted to
make clear.

The next morning we woke up and headed toward Key
West. With all the details of the work stuff worked out, I finally
let loose and started to work on a professional buzz. By the time
we finally got to Key West all I remember was that we walked
out of the RV completely wasted, Pete pointed and said that was
Duval Street and that was the last thing I remember about the
whole trip. I have no memory of what we did in Key West and I
slept all the way home. When we got to my apartment in
Hollywood, they woke me up. Pete walked me to my door and
said that he would see me Monday morning at work. He shook
my hand and said we are going to rule the world, you and me. I
went into my apartment and collapsed again into a deep sleep.

10

Walking into the first day at work with my new company
called Midas Unlimited Industries was a bit odd for me. The
name of the company was not odd to me, because I understood
that these lock pick companies were purposely named similar to
well-known companies to trick people. It was not a coincidence
that C. C. Delco sounded a whole lot like A.C. Delco, a well-
known company. Midas Unlimited Industries sounded like
Midas Muffler and that similarity was planned as we targeted
the automotive industry.

What was odd and what I did not realize was that this was
more of a family business than I understood it to be. I knew
Pete had the backing of his mother, but I did not know that she
actually worked out of the office and came to the phone room
each and every day. Seeing his mother sitting behind her desk
and even his fianc‚ working there made me realize that I was
not actually going to be the equal partner we talked about down
in the Keys.

Right away I felt a little hoodwinked and realized I was
stepping into a hornet’s nest full of family and personalities.
Immediately I could tell Pete’s mom did not like me nor did she
want me there. However, as I looked around the room I saw
many old faces from C. C. Delco that I used to work with, that
Peter was able to steal away. Some of the best talent, in fact,
that existed over at our old stomping grounds was now here
working for Pete.

Now, this fact did not mesh with the concept of Pete saying
his crew sucked and that he was not getting rich. I knew this
sales force to be formidable. Two of my favorite sales people
were here. One was Alexis Jalo aka Alex who was this Haitian
guy whose family was high up in the government and had to
flee Haiti after the revolution. Alex was a black dude that was
whiter than most white people I knew. He came from a good
and educated family. He wore suits every day of his life. His
family lived in an upscale part of Broward County called
Pembroke Lakes and his family only drove Mercedes Benz.
Alex was someone I considered a friend. I had been to his home
many times. I had met and dined with his family on several
occasions and the fact that Pete told me nothing special was
going on as far as sales numbers could never be true if Alex was
in the building.

Another person that was there working on the phones was a
gypsy by the name of Sherry. What nationality she was I had no
clue. I’d guess maybe Pakistani or something like that; but she
was not living the life of wherever she came from because
Sherry was a lesbian and had a girlfriend and truly lived a gypsy
lifestyle. The gal smoked more weed than any Jamaican I knew
and she never stayed in one place long enough to call it a home.
I just loved this woman. She was probably one of the ugliest
women one could think of physically, but her personality to me
was so attractive. She was a big girl and she and I hit it off right
away. She was a smart ass with a black belt and as far as her
sales ability, I’d put her up against most men I knew.

Just with those two sales people alone I could build a phone
room, so I had no idea what Pete was talking about. We walked
through the business and made our introductions to everyone.
Peter announced to the staff that I was the new partner in the
business and was here to help with sales. After that part was
over, I asked Peter where my office was. He explained to me
that I did not have my own office. Now this was a huge red flag,
because even a phone room manger has a private office let
alone an owner.

Peter explained to me that he wanted to put my desk right
in the middle of the sales room to be circled by everyone else’s
desk so I could run the room hands on and be in the weeds with
everything. Now, Peter knew that I knew that a central station
like that was fine when I was doing that part of my job but that I
needed a freaking office for other parts of my job which
required conversations outside the earshot of the sales force,
and on and on. I needed a fucking office, for sure. I was not
getting a good vibe about any of this.

As the morning progressed, I went to talk to Pete in his
office. I asked when we were going down to the bank, when
were we going to see the accountants to put me on half of all the
articles of incorporation and when were we going to get me on
as a signer at the bank with our corporate account. Peter just
looked down towards the floor and didn’t say anything. I looked
at him and asked again. Peter then asked if we could go for
brunch and we could talk about these things outside of the
office.

We both walked back into the room and Peter told his
mother we were stepping out for a bit and if she needed him to
give him a call. Cell phones were just starting out in this age. I
don’t know if you have ever seen a cell phone from the 1980’s,
but it was a huge gadget, it was heavy and it had an antenna. I
look back at those early phones and it really highlights how that
was truly a different time and place. Well, he grabbed his phone
and we were out the door.

Peter drove muscle cars that were built to run a quarter
mile. They were loud and none of his cars ever went over 60 or
70 miles an hour without blowing up the whole engine. Those
cars were geared for racing the quarter mile, period. He drove
them around as his every day cars and this day we stepped into
a new Z-28 and we took off out of the parking lot.

His office was in Hollywood off Taft Street and we drove
to a brick oven pizzeria in Pembroke Pines. The establishment
had a real brick oven and only made 9-inch pizza pies. They just
opened and I guess this was one of Pete’s places because
everyone knew who he was and it seemed he had his own table.
We ordered a couple of 9″ pies and some beers and Pete began
to explain to me the true nature of this phone room.

He explained to me that his mother controlled all of the
papers and all of the accounts. I could not believe my ears. He
told me all this in a tone that was blanketed in inner shame. I
asked him how this could be and why on Earth does his own
mother not trust him. Peter spent a considerable amount of time
explaining to me that he has a weakness. That some people
blow their money on gambling or drugs but that his vice was
muscle cars. He laid it out for me that he had no self-control
with money and that his mother knew it and was protecting him
from himself. He explained to me that I would not be put on any
of the books, but that I would in fact get half the profits and if I
turned things around his mother would come around and warm
up to me.

I can only imagine what my face must have looked like as I
was picking my jaw off the ground. The whole thing was so
surreal to me. I just took it all in and I told Peter that I was not
going to return to the office that day, that I was going to go
home, think about all this and I would be there in the morning
to tell him my decision whether I was going to stay or not. He
drove me back to the office parking lot and I got in my car and
drove away.

That evening I drove out to see the sales guy I knew that
was working for Peter named Alex. Alex lived in Pembroke
Lakes as I said before and I figured he’d be home. I knocked on
his door and as soon as he saw me he knew what I was there
for. We went into this little room attached to the house that he
lived in. I looked at him and told him to spill it. I wanted to
know what the hell was going on with Peter and this phone
room. Alex explained to me that Peter liked the idea of being an
owner without actually doing anything an owner is responsible
to do. He explained that he comes in for an hour or so and then
takes off to work on his cars that his mother has no idea about
anything to do with telemarketing and that Peter never hired a
sales manager to run the place. On top of that, no one was
investing money into the most important part of the business,
which was the purchasing of quality leads to call. Peter had the
entire room cold calling phone numbers straight out of the
phone book.

You see, most phone rooms had every phone book
published from the entire country coast to coast. This is done
for more of a backup if you are between a lead purchase.
However, Peter was using the phone books as his only source of
leads and there is no way you can run a phone room like that. I
sat there just listening to one inept Peter story after the other
come out of Alex’s mouth. He sat there rolling up joints and we
smoked out for an hour sitting in his part of the house going
over everything.

Once I got all the information I needed, I headed towards
my car. Alex walked me out and before I got behind the wheel,
he asked me what I was going to do. I just shook my head,
shrugged my shoulders and said nothing. As I pulled out of his
driveway, I realized I wanted to make one more inquiry. I
wanted to talk to the gypsy, Sherry, but I wasn’t sure if she still
lived at the last apartment place I knew her to be at.

I drove across town and went to the last known location of
Sherry in my head and sure enough I saw her car outside. She
was still living here and I pondered whether or not this was a
personal record of hers staying in one place for more than a few
months. I knocked on the door and there she was standing there
in that long dress she always wore, that was down to her ankles.
Her face ugly was smiling back at me like it always did. Sherry
had strange looking teeth that looked like they were involved in
some industrial accident gone wrong.

She let me in and we sat on her couch and talked about
Peter and the phone room. Everything she told me was just what
Alex was saying and I now understood that the whole scenario
was a mess. I thanked her and went to leave and she held me
down on the couch pulling at my pants to perform oral on me.
Sherry was ugly as the day is long, but I would always let her
do that. She lived as a lesbian, but it was only her partner that
was hardcore. Sherry needed a man from time to time. She once
even had a husband and a couple of kids that no doubt went
back to the mother country as soon as she declared her affinity
for cunnilingus instead of being a mother or a wife. Who was I
to judge? My only worry was that she did not harm me with
those teeth or that someone I knew might find out that I messed
around with this broad. I dropped my pants to my ankles sitting
on her couch. I closed my eyes and leaned my head back. Low
and behold, with my eyes closed, it was now Linda Carter in her
Wonder Woman outfit preforming fellatio on me. My
imagination knew no bounds.

After I finished and she did her duty like all good gypsies
do, I headed out to go home. Just like Alex, she walked me out
to my car and asked what I was going to do in the morning. I
gave the same gestures to her as I gave Alex. I shrugged my
shoulders and head and drove away. I truly had no answer for
that question yet.

The next morning, while in the shower, I decided that I was
going to turn down this offer to work with Pete. There was too
much uncertainty going on and I was going to go in and thank
the family, but decline the offer.

I drove to the office that morning and went in. As soon as I
walked in the door I was greeted by Peter’s mom standing there
holding cash. I held the cash in my hand; it was thirty-five
hundred dollars. She looked at me and said, “People tell me you
know what you are doing and my son needs help. Here is an
advance against your first profits.” She said it would be about a
thirty-day turn around to get my first dollars in my pocket and
this cash was in good faith to hold me over. People were
coming in to work for the morning and I felt someone grab my
ass in the line of people filing in to work for the day. I looked
up and saw Sherry was in the line passing by. Somewhere
between my ass being grabbed and being handed this money, I
completely changed my mind and decided to accept the job.
Funny how it was the ladies around Peter that closed the deal
with me and not Pete himself.

I looked at his mother, thanked her, and asked her where
the coffee machine was. It was time to right this ship! It was
time to turn this phone room around. This was a personal
challenge within me to see if I could do this. Come hell or high
water I was going to make this place a phone room to be
reckoned with.

11

Months had passed by now and I did everything I put my
mind to. I got this phone room turned around and was making
some serious money. My pure numbers were enough to keep
Pete’s mother off my back and somewhat in my pocket. Peter
had more money now to spend on his silly cars and I was a
young man now making six thousand dollars a week. My life
was flying high and the world in front of me seemed limitless
and vast. Everything I touched turned into gold and I was
known to be a serious earner in the industry whose talents were
sought after.

It is hard to understate how many doors open up to a person
when you are making serious money. Just by fortuitousness,
one rubs shoulders with other people with money in other
industries. One of the top money making industries in South
Florida was selling drugs. There was major money in moving
cocaine at the time. South Florida in the 80’s was becoming a
hub point from South America that turned all of the tri-county
area into a Florida Snow Blizzard. It was everywhere and so
was the money, crime and power associated with it.

Coming to age in the late 80’s in South Florida shaped
what kind of a person I was to be. Things were just plain
different for us. There have been many books, movies and
documentaries about the subject. There are now t-shirts that you
can buy that say “I Survived South Florida in the 80’s” and this
truly became a mantra many years later.

Those of us who survived it lost many friends back then to
drug addiction, prison or death. If you grew up when and where
I did, chances are you landed up in one of those categories. My
head spins to this day just thinking about all of it. I mean I grew
up different from most people my age. My heroes were not
sport figures, politicians or priests. I did not collect baseball
cards and comic books. I looked up to the greatest criminals of
my time. My heroes were serious crooks who were not
conformists, but rebels with a cause.

I wanted to be Pablo Escobar, Carlos Lehder or John Gotti.
I looked up to and respected Michael Milken, Ivan Bosky and
The Savings and Loans people. My entire moral structure was
bent and twisted. I’d rather be the junk bond king or the king of
cocaine than be some schmuck who punched a time clock for
some corporation. I looked up to up to these men. They were
the crowd I wanted to be like.

During the time of my rise in crime, I was constantly being
offered to get into selling cocaine. I was endlessly being asked
to finance all sorts of levels of some drug operation. For me I
was a telemarketing guy. I was a white-collar criminal and I had
no desire to get into any other thing the mob was into or
anything the cartels were into. Already I knew I never wanted to
stand in front of a Florida Judge facing serious drug charges.
People were being sent away with these huge sentences when
they were caught and there was no way to talk yourself out of a
situation where the cops find you with a twin-engine plane full
of cocaine. If you were caught, you were going away and I
mean for a long time.

My partner Peter’s friend was a Cuban dissident that was
into moving powder around and I could tell Pete was tempted
by this world. There were parts of Peter’s personality he did not
share with the women in his life. One day he took me on a yacht
to meet a guy who wanted to go into business with us. The guy
was some Colombian dude who had his one lane for bringing in
some powder just one boat at a time. I counseled Peter on
staying away from this business. He just wanted me to meet
him and then after I heard him out, we could decide.

One night Peter gets in my car and tells me to drive to this
boat dock in Ft Lauderdale. When we get there, it was evening
time and the sun was just going down. The different colors of
the sky reflected on all the boats sitting in this marina. It was
hot and the smell of the ocean was omnipresent in the air. We
parked my car and started to walk down this wooden dock
towards the yacht owned by the Colombian.

The guy was on the deck of his boat and we welcomed us
aboard. We went inside and sat down and he made us some
drinks. Peter did all the talking and I just sat there listening to
them. I had no intention on agreeing to anything at all and was
just there to placate Peter until I could talk some sense into him.

This person started opening all his cabinets on the boat and
they were all filled with kilos of cocaine. I never saw so much
cocaine up close in my life. It was breath taking and I was
blown away that the guy wasn’t making any attempt to hide any
of it. All you had to do was open his wooden cabinets and
behold, cocaine was everywhere. It was there that night that I
learned that cocaine was pink, not white. I had no idea. Before
the coke is sold, they cut it and it is the cut that makes the
powder white. Somewhere in the process of the production of
cocaine, there is a stage where it is pink. This blew me away
because I never knew this.

The South Florida Education I was getting was priceless if I
wanted to be a drug dealer and I did not. No amount of potential
money was ever going to get me to go down this road. I enjoyed
a little coke to party like the next guy, but I was mostly a
pothead and a drinker. Still, it did not mean I wanted to sell pot
or booze for a living. I had to just walk through this with Pete
and hope I could get his head right later.

The Colombian on the boat pulled out a kilo of cocaine
right in front of us and cut it open with a knife. The pink rock-
like substance just poured out of the wrap. He told us to try it
but to do very little because it was not stepped on yet. Peter
being a complete maniac ignored the warning and chopped up
two regular size lines. He rolled up a hundred dollar bill and
sorted it up both nostrils. I followed him doing the same thing.

Now the next words I am about to convey to you, the
reader, is so understated, because there are no words in my
lexicon that can properly describe this. “I got high!” I got real
freaking high! I did this line and the feeling that overcame me
was like no other feeling I had ever had before or to this day
with any drug. I was so fucking high. I just do not know how to
make you as the reader apperceive the extent of my “highdom.”
It was out of this world. I was dancing on the head of a pin and
at the same time feeling so happy to be alive and simultaneously
looking death in the face. I was so high that I needed to get off
the boat. I looked at Peter and said I am flying man, I have to
take a walk. Peter stayed behind to talk further with this guy and
I made my way back to my car.

I leaned up against my Audi and just stared into the sky
looking at the stars. All the lights were reflecting off the boats
and you could see the skyline of the high-rises of Fort
Lauderdale. I leaned up against the car and was just rushing my
balls off. I could barely even stand, so I went into the car and
sat down behind the wheel. The rush just kept coming. My heart
was racing faster and faster. I thought my heart might pop right
there. Peter finally came back and I took off driving down the
road.

Suddenly in the middle of the road and not at a stop light or
anything I just stopped the car. I looked at Pete and said you
drive. I got out of the car and we switched seats. If a cop had
seen this scene, we would have been pulled over for sure. Peter
took over the driving responsibilities and drove us back to my
place. I told him to take my car and pick me up later that
weekend so we could talk about all this. I went into my
apartment, laid on my bed, and stared at the ceiling for what
seemed like two days without moving. I had never been so
freaking high as I was back then. I will never ever forget that
experience. It was a mixture of utopia and abject fear of dying
all at the same time. All I can say is if you are ever offered
cocaine that is pink, be very careful!

That weekend Peter came back with my car and we drove
to an ice cream parlor. In South Florida, Carvel Ice Cream was
king. They ran these goofy commercials selling an ice cream
cake shaped like a whale. It was called Fudgie the Whale and
every stoner who smoked weed in South Florida had an intimate
relationship with this whale. To hell with Melville’s Moby Dick
we had Carvel’s Fudgie the Whale!

On the car ride to Carvel I spent the whole trip explaining
to Peter why on Earth we did not need to get into selling drugs
and I circled his thinking back to white-collar crime. I explained
the difference in the prison sentence and highlighted the fact
that no one gets a life sentence for phone sales. To make my
point while we were at the ice cream shop I was telling Peter
that there was way more for us to do on the phones besides lock
picks. I explained that we could sell anything over the phone
and could make plenty of money. To illustrate my point, on the
counter at the ice cream parlor was a box with discount coupons
for a cruise to The Bahamas. I told Peter that I would prove this
to him. I grabbed the whole booklet of coupons without the kid
behind the counter seeing it and I put it in my pocket.

We paid for a couple of treats and walked out the door. I
told Pete I wanted to show him something. I drove us back to
our phone room that was closed for the weekend and we went
inside. I sat down, finished my Carvel, and then picked up a
random phone book from Maryland. I opened the white page
section where people’s residential phone numbers were and
starting dialing the numbers.

I congratulated everyone who answered for winning a free
cruise for two to the Bahamas. I told them all they would have
to do is make their way down to Florida and get on the boat. I
also told them that the cruise was totally free and all they had to
do was pay a reservation fee of one hundred dollars to hold the
cruise and that when they showed up to claim the trip they
would be refunded the one hundred dollars. I explained to them
that UPS was going to knock on their door to give them the
paperwork and collect the money. I let the winner know that he
could only pay in cash or a money order to reserve the trip; we
did not take personal checks.

Peter just sat there completely stunned as one after the
other fell for it. He was so excited that he got on the phone and
started calling with me. We spent the afternoon in the office
calling people in Maryland giving away this trip. Now
understand when UPS got there, all that was in the package was
this coupon for a Bahamas Cruise, nothing more. It was not a
free trip. It was just a coupon that they just paid one hundred
dollars for. We dialed all day and by the evening we had raised
six thousand dollars. I explained to Peter that we just raised in
one afternoon what I made all week selling picks. I told him we
could do this at night after everyone leaves and that his mother
did not have to be involved. I told him we would create
corporations in our name and we would control the books and
his mother would have nothing to do with it.

All of this worked. Peter had no more thoughts about
becoming drug dealers and was all excited about having his
own money to work on his cars. He was like a kid in a candy
store. I never knew him to be happier than those days. All I
cared about was just getting his mind off drug dealing.

Right away, that Monday, I started to incorporate our first
companies and I set everything up to be able to start shipping
these coupons out through UPS. I knew from jump street we
need the money to go to a different location. I did not want
people knocking at the door and Pete’s mom being asked about
vacations to the islands and coupons and such. Lucky I knew
just where to go.

Back then in the 1980’s in South Florida we had some
dotheads that opened up mailbox and check cashing places.
They would ship things from their storefront and receive
shipments as well. It was also a check-cashing store and these
dudes would cash any check for the public with no ID at all!
They would cash any company check we would give them too.
They did laminated picture IDs and all sorts of stuff. These
crazy fucks would not care what we were doing as a business as
long as we gave them some money for mailbox rentals and they
got a percentage of the checks that they called a check-cashing
fee. They would allow us to use an address instead of saying it
was a box number like a P.O. Box at the post office. They
would let us call it a “suite” and it looked like it was a real
address. We would give the address of the check-cashing store
and just put Suite such and such on it and the whole thing
looked like it was a physical address of a company we made up.
It was a beautiful business.

The whole thing was a giant laundry mat for cashing
checks and presenting to the public an address for fake
companies. If you were some schmuck in Washington State and
you would be asked to mail a check to 666 South 44th Ln. Suite
5, Fort Lauderdale, FL, it all looked like it was on the up and
up. We got an address and a place to cash the checks all in one
greedy little spot brought to you by our loving neighborhood
dotheads. This was before there was a chain called Mail Boxes
Etc., which then was bought out and became The UPS Store
today. This was a hell of a racket and later on in life, it is this
kind of business that brought down John Gotti Jr. in his heyday,
after he took over for his pop doing life in a supermax prison in
Illinois.

I put this whole thing together and Peter was pleased. We
did this for a long-time and banked more money than you could
ever believe. After time, Carvel Ice Cream and the company
that was putting out these coupons were going nuts trying to
figure out what why the fuck all of these people were
demanding a free cruise to The Bahamas. The heat that came
down over this was prodigious. I just sat back at my desk with a
smile on my face, watching the whole thing go down. Here I
was rocking the world of the biggest ice cream parlor chain and
they had no freaking idea what was hitting them. I cannot tell
you how many deep belly laughs I got out of this whole thing.

I ran it for long enough and I knew when the heat was
getting hot and I would bounce and use another coupon for
another trip. Maybe I had free plane tickets to Hawaii or
something and rattled the airlines. I was unstoppable and there
simply was no federal effort to even catch a guy like me. I was a
ghost. They never even knew I existed. It really was a different
time and place. It really was the last generation of freedom.

12
South Florida during The Ronald Reagan years in the
1980’s was a great time for business people. Business owners
big and small were doing well, were flush with cash and flush
with opportunity. The country was feeling good as a whole after
the downward spiral of the Jimmy Carter years.

Over time, we have heard bad things said about the Reagan
years. Whether the criticism was from the gay community or
others who did not avail themselves to the wonders of supply
side economics, in life, there will always be winners and losers.
Luckily, the winners write history and I am here to say the
1980’s were a fantastic decade to be alive in America and in
particularly South Florida.

Peter and I were trucking along with our business ventures
and life was starting to become a bit more complicated in
several ways for me. One of the problems I was now facing was
that Peter’s soon to be wife was now blatantly trying to get me
to have sex with her. She would complain to me that Peter
would never have time for her, but always had time for his cars.
She was adeptly and outwardly making no bones about it; she
wanted me. Now in any other situation I would have jumped on
the opportunity. Stella was extremely hot and I was very
attracted to her.

However, there was no way in hell I was going to screw up
the money I was making with Peter over any piece of ass no
matter how badly I wanted it. On top of that, I did live by a
buddy’s code and would never do a thing like that to a friend of
mine. My business interests were way too valuable to me to
even consider this offer. Now I would have to dance between
the raindrops, avoid her as much as possible, and really try not
to get in a situation where I was alone with her anywhere.

In addition, at the same time, we were starting to get more
and more heat from people who were very pissed off about their
misunderstanding of the difference between lock picks and what
they thought were keys. All across the country different
authority figures and agencies were making more and more of
an effort to get to the bottom of the phantom master keys.

We had this state’s attorney down in Dade County named
Janet Reno that kept winning elections over and over again to
hold on to that office. She was making all sorts of waves with
telemarketing companies and child abuse cases. Janet’s parents
were investigative reporters and they put that nosey gene in
their daughter who never knew how to mind her own business.

In South Florida, Janet had a reputation of torturing people
into false confessions by keeping them in suicide cells, blasting
them with cold showers and showing up in the middle of the
night to get these coerced confessions. The woman was making
many enemies down there. In addition, there were all sorts of
agencies that were starting to police white-collar crime. A tri-
county economic crime unit was created to go after guys like us
in Palm Beach, Broward and Dade counties. In the tri-county
unit was a cop named Sergeant Maloney who was a very
capable cop who lived to hunt guys like us down. Little by little,
the heat around us was starting to get hotter.

I had a sit-down with Peter and started to explain to him the
realties that were now surrounding our business. Peter seemed
disinterested and told me he knew I would take care of any
problems. After that sit-down, I started for the very first time, to
think about a life in business away from Peter. It seemed to me I
was doing all the work and Peter was bringing less and less to
the table.

During this period, I got wind that there might be some
action taken against our business about the lock picks in the
local courts. I had my attorney, Gary, who was a Jewish lawyer
with an office in an upscale high-rise on the intercoastal
waterways, look into this rumor. In South Florida, there were no
better people to have in your pocket than a Jewish lawyer and a
Jewish accountant

My lawyer, Gary, got back with me and said that the rumor
was in fact true and that there were the beginnings of an effort
to look into what we were doing. He wanted to have a sit-down
with a judge he was friendly with in chambers and preempt any
action that could come our way. Gary called me into his office
and told me that he was going to tell the judge that our product
was in fact a key. I went through the roof! I told Gary that was
the problem; that we were not saying they were keys and that
we were only claiming that they work on the same premise as a
key. Gary just looked at me and told me to trust him. He said
they are fucking keys. Now, knowing all the tens of thousands
of dollars this lawyer prick had of mine on retainer, I just had to
take a leap of faith that he knew what the hell he was doing. I
knew how to run a phone room, so I guess this prick knew how
to be a lawyer; at least that is what I convinced myself of.

The day came for Gary to make his argument about keys
and lock picks. He told the judge that he wanted all of this talk
about grand juries and about keys and lock picks to come to an
end. He said that his client was selling keys. Gary picked up
The Webster’s Dictionary and read the definition of a key. It
said “Any device that unlocks a lock” was a key. Then Gary
opened his briefcase and pulled out a flat card that was used to
open a hotel room door and he threw it on the table and said this
is a key. Next, he pulled out some weird looking round gadget
that unlocked soda machines and said this is a key. Lastly, he
threw our lock pick set on the table and said this is a key. I was
so blown away and speechless at the time. I just could not
believe how smart this lawyer was and I was instantly thinking
in my head, how on Earth could I have ever doubted this Jew.
Before I could even clear my head, the judge dismissed any
notion that there was anything criminal about what we were
doing and we were off on our way.

Driving away from this victory, I couldn’t help but notice
how the law is very similar to our world. It seemed to me
everything was just a play on words. All of life was a
semantical dance of language on the world’s stage. Everything
was about how one worded something. You can master the
English language in such a way that it can be used as a weapon.
You can speak English at such a high level that no one
understands what you are saying. I could thunder down my
grandiloquent omniscience and make it arduous for people to
apperceive the axiomatic reality of my lexicon. I could tango
between words and meanings and carve out a living. Watching
my lawyer work, I knew that there was not much difference
between our worlds. Yet his world was legal and mine was not.
What I did understand was I had a skill just as sharp as his and I
was going to use it like a sword to cut out a living for my Irish
ass.

I knew it was time to sit Peter down and tell him that this
key thing was too hot and that we were going to need to shut it
down and move onto something different. I knew that this
semantically arrived victory would be short lived and another
judge might have a completely different opinion on our so-
called keys. Making Peter understand this, however, was going
to be a lot harder than convincing Gary’s judge of our validity.

I asked Peter to meet me a Mayday’s Bar and Restaurant
which was located in Miramar in a little private airport called
North Perry’s Airport. This very cool bar was located on the
grounds of the airport and in a building shaped like a traffic
control tower. You could sit in the booths, put headsets on, and
listen live to the actual control tower of the airport. I grew up
outside this airport and it was famous for having multiple twin-
engine Cessnas flown by private pilots, fall out of the sky and
into people’s homes in Miramar.

Many times growing up, the neighborhood would see that
dark billowing smoke and all rush to whoever’s house was on
fire with a plane sticking out of it. This happened so much that
it became commonplace to gather at these scenes like it was a
local bonfire. One pilot even took out our bicycle shop called
The Bike Rack and seriously pissed off every kid in town.

I wanted to meet Peter at this place because I needed to get
a buzz on and I wanted a place that was loud as not to hear our
conversation. I knew Peter was not going to be happy and that it
was going to take some jawboning to make him face the truth of
our situation. Pete showed up, sat at the table I chose and said
that he loved this place, put the headset on, and started listening
to the control tower talk to the pilots. He ordered a drink and
some finger foods and asked me how things went with the
lawyer. He removed the headset as I took considerable time
explaining to him the day’s events and launched into my
reasons why we needed to move on from selling lock picks.

After a long diatribe from me, Peter finished his food and
listened to every word. He ordered another drink and looked at
me with this look that I only saw once before and that was when
he explained to me the extent of his mother’s involvement with
the business and how nothing was in his name. That same face
was now staring back at me with its halo of shame and glowing
aura of discontent. Peter explained to me that it would not be
that easy to just walk away.

He said that he had an arrangement with a certain group of
Italians in New Jersey that we bought the lock picks from; that
this group was very powerful and made a lot of money off us.
He explained that under no certain terms would this crowd be
happy with us ending this arrangement or cutting into the
money they were making from it. He said it wasn’t like we
worked for them, but it was like we worked for them. He said
that we would actually need permission to end this arrangement
and that there was no way he was going to approach these guys
with this news. He told me things could go terrible for our
personal health and that these guys liked the money stream they
have grown accustomed to.

I sat there completely shocked. I had no idea the guys I was
dealing with over the phone were these kind of guys. I spoke to
them a lot over the phone each week about product, but I had no
idea that we were in this spider web. Peter explained he would
rather roll the dice with the law than aggravate this group. I
could not believe my ears.

We finished up at the bar and drove around to another end
of the airport where there were these bleachers and benches we
could sit at and watch people play paddleball and tennis under
the bright lights. I needed fresh air and sitting there staring up at
the night sky, I decided that neither one of these scenarios Peter
had handed me was to my liking. I asked Peter whether or not
he could set up a meeting with this group so I could explain to
them the heat that was coming our way and make an argument
on behalf of getting out of these lock picks. Peter told me yes he
would set it up and warned me not to anger them too much in
this meeting. Peter knew there was heat closing in on us. He
knew I was running things well and he liked his life, but he also
knew that in his gut, I had a point. Whatever fucking
arrangement Peter’s family had with these guineas up in Jersey
had to come to an end because I was not going down for any of
it. I just needed to figure out a way to keep these grease balls
happy and at the same time make this change.

13
Thirty five thousand feet in the air, I am still formulating
my plan in my head about how I am going to handle this group
in New Jersey. The only way out that I can see is that I need to
replace this revenue stream they are hooked on with another
one. That means whatever I sell next, these guys are going to
have to get a small piece of it. How I landed giving away my
hard-earned sweat and tears to some unknown to me, nefarious
group of gangsters in Jersey is a subject that angered me beyond
words. Peter was always pulling rabbits out of his ass and they
always stank. While on the plane headed towards Newark
Airport, I had my pitch in my head and I was going over and
over again what I was going to say. Meanwhile, I was also
always hearing Peter’s warning about not angering these guys in
person.

As we approached the runway, I was wondering how on
Earth I was going to find some unknown Italian who was
supposed to pick me up at the airport. Finally, we landed and I
was off the plane. As soon as I walked out into the terminal I
saw this guy holding a sign that said “Walker” and I walked up
to him. I said, “I am Walker” and he shook my hand and
gestured me to follow him.

All I had on me was my briefcase with a change of clothes
in it, so we walked straight to his car. We walked up to this
huge Cadillac Fleetwood and I went to get in the passenger side
of the car when he gestured for me to sit in the back. We drove
away and I asked him where we were going. All Peter told me
was they would pick me up and take me to The Jersey Shore
somewhere around Seaside Heights and that I was to talk to a
guy name Mario. The guy driving the car just starting speaking
Italian and I had no idea what he was saying. I told him that I
was a Mick and did not speak his language. He couldn’t
understand a word I was saying or at least he acted like he
couldn’t. The trip to the shore was long and quiet. Just when I
thought we would never get there, we pulled up to a warehouse
in an industrial section and got out of the car. I remember
feeling very nervous not knowing how this was going to go.

I walked inside this warehouse and the man brought me
into a big open room where a bunch of guys were sitting around
eating and playing cards. The smell of garlic permeated the air.
I introduced myself and asked to speak to Mario. This big fat
guy walked up to me and said, “You are the one having
problems with the keys.” He looked at me, said there are no
more problems with the keys, and tossed me a set of keys that I
caught in the air. I looked down in my hand and there were the
lock picks that we were selling, but now they were shaped like
keys and all on a key ring.

I must have looked completely shocked because they all
started to laugh and the guy patted me on the back and pointed
to the guy that picked me up and said he will now take you back
to the airport. He told me these keys would cost us fifteen
dollars a set now. I was speechless and did not say a word. This
was fucking brilliant! I could not believe they actually made
these damn picks look like keys on a key ring. I thought to
myself, “Fuck it; I got keys.” I left to go back to Florida.

When I got back to Florida, I walked into the phone room,
asked everyone to hang up the phone and give me their
attention. I held up the new lock pick set shaped like keys and I
said loud and proud, “We no longer sell The Master Lockout
Set; now we are selling The Master Key Set!”

Some sales guy asked aloud, “We can say they are keys
now?”

I looked at the whole room and smiled. I said, “Not only
are they the keys, now they are The Master Keys that will open
the door, truck, gas cap and even start the car of any car foreign
and domestic up to today with the only exception of the
Mercedes Benz with the laser lock key.”

The phone room exploded in excitement! I will never
forget the frantic sound of everyone dialing the line and trying
to get someone on the phone. For so long they wanted to say
they were keys and now they can. The entire sales force could
see dollar signs in each other’s eye. I told the sales people to
sell this set for three hundred dollars and they were off and
running. Peter just looked at me with the biggest of smiles and
said, “Are you hungry? Let’s go grab a bite to eat.” He grabbed
the keys to his muscle car and as we walked out the door. Even
his dang mother was smiling.
14
As time went by, South Florida really seemed to expand for
me in so many ways. The money I was making created
opportunities and opened more doors than I could have ever
imagined. The change in sales tactics and the ability to call the
lock picks “keys” really increased our revenue stream beyond
anything I could have ever believed. We built this thing up to
thirty and forty thousand dollars a week in revenue. It was clear,
the vast majority of business owners in the automotive industry
wanted the Master Keys to open and start all the cars. I never
understood why on Earth the people whose life it is to work on
cars, could ever be convinced that there were ten keys that
could open up and start all the cars of the world. How in God’s
name could these professionals believe such a thing?

However, that is exactly what they did and they did it in
record-breaking numbers. By calling them keys, word got out
that we were crushing our old company C. C. Delco. They were
really being hurt by our deceptive sales tactics because
everyone they called now wanted the keys, and C. C. Delco
would never cross that line into blatant, in your face fraud. That
company was supposed to be one of their fronts and needed to
be as clean as possible as to hide all the alleged gambling and
book making or the other real gangster stuff that was going on
there.

It might have been around this time that I heard through the
grape vine that my mentor, Webster, had passed away from
cancer. I could not believe Webster was dead and the thought of
him watching me destroy his company in his last days did not
go unnoticed to my conscience. It did make me understand why
he did not take me out by whacking me, when he was dealing
with bigger problems like his own impending death. Maybe he
just secretly loved me and was proud how I made it. I will never
know. As bad as all that made me feel, in the end, the money I
was making was more powerful for me.

I was now a young big shot making tons of money in South
Florida. I was too green at the time to even consider saving any
of it; I just lived such an insanely expensive lifestyle. I did
whatever I wanted to do and bought whatever I wanted to buy.

Through my new life, I stumbled across an esoteric
subculture of people with money, living a swinger’s lifestyle
and an all-goes sexual world that I never knew existed. I was
introduced to their clubs and secret gathering places where
nonstop full-blown orgies happened on a weekly basis. No more
would I ever go to a strip joint and be ripped off. No more
would I ever pay for a prostitute. Now, I had all the sex I
needed from groups of people who treated sex more like a sport
or hobby, rather than a business or a relationship type thing. I
soon learned every single corner of South Florida where I could
meet people and have anonymous sex. I soon learned any
distinction about sexuality was also a fraud perpetrated by
social pressures and the church. I was slowly letting go of any
of the morals that were ever taught to me. I was full-heartedly
embracing a whole new set of rules and a new way to live my
life. In the rearview mirror was the only resemblance of the old
me. I was being reborn and it was a brave new world. It was a
very exciting time.

While everything seemed to be hitting on all cylinders,
darkness was heading my way unbeknownst to me. Without me
realizing, Peter’s mother was slowly not refunding people for
the master keys to take the heat off us and things were going on
at the bank, which I was unaware of. I had no idea the bank got
hip to what we were doing and the fact that his mother was not
writing checks or funding our revolving refund account was
destroying us. This ineptitude brought attention to the higher
ups at the bank and we were kicked out. I had no idea we were
changing banks at the time or that any of this was going on.
Greed took over Peter and his family and classically things
started to go bad.

The final straw on the camel’s back for me was the fact that
I never had sex with Peter’s girlfriend and she got wind of my
new escapades sexually and got real mad. In her mind, she was
so insulted to hear I was having orgies on the weekends and
screwing God knows who, but I would never touch her. On top
of all that, I was going with a girl that was working for us and a
friend of the family. Marlene was her name. This was a girl who
just got out of a bad relationship and just received a quarter
million dollars in cash due to a family death. Stella hated that I
was going with Marlene and that I liked her. She convinced
Marlene and Peter’s family I was trying to steal Marlene’s
inheritance. The entire situation became a cluster fuck of
problems all over pussy. I liked Marlene a lot, but none of that
mattered, Stella was going to play this whole thing out. Stella
did this to me, because I would not sleep with her and nothing
will change that fact. This was a terrible situation to be in. This
one thing changed the course of my life forever.

One morning I came to work like any other morning. I got
out of my jeep that I was now driving and walked into the office
with my briefcase. Standing there to meet me was Peter’s mom,
Peter’s fianc‚e Stella, and Marlene who worked for me and
dated me. They stopped me right there and Peter’s mom
announced to me that they all knew that I was trying to get
Peter’s soon to be wife, in bed and that Peter was on the way to
take care of me. I stood there complexly shocked and looked
Stella in the eyes and saw she was acting out some plot in front
of everyone.

The women were now screaming at me at the top of their
lungs and one screamed here he is! I looked at the window and
saw a car barreling down in the parking lot at full speed. I step
out of the door of the office and started to walk towards my
jeep. I saw that in the car were two mean looking Cuban dudes
who I had never seen before. I did not see Peter in the car. I
instantly realized that I was not going to make it to my jeep in
time and started to run across the parking lot. Their car came to
a screaming halt and they chased me on foot. We were no
longer on Taft Street where the office was when I started to hear
what sounded like gunshots!

I couldn’t believe what was happening. In broad fucking
daylight, they were chasing me and I didn’t even know who
they were. I ran between the buildings and popped out on the
adjacent road where there was the convenient store called 7/11
and there was this little old lady just getting into her car. I
grabbed the keys out of her hand and threw her to the ground. I
took off out of the 7/11 parking lot and in the rearview mirror;
the Cubans came around the building and watched me drive
away.

I made a left turn on Taft Street and gunned it. I floored the
gas petal and headed toward The Hollywood Fashion Mall. I
needed to ditch this car I just took and get away from all of this.
I left the car in the huge parking lot of the mall and went in. I
started to walk around the mall and blend into the crowd. I
needed time to clear my head. As time went by, I realized that
those Cubans could be the guys Pete’s friend was rumored to
use for hits because there is no record or fingerprints on file in
this country of these kinds of guys. I started to understand the
real gravity of my dilemma and knew there was no going back
to my apartment or anywhere they knew about. I needed to get
out of town and fast. The fucking cunt Stella really did me in. I
should have just fucked the bitch!

I got to a payphone in the mall. Yes, there was a time and
place where we had public phones that took coins so we could
call one and another. Somehow, through it all, I never let go of
my briefcase. I opened it up and realized immediately that I left
my wallet in my jeep and that all I had was some coins in the
pocket of my briefcase. I needed to call someone outside of our
world to get a ride out of here. I called my little brother who
was barely a teenager at the time and told him to take a cab and
come and get me at the mall that people were trying to kill me.
He asked me how. I told him to go into our mother’s bedroom
and bust open the coin collector thing on the wall that held
quarters, take all the money, call a cab, and meet me at the back
entrance of the mall. Thank God, the kid did exactly what I
asked him to do. My mother had been collecting quarters in this
thing our whole damn lives and there was hundreds of dollars in
it.

My brother Keith showed up and I got into the cab. I had
the cab driver take us to the American Express building that my
mom worked at in Plantation. I called upstairs and had her come
down to talk to me. I explained to my mom that I was in
trouble, that real bad people were trying to kill me, and that I
needed to leave town right this moment and asked for some
money. I told her I was going to take the next Amtrak out of
town going north. My mother gave me the money, kissed me
goodbye with tears running down her face and Keith and I
drove to the train station. I hugged the kid goodbye, bought a
ticket to Ocala, Florida where my father lived and got on the
train that left within a reasonable period of time. As the train
took off, I was staring out the window feeling so surreal. All I
had on me was the clothes on my back, a beeper and my
briefcase.

As the train picked up speed, my heart rate started to relax
and my mind began to replay the day’s events. I had no idea
what I was going to do; I only knew I just needed to get out of
town and fast. The more north the train went, the safer I felt.
Little did I know, that was the last time I was going to see South
Florida for many years. Of all the things I was leaving behind,
the main heartbreak for me was I was leaving behind a
cardboard box full of all of my writings. My whole life I wrote
short stories and poems and it was all in that box back in my
apartment. There was no way I was going back to that
apartment. They would have been there waiting for sure. My
entire lifetime of creative writing was lost forever. Staring out
the window of the train, I realized life was about to change for
me once again.

15

Once I arrived in Ocala, Florida, I needed to contact my father
who had no idea I was coming or any of the trouble I was in.
During most of my life and after my parents’ divorce, my
relationship with my father was strained, to say the least.

However, almost every year we would take off for the
mountains and go backpacking in the Appalachian Trail. When
my father was eighteen years of age or so and in some drug
program, his doctor told him to take up a healthy hobby to keep
his mind off heroin. He chose backpacking and climbing
mountains. The first time he took me up with him I was only
five years old and he brought me up to The Catskill Mountains
in New York. Later on in life, we mostly climbed Appalachian
Trail from Springer Mountain in Georgia up to Mount Katahdin
in Maine, just segments at a time. To do the whole trail in one
trip is called Through Hiking and it takes six months to do. We
never had the money to take off six months from work and go
hiking. We would go up in the mountains for seven to ten days
at a time and carry all of our food, water and equipment on our
backs. My father had an impressive command of topographical
maps and knew how to follow them and find the water sources
in the mountain ranges. It was a skill that kept the two of us
alive and enabled us to be up there for days on end.

When a man describes his own father one must remember
the bent and bias the child has in explaining his parent. I try to
mostly give you, the reader, a view of him like anyone else
would give because he really was never much of a father and I
knew him like everyone else did. The man was a drug addict.
Plain and simple, the man was a junkie. He first “got his wings”
as he called it at the age of fourteen when he intravenously shot
heroin. That one act at the age of fourteen dictated his whole
existence for the rest of his life. After that day and up to this
day, his only function or purpose has been to get to his next
high. He is either high, planning something to get high or is
coming down off the drugs. My father, sadly, only has those
three states of existence; there simply is no other state of
consciousness for him. I could go on and on about how book
smart he is or how much potential he had, but like Robert De
Niro says in the movie The Bronx Tale, “The saddest thing in
life is wasted talent” and my pop was the poster boy for that
concept.

Arriving in Ocala unexpected was something I had done
before just to hang out or go to the bar with him. His mother,
my grandmother (the evil one) lived there and I would visit her
as well. However, this time was different. I was not showing up
on my own accord in my car but rather arriving on a train with
the sound of bullets flying in the path behind me. I did not have
a plan other than to just hang out in this town that was carved
out of a forest and lay low to gather myself and plan my next
move.

When my father picked me up from the train station, he
took me to a bar we would go to in Ocala called
Hemmingway’s. There at the bar, I brought him up to speed on
my situation and asked to stay with him for a little while. He
told me that would be fine and went off on stories of his own,
where he was in trouble or had guns to his head in the world of
buying drugs. He regaled some story he told me before waking
up in Harlem naked after barely surviving an overdose and
knocking on some black lady’s door for help. He had many
scrapes as a drug addict with criminals and the law and could
keep a person up all night reliving those escapades. Somehow,
my situation seemed to bond us as fuck-ups at the time.

My father worked as an x-ray technician in hospitals. He
was married, at the time, to the head nurse in the hospital in
Ocala. Through his career working in hospitals and marrying a
nurse, he replaced his heroin addiction with an addiction to pain
killers. He rubbed shoulders with people from the medical
community only so he could score “schedule two narcotics” and
get high on the latest pharmaceutical opiates that were raging at
any given period in medicine. His education and schooling and
even his marriage at the time was all planned around getting his
next high. His schooling at The University of Florida and him
marrying a freaking nurse was all just part of his drug addiction.
It was all part of his grand sick plan.

Head nurses at that time had what was called “The
Narcotics Key” and had access to all the best drugs in the
hospital. He planned on bagging one of these head nurses and
getting high. Well he got his head nurse, but she very much
earned that title. According to my father, he married the biggest
whore in all of Ocala. This woman fucked everything that
moved. Almost all the male staff, black and white, and many of
the patients in the hospital had been in her halls of shame. When
my father first got married to her, she confessed to him while in
their bed, that she would work the midnight shift just so she
could go into the patient’s room, get into the bathroom, and take
off her panties. Then she would mount the poor slob lying in the
hospital bed and ride him to completion. My father told her now
that she was married she needed to stop all that. I mean after all,
the only thing he cared about was getting those drugs from her,
damn if he was going to let some whoreishness get in the way
of this potential gold mine of perennial drugs. His wife never
changed any of her behavior and he never did either. Life went
on for those two like that for a while.

His wife came from a family with money. They were locals
in that town for generations and owned many businesses and
many ranches throughout the forest. His wife, of all things,
actually owned a llama ranch and that is where they lived. That
is right; the New York City heroin addict was now living on a
llama ranch on a river, right in the middle of the woods. It was
the strangest of sights. There was my father walking around
stoned all the time with fucking llamas walking around the
property. I cannot tell you how nasty these animals were. The
ranch also sold potbelly pigs, and they were running all over the
place, in and out of the house. His wife would walk around the
ranch outside nude and feed the animals while her relatives on
the ranches that surrounded her would watch her with
binoculars and masturbate to her nakedness among the llamas,
or at least that is what my Pop would tell me. The whole thing
was beyond strange.

On the property were some huge kennels that held at least
fifty dogs of all different breeds. They were mostly Russian
Wolfhounds or some other of the ugliest breeds on Earth. The
Moonlight Llama Ranch, it was called; but it should have been
called Bates Motel or something. It was always strange visiting
him there and I usually would avoid the ranch and stay at my
grandmother’s when I was in town.

This trip I needed a little more than a night or two so I
needed to stay at the ranch. I already knew what too much time
with grandma would be like and I had enough evil that week.
We arrived at the ranch and he explained to his whore wife that
I was going to stay for a few days mentioning nothing of the
scenario that brought me there. The slut nurse was now my
stepmother and the thought of that highlighted how flawed our
blended family theory of Baby Boomers really was. They both
explained to me that they were leaving in the morning for a
llama convention in Oregon and would be gone two weeks.
They were going to drive across the nation pulling a trailer full
of llamas to Oregon. My head was spinning at the time just
trying to wrap my mind around the concept of a llama
convention or the fact that such a travesty even existed. We sat
on the wooden porch while they explained to me that I would
have access to the whole ranch, their pickup truck and running
tab at the gas station, the convenient store and the butcher that
her family owned in town. All they needed from me was to feed
the animals for the two weeks while they were frolicking about
at their utopian llama convention. It sounded easy enough to
me. They showed me where the food was and how to feed the
llamas being left behind, the potbellies and all the dogs.

The next morning I stood on the same porch and watched
my father swallow fifteen Percocet pain pills and wash them
down with a cup of coffee with vodka in it. He hooked up the
trailer, his wife jumped in their jeep that was pulling the llamas
and they drove off down the dirt driveway towards the dirt road
that eventually ended up on a paved road where society lived.

I was now all alone standing in the middle of the woods
slap dab in the middle of a llama ranch. I looked around coming
to the realization of where my week started and where and how
I ended up here. My first thought was, I need to get drunk, and I
need to get very drunk.

Later that day I jumped in the transportation provided for
me and went into town to get some food, gas and some beer.
Since I had an open tab at the family business, it was time for
me to avail myself such generosity. The family’s butcher used
steaks and meat from local ranches in Marion County and had
some of the best steaks I have ever seen. I loaded up on the
essentials and loaded the truck with steaks, eggs, beer and cash.
Luckily, I was able to draw cash advances on their account. As
soon as I realized that fact about the cash advance, I knew
where I was headed next. It was time to go to brown town as
they called it there and then.

Ocala, back then and still today, in my opinion, is like
walking back in time before the civil rights act. Blacks and
whites were segregated in every way. One would have to go
over the bridge to the other side of town to purchase all the
goodies for sale that brown town naturally sold. The KKK was
still strong in those days and it was nothing to see them in full-
blown moronic regalia standing in front of the only gay bar in
five counties. Florida is a huge state and it really needs to be cut
up into many different states. Life does not resemble itself in
any way shape or form from region to region. The inland parts
of the state bear no resemblance to the evolved humans that
populate the coast. Inland has their own form of human decay
wrapped up in rebel flags, ignorance and abject hate or rage. For
some reason, there are these pockets of angry white people still
steaming over some war that happened many years ago. I have
no idea how on Earth the generations have passed down this
rage about the North and South so successfully, but when you
view this in person it is quite real and strange.

Ocala was a hub for these defective human units to
procreate and spread their anathematic way of life. I’ll never
forget the first time my father took me to a Restaurant called
Rodger’s Barbeque and the two of us sitting in a booth. As I sat
in the booth, all around me, in the booth and all over the walls
outside the booth, were actual newspaper ads from the eighteen
hundreds selling Negros. That is right. Instead of wallpaper,
they plastered the restaurant with newspaper ads from the
slavery days. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I first saw it. I
thought to myself that this was the 1980’s and there is a
restaurant like this? I pondered what kind of full-blown riots
South Florida would have over a restaurant like this. Right there
in the booth, while you were eating, you would stare at an ad
that said “Top Dollar for One Hundred Negros” or some ad
offering more money for Redbone Slaves, because apparently
the slave traders for their nightly rapes in the slave houses
favored the Redbone, or so I was told. I asked my Pop how did
they get away with this and he pointed to the disclaimer. I
missed it when I walked in, but they had a tiny little plaque that
said, “Please take no offence, this is our heritage,” or something
to that regard. You would really have to know that it was there
to see it or stumble upon it somehow, it was so tiny. The ads on
the walls were not tiny. Either way that the disclaimer was all
they needed to theme a restaurant like this was insane.

It was in this town where years later the actor Wesley
Snipes was on trial for tax evasion and his defense team was
screaming that Ocala was a racist town and no one would listen
to them. I knew all I had to do was call them and tell them to go
have a meal at Rodger’s Barbeque and Wesley Snipes would
have gotten that change of venue he so desperately needed. Of
all the federal districts in Florida and all the towns in them, the
fact that The Feds picked and tried Wesley in Ocala was no
coincidence. If only the guy made better movies, I might have
picked the phone to save him, but someone needed to do time
for films like “White Men Can’t Jump” or “Demolition Man”
and for the hours of my life that were stolen away by those
movies. In the end, I must admit, Roger’s Barbeque had the best
barbeque I’d ever tasted.

All I wanted to do was to go across town and grab a couple
of black hookers and some weed and head back to the ranch for
some relaxation time. I wanted some green weed and some
black pussy. I needed to relax and slowly plan my work and
work my plan for my future.

Back at the ranch, I talked both ladies into taking the rest of
the day off from their nine to five so to speak, just kick back
with me, and hang out eating steaks and getting drunk. My
father had at the time, a cutting edge stereo system that was one
hundred and fifty watts. When I blasted this stereo, you could
hear it for miles through the woods. It turned into a great day
and night of music, sex and food. In the morning, one of the
whores made us breakfast from that amazing local bacon and
fried up some eggs. We swallowed breakfast down with Bloody
Marys that I made from my old man’s well stocked bar.

Later that day we decided to go skinny-dipping in the river.
The property line ended at the river so we just walked through
the woods drunk and naked. On the way to the river, we saw the
strangest of things. Right there in the middle of the woods all by
itself was a cast iron four-legged tub. I have no idea how it got
there, why it was there and I could only ponder what kind of
sick redneck shit was going on out here. We made our way to
the river when one of the ladies said she could not swim. The
other chick said she could and they went off babbling about
who could swim and who could not in the black community.
Apparently, unbeknownst to me, there is some kind of status
among the blacks for those who can swim very similar to back
in the day for those who could read or not. I’m always
fascinated learning new shit about people and this was
something I did not know. We both assured the one that could
not swim that we would not let her drown. Both the girls just
seem so grateful they found a John who was nice to them and
did not beat them. It seemed like it was the first time that they
ever were asked to stay overnight or hang out like normal
people. I normally did not like to pay for pussy anymore, but I
knew of no swinger clubs anywhere near Ocala and the ladies
were now just hanging out off the clock and enjoying a day
outdoors and some great steaks and such. What they did not
realize was I needed a day like that just as much as they did.

The next day I returned the women to their dead end
neighborhood and went on a mission to get all my identification
back that was left behind in my wallet in South Florida. I knew
any accounts I set up with Pete were already wiped out, but I
did have another account that was my own and it had enough
seed money in it to start over.

Most of that week was spent getting my identification in
order and visiting my grandmother. At night, I would return to
the ranch and I’d cook one of those amazing steaks and enjoy
my old man’s endless bar. Pop was due back in the next day or
two and I was starting to come to the conclusion that returning
to South Florida was not a good idea. I needed time to pass and
for things to cool down. I needed to figure out where I was
going to go next. I contemplated returning to New York where
most of my family still lived. I thought about going out to
Vegas, which was considered the capital of telemarketing and
ground zero for my ilk. Part of me even thought about moving
out to California to live. My biological grandfather on my
mother’s side, actor William Bronder, who worked with River
Phoenix as the junkyard man in the movie Stand By Me, with
James Woods in the movie Best Seller or later on in life
opposite Carroll O’ Connor in the movie Return to Me with
David Duchovny and Minnie Driver would have been quite
shocked if I knocked on his door. I dreamed of a life in
Hollywood as a writer.

That night I was sitting in a rocking chair on their wooden
porch when this guy walked up the dirt driveway and
introduced himself as someone my younger brother Keith was
friends with. During his childhood, Keith came up to the ranch
to live with our father and his jezebel wife for a couple of years
as an attempt to try to get to know his father. Once he figured
out the true reality of that quest, he returned to South Florida.

The kid, whose name escapes me now, sat on the porch
with me for hours that night filling me in on all the shit he and
my brother would get into. Somehow, the conversation lead to
the use of drugs and the kid was telling me about all the time he
and my brother would drop acid and trip in the woods. I
expressed my envy of that concept and he told me he had some
liquid acid that was in these gel caps and he offered me some.

I had a go around with acid many times in South Florida,
and can say to this day, it was and is my favorite drug of all. Of
course, I heard stories of people having bad trips and doing
insane things, but I never had any problem with it and viewed
those folks as weak.

The kid offered me a couple of gel caps and I swallowed
them and was looking forward to my next eight hours of
laughing and having an unshakable smile on my face. He soon
left and I went around the ranch to feed the animals. Now
normally it takes about forty minutes to start to feel the full-
blown effects of LSD and that was plenty of time to feed the
llamas, potbelly pigs and the dogs. My plan was to take care of
those responsibilities, return to the porch, sit, and trip while
looking at the night’s sky. The moon was huge that night and it
lit up the woods all around me.

I do not know what was in those gel caps, but somewhere
in the middle of feeding the animals I was off and running. I
mean literally running. I found myself stripping off all of my
clothes and running full speed through the woods. I felt like
Superman and I seem to be able to run endlessly without losing
breath. I do not know what the hell I was doing, but somehow I
came across that old cast iron tub in the middle of the woods
and I climbed in it. I was tripping my balls off just watching the
moonlight bounce off all the trees around me. The sounds of the
woods at night with all the wildlife were filling my ears and
head with amazing images. I started talking to the invisible
animal life of the woods. There I was naked in a tub, in the
middle of the forest, tripping on acid and singing aloud to
everything under the moon.

All of a sudden, I heard what sounded like a stampede
rushing through the woods towards me. The sounds of the feet
got louder and louder. I pictured a giant herd of elephants
coming at me. I was frozen in the tub drowning in the sound of
leaves being displaced in a violent manner. Here they come.
Here they come. Louder and louder, suddenly I felt the wind
pass my face when a pack of wolves ran by me while I lay
naked in the tub. One after the other just ran past me, as if they
were on some mission and had somewhere to go. In the
distance, I started to hear loud screams. I could not make out
who was screaming. I never heard anything like it in my life and
I had no idea if it was a human scream or not. The screams got
louder and louder and bounced off the trees like the moonlight
and it made an echoing effect that made it hard to know from
what direction the screams were coming from.

Out of nowhere, I heard another stampede coming at me
but this one sounded different. I kept staring through the woods
as to get a look at what was coming. From the distance, I could
see it was men holding rifles and they were running towards me
in the tub. I slid down the back of the tub and got as close to the
bottom of it as humanly possible, hoping they would not see
me. I thought that I heard them speaking Spanish and was
convinced that Peter’s Cuban friends found me and now I was
going to die here lying in this tub naked. How did they find me?
Do they know I am in this cast iron tub? Where are my clothes?
Questions were swirling around in my head as the sound of the
stampede passed right in front of me and kept going.

I slowly popped my head up out of the tub to see these men
running towards the wolf pack with rifles in their hands. Soon I
heard the sound of gunfire in the distance. One shot after the
other. I could hear the screams of the wolves as they were being
shot. I could hear them drop silent through the night after the
hail of gunfire. The combination of all the sounds had me over
stimulated and I passed out cold right there in the tub.

When I finally woke up it was still dark. I had no idea how
long I was there passed out, but the night looked different. The
moon was in a different place in the sky and the darkness was
more profound. I found my way back to the ranch walking
naked though the woods. I was still high on acid but I was
coming down fast. As I came upon the ranch, the realization hit
me like a ton of bricks. Instantaneously upon arriving at the
backend of the ranch, I realized that it was not a pack of wolves
like I thought it was; it was the dogs that were left in my care. It
was my stepmother’s dogs. I looked over at the kennel and
realized I had must have left the gate open after I fed them and
they all got out. There were dead dogs everywhere. The corpses
of my father’s wife’s Russian Wolf Hounds littered the
landscape. There was blood everywhere I viewed. I walked
around to the front of the house and I saw pieces of torn up
bodies of the potbelly pigs scattered across the property. The
dead bodies of the llamas that were ripped apart covered the
ranch from one side to the other. It was a blood bath.
Everything was dead. The dogs killed all the animals that were
living on the ranch. They tore the pigs and llamas from limb to
limb. The blood of the animals was still wet and shined in the
moonlight. I could not believe my eyes. I sat on the porch and
lay down on the wooden floor. I couldn’t stop shaking and
throwing up. I passed out again naked right there on the porch
in front of the house, surrounded by all the bloody corpses of all
the animals that were alive before I came into their life.

I woke up in the morning to the touch of my father shaking
my arm. He was telling me to wake up, that we had to go. I sat
up on the porch and he threw my clothes at me. As I was getting
dressed I looked around, but I could not see anything. There
was a fog so thick that morning that one could barely see their
own hand extended out from their body. My father said we have
to go now, that his wife was very upset. I did not say a word
and just got dressed. He told me he already packed my stuff and
it was in the jeep. I walked from the porch through the fog to
the jeep and we drove away down the dirt driveway. I looked
out the passenger window, but I could not see any of the
animals because of the thick fog. My father said to me that I
needed to pick a city and that he would drive me there, but I
needed to leave town right now. I asked, “What do you mean
pick a city?”

He said, “Pick a city in Florida and I will drive you there!
You cannot go back to South Florida and you cannot stay here
in Ocala, son, now pick a fucking city!”

I just looked over towards him and said, “Tampa, take me
to Tampa Bay, Pop.”
16
I chose Tampa, Florida because it was a place I had never
been to before. I did not know a single soul there and it was a
big city like I was used to. I felt I could find work there in my
field. Before we left the city limits of Ocala, the old man told
me he needed some monkeys from the zoo. That was code that
meant he needed to get high. The monkeys were the pain pills
and the zoo was the hospital.

He had a fail-safe way of getting high whenever he wanted
and in any city, he wanted. He had a one hundred percent
success rate with a kidney stone scam. How this worked was, he
would drive to any emergency room and walk in holding a
certain part of his lower back. With his medical training and life
of being surrounded by medical people, he knew exactly where
to place his hand. Then he would act out a scenario in which he
entered the building in abject pain. His histrionics could have
won him an Academy Award. Now the first thing they would
do is to give him a cup and ask him to pee in it. One of the
telltale signs of kidney stones is blood in the urine. He went into
the bathroom with the cup. In his wallet, he always kept a pin.
He would prick his finger, squeeze the blood out of it into the
cup of urine, and twirl it around like a cocktail. Every single
time without fail, they would take the collective representation
he was presenting to them, the so-called trained medical
professionals, and declare he had kidney stones. Next, they
would shoot him up with Demerol and hand him a prescription
for some pain pills. Instead of going to the bar to get drunk or
go to brown town to buy heroin, this kidney stone scam became
his fail safe for decades. He brought someone to the ER with
him when he could, as not to be stuck there. The doctors would
release him if he had someone to drive. Sometimes he was in
and out of the hospital in less than an hour and scored his drugs.
He turned the nation’s hospitals into his street corner drug
dealer and he basked in the glory of it. He resented the people
around him in his life that had a better education than he did, so
outsmarting all of them became a rush in its own right.

After our trip to the zoo, we got on the interstate and started
to head towards Tampa. While driving, he explained to me
when we got to Tampa Bay that I only had four hours to find a
home and a job. He told me he needed to get back because he
had to work a shift at his hospital. As we were heading down I-
75 toward the bay area I wondered to myself whether I was
going to have to stay at a hotel or not. My father started to fill
me in on is Oregon llama trip and how he and his wife fought
most of the time. Apparently, she was very mad at him and my
presence at the ranch just complicated that. As I listened to him
explain things, I realized that the reason she threw me out was
that I did not feed the animals exactly the way she wanted me
to. The more my father spoke and explained why I had to leave,
the more I realized that the blood massacre never happened.
Apparently, the animals were all still alive and I had a terrible
acid trip. I sat their listening to him laughing my ass off. I never
told him why I was laughing, but I was relieved I, in fact, was
not responsible for the death or slaughter of an entire ranch of
animals. I wondered, sitting there in the car while we drove
south, what the fuck was in those gel caps.

We arrived in Tampa and pulled over at one of the first
exits in the city. I had him take me to a store to buy a local
paper. I searched through the employment section for the kind
of ads that we shady telemarketers would publish in our trade.
The way an ad was written was almost like a code that
highlighted what kind of deal it was. Any telemarketing job that
offered a salary or hourly wage was no good, because it was
probably legit and there was certainly no money to be made
there. I looked for an ad written in a certain way that was a
commission job only. Any schmuck who would work for an
hourly wage was no one I wanted to hire. I needed the feast and
famine kind of sales people who knew they could write their
own checks the harder they push themselves. Anyone who
would limit himself or herself to a salary was a lazy bastard and
any company paying salaries was no company I wanted to be
near.

I found the ad that I was looking for and called them up on
the payphone. I told them, that whoever was their top sales
person, I was going to come in there, blow his numbers away,
and take the title away from him. I gave them a very ‘in your
face, I’m the best thing since sliced bread period’, kind of
attitude. I asked for their address and said I was coming over
there now. When I hung up the phone, my father was just
shaking his head. He said that he could not believe the way I
spoke to them and said they would never hire me because that I
sounded like a crazy person speaking like that. I told him to shut
his trap and drive me to the office.

I walked in and found this telemarketing room to be
everything I was used to. The place was buzzing and hot chicks
were everywhere on the phones. This phone room was an
“incoming” phone room, which meant we did not dial the
phones, they rang and we answered them. They were selling
vitamins by offering one of four awards when the person bought
the product. I knew this was a total scam and I was in like
Flynn. I got an interview right on the spot, got the job and
agreed to start the next Monday.

I walked out of the office into my father’s car and told him
I was hired. He could not believe his ears and kept shaking his
head saying over and over, that was amazing! I looked at him
and said now let us find a place for me to live. I knew I did not
have time to get a place in a tradition way and just looked for
some week to week place in a shady part of town. I found such
a place on Nebraska Ave. where the hookers and dealers would
walk the streets and I was set. I stood in the doorway of my new
home, which was this nasty singlewide trailer, waved goodbye
to the old man and went inside. As I heard him drive away I
smiled, sat down on the nasty couch in this furnished place and
felt real proud of myself; four hours was more than enough
time. Now it was time to build my next empire.
17

I bought some bullshit used car and started looking for a
respectable place to live. The neighborhood I dumped myself in
was a temerarious move, but I only had four hours at the time to
get a roof over my head. The truth was I felt like I could blend
into any neighborhood, rich or poor. I could float between the
two worlds with ease. I felt comfortable in either world and I
still do today. It is a trait that has helped me throughout the
years. Some people just crumble when their income self-adjusts
downward and they have an extremely hard time with it. I can
adapt to any realm of the economic ladder and fit in.

When I showed up for work at my new place I soon settled
in on the pitch and started to close deals. As I said before, this
was an incoming phone room and how it worked went like this.
The owner of the phone room would mail out letters to people’s
homes telling them that they were selected to receive one of
four awards and that they needed to call within forty eight hours
of receiving the letter to claim it. They would pick up the phone
and call the number. On the other side of the call was I
answering the phone telling them in very excited tone,
‘congratulations!’

They would say that they got some letter that said they won
something. Now the letter would never say that they “won”
anything, but it was written in such a way that it strongly
implied that. I would explain to them that they did not win
anything, but rather they were selected to receive one of the
four awards listed in the letter. I explained that this was what
was called a “Premium Incentive Program” and that they were
absolutely guaranteed one of those four awards on the list with
the purchase of a six hundred dollar box of vitamins.

Right away, the people would say they did not need a six
hundred dollar box of vitamins. I said of course you do not need
such a box. Just throw it away when you get it. They would be
so shocked and confused on the other end of the phone. I
explained that no one needs a six hundred dollar box of
vitamins, but everyone would use one of the four awards on the
list.

I’d ask, “Do you have the letter with you now? Let us go
over the awards on the list. Number 1 is a brand new Lincoln
Town car. Number 2 is $10,000 in cash. Number 3 is a trip to
Hawaii that included buy one get one free airline tickets and
eight days and seven nights of lodging paid for. Number 4 was
one thousand dollars in cash. Now you are absolutely
guaranteed one of those four awards with the purchase of the
box of vitamins. If you only receive number four, are you going
to call me back disappointed that you bought a six hundred
dollar box of vitamins that came with one thousand dollars in
cash? Throw the vitamins in the garbage and keep the cash if
you end up with number four. Hopefully you drive away with a
brand new Lincoln Town Car. The reason you have to buy the
box of vitamins is that this is a premium incentive program. We
are giving you a premium as an incentive to make the purchase.
That way, it is not a contest and by law, you avoid all the rules
and relegations that come with a contest. Most importantly, you
are not actually winning anything, so you do not have to pay
any of the taxes associated with winning something.”

Now for you the reader, let us revisit what I just said to the
poor slob on the other end of that phone line. I made it sound
like the worst he could do monetarily was number four, which
was one thousand dollars in cash. However, I did not say that.
All I said was, ‘if all you got was number four, would you call
me back complaining?’ I just gave him a bunch of razzle-dazzle
about contest and premium incentive programs. I was telling
him that I was trying to sell him something that he did not need
and something I told him to throw in the garbage when he got it.
I gave him some smoke and mirrors about contests and tax
laws. In the middle of all of that, he, the caller, only heard that
he was at least going to receive in return one thousand dollars in
cash, even though I did not say that. The truth was no one got a
Lincoln Town car or anything on that list of awards except the
vacation trip to Hawaii. Everybody that called was promised
one of those four things on that list and everyone who called
would receive the vacation package to Hawaii.

It was a beautiful scam. It did not take me long to figure out
that the new phone room in my new city was allegedly owned
and operated by a group of the mob that ran out of the west
coast of Florida. This was a complexly different group of grease
balls, but they operated the same. They owned the company that
did the mail drops to people’s homes. They owned the phone
room that the calls were routed to. They owned the merchant
accounts with the credit card companies to whack people’s
credit cards for six hundred dollars for vitamins. They even
owned everything to do with that Hawaiian Vacation. It was
allegedly another section of the mob that they got the vacation
certificates from, that was based out of Las Vegas. How that
worked is the people who bought the vitamins would get a
vacation certificate giving them a buy one get one free plane
ticket to Hawaii and eight days and seven nights of lodging paid
for. The trick was that the person had to buy the second plane
ticket from a certain travel agency that surprisingly was also
owned by our friendly neighborhood Italians.

No matter what time of year it was, they charged two
thousand five hundred dollars for that second ticket. At that
time, you could walk into almost any airport in America with no
notice and get the next flight out to Hawaii for seven hundred
dollars. Then when someone would follow through on the trip,
they would get out to Hawaii and be put up in a hotel owned by,
guess who? They would allow the people one day of enjoying
Hawaii and then they would knock on the door the next
morning. They would strongly suggest that the people come and
spend the day in this convention room and listen to sales pitches
about buying timeshares. Of course, people were on vacation or
on their honeymoons. They did not want to waste a day
listening to sales pitches, they did not want to buy timeshares. If
they refused, the next time they left the rooms, they were locked
out and their stuff was on the sidewalk in front of the hotel.
Now the poor schmucks were stuck in the most expensive place
in the country and they had to either give in and listen to many
days of sales pitches about Hawaiian timeshares or pay
premium prices for a real hotel and hope they could find a
vacancy. They went through all of this because they bought a
box of vitamins.

I was so impressed by the scope of this scam. The Italians
had everything covered from beginning to the end. Hell, can
you believe they even sold timeshares to these people? A lot of
them! They were making so much money that they would go
around Tampa and be insulted if some suggested they were
mobbed up just because they were Italian. After all, they were
legitimate businessmen, don’t you know. However, they had
guns and they liked to fire them. They had many guns and did
many things with them, but I stayed away from all that. I am not
a gun guy, but I felt very comfortable around these people. I
wanted in. I wanted to learn everything, but these people did not
know me. I caught their eyes immediately when I starting
selling in the fashion that I did.

When I got there, the sales force was actual trying to sell
the vitamins. They were telling the callers all about the benefits
of the vitamins and this and that health factoid. Here I was
standing in the middle of their sales room telling the same
callers to throw the freaking vitamins in the trash. They could
not believe their ears. The whole place was freaked out. Here
was this new guy telling all of the customers to throw the box of
vitamins in the garbage can. They did not know what to do.
Management was stunned and right away they were having
meetings over what I was doing.

The guy running the place was this hustler named Garrett
Thomas or Jerry as everyone called him. They all sat in the
owner’s office listening to me on a monitor trying to figure out
whether what I was saying was okay or not. They never saw
anything like it. When I worked on the phones, I always stood
up while pitching. I never sat down. I never put the ear part of
the phone anywhere near my ear. I did not care what the caller
had to say, they needed to listen to me. When I was done with
my pitch and talking over them, then I put the ear part of the
phone in my ear to listen to their dumb questions. I had a
rebuttal for every conceivable reason why they did not want to
give me their money. I spoke into the phone like a one-way
microphone as to not care at all what the people on the other
end had to say. This phone room sat and learned for the first
time what real telemarketing was and how it should be done. I
gave them a class study on selling over the phones. They sat
there and watched how I would change my tone of voice and
how I would move up and down the inflection of my voice
throughout the pitch. If anyone asked me why I would not sit
down at my desk, I would tell them no one should be allowed to
sit down until they get their first sale. Management loved that!

They sat and listened when some caller would ask me a
question and I would answer it with an answer that had nothing
to do with the question they asked me and then change the
subject. The owners and management sat there in silence
listening to my caller forget what the question was that they had
and capitulate to my will and choke up the credit card numbers.
Each day that passed, the owner Peter Pignola and on down
were blown away with what I was doing. One of the Italian
guys, Tony Vincenza, just stood against the wall taking down
notes because he was going to write a book about how to pitch
and pass it around the West Coast. Soon I showed them
numbers that they never dreamed of.

When I got to the phone room, their best sales man was a
guy named John Pepstall aka Pep and he sold twenty-five $600
deals a week. He was bringing in average fifteen thousand a
week just by himself. I was closing fifty of the same deals by
Wednesday and asking for the rest of the week off. Pep was
their top dog and I was crushing him and taking away all the
prime pussy he had to himself in the form of beautiful women
working in that phone room. Until another alpha dog came into
the pound, he was the only swinging dick that got any attention
from the ladies. I walked away with his title as their number one
sales guy and I took most of his selection of sexy snatch at
United Healthcare Industries and made it my own.

Before long, the entire phone room was standing up doing
their pitch and all you could hear is one sales person after the
other telling callers to throw their box of vitamins in the trash. I
took over this room with my shear willpower and renegotiated
the commissions I was being paid and the days I had to work.
Slowly I was making a name for myself in Tampa. However,
the name I was using was a variation of my name. Back in
South Florida I was Charles Walker, here on the west coast I
went by my middle name Richard. Rich Walker was now born
and he was on fire. I hoped just that change in my name would
slide me under the radar back home. If anyone got wind of a
new hot shot in Tampa back in South Florida, no one would be
expecting a dude named Rich Walker.

18

Settling in on the west coast of Florida was going well. I
was now making good money at this phone room called United
Healthcare Industries telling people to throw their vitamins
away. As time passed by, I moved into a three-bedroom
apartment with three of the women that worked at United
Healthcare Industries. I was able to bounce from bed to bed
each night as all three women became my lovers. Sue, April and
Flo were their names.

Through the relationships with these women, I learned all
the juicy gossip about the Italians that owned the phone room I
worked for. These ladies and one of their moms worked for
Peter for a long time and through pillow talk, I was able to
acquire information about all of them and the business.

What I found out was the main guy was Peter Pignola. He
was the brains and money behind everything. Peter had a lock
on much of the West Coast and all the white-collar crime that
was coming out of Tampa. He was constantly under
investigation and The Feds worked night and day to take him
down.

The second guy in this cast of characters was a super cool
guy to be around named Tony Vincenza. Tony, from what I was
told, came from a Mafia family based out of Rochester, New
York and was now based in Tampa. The guy had a great
personality and just lit up any room he was in. Tony loved
making money and he loved his guns. He was the one who
stood against the wall and took down notes so he could write a
how-to book and train all his other phone rooms. He and Peter
were like partners in some things, I was told.

Peter also had a crew of people who worked under him that
were very loyal. Clerical staff and management answered
directly to Peter and worked for him for years. This was a tight
knit group and I wanted to break into their inner circle and truly
make some real money. By sleeping with the women that
worked for them, it gave me an edge with my quest to break
through.

In addition, almost right away, I started up a friendship
with Pep who was the top sales guy there before I came. Pep
and I got into more madness and trouble than I could possibly
remember. To his core, Pep was and will always be a thief. The
man just loves to steal. He is one of those guys who just does it
for the rush or something. He came from a well to do family
from Hyannis, Massachusetts on his mother’s side, but due to
divorce, he was rejected entirely by his mother and her side of
the family. He was exiled to Pennsylvania with his father Skip
who was a special crook in his own right, in a town outside of
Philadelphia called King of Prussia. Skip was into mortgage
fraud and made a name for himself around Philly, according to
Pep. He lived in the penthouse of a high-rise that overlooked the
entire city.

I was more of a white-collar criminal type and I was more
interested in getting into the inner circle of Peter Pignola than I
was doing some of the crazy crimes Pep did for fun. Regardless
of my intentions, somehow I found myself doing crimes of
spontaneity or just plain foolish and stupid crimes with Pep. I
remember going to a public pool with Pep to swim and watch
him dive. I was on a swim team when I was younger and he was
on a diving team. I used to love to watch him dive. He was a
star athlete and could have gone far if he had the right
background or support. So, one day we are at this public pool
and he sparks up a conversation with a chick in her early
twenties that lives with her parents there in Tampa. Through the
conversation, Pep gets the girl to reveal her address and that fact
that her and her family were going out that night. Stupidly she
told a complete stranger way too much information.

Later that night Pep talks me into doing a B & E with him,
otherwise known as breaking and entering. We pull up to the
house and break in and we steal everything we want. Pep’s
modus operandi was to break into a place, but never steal
anything of value. He did not want the electronics or jewelry.
His thing was to go through your house and steal the most
personal and strange shit that you have in your home. He would
take your vacuum cleaner, your sexual vibrator out of your
nightstand, family pictures and so much more. Maybe he liked a
set of steak knives. The stranger the item he stole, the bigger the
rush for him. He would just sit around afterwards laughing his
ass off thinking about what the people’s faces looked like when
they were telling the cops someone broke in and stole my
electric can opener or golf clubs, but left the cash or gold. He
was a complete maniac! In that house was one of those rugs
hung on the wall with dogs playing poker. I took that one for
myself and kept it for years dragging it all over the country with
me. Wherever I lived back then, I always had those dogs
playing poker hanging on my wall and I would never forget
where it came from. I had many items like that where I kept it
because of the story behind it.

One summer, Pep’s next-door neighbor knocked on his
door and told him that he was going away for three days and
asked Pep to look after the place. Pep told the man of course
and asked when he was leaving. The guy said we are leaving
now and wanted to just let you know. I watched my buddy close
the door and race to the back bedroom where he had a view of
the parking lot through the bedroom window. I watched as his
neighbor and his wife drove away, and then Pep came running
out of his bedroom putting on a pair of socks over his hands. He
went outside and jimmied the front window of this guy’s
apartment until it popped. He crawled through the window and
was in the apartment. I could not believe it. I mean the guy just
left and hell, he could come right back if he forgot something. I
just stayed in Pep’s apartment. As time went by, I was reassured
that the guy was not coming back and Pep was still in the
dude’s place. I walked out of Pep’s front door and the very next
door to the right was the neighbor’s place. I knocked on the
door and I heard him yell for me to come in. As I walked
through the front door, I could not believe my eyes. There was
my friend in this guy’s kitchen cooking a full-blown meal. In
the middle of his living room was a pile of stuff Pep collected
that he was going to take. That pile had everything in it from a
complete set of golf clubs to bathroom towels. I saw a vacuum
cleaner and everything else in between just sitting there in a pile
in the middle of the room. I walked into the kitchen and smelled
this great aroma. Pep was in there cooking up some pork chops
and all sorts of sides as if he owned the place. He had a very old
bottle of scotch open and was offering me a cocktail. I took the
glass out of his hand and took a sip. My heart was pounding and
I was so excited. The whole thing was crazy. Here we were
standing in the middle of this guy’s place cooking up dinner and
shopping through all of his belongings as if we were at a garage
sale or something.

Pep told me to go through the apartment and see if there
was anything I needed. While he downed this high dollar scotch
and cooked us a meal, I went through all of this guy’s personal
belongings. In the nightstand next to his bed was a drawer with
all sorts of sexual stuff in it. I took out a vibrator and put it in a
pillow sack. In the drawer, the guy had all of these photos of his
penis where he drew faces and mustaches on it. It was super
bizarre. There were all these pictures of his wife doing the most
ungodly of things naked. I brought the pictures out to the
kitchen to show Pep and he just laughed his ass off saying that
these people walk around like super Christians and are so full of
shit. I kept both the pictures and the vibrator and went back
through the rooms looking for some things. I found some
clothes that I liked and I filled up my Santa Sack with all sorts
of goodies. We sat down in the middle of the dude’s living
room and ate this great meal Pep cooked and afterwards raided
his well-stocked bar and started to bring over everything we
picked out next door back to Pep’s place. There was so much
booze that we had to hide the bottles everywhere throughout
Pep’s apartment and packed in the closets all the stuff we took.

Three days later, I pick up the phone and it is Pep telling
me to get over here. I drove over to his apartment complex and
as I was walking up the stairs there were all these cops coming
and going. Pep’s front door was open and he was there standing
in the doorway talking to his neighbor. I walked up and Pep
introduced me to his neighbor. As I shook his hand, Pep started
to tell me that the poor guy was robbed while he was out of
town. I said that it was horrible and the man told me that the
cops had never seen anything like it. All of the valuable stuff
was still there, but the strangest of items were missing. I stood
there just listening to the neighbor explain to me how the
robbers even cooked his food. I stood there with a shocked look
on my face. I just kept shaking my head back and forth as to be
utterly amazed at what he was telling me. Pep was chiming in
on how he did not hear a thing going on next door and that this
must have happened to him when he was at church. I had to
hold back my laughter as I thought of Pep walking into a church
and the roof collapsing down on him and the earthquake that
would cause if he ever entered a house of worship.

Yeah, the neighbor just kept going on how his wife was so
upset that family photos of hers were missing and that she could
never get them back. After a while, we excused ourselves, went
into Pep’s apartment, and closed the door. Pep looked at me
with such a shit-eating grin, walked over to his couch, and lifted
up the cushion. Under it was multiple bottle of the neighbors
booze. He pulled out one of the bottles and poured us a couple
of cocktails. We made a toast to how brilliant we were as I
heard the cries of the neighbor’s wife through the walls next
door. I knew right there and then this guy Pep was never to be
trusted. At his very core, he was a real thief and a liar. I could
never turn my back on a person like this.
19

As time went by in Tampa, my plan for entering the inner
circle of Peter Pignola and United Healthcare Industries was not
going according to plan. It seemed to me at the time that this
tight knit group was impenetrable. The more money I made for
this group the more I was boxing myself into a corner. The
problem with being a spectacular salesman over the phones is
that no one wants to take you off the phones. Just being a sales
person was not my destiny and I could never feel content with
such a station in life. On top of that, I had a huge problem with
taking my talent and making other people money. Even if I was
going to manage a phone room, I still wanted a piece of the
action. Sitting at a desk and taking one call after the other was,
in my mind, a complete waste of my talent. I also believed that
if the owner of a phone room did not notice that fact, then I was
working with the wrong guy with no vision. My new life in
Tampa was not going the way I wanted it to.

I moved out of the three-bedroom apartment and settled in
with just one of the girls that lived there. Her name was Flo
Parkland and the two of us moved out together and got a
completely furnished apartment in a nice suburb of Tampa Bay
called Temple Terrace. Flo was the bigger girl of the three, but I
always loved BBWs and took a lot of shit for it from the guys
over the years. I never understood that. I knew all sorts of guys
who completely cut off big girls and would never have sex with
one of them. The whole concept seemed completely insane to
me to take an entire segment of snatch and declare the sex off
limits. Most of the time a big girl is way better in bed than those
pretty, little, skinny girls who just lay there like princesses
waiting to be fucked. I would take a big girl over some flat belly
seven days a week and twice on Sunday. On top of that, Flo’s
mother Connie worked for Peter and was his right hand in the
office. I felt this could come in handy one day. Flo and her mom
were at odds because Flo fucked her mom’s boyfriend and the
mother held a grudge over that. However, I saw a lot of women
have problems with their own mothers for this or that, but they
always make up at some point. When things would cool
between the two, I wanted that to be to my advantage, if
possible, one day. With all that, I still really dug Flo and we got
a long very well. We had a great sex life and that was very
important to me. Living in Tampa now, I was starting to find all
of my sex places to go to and have anonymous sex. The city
was full of these places. I found all sorts of Adult Books Stores
that I loved to go to that had glory holes and booths throughout
them. People in the swinger scene had a well built up
community in Tampa as well and I really loved living there.

As far as white-collar crime, back then was a very different
time compared to today. The system was slow to catch up to all
the laws we were bending to our advantage. One of the things
that was completely different back then was how any of us
could use credit cards. To set the stage of the time and place
with credit card companies back then, I can remember before I
even got to Tampa, back in South Florida I was living with my
friend from school renting a room in his house. There was this
brand new thing called The Home Shopping Network. Cable
Television came of age in my generation. We watched the birth
of twenty-four hour news with a channel called CNN on basic
cable. My generation watched the entire music industry be
turned on its head with MTV and music videos twenty-four
hours a day. The world was changing and along with that, the
way we as Americans shopped. Now there was a channel on TV
that we could just sit on the couch and buy things without ever
leaving the comfort of our homes.

The Home Shopping Network was brand new and it needed
credit cards to make the whole concept work. This brought
about a change in the use of credit cards because now we
needed to buy something, but was not a person to sign the credit
card slip. This Home Shopping Network, in the beginning of its
infancy, only needed a credit card number to make the
transaction and an address to ship the stuff to. There was no
check and balance put in place at the time. There were no
safeguards because the concept of just using a credit card over
the phone was brand new. We were no longer standing there at
the checkout counter being asked for our signature on the slip.
We were sitting in our homes giving out our card numbers over
the phone. Now in this setting, I was living with my friend,
renting a room in his house, and I would get a hold of credit
card numbers from all sorts of shady ways. We would sit there
in his living room, order diamond tennis bracelets all day long,
and pay for them with whatever card number we had our hands
on that day. We would have all the diamonds shipped to a house
across the street that was always empty that time of the year
because snowbirds owned the house and only used it part of the
year.

Back then, The UPS Truck always came around the same
time in the morning and I would go across the street and wait on
the side of the house for the truck to arrive. As the delivery man
started walking up the driveway I would pop out around the
carport area as if I just walked out of the house, sign for the
bracelets and then turn around and walk back towards the empty
house. I would wait for the truck to drive away and I would
walk back to the house we were living at across the street and
bring in the boxes of diamond bracelets. Then we would go
down to the local pawnshop and sell every one of them. Again,
this was a different time and place. Pawn shops never even
asked for ID let alone take fingerprints back in the day if you
just sold them something. There were no video cameras, no IDs
required and there were no prints. Pawnshops were, for the
longest time, the greatest legal fence available to all crooks. We
could steal anything, fence it at one of the many pawnshops,
and never have to answer to authorities about any of it.

With that understanding of how things were back then,
picture what real criminals could do with actual merchant
accounts from the credit card company itself. The concept of the
crook being on that side of the fence was not born yet. Any
internal investigation of credit card fraud was only about what
someone did with a stolen credit card. No one was watching the
merchants or even conceived they were the crooks that needed
to be looked at!

Within the terms and agreements of the contract with the
credit card companies for having a merchant account back then,
the banks had a provision that you could not share your
merchant account with anyone. It might have even been a law
at the time, I’m not sure, but it was called factoring. Factoring
meant that you were opening up your merchant account to
factor in other businesses and their revenues. Maybe another
businessman did not have the credit to get a merchant account
or maybe he was denied because of some fraud conviction.
Either way it created an underground business where companies
could go to a merchant willing to let you use their merchant
account and the merchant would charge a percentage for
processing your credit card business. It was easy money. Just
open your merchant account to anyone willing to pay high
points for the access, sit back, and collect the money.

Back then, word on the street was that Peter Pignola was
the man to go to if you wanted to be able to accept credit cards
and did not want to do it through the bank for whatever reason.
If Peter was into this like the rumors on the street indicated,
then how this would work was that other phone rooms or
gambling bookie operations would go to Peter with credit card
transactions. Peter would keep a high percentage of the money,
then process your credit card business through his merchant
account, and then give you the rest of the money. As long as the
chargebacks were kept at a minimum and the person using the
card was made aware that the charge account would be named
such and such when they got the charge, most of the time this
kind of business would go undetected by the bank. To spread
out the risk the mob would go to a failing business that was
about to go under and offer the guy a deal with some points if
he would allow them to use his merchant account. For example,
if there was a t-shirt shop on the beach that was going under, the
Italians would walk in and offer the guy five percentage points
of some credit card transactions for use of his merchant account.
Now all of a sudden the failing t-shirt shop was sitting pretty
now collecting the easy money that he had to do nothing for
except just allow the use of his merchant account.

This was a business that I was interested in learning and
something I wanted to find out was if Peter really was behind
all of this and I wanted to find a way in. One day I went to work
like any other day and I was called into Peter’s office. Peter told
me, out of nowhere, that he was going to let me go. I was
standing there in shock and I could not believe my ears. He told
me that I had a high rate of charge backs on the sales I was
producing. I could not believe what he was saying. I just looked
at him and asked him if he lost his mind or not. I told him that
of course I had more charge backs then most of the people there
because I was producing, in some cases, five or six times more
revenue than others working at United Healthcare Industries. He
just shook his head and told me he was letting me go. I was so
blown away that this fool did not see the mint he was making
off me or even see what potential I had to bring to this world of
white-collar crime.

I walked out of the office got in my car and drove to the
bar. I needed a drink.
20
After being canned at United Healthcare Industries I spent
a couple of weeks just lounging around. Pep had an apartment
directly across the street from Busch Gardens. Back in those
days Busch Gardens had all the Busch Beer you could drink
free. We would just jump the fence, go into Busch Gardens, and
drink all day and it would not cost us a dime. I needed a
vacation and what better way to have one then at Busch
Gardens drinking free beer all day. After we would get a belly
full, we would go back across the street and next to the
apartment complex Pep lived at was a hotel. We would go to the
pool area at the hotel and order pizzas from different pizzerias
in the area that would deliver. When they show up, we always
told them to bring the pies to the pool area. There we would
give them a check for tons of food and beer that was written on
closed accounts. We always said we had no ID at the time
because we were at the pool and the delivery guy would
inevitably take the bullshit check and go on his way. Then we
would just leave the pool area, go back to his apartment, and go
chow down. We did this every day for about two weeks. It was
the one vacation at the time that never cost me a penny and I
drank and ate to all of my heart’s desires while enjoying the
wonders of Busch Gardens all for free. Once I was fired, Pep
quit working for Peter and we just hung out having a ball.

After a couple of weeks of frolicking in the sun, it was time
to go back to work. We started knocking on doors to other
phones rooms around Tampa and soon found out that we had a
problem. Most all of the phones rooms there at the time were
connected to Peter in some sort of way. Either Peter dropped
their mail for them at a good price or some other connection to
Peter presented us a roadblock. No one wanted to take a chance
with us as not to rock the boat in any way with Peter. It got to a
point where the phone rooms knew as soon as we walked in,
who we were and why we were there. One owner out in the
town called Largo on the outskirts of Tampa told us straight to
our faces that he knew we were talented, but no one was going
to hire us because of Peter. He looked at me and asked me if I
could do him a favor because he heard I was resourceful. He
handed me a check that came in his mail. It was written out to a
business across the street from him and he hated the guy that
owned the place. It was some automotive repair shop named
Scotty’s Wrench. He told me if I could find a way to cash the
check, I could have half. The check was for five thousand
dollars and it was made out to Scotty’s Wrench. I took the
check for him and told him I’ll be back in a little while. We left
the phone room and I went to a dot head check-cashing store
that I knew of where you could purchase a laminated picture ID
without any hassle. The dot heads did not care if you had ID or
not proving who you were, they would just give you a picture
ID if you had the money to pay for it. I walked in and bought a
picture ID that said my name was Scott S. Wrench. We left and
went to another checking place owned by you-know-who, with
the company check made out to Scotty’s Wrench and presented
the check with a story about the typo and my picture ID and
with no hesitation they cashed the five thousand dollar check. I
drove back to the phone room and handed him twenty-five
hundred dollars. The owner of the phone room was shocked. He
looked at me with a shit-eating grin and said, “Man, you are
resourceful.” He asked me how I did it. I explained how I pulled
it off and the guy could not stop laughing. He said, “Man, I
would love to hire you, but you know I can’t.” I shook his hand
and thanked him for the twenty-five hundred and we left. As we
were driving home later that evening, we passed by the offices
of United Healthcare Industries. There was a huge eighteen-
wheeler parked in front of the building that said United Postal
Service on it, and there were cops everywhere in the parking lot.
I yelled at Pep to pull over; Peter was getting raided. We parked
across the street and walked across the road and we sat on a
cement wall and watched the cops bring out all these computers
and filing cabinets and we watched them load all of it on the
tractor-trailer. The Feds were raiding the place, plain and
simple; it was a bust. I pulled out a bag of pot that I had on me
and rolled a joint. We sat there smoking weed sitting on the wall
just watching everything go down. We had a cop in a suit walk
up to us and ask us who we were. He wrote down our names on
a pad and just said nothing about the joint we were smoking and
walked away.

The next day I woke up to the phone ringing. Flo answered
it and one of the girls at the office said that Peter saw me sitting
on the wall watching United Healthcare Industries get raided
and wondered out loud whether or not I had something to do
with the bust. Flo told the girl on the phone that was ridiculous
and how I was just driving by and saw the whole thing.

After she hung up she told me what was said and I
immediately understood the magnitude of this problem and how
that must have looked like to Peter with me sitting on that wall.
I sat down and wrote a hand written letter telling Peter that it
was brought to my attention his public musings about me and
told him in no uncertain terms that I had nothing to do with any
of that. I reminded him that he really did not know me that well
and that I did not appreciate such an accusation. I called Fed Ex
and had them pick up the letter and hand deliver it to him. I was
told the next day he read it, said nothing out loud to anyone and
threw the letter away. Still, I knew how these things worked
and I was taking no chances with any of this.

I looked at Flo and said pack your bags we are going to live
with your father in Detroit. I could not get any work around
Tampa anyway and her old man was always offering her the
entire basement in the house if she’d move back to Detroit. I
just wanted to get as far away from Peter, Tampa and
telemarketing as I could. Detroit seemed like the perfect answer
at the time. Once again I just needed to get out of town for a
little while. This was starting to become a pattern and I was not
happy about any of this. No one was shooting at me this time,
but if Peter even thought for a second I had something to do
with that raid, I did not want to stick around Tampa wondering
whether or not I was going to get clipped or not just out of
suspicion.

Over the next few days, I made all the arrangements to
make the trip to Detroit. Snow was due soon and I needed to get
up there before the first snow since we were going to rent a
truck and drive there. I went into the truck rental place and told
them I just needed the truck for one day locally. Back then, you
did not even need a credit card to rent a moving truck. I drove it
home and took all the furniture that was in our furnished
apartment that came with renting it and loaded it all up in the
rental truck like I owned it all. Next, I went down to a local rent
to own place and I rented every cutting edge electronics I could
think of from a top of the line bad ass stereo system to the
biggest and best TV in the place. My first payment wasn’t even
due on any of it until the first of the month, but what did I care
about their payment plan; this shit was going to Detroit and I
loaded it on the truck with the rest of the stuff I did not own. So,
the next day I was to leave for Detroit with my moving truck
that was only rented for one day locally. It was filled
completely from front to back with brand new furniture and
electronics that cost me nothing. This shows you what a
different world it was back then. There is no way you could get
away with any of this now a days. However, back then, I could
take a twenty-dollar bill, rent a truck and load it up with all sorts
of rental stuff that I did not own and just drive away. We had
real freedom back in those days. Heck, today there would be a
camera shot at every red light and every intersection from
Tampa to Detroit recording my whole felonious journey. It
really was the last generation of freedom in America.
Nowadays, the government tracks every moment of your life, in
every confineable and conceivable way. My last night in
Tampa, I spent with Pep. We sat around and drank all night
long. I called my mom that evening and told her I was leaving
Tampa and going to Detroit for many of the same reason I left
South Florida. Clearly, my mother noticed a pattern to my life
as well, but she was still mom and loved me.

The next morning I was sleeping in one of Pep’s guest
rooms when Flo came in the room and woke me up and said my
mother was here. Still crawling out of my head from a night of
drinking I could not understand what she was saying, when all
of a sudden my mother walked in the room. I could not believe
my eyes. I thought I was dreaming. What the hell was my mom
doing in Pep’s apartment in Tampa? What I found out to this
day is something I will never ever forget. My mother pulled off
nothing short of a miracle.

After my mother had hung up with me, she declared to my
stepfather that she wanted to say goodbye to me in person. He
told her that without an address and phone number, it couldn’t
be done. My mother knew that she had a connection with me
that no one could explain and that she was going to say goodbye
to me in person no matter what. Early the next morning, she got
my stepfather and a friend of his named Jones Stevenson to set
out from Ft. Lauderdale towards Tampa. The entire trip they
kept telling her that this was a fool’s errand and that she could
never find me in a city of over a million people. They told her
that this entire trip was nuts and she was nuts for attempting it.
Even though they knew that they were just as crazy as my
mother was for driving her, my mother wasn’t deterred and they
kept on going toward Tampa Bay. As they entered town, my
mother spotted a moving truck. As with most large cities,
moving trucks are just about as prevalent as taxis or buses, so
when she declared that my stepfather should follow it, he and
his friend just shook their head and did as she said. At one
point, they were able to get alongside the truck and they shouted
out to the driver if they knew a Charles Walker. The girl in the
truck replied, “Rich Walker?” and my mom yelled, “Yes!”
The woman in the truck said, “I am Flo! Follow me!” They
drove to Pep’s place and woke me up. How on Earth this
happened is truly unexplainable and unbelievable, yet here it
was. My mother just drove into a big city of over a million
people and found me immediately. To this day I have a hard
time understanding that miracle, but then my mom reminds me
of another thing that was similar.

She claims when I was born in New York City I came into
the world at a hospital in Manhattan that no longer exists called
Jewish Memorial Hospital. My father was in the Navy at the
time and this hospital handled service families. Anyway, after I
was born, they took me and placed me in a room down the hall
from my mother with all the other babies. All night long my
mother would hear a baby crying and ask the nurses why I was
crying. The nurses got all angry with her and said, “That is not
your child ma’am.” When this kept going on all night, finally
one of the nurses took me back to my mother and the nurse sat
next to my mom’s bed and asked how on Earth with all the birth
mothers and babies that were there, she knew that was her child
crying. My mother just said, “I knew.” Those two stories, to me,
are unexplainable and connect me to my mother in ways I do
not have words for.

That morning we all went out to breakfast and had a nice
time. Afterwards, we hugged and gave kisses goodbye to each
other and Flo and I headed North on Interstate 75 towards
Detroit. My life was about to change once again.
 

21
We arrived in a suburb of Detroit called Garden City and
transformed Flo’s father’s basement into our new home. It was
actual pretty nice when decorated with all of our new items
from Florida. The winter hit not too long after we arrived and
soon I was living back in the snow again. Not since I was a kid
in New York did I live in real winter conditions although I
would visit New York when it snowed. As an adult it did not
seem so wonderful trying to get around in snow and ice. I did
not think that Peter was going to have me whacked but I did not
want to bet my life on it. I learned over the years that Italians
can be just as emotional as us Irish. I needed a break from the
whole scene and decide that I would enter into The Navy like
both of my grandfathers and my father. Peter damn sure could
not whack me on a military base and I needed to make a living
somehow. I talked it over with Flo and I decided to go enlist.
The Navy at the time was the only branch that would accept
someone without a high school diploma, as long as you could
pass their written test to get in. I took their test over the course
of two days and scored well, so they accepted me.

This was a big change for me and it was not long before I
figured out that this was the greatest mistake of my life and that
I would never volunteer for anything again as long as I lived.
The Navy was not for me. I lasted only two weeks in boot camp
before I ended up in their prison. My entire Navel career from
the minute they shaved my head, to the time I was kicked out,
only lasted four months. All but two weeks was I in actual boot
camp. The rest of the time, I was locked up on the base in a jail
that was called The Sixteenth Division or affectionately called
“Nuts and Bolts.” My stint there was so short that I did not earn
a discharge. What they gave me was called “a separation” and I
was told that if anyone ever asked, I did not have to even admit
I was in The Navy. The boot camp I went to was in Great
Lakes, Illinois, but everyone called it Great Mistakes. I could
not do a damn thing right while I was actually in a rifle
company. All the fucking marching and learning that damn
song “Anchors Away”, which I still have in my head to this
day, did not go well for me. Why the hell I decided to go to boot
camp in the dead of the winter in North Chicago is still beyond
my comprehension. All I can say is I was young, dumb and full
of cum to try the military.

I was put in these metal barracks with eighty other men.
My trouble started when the company commander brought me
in his office and asked what job I wanted in the Navy. I told him
I wanted to be a gunner’s mate. The guy went nuts on me,
telling me that I scored the highest on the written exam of
anyone in my rifle company and that people like me did not
become gunner’s mates. All I knew was I wanted to hang on the
edge of a ship and shoot the big ass guns. He explained the kind
of education they wanted to give me and all these plans for a
high brow job in the service, but at the end of his tirade, I just
told him I wanted to be a gunner’s mate. He threw me out of his
office and spent every waking moment that I had torturing me.
Every time I would make a mistake marching or making my
bunk in the mornings or even get my belt wrong, this bastard
would drop the other eighty men around me on the ground and
make them do pushups and all sorts of strenuous exercises. One
time we were in the barracks and he ordered me to sit at his
desk facing the whole rifle company. He ordered me to put my
legs up on his desk and eat a bag of potato chips while he
dropped eighty men right and front of me and pounded them for
an hour for some mistake I made. It wasn’t long before this rifle
company wanted me dead. Even my Bunkie on the bottom bunk
below me was abused every morning by the C. C. aka Company
Commander because I never could get my bunk and locker in
order each morning. I finally told the poor schmuck that I will
never get any of this right and that if he wanted to stop being
punished that he had to take care of my bunk and his too each
morning. He soon found that was his only way out of his
torture.

I was living in the middle of the worst nightmare in my life.
I signed the freaking contract and there was no way out of this. I
started writing people on the outside about my problems and I
wrote one letter to Flo describing to her my fantasy of having
the C. C. walk in the barracks in the morning, only to find the
entire rifle company had been murder by me, as I cut out
everyone’s stomach and placed it upon their chest. I describe
this macabre scene in my letter to Flo not knowing that the
government read our mail. One day the C. C. gathered up
everyone in the classroom and explained to everyone that the
Navy never knows what they will get when they recruit from
the streets of America and read my letter out loud to the whole
rifle company. They all sat their stunned as he read the
descriptions of how I was going to murder them all in their
sleep. Next thing I know I get tapped on the shoulder and
marched back to the barracks where I gathered up all my gear
and I was taken to a prison for the mentally ill called The
Sixteenth Division or ‘Nuts and Bolts’ as I later learned. They
sent me to a military shrink to evaluate my mental health. I saw
a doctor once and he asked me, “Do you want to get out of The
Navy or do you want to go back to your rifle company?” That
was a no-brainer for me; I told him cheerfully that I would like
to leave now. He told me the Navy was going to discharge me
on what is called a ‘medical separation for a personality
disorder.’ He explained to me it would take around three
months because my papers had to go to Washington, D.C. and
then be sent back to the base and the captain of the base had to
sign the papers. After that, he said the Navy would pay for a bus
ticket back to any city I wanted in America. It sounded like a
nice plan to me. However, what he failed to tell me was that I
would also have to survive their version of a prison for that
entire time without getting killed or charged with a crime or a
litany of others reasons they could keep me there forever or how
I could leave in a body bag. Little did I know, I was about to
embark on the toughest three months of my life.

22
Just imagine in your mind the worst-case scenario when it
comes to prisons or mental institutions. Then times that by two
and you might get the idea of this place so aptly named. My
first days there I realized that I was left in an extremely violent
place that was run by an out of control evil staff living out every
malevolent fantasy of abuse with captor and captive mindset.
The staff there at the time was completely unsupervised. The
only thing I can compare it to was years later when I saw the
pictures out of Iraq and the Abu Ghraib Prison scandal. The
staff that ran The Sixteenth Division in The Great Lakes Naval
Base, when I went there, was beyond sadistic. They were evil
incarnate. I wonder to this day if that place is still in existence.
I was not sure I was going to make it out of there at the time. I
could write an entire book about the pure evil of that place but
just to name a few things, they pitted inmates against each other
in fights and bet on it like back alley cock fights. Sleep was rare
as they would constantly wake everyone up pounding a metal
garbage can with a wooden club screaming at the top of their
lungs calling us scumbags and any other name they could
conjure up. They would make us go out into the dark night and
shovel parking lots of snow. That was one of their favorites
because it would take up two to three hours to clear the parking
lot by shoveling everything into one pile and then they would
tell us, “Now move the pile over here.” My bad luck was that I
went through this place during the holidays and I will never
forget being woken up to the smashing sound of the stick
against the metal garbage cans while the guards screamed,
“Happy New Year’s, you scumbags!”

This place was something else. I can’t remember how many
fights I got into the first two days. They had this thing called a
‘dryer room’ which was a concrete block four wall room with
one way in and one way out. In the room there was metal wire
above our heads to hang laundry to dry on it. However, the
room was used to send two inmates in to fight and have one
walk out and be the winner. Lucky for me I was pretty good at
fist fights and was able to survive that part of my stint there.

Another stroke of luck for me was I had some bruised ribs
and was sent to the hospital on the base and my visit there
changed everything for me. I learned at the hospital that there
was a van service that went from the hospital on the base to the
civilian hospital in downtown Chicago every half hour. The
important thing about that was civilians and not military
personnel drove this shuttle service. In the short time that I was
there in Great Mistakes I already learned that there were many
civilian contractors that worked on the base and that this crowd
helped smuggle in anything and everything anyone in boot
camp wanted. Whether it would be cash, booze, cigarettes or
anything, the civilians were making a mint smuggling stuff to
the people on the base who could not leave the base. Most of
the people that were going through boot camp in a rifle
company would get whatever they were denied by the Navy
from the civilian workers that worked at the restaurant on the
base called The Greasy Spoon. The staff there had an entire
underground system where anyone in boot camp could get
whatever they wanted on the base through that restaurant. Once
a week, every recruit that was going through boot camp on the
base would be allowed religious services and access to the
restaurant to eat every Sunday.

The fact that these rapacious civilians were driving the
shuttle service was a gold mine for me. I knew the Navy, in a
matter of months, was going to send me out into the world with
no money and no hair. All I was going to get was a bus ticket. I
needed to make some money to have with me when I returned
to Flo in Detroit. Flo and her father knew already I was getting
kicked out of the Navy. I told them and everyone after that to
this day that I was kicked out of the Navy because I was in a
fistfight where I partially blinded one of the staff there. I told
people that because the staff started the fight, the Navy could
not charge me with a crime; but they damn sure would throw
me out. I never told anyone I was kicked out of the Navy for a
personality disorder because they read the letter I sent to Flo
about murdering everyone in my rifle company. Amazing that if
the Navy believed I was a potential murderer that they would
just dump me back on the streets of America to kill someone.
Publishing in this book the real truth of my Naval Career is the
first time I have publicly admitted to anyone what happened in
there.

Knowing the shuttle service was leaving that hospital
every half hour, all I had to do was get a pass out of The
Sixteenth Division. The one thing I could always do is get a
pass to leave that building to go see a Catholic priest. Once or
twice a week I would get a pass to leave ‘Nuts and Bolts’ and
demand to see the priest. Then I would leave the building go
down to the hospital on the base and jump on the shuttle bus to
downtown Chicago. I would slip the driver a twenty dollar bill
each time and then spend the afternoon shopping all around
down town. I would buy everything from alcohol to cigarettes
to real clothes like sweat pants people could wear under their
uniforms to keep warm. I would then make it back to the base
on the shuttle van and sneak the stuff back into the building. I
would then sell everything. My most profitable thing was to sell
a single cigarette for five dollars; this was before the
government started taxing cigarettes to the hilt. I ran this hustle
for the entire time I was locked up waiting for my separation
papers. It was a risky thing because if I got caught I would be
charged with being AWOL and I could have been sentenced to
years in prison. However, there was no way I was going back to
Detroit empty handed. Once people in The Sixteenth Division
figured out I was their personal store to buy stuff, I never had to
fight again. The rest of my time there went smoothly.

Three months passed and my separation papers came back
from Washington, D. C. and I was released forever from the
Navy. I got the bus ticket to Detroit that was promised to me. I
cheerfully got on the bus and headed towards my new life with
a pocket full of cash. As I looked out of the bus’s window to the
snow driven terrain of the Midwest I realized once again my life
was about to change.
23
Returning back to Flo in Detroit did not last or go very
well. When I got back to her down in the basement of her
father’s house, I’m not so sure the Parkland’s were exactly
happy to see me. After all, I was thrown out of the service and
that had no honor. I had no idea what I was going to do for a
living, so just to get everyone off my back, I got a job at Pizza
Hut of all places. My first day there the phone rang at The Pizza
Hut and it was Flo on the phone. She was at the airport about to
get on a plane to fly back to her mother in Tampa. She told me
that she heard me on the phone with my high school sweetheart
Ann Marie. I did not remember too much of what I said on the
phone with my ex, but I’m sure the conversation was very
sexual in nature.

I was standing there in the middle of freaking Pizza Hut
trying to talk Flo into coming back home. I told her that she
could not just leave me there in Detroit at her father’s house. I
talked her down off the ledge of madness and she came home
from the airport. I apologized and made all sorts of promises
that night lying in bed with her. The next morning while Flo
was still asleep, I woke up, grabbed my shit, and took her car to
the truck rental place. I went in and rented another moving truck
for the day and just left Detroit and drove back to New York
where my family was. I never saw Flo ever again for the rest of
my life.

I drove the truck to New City, New York in Rockland
County, which was where my grandparents lived. New City was
a rich county that was twenty minutes outside New York City
off the Palisades Parkway. I just showed up and asked Grandpa
if I could stay with him and Grandma for a while. They knew I
just got out of the Navy and that it was under not so good
circumstances that I left. As I sat there at their dinner table that
first night, I let them know that the rental moving truck that was
in their driveway was stolen. After dinner, Grandpa and I drove
it to the supermarket in town and left it in the parking lot.
Grandpa even helped me wipe the whole truck down to get rid
of the prints. It was probably the only real crime he ever did in
his life. I remember it being a real adventure for him and he
tracked the truck for months before it was returned back to the
rental company. He kept giving me updates as to the status of
the truck. He would say, “It’s still there, Charlie.” with a grin on
his face. He was blown away that no one came for the truck for
so long. I told him, “Nobody gives a shit, Grandpa.” Things
really were different back then. Today the truck would have
been stopped from leaving its area with a GPS signal. Back
then, I could just rent it for a day for twenty bucks and drive it
all around the country. It was not stealing; we would just
borrow the damn truck and the rental companies didn’t give two
shits about any of it.

My grandparents ended up with a big house in Rockland
County, New York through the strangest of ways. We were just
a working class family from the city, so having our family now
based in New City was kind of cool. My grandmother had an
operation and the doctor left a surgical tool the size of a big
wrench in her and sewed her back up. She actual died a couple
of times during this incident and was brought back to life.
Needless to say, the lawyers had a field day with this and low
and behold our family was now part of Rockland County, New
York. Grandpa was doing his 40/40 plan at the time with the
electric company of New York City called Consolidated Edison
or Con Ed as everyone calls it. His generation was the last to
actual work for a company for forty years and was able to get
their forty-dollar gold watch. Grandpa was a meter reader for
Con Ed and would drive every morning from New City to New
York City to walk the streets of Manhattan and read the meters
of the buildings. He had an iron clad union job that was
completely untouchable and dripping with all of the insane
lifetime benefits that were afforded to blue-collar workers back
then. It was truly a different time and place. This country will
never again see anything close to what workers received from
companies back when the union was strong.

To highlight the untouchable nature of his job, there was
one high-rise in the city that had a superintendent that my
grandfather hated. The two just did not get along. Grandpa had
the master key to the building that could shut off all the electric
of the building at one time and throw everyone into darkness.
This was “the real” master key. Every seven years he would
walk up to this building and turn off the electric leaving
everyone to scramble in darkness until Con Ed could get out
there and turn the lights back on. This incident happened every
seven years, because union rules said after my grandfather did
this, they could only take the master key from him for seven
years. Every seven years, they would have to hand him back the
master key to that building according to union rules. While
walking along his route, he would once again turn the building
off that very day he got the key back.

When I was younger I used to laugh at this madness but
later on in life I thought about all the people in the building that
had nothing to do with that grudge that were thrown into
darkness over this thing between the super of that building and
my grandfather. Whatever happened between those men it
seemed very personal. However, knowing Grandpa, it could
have been something as simple as the guy making some remark
about a horse Grandpa was betting on. Horse betting was
Grandpa’s passion. At the time there were store fronts all over
New York that you could walk into and walk up to a window
and bet on a horse race that day. Horses run each and every day
and you can bet on them, if that is your thing. He would make
little dollar bets on this horse or that horse each day. It was
called Off Track Betting or OTB, which is what every one
called it. Grandpa lived for OTB and would stop by any given
window during his shift of walking up and down the streets of
New York City reading the electric meters of buildings and
make a bet on a horse. Every once in a while he would turn a
three dollar bet into three hundred dollars and he would be the
proudest man in all of New York. It really didn’t matter what
money the man had made, he had a step daughter, one of my
aunts, which would siphon off every dollar the poor guy ever
earned, but that is a whole other book. Grandpa was a standup
guy and I loved almost everything about the man. He wasn’t my
biological grandfather, he was my grandmother’s second
husband; but he had such an influence on me anyway and who I
learned my work ethic from.

Now that I was living so close to New York City, my
telemarketing blood started to heat up in my criminal veins. I
just knew if I started looking, I could find something right up
my alley. I got word from back home in South Florida that my
old partner Peter Giovanni and his entire family was busted and
sent to prison. Apparently after I left, they got real greedy and
were sending out the lock picks C.O.D. Cash Only and refusing
to refund anyone a dime. They ran it that greedy way until they
were all sent to prison for ten years or so. I felt it was all clear
now to return to South Florida. For some reason I felt I was
going to settle in with my new residence and I needed to just
hang out low for a while. My life had been through some
dramatic events and I still did not feel I had an idea what
direction I wanted to go. I was still in the middle of a bad ass
northern winter and I thought once spring broke I could make a
move. I wanted to settle in with my family in New York and get
in touch once again with my Irish roots. My great grandmother
from Ireland was still alive at the time and I think I needed
some sense of normalcy in my insane life.

I decided to get a job in downtown New City at the drug
store called Drug World. I was fresh out of the Navy and I had a
very clean cut look to me. I walked in the store and got an
interview with this hot blond that ran the place. I told her that I
was accepted into Princeton, but put it on hold because I was
here to take care of my great-grandmother who had failing
health. I was hired instantly and they were proud to have such a
nice young man working for them. I would walk down
Highway 304 from the house off of Arlene Court and trek
through the snow to Drug World each day. I helped stack the
shelves and pretty much did anything a nice young man with a
strong back would do for the nice, rich, white ladies of
Rockland County. After work, I would either go over to the one
shady block of New City that actually had a black family living
there and I would smoke pot and have sex with probably one of
the very few black women in all of Rockland County, New
York at the time. She also worked at Drug World and while the
hot blond who ran the place was trying to flirt with me, the
average looking black lady was giving me head back in the
storage room. It would have been quite the scandal if we would
have been caught. After work, I’d either go over her house or
met Grandpa at a local bar in New City called Ponchos and
Gringos. I’d sit and drink while listening to his stories about his
colorful life or how his step daughter was going take all their
money because he could not stop Grandma from giving her
money every time she’d ask and she would ask all the time. I
pretty much spent the winter in this kind of routine. I was
enjoying this time with my family. On the weekends other
members of the family would show up to the big house for
dinner and spend the day from all different other parts of New
York. I missed a lot of this kind of thing growing up in Florida.

Life went on like this for me throughout the entire winter
and into spring when everything would once again change with
one phone call. The only phone in the entire huge house was in
the kitchen and it hung on a wall against this god awful
wallpaper. It had an extremely long cord that you could walk
around from room to room with it as to try to have a private
conversation. Cordless phones had not been invented yet. Push
button phones did exist at the time, but my grandparents still
had the rotary phone. This was the world of communications
before caller ID, call waiting and other things we take for
granted nowadays like smart phones.

The phone rang and Grandma answered it. She yelled that
the call was for me. I walked into the kitchen and she handed
me the receiver. I said hello and the voice on the other end
shocked me right down to my very core. It was Peter Pignola. It
was the mob! I thought, “Oh My God they found me!” Panic set
in while I tried to apperceive how on Earth they found me at
this house or got this phone number. It wasn’t until many years
later that I figured out it was probably Flo that gave Peter my
grandmother’s number and not some super human power of The
Mob to track me down. After all, Flo’s mother Connie stilled
worked for Peter.

Peter started off the conversation saying that he owed me
an apology. He said that he should have never fired me, because
when they went back after I left and ran the numbers, yes I had
a lot of charge backs, but because I wrote so much business they
figured out I actually had a lower percentage of charge backs
then the rest of the staff. He told me he knew I had nothing to
do with the raid and that had nothing to do with anything I did
for him. He explained to me that they wanted to relocate to
Atlanta, Georgia and start up a new phone room there where the
laws were more relaxed for our kind of thing. He offered me a
job and asked me to come down to Atlanta and get back to
doing the thing that I do and we can start “rocking and rolling
again.” Those were the words he used. I accepted his apology
and his job offer on the spot. He told me that when he hangs up
with me, he will purchase a plane ticket for the next flight out to
Atlanta and I needed to get down to the airport right now. He
asked me what airport I wanted to fly out of and that he would
have his man Jerry Thomas there at the airport in Atlanta to
pick me up tonight. I told him that I wanted to fly out of
Newark Airport because the traffic was easier for me. We said
our goodbyes and I hung up the phone and looked over at my
grandparents and said, “I got a job!” Everyone in the house
stood up congratulating me. I told Grandpa the only problem is
I’ve got to leave now because the job is in Atlanta and I needed
a ride down to the airport. Grandpa woke up very early in the
mornings to do his job and he went to bed early. However, the
thought of getting me out of his hair was too inviting and he
agreed to take on the evening traffic and take me now down to
Jersey. I arrived at the airport where there was a first class ticket
waiting for me. I hugged Grandpa goodbye and thanked him for
everything. As the plane took off into the sky, I looked back at
the skyline of New York City as the plane circled around before
it made its southern path. As the lights started to fade I stared
out the window knowing my life was about to change once
again.

24
When I arrived in Atlanta Jerry Thomas was there to pick
me up in a Cadillac. Jerry was an alright kind of guy. He was
Peter’s man that ran the phone rooms for him. The problem
with Jerry was his wife. Apparently, Jerry suffered from some
kind of accident or condition and the word on the street was he
could not get an erection or at least this is what his wife would
tell everyone. She was an extremely aggressive woman that
would pay the men in the phone rooms fifty dollars to fuck her.
I’m not one to judge anyone’s particular freak but this lady was
not a lady and I could not stand her. I never took her money and
I made it a habit of not fucking other men’s old ladies in phone
rooms. Jerry took me out to dinner at some Chinese restaurant
in Atlanta. At the dinner he told me that Peter already got me a
place to live. He said that it was a real nice place that was
already furnished. He gave me the low down of the phone room
and I realized I was going to be the first one on the phones and
that they were going to build this entire phone room around me
and my talents.

After dinner, Jerry dropped me off and I went into my new
place. It was a real nice apartment and I just laid down on the
bed with my hands behind my head staring up at the ceiling
taking in my new environment, when all of a sudden there was a
knock at the door. I figured it was Jerry and he forgot to tell me
something. I opened the door and it was Jerry’s wife. Before I
could say anything, she blasted past me holding up a fifty-dollar
bill in her hand. She goes and lies on my bed telling me she is
glad to see me. I was so freaking angry. I asked her to leave and
told her I was tired. The woman would not listen to a word I
was saying and she started to take off her clothes. I told her if
she did not leave I was going to call the cops. Finally the broad
gets up and leaves. I slammed the door and sat down very
angry. I mean I wanted to make money with Peter for sure, but
there was no other guy in the phone room for this broad to fuck.
There was no way I was going to have to deal with this. I picked
up the phone, called my old friend Pep in Tampa, and asked
him to come pick me up immediately. He drove up and picked
me up within eight or nine hours and we left and went back to
Tampa. Of course, Pep helped himself to a lamp and a waste
paper basket being the thief that he is, but I was not going to
complain, I just got from New York to Tampa and it did not
cost me a dime.

Pep was now living in another apartment complex behind
Ryan’s Steak House in Tampa. He was working as a waiter in
the place. I stayed with him for a week or so and he got me a
job there. After one day of that bullshit, I asked him to drive me
back to South Florida. The other Peter was now in prison and
all that shit was old news anyway. I was a little older and wiser
now and I realized I probably never needed to even leave South
Florida. I was young and on drugs back then, maybe I should
have just worked all that out with Pete, but I was not one to cry
over spilled milk. All I knew was I left South Florida over some
dude’s chick that would not leave me alone and I returned for
the same reason. Pep drove me back to Fort Lauderdale and I
had him drop me off at The Galahad South, which was a high-
rise on the beach in Hallandale my stepmother lived at. I needed
a place to stay and I was real close with her. She was the ex-
wife of my stepfather and for years I would have sex with her
and her daughter who was my stepsister. Back then my mom
got married to this dude and walked in and said, “Here is your
new stepsister.” She was a hot blond a year younger than me. I
said whatever and just took her virginity and then slept with her
and her mother for over twenty-something years. For most of
that twenty-something years neither one knew the other was
sleeping with me. These two women had severe emotional
issues to say the least but I loved both of them in their own
ways and I felt safe with them.

After a couple of day hanging out at the beach I noticed
that the man that was working the valet service for the building
was my old social studies teacher that was fired for be a raging
drunk. I could not believe my luck; it was like Christmas in the
spring. Later that night I slipped him a fifth of vodka and went
back a few hours later and the guy was passed out drunk in the
valet room. He was sleeping on this stool just snoring away.
Above his head was a board full of hooks that held the keys to
every car in the building that used the valet. I saw one that said
Volvo and I snatched it off the hook real fast and walked out
into the parking lot. I walked up and down the rows looking for
a Volvo and low and behold, I found the only one in the parking
lot. I slipped the key in the lock and bingo I had a car.

I drove through the night back to Ocala Florida to visit my
dad. Pop and my mother had been complaining that I was back
but did not come and see them. Here their son had been living
in Tampa, Detroit, North Chicago and New York and now he
was back and was being a bad son who did not stop by to see
his folks. I drove to my grandmother’s house, called my pop in
the morning, and told him to come over to his mother’s and
meet me for breakfast. When he arrived and saw the Volvo in
the driveway he asked me where I got the car and I told him the
story. He just shook his head and laughed while we sat in the
kitchen. Grandma, the evil one, was cooking us breakfast and
my dad asked if I wanted to go on a canoe trip. It was
springtime again and the park service started up the canoe runs
down the Ocklawaha River. You could park your car at the end
of the ten-mile run and the park service would drive everyone
back to the starting point where you dropped in the river. I told
him I had some Placidyl pills from South Florida and if he
brought the vodka, we could have a good trip. These were
amazing pills that would get you fucked up. They were hard to
get but I knew a guy on the beach who could get anything. By
this time in life, I always tried to bring my father some kind of
pills to make him happy to see me. Elvis famously gave
Priscilla two of them and she slept for three days without
waking up, so I thought he’d like these pills. We ate up the
breakfast Satan cooked up for us and headed out the door to the
liquor store. In order to get the park service to drive you to the
starting point you had to be there by a certain time.

The trip was going fine while the both of us paddled down
the river. The alligators swam beneath our canoe and all of the
wildlife that lived on the river was coming alive for the
springtime. Pop brought a jug that was used for drinking water
that he kept empty to put all his stuff in. He could keep all his
keys and wallet along with the pills in this jug that would float
in case we tipped over. He wore a floatation device because he
never learned how to swim and if we tipped over, he along with
the jug would float. We drank vodka as we traveled down The
Ocklawaha River and all of a sudden my father goes to make a
sudden move and we tipped over the canoe and we found
ourselves in the river. We got everything upright and made it
over to the riverbank so we could get everything organized.
Sitting on the bank of the river, Pop went to take some of those
pills I brought him. When he opened the jug, he could see that it
leaked and there was water in it. The water liquefied the green
pills turning the bottom of the jug into this green puddle of
narcotic soup. I told him to dump it, but he decided to drink the
green liquid Slurpee-like Elvis Cocktail and I just sat there
wondering what that would feel like for a high. I joined him in
the madness and that changed the trajectory of the entire trip. I
don’t remember much after that, but I slightly remember
smashing into trees later down the river and tipping over several
times. We ended up stoned out of our minds sitting on the bank
of the river passed out until the next day.

At some point, we made it back to civilization and I left
Ocala driving my new Volvo towards Tampa. I wanted to visit
Pep next and after that return to South Florida to go see my
mom.

When I arrived at Pep’s place, he asked me where I got my
new car and I told him the story. He was not working that day
so we decided to just hang out and party a little. Pep decided to
throw a little party and introduce me to his new crowd of
friends that were the service workers from Ryan’s Steak House.
During the course of the night, Pep could not shut his mouth
telling everyone at the party that I stole this car outside. People
would walk downstairs to go look at it and point at it like it was
some kind of game. I pulled Pep into the bedroom and asked
him to stop telling everyone about the car. The stupid idiot
could and would not shut up about the freaking car. The next
morning I got into the Volvo and drove back to South Florida. I
realized that Pep could not keep his mouth shut and was
somewhat of a blabbermouth. Pep had no code that he lived by.
He was never to be trusted and the man did not care about
anybody but himself.

I drove back to The Galahad South where my step mom
lived on the beach and where I jacked the car. I parked the
Volvo in the exact same parking space I took it. Too many
people knew now that I had this car thanks to Pep’s big mouth. I
needed to get rid of it. I wiped the car down to get rid of any
prints, I left the keys, and a half smoked joint in the ashtray. I
left all the windows down and walked away. I did not steal the
car, in the end; I just borrowed it. I would have loved to see the
face of the people who owned that car, when weeks and many
miles on the odometer later, their car returned to the exact same
spot unharmed. I wonder whether he already got a check for the
car from the insurance company yet. Either way, I noticed that
my old high school teacher was no longer working valet at The
Galahad South.

I called my mom and asked if I could come stay with her
for a little while. It was time for me to go get a job. I had
decided it was time for me to return to telemarketing in South
Florida. This time I was going to really make my mark. Little
did I know how much my life was about to change again. Not
realized it at the time, I was about to build a multimillion dollar
criminal enterprise that would span from coast to coast and get
the attention of the Congress, the Justice Department and bring
about changes in the laws of The United States that would affect
every American sitting around the table eating dinner.
25
Right out of the gate I land a job in Lauderhill, Florida at a
firm called Rest Marketing. This was one of the premier
telemarketing jobs and firms in our world. The firm was owned
by a man named Ed and was filled with many of the high-end
talent of telemarketing closers that came out of Las Vegas. Rest
Marketing was one of the two top firms in all of South Florida
that employed some of the best talent on the phone that were
ever produced. These were telephone con men that could pick
up the phone and make six figures a year just as a salesman,
while never even working an eight hour day. Rest Marketing
along with another firm, were the two top places any
telemarketer wanted to be. They paid thirty-five percent and if
you could sell, there was big money to be made. The real
closers were called reloaders and each and every one of them
was provided their own office with their own personal
secretary. These were the top tier shady telemarketers of our
nation and they brought in big money and were paid
accordingly. They were the tip of the spear of any and every
way money could be extracted over the phone. They were the
innovators of the greatest pitches and marketing schemes that
ever came about. They pushed telemarketing and stretched it to
its absolute limits. Journalists wrote articles about these guys.
Psychologists tried to understand these men and dissect their
brains. They were the kind of guys that The United States
Government would chase to the four corners of the Earth once
the war began on Telemarketing Fraud and I walked right
through the front door and landed a spot as a fronter. It was the
first door I knocked on and they did not know who I was, but
that didn’t matter, I knew who they were.

I’d like to say that I was there to be a sponge that would
absorb their business model and duplicate it to my own means
or that I was there with a master plan. However, that day when I
got the job, I wondered through my own self doubt whether I
could do it once again. Did I still have it in me to rise to the top
and crush these guys? I wondered whether or not if I still had
the gift. It had been awhile and I had been through so much.
Now I had to start from ground level and learn everything all
over again. I had to start as a fronter in the front room and work
my way to the back offices where the big money was made and
where I get my own personal secretary. Now I had to sink or
swim and I had to do it in front of some of the best that ever
picked up a phone. It was time to go to the bar, I got a job and I
needed a drink.

The way Rest Marketing worked was that it was an Ad
Spec Firm or Advertising Specialty Company. What they sold
was advertising specialty items for businesses. They strictly
sold business to business and did not market anything to
residential homes and the people who lived in them. They sold
pens, key chains, business cards or anything they could print the
company name of a business on. Rest Marketing sold these
kinds of ad spec items to the business owners directly. The
business owners that bought them to hand out to their clients or
customers as a form of advertising used these advertising
specialties items or ad specs. The sales force was separated into
two categories called fronters and reloaders. The fronters were
all housed in one big call center room made up of many
cubicles called the front room and the reloaders or reload
department were individual offices manned by one salesman
called a reloader and his personal secretary. The owner and his
administration staff had another part of the building and the
shipping department had their section too.

Rest Marketing was an outgoing phone room, which meant
that the sales force made all calls and we were always dialing
out. It was not an inbound phone room where the company
would drop mail and wait for the people to call. Ten years
before Rest Marketing was even a company, the ad specs
industry would sell their clients using a pitch over the phone
that there was a company that went out of business that made
pens and that we could print their company name on the pens at
a discounted cost. The pitch would explain that the pens were
acquired so cheap because the warehouse went out of business
and that your company could pick them up at a great discounted
price and we could just print their names on the pens. This pitch
was a very vanilla way for selling things like pens and business
cards. From time to time the pitch would also offer them on the
other end of the phone some tickets to a jamboree or something.
The whole thing was innocent enough or as honest as it gets. Of
course there was no pen warehouse that went out of business
and the prices were set by the ad spec industry, however it was
fairly a clean way to sell the stuff. Now fast forward to Rest
Marketing and companies like it. They were now selling the
same pens to the same business owners, but this time making
them think they were getting one of four awards with the
purchase of the pens or any of the advertising specialty items.
Just like when I sold the vitamins, the list of awards always
stayed the same. The only award on the list that would ever
change would be the vacation certificate and that would
sometimes be replaced with a diamond tennis bracelet. The
other three awards were always a large amount of cash, a car
and number four was always one thousand dollars in cash. The
booby prize was always number three on the list of awards. The
vacation certificates to god knows where, would from time to
time be under a lot of heat because of all the problems it caused,
so the criminals would plug in a bullshit diamond bracelet that
always came with some outrageous appraisal in writing that was
not worth the paper it was printed on. If any heat over the
bracelet came to the phone rooms, they would just show the
appraisal to the authorities and blame the diamond people. The
diamond bracelet people would always blame the appraiser and
the appraiser was never to be found and always changed names.

Now because Rest Marketing did not drop mail, we had to
call the business owners ourselves and make believe that we did
drop mail and that the person on the other end of the phone
must have missed it or maybe it got lost in the mail somehow.
The pitch would go like this. I would call a business and ask to
speak to the owner. Once I got through that was half the battle.
After getting them on the phone, I would say something like
this using my phone name. Back then it was legal to use a
phone name like an author would use a pen name. I said, “Hi,
this is Scott Starr with Rest Marketing; I’m calling you about
the envelope I mailed to you about the premium incentive
program where you were guarantee one of four awards.”

The person would almost always say “What envelope?”

I would say, “You know the one that came to you with the
gold eagle on the outside of it. Anyway, the reason for the call
is, I was following up on the award that you have been selected
to receive and if you don’t have the envelope with you right
now, can you grab an pen and a piece of paper, I need to give
you the list of awards. One of them is guaranteed to you through
our premium incentive program. You got something to write
on? Great, number one on the list is a brand new Cadillac;
number two on the list is ten thousand dollars in cash, number
three is a three-carat diamond tennis bracelet and number four is
one thousand dollars in cash. The first thing I want to tell you is
congratulations! You are absolutely guaranteed one of the four
awards with the participation of our premium incentive
program. You did not win any of this, because it is not a
contest. If it were a contest, you would have to pay Uncle Sam
taxes on your winnings. For you, not only do you not have to
pay any taxes no matter which award you receive, but you can
actually write off all of this at the end of the year in your taxes
for advertising expenses. To be guaranteed one of those four
awards all you have to do is buy a small box of advertising from
us in the form of pens with your company name printed on them
for five hundred and ninety nine dollars. Just pass out the pens
to your customers around town, write off the purchase in your
taxes as an advertising expense and enjoy one of those four
awards on your list. I hope you drive away with that brand new
car, but if you only receive number four, you’re not going to
call me back disappointed that you received one thousand
dollars for buying a five hundred and ninety-nine dollar box of
advertising would you?”

The pitch was just like when I was selling vitamins except
this time, instead of telling the poor slob to throw the vitamins
in the trashcan, I just told them to pass out the pens to people
and write off the cost of the pens in their taxes. Either way, how
could they lose, or so the pitch went.

It wasn’t long before I figured out that I never missed a
beat and still had all my phone skills that made me who I was.
Once again I dazzled the phone room with all my antics of
standing up while pitching, using my voice and inflections in a
certain way and all of the things that made me a different kind
of telemarketer than the normal schmuck that was in and out the
revolving door of the telemarketing world. For most people
telemarketing was a stopover to some better job. Many people
were just looking for some fast cash while going to college or
looking for a better job or career. I was the career telemarketer
who knew the money that could be made with this skill and
trade. For us, this was our career and the suckers who played it
straight were the sheeple marching to the slaughter house with
their paychecks in hand.

Very quickly I garnered the attention of the higher ups at
Rest Marketing. The man that ran the phone room was a guy
named Richard Rockwell. Richard and his beautiful wife Cat
were from Las Vegas and were the career types that knew how
to do this thing. Richard was an older guy who looked like Elvis
and Cat was a showgirl-looking type with perfect store bought
breasts and long fake blond hair with a beautiful face. She was
Italian and that olive skin just did something for me. It was
there that I met Fred Sparks who was this handsome smooth
talking type that could talk a woman out of her panties or a
client out of his credit card information. He was an older
gentleman that always wore suits. We all struck up a friendship
right away and started hanging out after work at the bar and the
beach.

I was working as a fronter and fronters only sold the client
once. Then, forty-five days later, the reloader would sell them
again and start the client through a process with a pitch and
method called “Down the Road” where they were turned into
this long-term client that bought ad specs from us every forty-
five days for years on end. The fronter was only there to
produce leads and clients for the reloaders. We would front and
then they would reload them. They would load up the client
with so much of our product that after years of buying from us,
the client had a garage full of advertising specialty items with
their company name on it to pass out. They could spend a
lifetime trying to pass out all the pens, key chains and stuff we
printed their company name on and still never come across
enough people in the world to get rid of it all. The reloader was
the one the made the real money. He was the one who would
develop a long-term relationship with the client and turn a guy
who original only wanted to claim an award, into a long term
client of our firm who spent his entire yearly advertising budget
and more with us.

From my cubicle in the offices of Rest Marketing, I could
see across the room to a window into an office of one of the
reloaders there named Bobby. Bobby was an extremely
overweight black guy who was good at three things. He could
eat, close a deal over the phone and snort cocaine. These three
things Bobby excelled in. In the window was this pretty chick
named Tonya and she was his secretary. Little did I know at the
time, but that lady behind the glass, was going to be my future
wife and ride along with me all the way to the top of the food
chain in the world of telemarketing and right into a set of
handcuffs put on by The FBI.
26
It did not take me long before I asked the cute girl out who
was in the window of the reloader Bobby. My modus operandi
with phone rooms was to sleep with the ladies that work there
and find out all of the secret stuff though pillow talk. My goal at
Rest Marketing was to become a reloader and break into the
upper echelon of that world. These were my first intentions with
Tonya. However, I soon realized that we really clicked and this
was going to be something a little more than the normal routine.
Tonya was one year younger than I was and we just hit it off
from of first date. The first date lasted thirty-five days because
we never left each other’s side. She lived with her mother in a
part of Fort Lauderdale called Oakland Park, a blue-collar
working class town that was mixed with all sorts of nationalities
and people. Her mother drove a city bus for decades around
Broward County and they had this tiny little house off of one
the main drags through town. I slept there every night for thirty-
five days straight and went to work each day at Rest Marketing.
Tonya turned me on to this Columbian Bakery that was to die
for. Each morning we’d head over there to grab some fresh
empanadas and head to the office. That was a good summer full
of such promise as I look back.

Towards the end of August, I decided it was time to bring
Tonya home and have her meet my mother. Any time
throughout my life I thought the broad was important to me; I’d
bring her home to meet my Irish Mother. My mother always
rejected whoever it was and told her bad shit about me. She was
a typical Irish Mother and every Mick out there knows what I
am talking about. My mother loved one girl I was with in High
School named Ann Marie and everyone that came after that
little Italian girl was always shit to Mom. So I brought Tonya
into the house I grew up in and we were having a nice night
with Mom when all of a sudden there was a knock at the door. I
opened the door and it was a couple of cops.

Growing up in that house, my mother got very used to cops
knocking at the door about her three boys. One was always into
something or another, but this time the cops had a completely
different posture to them. I asked if I could help them and they
ask to come in. Normally the answer to that question is always
‘absolutely not’, but this just seem very different. I let them in
and they looked passed me and asked my mother her name and
then said ma’am we need you to sit down. The cops explained
that my brother Keith was dead! The scream my mother let out
was something I have no words to describe to this day. I can
still hear it today echoing in my mind’s eye. All I remember
was that my legs gave out; I fell against the wall and slid down
it in slow motion. I just could not stand. I lost all control of my
legs. I sat there leaned up against the wall while Tonya was
trying to console me and the cops were explaining to us how my
brother Keith killed himself.

Apparently, my brother held his girlfriend and another
woman hostage at gunpoint. The friend got out of the bathroom
window and called the cops, as the cops charged the house
Keith walked his girlfriend to the front door and then walked
back into her kitchen and shot himself in the heart. Keith was
always a troubled kid and had a history of violence. I will never
know why on Earth he did that to himself, but I soon learned
suicide is not something that you do to yourself, but rather
something that affects an entire family. It is the single most
selfish thing a human being can do. In the end, I guess I was
just grateful he did not take anyone with him.

I walked away from my job at Rest Marketing and kind of
fell off the grid after the funeral. I was pretty fucked up over all
of this and watching my mother have a nervous breakdown was
something that tore into me even further. I can honestly say my
mother was never the same again. I have two versions of my
mother, one is before Keith’s suicide and the second is after.
The two women are and will always be two completely
different human beings all in one body. My family has never
truly healed from this event and putting this down in this novel
is the first time I have ever written about it or talked about it at
all in real life. Just typing these words is a bit of a burden.

I got a job in Miami that was in no way in the circles of
Rest Marketing. It was an incoming phone room that used an
automatic dialing machine calling numbers and had a recording
telling them to call to get an award. I knew no one knew
anything about this company and I could just be left alone. The
friends I made at Rest Marketing were trying to reach out to me
and pull me back to a normal life, but I wanted nothing to do
with it.

For months I would just answer the phones there and close
deals all day and take the money at the end of the week and fly
to The Bahamas with it. I just needed to leave the country and
get lost. It was only a nineteen minute flight to Freeport,
Bahamas and I would take a taxi into the local part of town with
a guy I worked with that was nowhere near any touristy spot
and get a hotel in the real Bahamas. I would get a black hooker
and smoke crack all weekend long. Sunday I would make my
way back to The Princess Casino where I ate this orange glazed
rabbit that they had on their buffet and I would sit at the
blackjack table and drink rum and cokes for free. Then when I
finally stopped shaking from the cocaine I would get on the
plane Sunday night and fly back to Miami. I did this routine
every week for months just stuck in this terrible depression and
circle of despair. Somehow, I was still dating Tonya, kind of,
and also banging some other ladies. I was just as lost as a
human being could be. I was stuck in a rut and I did not care. I
got off this conveyer belt of failure in the strangest of ways.

I was with my mom one night when this girl that I grew up
with when I was very young who lived across the street came
back to town and knocked on our door for a visit. The two of us
went out to this lake we all used to hang out on and sat there on
the tailgate of her pickup truck. She filled me in on how her life
had been, her mom and all. Her mother was so beautiful and
was always the neighborhood druggie and whore. Back then
The Miramar Cops would go over Kathy’s house, bring her
grass and coke, and fuck her. Her daughter Missy sat there that
night telling me through her eyes what she thought of me and
how she had this secret crush on me. She regaled me with
stories from our childhood and slowly but surely I started to
remember who I was and where I came from. Missy made me
feel alive again in a way I cannot explain. It was the weirdest of
things; she snapped me back and had no idea what she was
doing. Looking at me through her eyes just woke me up. I
cannot believe how much her family affected my life and me.

Every boy has one and only one wet dream in a lifetime.
Missy’s mom Kathy was the one wet dream I had as a young
boy. I remember waking up so scared about the mess in my bed
and it was all over that dream about her mother. I tried to fuck
Missy right there on the edge of her pickup truck; I wanted to
slip it in her so bad, but she went off on some tangent about
how she had been loose like her mother and she wanted it to be
real with me and wanted to wait and do it right. I told her I
understood and had her drive me back to my mom’s making all
sorts of promises to see her again. We kissed goodnight and I
went in the house and called Tonya to come pick me up. I had
no time for Missy’s magical thinking; it was time to get back to
my life. There was fucking money to be made and Miramar was
the last place I wanted to be. Tonya picked me up that night and
I kissed her, placing my lips from one world on to another, it
was like I had crossed this imaginary bridge. We drove off and I
looked her in the eyes and told her that I loved her for the very
first time.
27
Leaving the 1980’s behind, I personally embraced and
looked forward to the 1990’s. Everything was changing in the
world. My 80’s hair-bands were replaced with grunge music out
of Seattle and I was now in my twenties and on the way to
building my empire. I got a job as a fronter in the other of the
two telemarketing firms that meant anything at the time in the
world of Ad Specs. Tonya and I got an apartment and moved in
together. We got our first place in Tamarac, Florida, which was
back then, a well-to-do part of Broward County that was part of
all the great towns that were being built out west at the time.
Broward County had seen incredible expansion throughout the
eighties and they were building towns and subdivisions right up
to the edge of the Everglades. If you were white and had some
money, you either lived on the beach or out in the western
communities of Broward County.

Everything in South Florida was always a status symbol
kind of thing and keeping up with the Jones’ was very much a
part of our collective communal DNA back then. What
neighborhood one lived in really meant something in South
Florida at that time. South Florida is the melting pot of the
melting pot and depending on what part of the tri county area
you were in meant whether the people around you even spoke
the same language you do. Where you stood, also determined
whether your personal safety was or was not in fact
questionable.

Tonya grew up in Oakland Park and I grew up in Miramar;
our first place as a couple was not a bad move up from where
we came from. Even as young as we were, everybody grows up
fast in a big city. Tonya had already been married and divorced
by the time I met her. She married some Colombian guy so he
could get citizenship and already had some baby that she gave
up for adoption when she was sixteen from another man.
Between the two of us, we had a lot of life experience already
and we made pretty good money together. Living with someone
is the only way to really get to know each other. I do not care
how long a couple dates; until they live together, they will never
know each other.

During this time, Tonya and I started to really get to know
one other and we got to know and meet the people of our
families. She came from a big family that was from Kentucky.
Most all the family still lived there, but many of her brothers
and sisters lived in Florida. She never really grew up with a
father figure because her mother divorced a couple of times.
Giving her baby away at an early age, all added up and took a
toll on her personality while helping shape what kind of a
woman she was to become. She had coldness to her and she had
a violent streak in her that was very surreptitious, that she only
revealed to me as far as I knew. Life had not been easy for me
and those traits in her felt very familiar to me. I found her to be
very interesting and somewhat of a puzzle for me to figure out.
She liked to be hit. She explained to me that she liked to be
smacked around and actually felt unloved if I did not oblige this
craving. It would turn her on and many times this would turn
into sex. Our sex life was the one area we did not click very
well. In her defense, ninety-nine percent of the female
population would not fit my sexual desires. I liked a real whore,
a bad girl that would do anything. I had been doing group sex
since I was fourteen and my cravings were way off the chart
from most people. Tonya was very vanilla in bed and I did not
rock her boat with revealing the madness that was me. Since I
had never been faithful to a woman in my life, how Tonya was
in bed held very little importance to me. I had my swingers
clubs and a stable of women in South Florida that I could
always sleep with.

I added Tonya’s sister, Debbie, to that stable, because she
was very much like me in this area. I always wondered if I
settled down with the wrong sister because Debbie and I could
have just lived an open lifestyle together; she loved sex.
However Tonya was my girl and despite my flaws with this part
of life I did enjoy being with her. It was around this time when
Tonya got wind that the person they she knew as her father, was
not in fact her father. Apparently, she was the only one of all the
siblings that had a different father but no one would tell her the
truth or the story behind any of it. Tonya confronted her mother
who refused to talk about it. This subject of who her father was
severely hurt Tonya and it had a very negative effect on her
sanity. She was going bat shit crazy trying to figure it out. I
decided all on my own to hire a private investigator and do
some digging myself to see what I could come up with. What I
found not even Shakespeare could have dreamed up.

I uncovered that Tonya’s mother Vinetta was kidnapped
when she lived in Kentucky and was held hostage by her
kidnapper for thirteen days in a barn while repeatedly being
raped. Tonya was the product of that rapist and those repeated
rapes. As I dug further, I found out that she had a half-brother
who was the son of the rapist guy and that her half-brother was
in prison doing life because he murdered his parents. So
Tonya’s half-brother murdered the rapist that raped Tonya’s
mother along with the rapist’s wife who was the brother’s
mother. The whole thing blew my mind! It was this famous
murder case in Kentucky that had articles and all sorts of press
about it. Her half-brother killed his parents and put their bodies
in a steel drum on the property and went about life like nothing
was wrong. Soon the bodies of his parents were found in the
drum and he was sentenced to life in prison, because he killed
his own parents. This bloodline of Tonya explained the violent
streak in her and so much more.

I debated whether or not to tell her the truth with what I
found, but I just could not hold back something this stupefying.
If I were she, I would want to know. I told Tonya and she just
lost her mind crying. She confronted the rest of her family who
was now very angry at me for uncovering all of this and
everyone owned up to the truth. Strangely enough this entire
journey brought Tonya and me much closer together. I was the
only one she could trust, her whole family lied to her
throughout her entire life. We were starting to build a bond I
thought could never be broken by anyone or anything. Our
future together would test this premise.

28
My time working the front rooms of Advertising Specialty
Firms in South Florida finally paid off. A group put together by
Richard Rockwell and Danny Maze out of California got the
backing of a cash flush set of Colombians with plenty of money
to burn. Richard and Danny set up an incoming phone room in
West Palm Beach, Florida where they would drop mail and light
the phones up. Fred Sparks and I were tapped to be the
reloaders of the firm. My dream of finally joining the upper
echelon of high paying reloaders was being realized. All my
hard work as a fronter paid off and I was now given a chance to
see if I could hang with the big boys. Richard Rockwell gave
me my chance and saw in me enough talent to give me that
shot. Fred and I would work side by side and share Cat
Rockwell as our secretary. Fred and Richard were going to
teach me what it was to reload and they would have me learn
the “Down the Road” pitch that was the secret to reloading. I
had about forty-five days before I needed to show up at the
office. The company needed to drop tons of mail and start
closing deals in the front room so Fred and I could start
reloading those forty-five days from the first initial purchase.

I called Tonya and asked her to meet me at one of our
favorite restaurants on the water called Martha’s On The Bay. I
got there before she did and slipped the MaŒtre d named Mr. G
one hundred dollars for the best table by the intercoastal
waterway where all the expensive yachts parked outside the
glass corner wall. Someone was already playing piano for the
crowd and I ordered a Captain Morgan with a splash of coke
and a lime and some escargot and with Beluga Caviar on the
side. Tonya showed up and sat down asking me what the
occasion was. I looked across the table at her just smiling my
ass off. I said, “First let me order you a bottle of Dom P‚rignon;
I have some very good news.”

After getting the bottle and ordering some Long Island
Roast Duck I said, “Baby, I got my shot.” Tonya asked me what
shot and I told her the news. Immediately her entire face and
body language lit up. She knew exactly what this meant for our
future and us. She always said if I could ever get in, I would
blow these guys away. She said I was the next Dave Kuhn.
Dave according to anyone and everyone, who knew this kind of
thing, was the best of the best. His numbers were legendary and
Tonya worked with me and always said I was better than the
reloaders at Rest Marketing. Over dinner I told her she needed
to quit her job as a secretary for the reloader Bobby and that
she needed to go house hunting for a house to rent that reflected
our new station in life. She never blinked an eye and agreed
wholeheartedly. I could not be a reloader in the business with an
old lady who was another reloader’s secretary. Too many
conflicts of interest there and just the optics of that was not
what was expected of us now.

We spent the next six weeks moving from the apartment
into this huge quarter-million dollar house in Coral Springs that
we were now renting. This was a neighborhood and an address
that meant a whole lot in Broward. We moved into this huge
home with a screened in pool and deck. I loved this house on so
many levels, but my favorite part of it was the sunken fireplace.
The kitchen was top notch and all what Tonya wanted with a
big island right in the middle of it. Living in Coral Springs, I
could jump on The Sawgrass Express Way to the Florida
Turnpike and go to work in Palm Beach County but still be
living in Broward on the North West end of the county. The
entire situation was perfect and Tonya nailed everything we
needed when she found us this house. Already, I was a long
way from my upbringing in Miramar. I lived in a nice Jewish
Neighborhood now and we threw a huge housewarming party as
our coming out party. We wanted the world to know we had
arrived. I was so happy and I got so drunk. We invited all of our
friends from the world of telemarketing. I filled the house with
brand new furniture, bought a bar and stocked it and we were
off and running.
29
The phone room was perfect in every way. They took over
a strip plaza in Palm Beach County and occupied the entire
second floor. Some offices were used for the main offices for
our South American owners. Other office space was for the
front room and still more space belonged to their reload and
management departments. There was a convenient store
downstairs and a great Italian restaurant and bar called Enzio’s
next to the plaza. A close by bar is always needed for a real
telemarketing phone room to flourish.

The front room had phones ringing off the hook. These
guys were serious when it came to dropping mail. They were
dropping mail in every time zone all the way to the West Coast.
Back then to send someone a post card telling them to call you
to claim an award cost fifty cents per postcard and if you
wanted to send it in the form of a letter then it cost a dollar. The
way the phones rang with people calling for an award indicated
to me these guys were dropping big bucks into this operation. I
briefly met the Spanish speaking men who owned the place. I
was told they were big in moving white powder out of Bogot ,
but how did I know whether that was true or not? All I knew
was money did not seem to be a problem with this international
group that was put together and they kept to themselves and
never bothered the operation in any way. I would have never
known they were there unless I’d see them outside walking to
their cars. Richard Rockwell and Danny Maze were the faces of
the operation and the brains behind it all.

The first day I showed up everything was ready for the
reload department to begin. They first sat me down and
explained what was called the “Down the Road” pitch.
Mastering this concept was my job. This company was a
mixture of targeting the general public and business owners at
the same time. To my knowledge at that time, I never knew of
or even heard of anyone doing both. Normally the type of room
would be one or the other. Either it was business to business or
it was residential, but these guys wanted all of the money. They
wanted to target the whole country and anyone with a credit
card or the ability to write a check. The businesses would be
sold advertising specialty items and the residential calls would
be sold an air purifier system that was a piece of shit. Both of
them cost the same to the client claiming the award.

Once the person receives the mail asking them to call to
claim an award, the phone would ring in the front room. A
fronter salesperson would sell them either ad specs if it were a
business calling or they would sell them an air purifier if it were
a residential call and promised them one of four awards on the
list. Then the company would ship out the product and a
promissory note that claimed we would call them in forty-five
days to let them know which award on the list they got. Now
after all of that had transpired, the reload department steps in
and starts to load up these people with tons of products and
flowery visions of future prosperity.

The reloader, who was now me, would start them down the
road of dreams and greed. I would call them back and announce
who we were and why I was calling. I asked the person if they
were the one who was guaranteed an award. They would start to
get excited and say yes that they were the one who was
supposed to get it. I ask them to verify that they are the one who
is to receive the award by reading to me the confirmation
number in the paperwork that was shipped to them along with
the product. They would go get the paperwork with the number
on it and come back to the phone all excited and sometimes out
of breath. The whole build up was very dramatic to them. Of
course, that is exactly how it was designed and their reaction
was exactly orchestrated by the design of the entire con. After
they read to me the matching confirmation number, I would ask
them if they were sitting down. Then in a very excited voice, I
would say, “Congratulations!! You have been chosen to receive
the trip to Hawaii! You got eight days and seven nights in
beautiful Hawaii, two for one on the airfare and lodging paid
for.”

Now the person on the other end would be all excited and
sometimes you can hear them screaming out to their spouses,
“We are going to Hawaii, honey!”

Immediately I would change the subject, get their mind off
the trip, and start them down the road. I would tell the person
that I had further good news. “On top of the fact that you are
going on that trip, you have also been selected for our Grand
Bonanza Bonus Giveaway. I hope you are still sitting down,
because you, on top of the trip to Hawaii, you will be receiving
a brand spanking new color television set! Congratulations!”

The person would scream, “What!?”

“That is right, but that is not all. We are going to be
sending out all the information on the trip to Hawaii and
shipping you out a brand new television set for your house; but
the real good news is that we will be calling you back in forty-
five days to announce the big award that you will receive for the
Grand Bonanza Bonus Give Away.”

The person would ask, “What award, what is it?”

I would say, “Now because of the rules, I am not allowed to
tell you what you will be receiving in forty-five days, but I can
tell you now that you better be sitting down when you take that
call from me. I am going to blow your mind! Now just like
before, all of this stuff you are getting is not something that you
won in a contest. There are no taxes to be paid on any of this.
As you know this is what is called a premium incentive
program, where you have to make a purchase to receive
everything.”

The person would say they already bought something from
us and I would tell them that is why they are going to Hawaii.
“That is yours regardless of whether you participate in the
Grand Bonanza Bonus Giveaway or not. What I am saying to
you now is that you have been selected to receive much more
and that when you make another purchase, this time you will
receive another small box of advertising, the trip to Hawaii, a
brand new color television set and last and most important, I
will personally be calling you back in forty-five days to
announce the big one!”

They would ask again what it was and I say, “According to
the rules I cannot say, but if you can hear what I am not saying
and read between the lines, that this second purchase is $1150
worth of advertising specialty items, so you can imagine how
big the grand bonanza bonus is going to be. Let me wrap this up
my explaining how this works. In two to three weeks, you will
receive a delivery from either Federal Express or UPS. In that
delivery you will have another box of ad specs that you can pass
out to your customers (or if you are a residence then you will
receive a cutting edge security system for your home). Also in
with that delivery, you will receive all of the information and
certificate on the Hawaiian trip. With all of that, they will hand
you a brand new 21 inch colored television set and also a piece
of paper with a confirmation number on it for the grand bonanza
bonus give away. That piece of paper is the most important
thing in that delivery so hold on to it. I will be asking you for
the number so you can claim the big award in the Grand
Bonanza Bonus Giveaway. In the meanwhile, do you want me
to charge the credit card that you used last time or would you
like to use another card or write a check?”

That to you folks reading this book is the Down the Road
pitch. You call them back and give them the first award, then
you double the last purchase price to twelve hundred dollars,
you give them a brand new TV and a dream of something
bigger or better down the road in forty-five days. You take their
twelve hundred dollars they gave you and buy a TV wholesale,
print up some pens or give them some product for their house
and ship it all to them. Everything including shipping “never”
exceeds one third of the money they gave you and we the phone
room, keep the rest. That is how it works, you take one third of
their money and do as much as you can with it and send it to
them. In their minds, they are only paying for the product. In
their mind they bought some advertising pens and got a trip to
Hawaii, a brand new TV and god knows what for the Grand
Bonanza Bonus Giveaway. In another forty-five days you call
them back and congratulate them once again and tell them they
were selected personally for the year’s Presidential Grand
Bonanza and this time you give them a VCR to go with the TV
they got. So sell them another box of advertising and another
dream of something even bigger in another forty-five days. That
is how the Down the Road works. Every forty-five days you call
them back and get them to spend more and each time you
increase the gift in the box according to the money they gave
you. Maybe this time you put a camcorder in the box with the
pens and key chains, but either way, they always get some
product, some gift with the delivery and some promise down
the road of something big.

Through this process you never tell the person what they
are going to get actually and you come up with a name for each
promotion each time. As time goes by, they have been in this
process for years on end acquiring all sorts of stuff, but always
chasing the big one. The person on the other end was nothing
more than a greedy gambler. They were greedy trying to get
something for nothing and they spent their entire fortunes
chasing the dream down the road.

We never ever promised them something that they never
got except for the dream down the road. They would always get
the products shipped and all of the electronics, jewelry or
whatever stuff they wanted. We would keep files on everyone
and every call. We would write down what they said, what their
hobbies were, whether they went to church or this or that. Over
time, we would know about everything that surrounded their
lives including deaths in the family. We would build a personal
relationship with them and on the next call, mention something
they said last time or ask them whether Aunt Jennie got over the
flu yet or whether their kid graduated from college since the last
time we spoke. We would build very detailed index card files
on the entire life of the person including all of their likes and
dislikes. We became part of their family. They looked forward
to our calls every forty-five days, because we were the only one
that listened to them or who understood them. After all, they
could not tell anyone around them about their gambling
problem or all the money they were spending. We would build a
solid, intimate relationship with the person over time that went
on for years or until they bankrupted themselves.

These people where the same gamblers that would bankrupt
their families with playing the lotto, or going to the casinos or
horse betting. That was their inherent personalities and we
grabbed a hold of that and exploited it to a physiological level
never seen before. We did not need a gun, a fancy casino or a
horse track; all we needed was a telephone and we could extract
all their money just the same.

I now understood how to “down the road” someone and I
was now set on becoming the best reloader the industry had
ever seen. Fred Sparks and Richard Rockwell in their
apprenticeship of me created and unleashed an unstoppable
force that would grab the attention of the Government of the
United States of America and end me up on the evening news.
30
By 1991 telemarketing complaints nationwide was at an
all-time high. Many efforts were made by many different
entities to reign in these boiler rooms and their endless schemes.
Owners of phones rooms were already having legal problems
with this or that. There had never been a coordinated effort by
the government to tackle the field of telemarketing in the 1980s
but the in 1990s that was to change. Telemarketing nationwide
got to a point where we were viewed lower than a politician or a
used car salesman. It got to the point that no American family
could sit down at dinnertime and enjoy a meal without the
phone ringing with some telemarketer selling something. People
all over the country would not answer their own phones or
screen them through an answering machine just to avoid the
onslaught of phone calls invading their home. Professional
comics would do routines on the subject and nationwide the
complaints kept mounting.

Rumors were coming out from Salt Lake City at the time
that the FBI was finally going to get involved with this and try
to shut it down. It was just rumor or whispers in the wind and
Utah seemed so far away that no one really paid attention to it.
For me life was grand. I mastered the “down the road” and was
producing record-breaking numbers. Richard and Fred could
not believe their eyes each day when they looked up at the
production board on the wall and saw the revenue I was
generating. According to them, I shattered any numbers Dave
Kuhn ever did and I kept it up constantly week after week. Just
by myself, I was bringing in thirty five to fifty thousand dollars
a week in pure profit after expenses. I was just one guy on the
phone producing all of that. I was getting thirty-five percent
commissions on all of it, so I was rolling in the dough.

I started to get sick of the driving back and forth each day
to Broward from Palm Beach County. During the course of the
day, we would go drink at the bar next-door and driving home
some days became an adventure. I decided to rent a room in The
Sands Motel on Singer Island off the coast of West Palm Beach.
Fred had already been staying there renting the penthouse and
the place had a European style bar downstairs in it and I loved
the idea of staying on an island. If I did not feel like driving
home to Tonya in Broward, I could just stay in Palm Beach
County and lay my head at The Sands.

Singer Island like most islands off the coast of Florida was
a well-to-do area filled with mostly rich white people. There
were two bridges to the island; one was off PGA Boulevard and
to the islander’s horror, one was off Blue Heron Boulevard that
connected the island to brown town or crackville depending on
your sensibilities. Every Sunday night the blacks would come
over the bridge by the thousands and take over the island to
party. The locals were devastated by this and some even closed
their businesses on Sunday night. A very similar reaction
happened to Daytona Beach when Black College Reunion
started in their town years later. Since I was always home on
Sunday night, I never got to see this event but every Monday
night when I landed up at the bar the locals would be sitting
around talking about the madness of the night before.

I started living two separate lives. I had my life up in Palm
Beach County where I was working and staying at on Singer
Island and then I had my life back in Broward County with
Tonya. I started dating a woman that worked for our phone
room named Jessica and for a while, I had two solid girlfriends
that I liked. Jessica had by far one of the best bodies I had ever
seen. She had an hourglass figure at the time with perfect
teardrop shaped breasts that were natural size D’s and her face
was pretty set in her long sandy blond hair. She literally had a
heart shaped ass. Jessica loved anal sex and that was a huge
plus. She actually preferred it, but the chick refused to give
head. Tonya on the other hand would not provide anal or oral
and only liked being on top. So, as you can see even with two
girlfriends I still needed more because my needs were not being
meet. Luckily, South Florida provided plenty of places and
ways to fill that void.

Life went on like that for me for a while. I was making
good money and I had some nice ladies in my life and for a time
I had not a worry in the world. Tonya did not mind that every
year I would go backpacking in the mountains with my father
for a week or two at a time, but she was starting to not dig the
Singer Island thing. We’d even broken up for days at a time
arguing over it. It became clear I had to make a choice. I had to
choose one of the two between Tonya and Jessica. I weighed
out all of the pros and cons with the both of them and decided to
go with Tonya because the woman was a good cook and Jessica
could not boil water. In the end, I guess it is true that a way to a
man’s heart is through his stomach. I broke up with Jessica and
put a ring on Tonya’s finger. I stopped renting a room in The
Sands and actually came home at night. Life became kind of
stable or so I thought.
31
My father called me at the office one day and said he was
in town. I had him go over to the bar next-door and wait until I
got off work. By the time I got to him, he was pretty well drunk
already, so I ordered a drink and did my level best to catch up to
his buzz. As hours went by, it was time to go home and I called
Tonya and said I’d be bringing home the old man. I told him we
would leave his car at the bar and I would drive us home and
drive him back to his car the next day when I had to go back to
work.

As we were driving home, we passed a strange looking car
with lights on it and my pop said that was a DOT car. He
explained to me that the Department of Transportation did not
have the authority to pull us over because we were not an
eighteen-wheeler. I argued that he did because he had blue
lights on the top of his car. So, we are driving down the Florida
Turnpike going south from West Palm Beach back to Broward
County arguing over this and I decided to test his premise. I
sped up to about one hundred miles an hour and blew past the
DOT guy. He hit his blue lights on and chased me down. As
soon as I pulled over into the emergency lane, he got on the
speaker and broadcasted through the air commands for me to
step out of the car with my hands up. I looked over at Pop and
said if he is a real cop, he will come to my window and write
me a ticket. I held my arm out the window and motioned to him
with my fingers to come to me. The guy wouldn’t even get out
of his car. This went on for a while and I decided maybe this
guy does not have any authority and I drove off. He followed in
behind me with sirens blasting and blue lights flashing.

As I exited the Florida Turnpike on to the Sawgrass
Expressway, at that juncture there is a manned tollbooth. I
pulled into the tollbooth to pay my toll and he got behind me
just blasting me over the speaker to pull over. He was scaring
the shit out of the guy in the booth collecting tolls. I pulled right
over where the restrooms were and he came up to the car this
time and told me to get out of the car and put my hands on the
roof. I told him no and he just stood there completely vexed. I
told him that I did not believe he had any authority over me at
all because I was not an eighteen-wheeler. He was a redneck
type and he just stood there all pissed off. Then he turns around,
walks back to his car, and pops the trunk. He pulled out this
humongous book and slammed it on the hood of his car. Then
he stood there turning pages in it, trying to find the written
provision in writing that he has authority over me. Now I sat
there for quite a while and thought that this guy can’t find it in
the book, because it is not there, so I drove off again.

Now this time at the toll booth was a Florida Game Warden
in a pickup truck pulling an airboat and he started chasing me
along with the DOT guy. I say chasing, but it was more like an
OJ Simpson-like chase going the speed limit. My father was
screaming that the game warden had a gun and had arresting
powers and I needed to pull over. I said bullshit. Now a car that
has no authority over me is chasing me and a guy pulling a boat;
I’ll be damned if I pull over now! The next exit was Hwy 441 in
Margate and I took that ramp to get off the Sawgrass
Expressway. There on the city streets were all sorts of police
cars that were from the Margate Police Department sitting there
waiting on me. I pulled over and said now that is a real cop.

They dragged me out of the car while my father was
pointing fingers at me telling the cops that he told me to pull
over and what a bad kid I was. The redneck DOT cop put me in
cuffs, drove me back to Palm Beach County, and booked me for
fleeing and eluding. Tonya had to drive up to Palm Beach to
bail me out. As we drove home, I explained to her what
happened and she just shook her head saying that she could not
believe the shit I get into.

The next day I went to see a lawyer and told him that in the
news there had been a rash of rapes and assaults by some guy
who was driving around in a fake police car pulling people
over. I said I was not familiar with that car and the other guy
was chasing me with a boat. I told the lawyer as soon as I saw a
real cop car I pulled over and surrendered. The lawyer just sat
there laughing his ass off. He said you know you are facing
many years in prison with this charge because it is a felony; he
said that the DOT guy was a Federal Agent and not a state
employee. Apparently, there are state DOT people and there are
those DOT officers who work for the federal government; my
luck the dude was a fed. The lawyer said if I gave him a pile of
cash, this would all go away.

So I gave the shark his money and in the end, he got it
knocked down to a misdemeanor. They dropped the felony
charge, because there was in fact a nut case running around
South Florida pulling people over, raping and robbing them in a
fake police car. Coincidently, one year before I went through
this ordeal, another guy did the same thing with a DOT cop on
Alligator Alley and got away with it. After that guy beat the
wrap, Florida passed a law giving the Department of
Transportation permission to pull over vehicles with four
wheels. The law was less than a year old and I was the first one
to test it, so I had to plead no contest to fleeing and eluding.
Little did I know, that would follow me for the rest of my life.
However, my life was about to change once again with another
phone call.

32
The phone rang one weekend morning to another change. I
picked up the phone while lying in my bed still foggy from the
night before to hear the news. The phone room I was a reloader
at was done. Something happened and to this day, I have no
information on it, except to say our South American owners
where no longer in North America and they were never to
return. They were gone like a thief in the night. Something
happened in their world that I can only guess about, but it was
over; there was no more phone room. All the money was gone
and all of the employees were not going to get another penny
they earned. Since everyone was two weeks behind in payroll,
we were talking about a lot of money. The phone call also
brought the news that Richard Rockwell had taken the news
hard and that he had either a stroke or a heart attack, but he was
in the hospital in a coma. My entire world was crumbling apart
once again.

I met Richard’s wife, Cat, at the hospital and I stood over
his bedside looking down at him. He was barely alive. All the
color had drained out of him and he didn’t even look like Elvis
anymore. I drove Cat back to her home and she was in bad
shape. In her moment of despair, she revealed to me that she
was in love with me, that Richard knew it and he would not let
her be with me. She explained that they lived an open lifestyle,
something I suspected, and that Richard could sleep with other
women but she was not allowed to be with me.

I remember being so hard in my pants and wanting her so
badly at that moment. We embraced and made out. Cat was a
stand up girl and would not fuck me under the circumstance.
She was loyal to Richard even while he hung on for life. We
agreed that life was bad timing for the two of us and I told her I
cared about her as well. We had that one kiss that was a long
time coming. As I drove away from her home, it was the last
time I ever laid my eyes on Cat. I tried to find her many years
later but had no luck.

Danny Maze contacted me and asked to meet him and some
of the computer staff at the old offices. Danny handed me the
rolodex of all the clients I had been reloading. He told me that
they were my clients and nobody in the world could get out of
them the money I could. He said it would be a complete waste
of money if he sold or gave anyone else these leads. He
explained that he was getting too old for this shit now and that
he could not put anything in his name, because he had a felony
conviction for telemarketing out of California.

Apparently, he was under some ban where he was to
abstain from all of telemarketing. He told me that with the files
on the clients and my talent I could start a new company and
keep things going. He told me he would provide all of the
shipping support and that Gene who was an older Jewish guy
who handled all our computers, was willing to come along with
me, if I kept his pay the same. Gene made eight hundred dollars
a week or forty two thousand a year. I took the files from them
and shook everyone’s hands and agreed to start another phone
room. With that handshake went the last time I was ever a sales
person on the phones. From that moment forward, all I ever was
and would ever be is an owner.

I had to move fast because I needed to create a corporation
in the State of Florida and that took some time to process
through. I wanted to name the new phone room as similar to the
last one as to not create any speeds bumps transferring over the
new clients to the new company. I decided to create one
corporation that would be my base of operations never to
change and another one for the phone room. I also made sure I
opened up in Broward County where I lived, so I no longer had
to drive to Palm Beach each day. I took the next couple of
months finding the space and setting up the phone room with all
the office furniture, phones and stuff. I hired a sales force, some
staff and I was off and running. We were open for business.
33
By 1992, I was amassing great power and money. I decided
to pay all reloaders 50% instead of the industry standard 35%
and word spread far and wide that there was an owner and a
phone room in South Florida paying that kind of money. I
started to collect all the greatest talent that was out there.
Slowly each and every reloader worth a damn either knocked on
my door or called me to get a spot. No one ever paid a salesman
half of the net profits anywhere in the country. I live by the
motto that I’d rather have one percent of the efforts of one
hundred men, than to have one hundred percent of the efforts of
one man. Living by this code served me well in those days.

One day I was at the local bank that I had the accounts with
and I was told that all of the funds had been frozen and that the
accounts were under internal investigation. Apparently, our
business practices offended the sensibilities of the bank’s higher
ups and I was standing there with my dick in my hands. I had
all sorts of obligations not to mention payroll for my entire
network. I went to see a lawyer who explained to me that banks
used laws that were put into place for drug dealers and money
launderers against phone rooms. He said I’ll probably never see
that money again or at the very least it will be tied up for years.
When I walked out of his office I had to make a decision. I
either had to go into my personal pocket to pay all the bills and
payroll until I can set up another corporation and bank account
or I had to walk back to my offices and shut it down and fuck
everyone out of the money.

Many people and their families were now depending on me
to keep it all together. I decided to float everything out of my
own pocket and keep things going without alerting anyone to
any problem. This was a learning experience for me and a
mistake I was not going to make again. From this point on, I
would always have a bank account and a corporation waiting in
the shadows to jump to. I would now line up my ducks in a row
and when one account and company went down, then I would
have more companies just lying in wait, as to never miss a beat.
Once a bank account goes under suspicion with the bank,
opening up another account in another bank under the same
company name becomes problematic. I needed a whole new
corporation and a new bank as a backup from now on. This was
going to be my plan of action and how I would handle these
kinds of things in the future.

I had my one corporation that was to always be squeaky
clean. For the world, I presented that consultant firm as my
front. All other corporations that I would create were to be the
revolving and ever-changing names of the phone rooms and
who the customers made their checks out to. I would strictly
just accept checks and I would pay a courier to go out and pick
them up within hours of every sale. I did not want anything to
do with credit cards. I already had the reality of each bank
freezing up the accounts when things looked weird to them.
Inevitably someone would call the bank itself looking for one of
the four awards or the “down the road” they were promised.
One call to the bank and flags would go up immediately with
the banks internal watchdogs.

How it worked was that you would just run as much money
as you could through any particular account until the bank
freezes it. Most owners of the phone rooms would at that
moment close down the room. That was why half of the phones
rooms came and went. No owner would float the bill when it
happened. They would just fuck the salesforce, the telephone
companies that they owed tens of thousands to and everyone
who had anything to do with the phone room. Every time a
bank would freeze a phone room’s account there would be a
rippling effect throughout the economy as the dominos fell of
all the people that where lined up to be paid. I felt that this
business practice was short sighted and filled with greed. I had a
more long-term look at our trade and was going to do things
differently. I wanted to build a reputation that with this
Irishman, “everyone” gets paid. I did not want to leave any trail
behind me of unpaid creditors and sales people. I was going to
do things completely different from the other people that were
shitting all over our craft. I was raised up and taught by the old
school guys and considered what we did a trade. Yes, it was
criminal of course, but it was a tradecraft and people needed to
treat it with respect. After all, did we want to be like the poor
schmucks that worked for the man for their forty dollar watch or
did we want to be men and go out into the world and earn it? I
wanted to be an earner, period.

I was sitting at a bar in Coral Springs, Florida called G.W.
Sharky’s close to the house around the time all this happened to
me and overheard a conversation between two drug dealers who
were was talking about how loose their bank was and how they
could just write checks to cash for everything. These two
Colombians went on and on about what a shady bank this was. I
sat there for a long time just waiting for them to say the name of
the bank. I ordered one drink after the other just sitting there
waiting on the most important tidbit about their conversation.
What was the name of the bank they were talking about? I could
not just walk up to them and ask. If they knew I heard what they
were talking about, I could get shot in the parking lot for sure.
In South Florida, minding your own business was a way of life
for us. So I just sat there waiting in their conversational shadow
for the one bit of information that I needed. The name. I just
needed the name.

I was just about to give up, because they changed the
subject of their conversation to pussy and I got off my bar stool
and went to take a leak in the restroom. When I came back out,
I was going to cash out my tab and go home. While passing
their table in the bar, I heard the name I was waiting for. Bingo,
I had the shady bank. The bank’s name was “Citibank” and I
could not believe my ears. One of the nation’s top banks was
the shady bank they were talking about! I thought it was going
to be some local South Florida Bank, not a huge Wall Street
chain. However, that was the bank these drug dealers were
bragging about and I needed to go check out this so-called loose
bank in the morning.

The next morning I woke up, went down to Citibank, and
talked to a rep there about me opening up a bank account for my
“advertising” firm. I peppered her with questions and to my
delight got all the answers I was looking for. I could in fact just
write checks to cash. In our conversations about signers on
accounts and such, it came out that their bank only requires a
facsimile signature stamp to sign corporate checks. All that was
needed was the first initial signature and the rest of the checks
could be stamped with a signature stamp. I couldn’t believe my
ears. When I walked out of the bank that morning, my mind
raced with all the possibilities.
The main thing was I wanted to create many different
corporations, but I could not just keep putting them in my name.
In fact, I was not going to use my name ever again. The only
thing my name would be officially attached to would be my
consultant firm.

I came up with a plan to take actual bums that lived under
the bridges of South Florida and put corporations in their name.
I would literally go under the bridge, take the bums, and put
them up in a roach motel off Dixie Highway or some other
shady part of town. I would explain to them that I am currently
going through something like a divorce with my business
partner and that I needed to create a new company that my
partner did not know about and after the so called divorce, I
would pay the bum five hundred dollars to put the company
back into my name. Of course the day they signed the company
back over the company to me never came.

I would supply them with whatever vice they had that
landed them up under that bridge. If the bum was a crack head,
I’d bring him crack. If he was a drunk, I would bring him booze
and so on. I would keep and feed the bums for about four to six
weeks at a time. While I had them, I would take them to get a
Florida state picture ID if they did not have one. Then I would
create articles of incorporation with the state under the bum’s
name. I would have a signature stamp made of their signature
from a print shop. When the papers came back from
Tallahassee, our state capital, I would clean up the bum and put
him in a new suit and march him down to Citibank to open up a
bank account under his name. I would do all the talking at the
bank and all I would have to do was get the bum to sign the
signature card on file with the bank and let them record the
signature stamp as well.

Once the account was opened and active, I would take the
ID from the bum, bring him back to the bridge he was under,
and leave him there with some drugs, booze and some cash. I
even let the dude keep the suit. I did this over and over and over
again. That way when the heat came down, the authorities
would never be able to find the owner of the company. They
would say look at this bank account that ran a million dollars
through it and ask where is the owner? They could never find
the owner because there was no address to be found. The owner
never had a cable bill or utility bill in his name. The freaking
owner lived under the bridge completely off the grid, so they
would never find him. I used to laugh my ass off just thinking
of the faces of the men trying to find all these owners. I mean
the guy lived under a bridge, so they could never find any of
them. I had belly laughs wondering how no one noticed that all
of a sudden, all the bums under the bridges were now walking
around with tailor made suits under those same bridges. I mean
didn’t anyone notice the change? I laughed so hard some days
just thinking about it. I had a drawer full of signature stamps
back at the office and some days I’d open the drawer, just look
down in it, and crack up laughing. The bums never knew my
name or who I was. The irony of the bum living under the
bridge with hundreds of thousands of dollars in the bank was
priceless.

Once in a while I would get some smart ass bum who
would return to the bank and ask for a check and then cash it.
As soon as I saw that transaction, I shut it down and never put
another dime through that account. I mean who the fuck did
they think they were helping themselves to my hard earned
money. Mostly the bums never returned to the bank. I even used
bartenders and did the same thing to them. I’d sit up at the bar,
tell them my sad story of my pending divorce with my business
partner, and offer the bartender the same deal as the bums. I’d
give them five hundred dollar up front in cash, so they never
doubted the story. It must be real and they certainly wanted the
other five hundred when they were to sign the thing back over
to me. In the end no one knew me personally, so good luck to
the cops trying to figure that one out. I had all the corners
covered and it was my intention to take this whole thing to
another level. I was really coming into my own that year.
34
The money and the power that flowed from it just got
bigger and bigger. I had entire phone rooms across the country
call me up and tell me they can route all their business to me if I
paid 50% to them. I just kept growing and growing. I now had
entire phone rooms in other states where I never met a single
soul in person and never cared to go see. All they had to do is
send the business my way and I took it on.

Tonya and I planned our wedding for this year. Since 1992
was so good to us, I wanted to throw a huge wedding with all
the trimmings. I moved us into a mini mansion in Woodmont
Country Club in Tamarac on a golf course. We got this huge
house to rent for twenty-five hundred a month with a pool and
all of the amenities that comes with something called a mini
mansion. We spent the year planning out the wedding. I wanted
us to have a big Catholic wedding and since Tonya was not
Catholic, she had to sign papers saying we’d raise the kids
Catholic and we had to go away with other couples that were
getting married on a weekend retreat thingy.

I wanted the big church wedding followed by a badass
reception ending with a dream honeymoon in the Poconos. I
hired a film crew to follow us and record the entire thing from
the planning stages to the end of the reception and
professionally put it to music and do all sorts of cool stuff with
the film.

That year we made a trip to Kentucky so I could meet her
entire family. They all lived around Louisville and the
surrounding areas. It was a great trip. I had never been to
Kentucky before and I just loved that city. We had all of these
offers to stay with this one or that one, but I found a sex motel
that pumped in porn to the rooms and had its own adult
bookstore with private booths and glory holes. Somehow, I
convinced her to stay there and I was able to slip down the hall
and have anonymous sex with strangers and got to partake in
oral sex through the glory holes. Tonya had no idea what was
going on and thought we were staying there because it was
cheap and we were saving money for the wedding.

Some of her family lived in this awesome Catholic town
called Pleasure Ridge Park that I fell in love with. It was lined
with these cool red brick homes and just the way the
neighborhood was laid out, I fell in love with it. She had family
everywhere around Louisville; some were in the city, some
were in the suburbs, some in the country and others were living
in what they called the sticks.

Her family had incredible marijuana that they grew there
and everyone was so nice to me. I rode horses for the first time
and just partied for two weeks straight. I had what was to this
day, one of my favorite meals of my entire life. I was up in the
country in a town named Jefferson Town or J-Town as they
called it and the family matriarch had this real cool country
home. All the family was there for dinner or supper as some
called it.

The old lady that ran the family asked me if I wanted to go
shopping with her to get dinner for everyone. I said yes and I
put on my coat and walked towards the front door. She said, no
Rich it is out this door, pointing to the back door of the house. I
did not understand because if we were going to the supermarket
then the front door is where we would get to all of our cars. I
walked out the back door and in her backyard she snatched up a
live chicken and killed it right there in front of me and started to
pick potatoes and other vegetables that were growing back there
and we walked back into the house. Everyone was laughing and
asked me if I went shopping yet? The old broad put the chicken
in the kitchen sink and started to pluck the feathers. She cooked
up the veggies and made white peppercorn gravy and we all sat
down and ate. It was one of the best meals of my entire life. I
could not believe how fresh it all tasted and how awesome the
meal was. I had this meal over twenty years ago, as I write it
down in this book, and I can still remember how great it was.
Hands down that was one of the best meals I ever had and I will
never forget going shopping in J-Town, Kentucky. Those two
weeks in Kentucky were one of my favorite trips.

Also that year, I carved out some time to go backpacking
with my old man in the Appalachian Trail in Georgia. We spent
a week up into the mountains and did our usual routine where
we hiked up a metric gallon of vodka and got drunk the first
night. That trip, on the first night, we made it to a lean-to, which
is a wooden shack with three walls built on a mountainside, and
got drunk with five or six other guys that were there that night.

It was all I could do to cram everything a single guy could
do before he ties the knot. I knew not much of my life would
change after the wedding vows, but it was fun acting as if it
would. I knew I would still go on backpacking trips and still
slay all the vagina I wanted after the big day. After all, Tonya
only gave me access to one hole and that was two holes short of
my libido’s playground.

That year I spent as much time as I could with Tonya’s
sister, Debbie. You could say I was falling in love with her for
sure. Everything about her was more my style and she was so
fun to be around. Tonya was prettier, but I did not give a damn;
Debbie was fun. We would sneak away from the rest of the
family at events and have sex right under their noses. It was
very exciting and a cool time. She was fun to talk to and was a
drinker like me, so we hit it off in many categories.

It was becoming clearer and clearer to me I was marrying
the wrong girl in the family. It wasn’t like I did not like Tonya,
but I kind of didn’t. She was a cold fish in so many ways. The
more money I made, the more she spent it. The money I was
making almost meant nothing to me. I was hooked on the power
it brought.

I was able to do anything. I could eat at the best restaurants,
buy the best clothes and I had all the toys any man could dream
of. I wanted for nothing in those days. I never cared about
saving any of the money because it was just so damn easy to
make for me. I literally burned through money. I would throw
parties where I would light one hundred dollar bills on fire in
front of everyone just to watch them scream in horror at the site
of money literally burning in my glass ashtray. It meant nothing
to me, but it damn sure affected my guests to watch that
spectacle.

A friend I grew up with had a mother who was the vice
president of a rent-a-car company and I would rent brand new
cars for the whole month under my company. Each month I
drove a different spanking brand new car. People around town
would see me in a different car all the time and wonder what the
hell I did for a living. So many people back then including most
of my family, never believed for a moment I could be living as I
was off phone sales. They were convinced I was a drug dealer.

My mother would ask me to my face whether I was a drug
dealer or not and I would tell her that I was not, but in the end I
would have to do some time for it anyway. I always would tell
the people who knew me my whole life, who would be so proud
of me, that one day I would pay for it and go to prison. No one
ever would listen to me back then. They would just pat me on
the back and tell me how proud they were of me because I came
from nothing.

Tonya was completely out of control spending the money.
She bought these real expensive Persian cats that had pedigree
papers and everything. She kept buying one cat after the other
as if she was trying to fill some hole in her soul with them. At
one point, we had nine fucking Persians and eight of them had
papers! Then she moved on to dogs and rabbits and the next
thing I knew I had all of these animals. Most of them I could
not stand and every freaking week, one or more of them were
going to a vet.

I was the cornerstone to that vet’s motherfucking practice
and probably paid off his mortgage for all I know. I never really
thought about murdering people too often, but I had money and
I really did think about whacking that fucking asshole just out
of principle. However, Tonya would just find another vet to
soak us. People think vets are good people because they work
on animals, well that is bullshit, and they are greedy money
hungry bastards that should be more closely regulated by the
fucking government. To hell with the boiler rooms Uncle Sam;
go look at these fucking veterinarians that are soaking
housewives out of their husband’s hard earned money. That
whole industry is riddled with fraud. Do not get me started with
vets! I’d have them all throw off a cliff if I could.

Tonya’s spending became something that I started to
deeply resent about her. I would send her to the top high-end
hair and nail salons in South Florida and even her best friend
owned a nail salon, but no, that was not good enough for this
woman; she ordered the entire table and workstation that you
see in any salon. You know the one with the lamps and the arm
thingy and all. She literally set up a corner in our home and
turned it into her very own nail salon so she did not have to
bother herself with making an appointment and actually getting
up off her ass and going to one. The extravagance that she lived
in was something that made me dislike her more and more. I did
not care about the money she spent, but when I saw what it did
to her, it sickened me.

She was not the girl I fell for 1989, she became this rich
bitch who cared more about her stuff and those dumb animals
then she did me or even her own mother. I told her to buy new
furniture for both of our mothers and she just looked at me with
that selfish face. I looked back at her and said, “Just do it,
Tonya.”

With all that said, the wedding was still on and the day
grew closer and closer. Destiny mandated that this cold fish was
to be my wife. Ironically, fish were the only pets we did not
have, but I would have never known that when I laid in bed
each night.
35
The wedding day arrived and I found myself standing in the
room in the church where the priests dress and put on their
robes and such. It was time for the wedding to start and there
was no sign of Tonya. Fifteen minutes goes by, thirty minutes
go by and now forty-five minutes from the start time and still no
Tonya. The Deacon there explained to me that it looks like I
was left at the altar and that the whole service took an hour to
do and we were running out of time. He explained the church
sets aside a certain time and then has other things to do with the
building. I asked him to give her fifteen more minutes and then
I would explain to the crowd. Five minutes after that the limo
showed up with Tonya fifty minutes late to her own wedding.

If the church officials thought they were mad, they had
nothing on my anger. I had to keep any anger I was feeling
inside and hide it. I thought that was a clear sign that this
wedding should not go off, but somehow I just kept marching to
the beat of the day’s events. I stood up there while we were
being married wondering to myself why I was doing this. I
guess everyone I grew up with was all getting married and
stupidly I felt like it was the thing to do. I knew standing at the
altar I did not love this woman in any measurable way.
However, I was young and I went through with it all anyway.

I remember being at our reception when the master of
ceremonies did this routine where he announced that I am
married now and that all the women in the crowd that had a key
to my place had to bring up the key and place it on the table in
front of the wedding party. Prior to his announcement, he had
passed out keys to all the women that were there. We had a
crowd of over one hundred people that showed up to our
reception and when all the ladies brought up the keys, the ones
that had been my lovers had this special wink in their eyes. I
remember just sitting there looking out among the crowd and
being alarmed about how many people I had sex with that were
there at my wedding. It was more than I realized. When we sent
out the invitations I was not thinking about any of that when we
made up our guest list. I decided to make a party of my own
wedding and I danced, drank and had a great time.

That night when we went to our hotel room to have our so
called wedding night, Tonya invited all of her girlfriends. I
could not believe it. She said she was not a virgin and that we
were going away for two weeks to the mountains and that she
just wanted to party. As I fell asleep on my wedding night I
looked across the room at all the bodies passed out everywhere
and all over our bed and thought if this did not show that this
was a mistake, nothing would. I was crushed that she shared our
wedding night with everyone like that and I just kept it all
inside and never cared about the concept of a wedding night
ever again after that.

We showed up at the Champagne Palace at the resort in the
Poconos. Now we had two weeks to ourselves, and there was no
one to bother us. Our room was a two-story room with a giant
Jacuzzi shaped like a champagne glass that spanned the entire
two floors. There was a sauna in the room along with a heart-
shaped bed. We finally consummated our marriage with some
uneventful sex and went down to the club to eat, drink and see
the shows.

To give you just the slightest idea of what kind of woman I
just married or how this honeymoon went, I’ll share with you
my biggest memory of those two weeks. We were up in the
mountains on horseback with many other couples staying at the
resort that just got married or renewed their wedding vows
being led by a tour guide who was also on horseback. While we
were riding horses through the mountains, Tonya broke off one
of her acrylic nails. She made this big ordeal over it and the
next thing I knew, the whole mountainside tour is over and
everybody is off their horses and on their hands and knees
looking for Tonya’s broken nail. Yes, the princess broke off an
acrylic nail and everyone had to stop his or her honeymoon and
look for her nail on the ground. I was mortified sitting on top of
that horse watching this all go down. Tonya’s prissiness knew
no bounds and right there on that beautiful mountainside, I
knew without a shadow of a doubt, I could not stand this
woman and that I regretted ever doing this. I numbed myself
with alcohol that trip and just pressed my pain and humiliation
down deep inside me. I just knew I screwed up marrying this
broad. I just wanted to get home, have sex with Debbie and a
few other people, and get back to making money. I could not
wait for the honeymoon to be over.

When we got back home, I decided that I was going to
create a tool company and open another phone room doing the
lock pick thing. Everything else was running smoothly and I
wanted to see if I could bring back the glory of the lock picks
and make some money doing it. A couple of weeks after we
returned from our honeymoon, word got out that there was a
hurricane coming. I, along with some friends of mine, went
around to all our parents’ houses helping them board up their
homes before the storm hit. The storm was to hit the next day
and it wasn’t anything too alarming, just another average
hurricane that we were very much used to living through in
South Florida. They called this one Andrew.

Most of them, we would just throw hurricane parties and
drink throughout the storm. While driving around in a car with
my friends boarding up our parents’ homes, one friend of mine
offered me some cocaine in a tin foil packet. I rolled up a dollar
bill from my wallet and snorted up a big huge line. Immediately
I screamed to pull over the car and I hung out the car door and
threw up. My head starting spinning and I just felt strange.

They dropped me off at my house and it was time to batten
the hatches down at our place. Tonya was already bringing in
the plants off the pool deck. The phone rang at my house and it
was my friend agonizing over me, saying that he gave me the
wrong tin foil and he could have killed me. He told me the
white powder was heroin and not cocaine. He explained that it
was something called super pure and was a form of heroin so
pure that you can snort it. However, one takes just a little bump
of the stuff and not a huge line of it, because they can overdose.
I hung up the phone and realized I survived the overdose and I
was happy that now I understood what I was feeling. I never did
heroin before or after that. I remember it was a great feeling.
Once I knew what I was on and why I was feeling the way I did,
I just enjoyed my buzz and was going to ride out Hurricane
Andrew stoned on heroin. It sounded like a plan to me.

Early in the morning, we were told that the hurricane went
nuts and turned into a category 4 or 5 and that people were
going to die. We were watching Brain Norcross who was our
local weatherman at the time and he was on TV explaining that
people were in fact going to die tonight and that this was a killer
hurricane. As the storm hit, my mother calls me screaming that
her shed in her backyard that held all of our stuff from lawn
mowers to tools, just blew by her kitchen window. It was very
clear this was not a normal storm. I walked outside on my back
porch stoned out of my mind watching my entire hedge line
bend under the assault of the wind. Things were flying around
in the air so I went inside.

When it was over we went outside to see that the roads
were all blocked from trees and all sorts of stuff in the road.
Word got out quickly that a little south of us in Tamarac is
where the eye wall hit and people were saying the entire city of
Homestead was gone. People were saying the entire city was
wiped out and no building survived. Reports of deaths were
coming in and our local weatherman was being hailed as a hero
because he saved so many lives when he instructed families to
get in the closet and pull a mattress over their heads. People
were calling in the news stations saying that was the only way
they survived. Brian became a national weatherman and was
promoted up to the networks on CBS and he eventually took
over the National Weather Service. Somehow, I survived the
meanest hurricane of my life stoned on some really good heroin.
When anyone ever mentions Hurricane Andrew, I just know
that that was the only cat 5 hurricane I was in and the only time
I ever did heroin in my life. That time holds memories close to
my heart, good and bad.

Just hours after the storm people were standing in the
middle of major intersections selling ten-dollar gallons of water.
That price gouging upset many people, but it brought a smile to
my face because of the pure capitalism it was. Life went on and
it was time to make some money.

Three days after Hurricane Andrew I was at my office in
Tamarac in the middle of a meeting about setting up another
phone room for the lock picks when my secretary tells me my
brother Chris was on the phone screaming. I picked up the
phone and he was screaming that mom’s house was on fire! I
told him to put out the fire but he said he could not because it
was too big already. He said my stepfather’s mother was
smoking and started the fire. I jumped in my car and drove at an
unbelievable speed to get from Tamarac to Miramar in Broward
County.

I pulled up just in time to watch my childhood home burn
down to the ground right in front of me. I just stood on the
street looking at my brother and my stepfather’s mother who
was a schizophrenic and should have never been allowed to
smoke in the house or be left alone with my idiot brother. I
stood there and watched the house I grew up in burn down to
the ground. My mother showed up not too long after just
standing in the street crying beyond words. Her home survived
Hurricane Andrew only to be burned down to the ground three
days later by her crazy mother-in-law.

In a matter a few weeks, I got married, got hit with a cat 5
hurricane and watched my family’s home I grew up in burn
down to the ground. The year 1992 was one hell of a year for
me as I look back. It was definitely one for the history books
and a year I’d rather forget.
36
My attempts in 1993 to revive the lock pick scheme failed
completely. Every dollar invested into getting it off the ground
and all the time and effort that went into it was a waste. It was
scorched Earth territory and nothing more. I never saw anything
like it. I have no idea what Peter Giovanni did after I left or
whether he had a trial or not, but the entire targeted market of
the automotive industry was completely aware of the master
key/lock pick scenario and every single call to a prospective
buyer only ended up rehashing the fraud of the heyday of lock
picks. It seemed like there was no one left who we called that
did not attack us over this issue or was completely aware of the
scam. I had to shut the whole thing down before it ever really
got off the ground and accept the fact that it was a complete and
total loss.

Things were changing already in our world and there were
things bubbling under the surface. It felt that maybe there would
be some kind of seismic shift in the world of boiler rooms
coming our way. It wasn’t anything I could put on finger on
until March of that year.

In March of 1993, two things happened that caught my eye
and caught the eye of almost everyone in our world that had a
brain. President Bill Clinton’s nomination of our South Florida
nemesis Janet Reno to the nation’s top cop position of Attorney
General was confirmed and the same month the FBI arrested
hundreds of telemarketers in a sting called Operation
Disconnect. I cannot tell you the shock waves this Operation
Disconnect caused in the world of boiler rooms. It was official;
the United States government was now working collectively to
target the world of telemarketing fraud across state lines. Up to
this point and since the 1970’s there had been no federal effort
to combat telemarketing fraud. This lack of organization and
inability for local municipalities to work across state lines was
the only reason our world was even able to exist. It was that
window, in the birth and rise of our modern communication
grid, which gave rise to the world of illegal telemarketing. It
was that era in the evolution of communication technology in
America, which created its own category of crime. This was the
period in American history that I rose to power.

Right away, other owners and reloaders alike were getting
together at our watering holes to discuss what was going on.
Hundreds of people we all knew or knew of, were arrested, but
when the smoke cleared, The FBI never got to any of the real
players in our world. Those of us that survived Operation
Disconnect and were still standing were empowered with a false
sense of invincibility. We felt smarter and stronger than ever.

Personally for me, I knew that the way I conducted
business with my system of using bums under the bridge was
nearly untouchable. The other phone rooms in my world were
sitting ducks and had no understanding why they were. The key
to my prowess was that I never told anyone else how I did it. I
never shared my special secret sauce with a single human being.
The entire world around me only knew I seemed to have an
unending stream of corporations that I could use and a network
of people that I kept close to my breast that would execute what
I wanted done. No one person ever had all the goods on me and
I made sure everyone around me made good money as to keep
their loyalty. No one knew the totality of what I was doing. I
thought to myself, let them chase those ghosts under the bridge;
they will never find me.

They certainly knew who I was. Around this time, I got a
visit at my home in Woodmont Country Club by the head of the
Economic Tri County Crime Unit, Sergeant Maloney. I let him
in the house and we walked through my home while he eyed the
opulence of my lifestyle commenting on my expensive dining
room set. He asked me if I was worried and whether or not I
wanted to lose all I had. He told me of a person he personally
nabbed that I knew and the whole thing with the FBI made it
seem as if I should be on the ropes or something. I told Sergeant
Maloney that my company that I owned did not have a single
complaint anywhere on it and that I was not responsible for
other people’s companies and what they did. He just shook his
head at me and I think we both knew that if I was going down
that it would not be from some local cop and that I was a little
bit out of that league so to speak.

I liked him a lot and thought he was a pretty cool guy.
Some people in South Florida did not take him seriously, but I
was not one of them. I knew he was a serious man that earned
our respect and was very good at what he did. However, with all
the smarts and resources of Sergeant Maloney and the Tri
County Economic Crime Unit, he was not the Attorney General
of the United States and he did not have the full weight of the
Justice Department and the FBI at his fingertips. My point of
concern and my laser focus would be keeping an eye on Janet
Reno knowing her reputation for being brutal and the fact that
The Feds were now in the game. For me this is when the chess
match began.

Back in the day, we could get away with anything and we
did. One con after the other was our way of life. I remember
when car phones were brand new and they were some big
phones that were connected to a cord in our cars. It seems
almost laughable now, but we used to have these hideous giant
phones in our cars. Back then, I would just advertise a top of
the line car phone for ninety-nine dollars and ship them out a
plastic phone shaped like a car. There was no FBI to stop us.
We did all sorts of stuff through the years like advertising top of
the line satellite dishes and shipping them out a Chinese
Cooking Wok with a brand name of Satellite. We’d have them
send us twenty dollars for a bronzed head piece of Abraham
Lincoln and send them a penny. We did whatever we wanted to
make a buck. It was easier to ask people to send in fifty dollars
for a program on how to make money and send them out a letter
telling them to get a job than to rob someone with a gun. We
used our wits as weapons and in most cases that was more than
enough.

Everything was a scam back then. Do you remember that
commercial on TV in the 1980’s that said you could lose weight
while you sleep? Dream Away, it was called. Lose weight while
you sleep was the pitch and they ran those comically fallacious
commercials over and over again for years before anyone
stopped them. Those guys were sending out sugar pill placeboes
or something as some magical diet pill raking in millions. When
they were finally stopped, they were only fined a quarter of a
million dollars or some pittance. Hell, that was cost of doing
business; they brought in three or four million dollars running
that scam, I heard. This was the world I grew up in and now that
was all changing.

The fact that the government would put resources behind
going after people in my world was not something I ever took
lightly. I tried to explain this to other owners of boiler rooms,
but it was clear to me they were still stuck in a time capsule and
was not facing the axiomatic reality of the changing situation. I
knew however that it was time to downsize, streamline and get
my ducks in order.

37
At the time, I was entering a phase of introspective
declaration and remembering the lessons of John Gotti and how
his flamboyant life style seemed to have fueled the constant
attacks on him by The FBI. I had allowed myself the same kind
of arrogance and clearly became too big for my own britches.
Living in a mini mansion and taking in phone rooms from all
over the country with people I have never even met, seemed to
me at the time, to be too far out there on the branch. Driving
around with a new car every month was not good for a person
that should be in the shadows.

Word started to spread through my world that the FBI had a
former phone room manager that was working in their pocket
and had flipped to become our industry’s Sam “The Bull”
Gravano. The rumor was this guy was spilling all our industry
secrets and that The Feds were now going around posing as lead
sellers. The buying and selling of leads was the fuel or the
gasoline that kept the engine running. Good leads were like gold
and there was big money in just the selling of leads alone. If the
FBI was now going around selling leads then any unknown face
knocking at the door could be a federal agent in disguise. I got
these knocks at the door a lot, so I realized the magnitude of this
problem.

After I had the visit from Sergeant Maloney and realized
cops walking around in my mini mansion is not a good thing, I
decided to downsize and streamline the entire operation. I
decided to go buy a normal house and go buy a couple of
normal looking cars and not draw attention to myself. After
hurricane Andrew, the entire county of Broward changed
demographics overnight. All the riffraff that lived in Dade
County somehow got pushed up into Broward and I did not like
what I was seeing. I chose to look for a house in Palm Beach
County instead.

I found a brand new home that was just built in a normal
looking upper middle class subdivision off Jog Road called
Serene Run. I bought the house and took on a mortgage like any
normal person. I bought a Nissan Pathfinder for the old lady and
a 240 SL Nissan for myself and I took on car payments like the
next schmuck. I shed the outlandish lifestyle we were living. I
wanted at a first glance, to look like any other working stiff out
there. I cut off and dropped all out of state phone rooms that I
was dealing with and got rid of most of my sales force and
chose a small sales force of powerful reloaders that I knew and
that could hang with me for the long run. It was my intention to
weather the storm that was brewing with the federal
government. I made all of these massive changes almost
overnight. I streamlined my entire operation, sat back, and
began to study what the Justice Department was up to.

By April of 1993, the country was starting to get to see
what we in South Florida already knew about Janet Reno when
the whole Waco thing went down. People watched in horror as
Janet attacked the Branch Davidians and burned up all of the
women and children. We knew her treatment of women by
rumors of torture and forced confessions in South Florida jail
cells. I kept telling anyone who would listen in our world to
keep an eye on this woman, but not a single peer of mine ever
understood the threat Janet posed to our world.

The downsizing of our lifestyle did not go over well with
my wife who was already addicted to shopping and spending
money, but I needed to do this without raising any suspicion in
her. The woman never knew about my secret sex life and I’d
made damn sure she never understood anything about my
business. I had her write checks and balance a couple of
checkbooks, but the woman truly had no clue with what I was
up to. I tried to appease her without drawing attention by letting
her spend money on things for the new home.

Right away, we added a pool, a screened in porch and deck
that surrounded the pool. We placed a waterfall that was not too
crazy in the front of the house. I even had a bunch of cages built
for the damn rabbits in the back. I used to spend my afternoons
walking around Worth Ave. in Palm Beach and hanging out at
the bars over there across the bridge where the really rich
people lived and where the Kennedy Estate was. After the
downsize, I found my own neighborhood sports bar that I would
go to in my neighborhood in Lake Worth called the Sports Page
and I started to settle into my new life in Palm Beach County.

No one in my industry was making these kinds of moves to
downsize as far as I could see. In fact, there seemed to be a
completely new tone that started to creep up after Operation
Disconnect. From my vantage point, it seemed that many people
in our world decided that there was no use in shipping anything
or any product to a customer if in the end the Feds would bust
you anyway. There was an unspoken collective vibe that there
was no appreciation of our tradecraft by The FBI. There was a
growing collective mindset that the government was ignoring
the fact that the clientele of most “down the road” telemarketing
firms were more of a gambler type personality and not some
victim. These were the same kind of people who had bookies
and bet on everything.

Collectively my world started to feel that there was
absolutely no acknowledgement by the FBI and the courts that
some of us went to painstaking efforts to be as legal as humanly
possible. Ad Spec firms were now being lumped in with the
worst of illegal telemarketing and the IQ of the people in our
world took serious offense to calling any of these greedy
motherfuckers on the other end of our phones some freaking
victim. After Operation Disconnect many phones rooms
together threw up their hands and stopped shipping any product
at all. The federal bust actually created an atmosphere where the
customers of America were now going to be ripped off with no
questions asked. This was the birthplace of what was called rip
and tear rooms on a huge scale.

One phone room after the other just promised whatever to
the caller, took their money, and did nothing for the consumer.
No one was worrying about shipping anything to anyone and
the phone rooms would be gone over night. This created an
atmosphere of boiler room whack-a-mole where phone rooms
would pop up and then be gone in an instant. It sent our entire
industry down a hellhole never to return again to any sensible
code of conduct. It became the Wild West and it became harder
and harder to do business on many levels.

By 1994 I was already paying a company crazy money to
sweep my phone room for electronic bugs and taps on our
phone lines. Word was getting out that more and more people
were being flipped and that they were now working for the FBI
going in phone rooms as salespeople undercover. I never bought
a lead from anyone that I did not know before Operation
Disconnect and I never hired anyone I did not already know for
anything. I had my group of people that I trusted and I wanted
nothing to do with anyone else in the business. If I did not know
you then you could go fuck yourself!

I started to move my phone room around every few months
just for caution’s sake and I soon got sick of doing that. I
decided to sit in one place. I bought all of the equipment to
sweep for bugs and taps instead of paying this crazy money to
these firms that were raping us weekly over this issue. I created
a new system that I would never again send any money to the
address where my phone room was located. I created a runner
system where I had runners open up mailboxes around the
country and pick up the mail and then Fed Ex it to another
mailbox and have that picked up by another runner. I created a
massive system of mailboxes and people willing to make some
extra money unwittingly opening up these boxes around the
country and sending the mail down to another box in Florida.

This way of doing things allowed me to stop moving my
phone room around and was an attempt to be more stable. This
system was not foolproof and it had is flaws. When a mailbox
address came under suspicion or something would go wrong
with the runner, I would lose money in the pipeline. This
happened so many times that it became the cost of doing
business.

One time the Postmaster General went into this guy’s house
in Massachusetts who was one of my runners. He just got home
with his wife from the hospital having just given birth to their
baby when his house filled up with postal agents pointing guns
in their faces. The runner calls me on the phone at gunpoint and
tells me his house was filled with all of these men from the post
office with guns asking me what to do. I told the guy to put
whoever was in charge on the phone. The Postmaster got on the
phone with me yelling at me about this mailbox and this and
that. When he was done with his tirade, I told the dude that he
needed to get out of those people’s home and put away his guns.
I explained to him that he had no jurisdiction over anything I
did because I used private couriers like Fed Ex and others and I
never used the postal service to mail anything. The guy was so
pissed and couldn’t believe his ears. I told him who I was and
where I lived and told him I had nothing to hide and that he has
no right to question these people or me about anything. He
challenged me to come to Massachusetts and make such an
argument and I politely declined. He put the runner back on the
phone and I told him that they would be leaving now and
thanked him for his service. The runner seemed pretty shaken
up. This was the world we lived in now after Operation
Disconnect. Oh, how I yearned for the “good ole days.”
38
In the summer of 1994, Janet Reno and the FBI launched
another operation targeting telemarketing fraud, but this time
she launched it right from the heart of South Florida in her old
stomping grounds in Miami. It was called Operation Sunstroke
and it was the Miami FBI office teaming up with the Fort
Lauderdale Police Department. By this time, the feds had
flipped so many people from our world that things started to get
confusing. The FBI was sending out droves of former
telemarketing types as undercover people in all areas of our
world. The problem that the cops never realized was that a
whole bunch of these people that they thought they flipped were
in fact playing both sides of the fence. These people were more
double agent than some cooperating witness.

Rumor had it at the time that these people working for the
cops immediately started selling the information they had on
Operation Sunstroke. They were actually selling lists of who the
informants were and where they had been placed. It created a
new field for lead sellers, where now boiler rooms everywhere
were spending money on the leads of names of phone rooms
that had these rats in them. The double agents also revealed that
the cops were setting up phone lines and recording pitches.
Those numbers not to call became leads for phone rooms.

Now our industry could buy leads that were called hot lists
and the industry would purge these phone numbers or names
from their systems to stay one step ahead of the cops. These do
not call lists were bought by boiler rooms so as to not get
caught up in the cops’ trap. It got to the point where no one
knew which leads were good and which were not. The operation
in the end was duped a failure on many levels and the FBI was
under a lot of heat because they were unable to stop the stem of
these calls from fraudulent telemarketers. The FBI actual stirred
things up and made it worse for the American consumers.

That year of 1994 Janet Reno launched a nationwide public
service campaign to educate Americans about their rights and
obligations under the law. She set up a hot line for people to
call if they got ripped off by anyone. Janet started a campaign to
ask congress for a billion dollars to combat telemarketing fraud.
I knew she was going to get the money. I started to tell people
she would because of how she was now going about it. She
came up with a brilliant pitch of her own and I noticed it right
away. Any time Janet Reno would now say the word
“telemarketing,” she would also, in the same sentence, say the
term “Senior Citizen” without missing a beat. Now all of a
sudden every telemarketing firm in the world was painted to be
ripping off senior citizens.

As she publicly and privately argued Congress to give her
money, she did it under the guise of protecting old people. Since
old people were such a strong voting bloc, the whole plan
worked and Janet finally got her money to go after us. I actually
sat and watched her ask Congress for the money on C-Span at a
Senate Subcommittee Hearing that was televised.

That year as I stood at the pinnacle of my career and power,
I was never so miserable in my life. It was one of the saddest
years for me personally, as I slipped into a deep depression. My
marriage was falling apart because I could not stand the woman
I was married to. I felt so trapped. I even went to see different
shrinks and one doctor said I had Borderline Personality
Disorder. Another doctor just seemed afraid to even see me
because she found me to be intimidating or whatever that
meant. I was in a very bad place in my head and once again the
profession of psychiatry was no help. The only positive thing
from that time in my life was that all of these emotions inside
kick-started my writing once again and I began to write poetry
and short stories. Some of the most amazing writing came out
of me during that bad part of my life.

That year another one of my sister-in-laws flew in from
California and I met her for the first time while she visited
Florida for a week. She was Debbie’s older sister Brenda and I
could tell she knew what was up between Debbie and I. Debbie
and Brenda were Tonya’s stepsisters, not blood relatives, but it
was clear that Debbie shared our relationship with Brenda after
Brenda dropped hints to me that she knew what was up.

I decided around this time to go fly out to Seattle and visit a
guy named Chuck who I grew up with in Miramar and was
living out there. That same day Brenda was flying home to
California. I had never been to Seattle and I wanted to climb the
Wonderland Trail that circles around Mount Rainier. When I
got on the plane, Brenda was there on the same flight to
Houston waving me over telling everyone I was her brother-in-
law and she got people to switch seats so we could sit together.
I had no idea we were going to be on the same plane to Houston
and that both of us had separate connecting flights there that
would bring us to our destinations.

She opened up her huge purse and showed me it was full of
beer cans and she seemed already on her way to a good buzz. I
started drinking asking the stewardess to bring me three of those
little shot bottles at a time. Once we got in the air we were
knocking back beers and shot bottles at a fast clip and the next
thing I knew we were making out right there on the plane. The
people around us were all freaked out because we had already
announced that we were family. During the make out session,
Brenda reached inside my pants and gave me a hand job right
there while we were thirty thousand feet above the ground. I
never was a member of the Mile High Club, but this felt like I
was damn close to joining it. She made me cum right there
inside my pants sitting at my window seat.

After my orgasm, I went into the bathroom to clean up and
I smoked a cigarette. When I sat back down the stewardess
came over all angry at me and saying that I cannot smoke on a
plane and this was a violation of federal law. Times were
changing for cigarette smokers. I looked her right in the eye and
said I was offended because I was a non-smoker and that cloud
of smoke was in there when I went to use the bathroom. She did
not believe a word I said and just walked away very angry.

Later on in the flight and after that cunt stewardess kept
bringing me three bottles of rum at a time, I got a real good
buzz and went back into the bathroom to smoke another cig.
This time when I got out, all of the stewardesses were standing
right outside the bathroom door waiting for me to come out.
When I opened the door they started yelling at me telling me
that they were going to tell the Captain and I was going to get
arrested. I once again denied it was me smoking and told them
to leave me alone.

My flight to Seattle had a connecting flight in Houston,
Texas. Brenda was also flying to Houston. She was going to get
on a connecting flight to Southern California to go home, and I
was going to get on a connecting flight to Seattle to go visit my
friend. We got off the plane and kissed each other goodbye as
lovers do and went on our way through the airport.

When I got to the terminal of my connecting flight to
Seattle, the people at the gate would not let me on the plane and
said that the Houston Police Department wanted to talk to me.
Three uniformed cops walked up to me and told me they were
arresting me for public intoxication. The freaking airline could
not get me officially on the cigarette thing because I denied it,
so now they were having me arrested for being drunk after the
airline itself got me drunk. I was blown away. I laid down on
the ground and said if you are arresting me you will have to
carry me. The cops grabbed my arms and legs and started to
carry me through the airport belly down towards the ground. I
started screaming at the top of my lungs to everyone in the
airport that they were killing me and asking people to help. The
cops dragged me to this side door, kicked it open, and dragged
me down these metal steps onto the tarmac letting my face
smash into each step going down.

On the tarmac were two Houston police cars and they
cuffed me and threw me in the back seat of one of them. As I
looked over to the other patrol car, there was Brenda cuffed and
in the backseat of that one. As the cars drove away, through the
window, I could see Brenda being driven to jail and it was the
last time I ever saw her again. They drove me to the jail and
booked me for public intoxication. I fell to the ground inside the
booking department and faked an epileptic fit flapping around
on the floor like a fish. A doctor/cop dude stood over me and
held my eyelid back and screamed he is faking it. Next, the cops
just starting kicking me with their boots over and over again and
beating me to a pulp. They pulled my pants and underwear
down to my ankles and threw me onto the floor of a jail cell
filled with fifty other people. I just laid there bleeding all over
the floor while my dick just laid there on the ground completely
exposed.

I stayed jailed in Houston for three days until I finally got
to see a judge who released me with a fifty dollar fine. I hailed a
cab and had him drive me back to the airport. I told the cabbie
what happened and he said I was the third guy this week he had
picked up there with this story. Apparently, in Houston, the
airline brings you drinks and then has you arrested for being
drunk. I walked up to the ticket counter to find out there was not
another flight to Seattle for a couple of days, so I opted to take
the next flight back to West Palm Beach which was not until the
next morning.

I got a hotel room at some high-end hotel by the airport. I
walked in the room, called room service and asked for nine
White Russians to be delivered to my room. The guy on the
phone tried to explain to me some rule of theirs about how
much booze he was allowed to bring me. I told him what
happened to me and he sent up the booze like I asked. I picked
up the yellow pages and called an escort service. I told them to
send me two girls, one black and one white. I drank and banged
the two whores that night and the next morning flew back
home. When I walked in the door at the house, Tonya met me in
the doorway and when she saw how beat up I was from the
cops, she started crying and running for the camera saying we
were going to sue everyone. I told her to let it go and that I did
not want any more to do with any of it. I did not want the
Brenda thing to come out if I pushed the issue, so I had to let it
go. Funny enough, I have never been to Texas except for the
time I spent three days in a Houston Jail.
39
By the fall of 1994 I was in such a dark place in my
personal life. I was self-medicating with crack cocaine and
booze and I hated going home each day. One day I threw this
huge party at the new house with our friends and family. At the
party, my sister-in-law Debbie showed up with some chick I
had never seen or met before. They were both very drunk
already and this friend of hers kept walking around to my guests
telling them that she knew I was more than just a brother-in-law
to Debbie. She was slurring her words and making her way
through my house towards Tonya. I saw what was about to
happen and I took Tonya’s hand and brought her into our
bedroom.

I sat her down on our waterbed. Waterbeds were the thing
at the time back then and everyone had one in the 90’s. Tonya
of course needed one that cost ten thousand dollars with four
posts and mirrors and dressers built in it, and all the shebang,
but don’t get me started. I told her I needed to tell her
something. I figured there was no way this was not going to
come out that night and Tonya should hear it from me and not
some drunken bitch Debbie brought to our party that neither one
of us have ever met. I told Tonya right there sitting on the bed
that I had been having an affair with her sister Debbie and I
wanted her to hear it from me first. I explained to Tonya what
was going on outside our bedroom door with Debbie and this
drunken chick. I explained to her that she needed to hear it from
me and that I was very unhappy in our marriage. Tempers
exploded and things got out of hand.

After the smoked cleared, I called my father in Ocala and
asked him to come and get me, that I needed a break from the
drugs, Tonya and everything that was making me so sad and
angry all the time. The old man drove down to Lake Worth,
picked me up, and drove me back to Ocala to my grandmother’s
house. Of course, he was supposed to be helping me sober up,
but clearly, I called the worst person in the world, so ill
equipped to help me in this state. My father helped me by
buying crack from his dealer and I continued my self-
medicating in Ocala as we both just drank and got high.

While I was there in Ocala, my father revealed to me that
he found and went through his father’s Naval Records. My
father uncovered that his father’s blood type and his mother’s
blood type could have never made him. We found out that my
grandfather John Walker was not my father’s biological father. I
was in shock. We had no idea who we were. I got very angry
over all of this and told my father we needed to confront his
satanic mother and find out who the hell we really were! Pop
said we needed more information so we started calling family
members all around the country on his side to find out the truth.

As he talked with one family member after the other on the
phone, it was clear that there was this deep family secret, but no
one would tell us the real truth. The best we were able to do was
narrow it down to two things. One explanation that came to
light was the fact that my evil grandmother was actually raped
in Central Park, most likely by Satan himself, and that my
father could have been a product of that rape. The second thing
that came to the surface was that there was wife-swapping
going on in the family. Amazingly, my grandmother and her
sister were in love with each other’s husband and they swapped
bed partners for decades. This was something that a lot of the
older generation did according to the people that told us this.
Divorce was forbidden and older couples would sleep in
separate rooms and lead different lives. My father’s uncle could
have been his real father, and to top that off, the fucking guy
was Italian! I was spinning with all of this new information.

I told my father it was time to confront his mother. Pop
explained to me that he couldn’t do it and that I would have to
be the one, but that he would stand next to me as I spoke. We
sat my grandmother down at the kitchen table and told her that
we knew we were not Walkers and that we needed to know who
my father’s father was. We explained to her that we narrowed it
down to the rape or the wife-swapping thing, but we needed to
know the truth. The old bitch went nuts screaming and crying
and locked herself in her bedroom.

That night I went to sleep on the couch in the formal living
room where John Walker, who was not related to us, used to
nap. I woke up that morning and grabbed my chest. I could not
breathe! I blasted through the back door of the house and fell to
my knees on the grass in the backyard pounding my fist into my
chest trying to get my lungs to take in air. I could slightly get in
a partial breath and I got up and got the keys to my car. I had
the car sent up to me after I left South Florida and now I needed
to drive myself to the hospital. While driving to the hospital my
lungs started to open up better and I decided instead to drive to
my mother’s house.

My mother, after her house burnt down, left South Florida
and bought a house in Ocala, Florida and I now had both of my
parents living in this God forsaken town. While I was driving,
my lungs were doing better, but my eyes were starting to water
out of control, I could barely see the road through my tears. I
got to my mother’s house and went right into the shower to
wash my eyes out. I tasted this chemical taste on my lips as the
shower water rinsed over me. I finally got my eyes to stop
burning and I got out of the shower all red eyed and dizzy. I
picked up the phone and dialed my grandmother’s phone
number through my bloodshot eyes and my father picked up the
phone on the other end.

I explained to him what happened to me and he said, “Oh
my God, Son! I wondered why?”

I asked, “You wondered why, what, Pop?”

He said that when he woke up that he saw a can of Raid
bug spray sitting on the kitchen counter and wondered why his
mother messed with the bug spray in the middle of the night. He
said it was so out of place because for the can of Raid to be
sitting there meant that his mother somehow in the middle of
the night, went out into the garage, got that can of Raid from the
shelf out there, and brought it in the house. He wondered why
she needed Raid in the middle of the night when she was in bed
sleeping. He told me that she must have sprayed me! I was
completely blown away. I asked my father what he wanted to
do. He asked me what I meant by that.

I said, “Pop, your mother just tried to murder me by poison
on the night we confronted her on our bloodline!” I started
yelling at him that his fucking mother tried to kill me! I could
just imagine that evil bitch standing over me while I slept,
bending down and spraying the poison into my mouth, while I
lay asleep on the couch. Everyone in my family knew I slept
with my mouth open and this broad tried to whack me over this
family secret. I told my father to go get the can of bug spray and
read the poison warning and see if I need to go to the ER. He
came back to the phone and said it looked like if I had survived
it to this point that I should live. I again asked what he wanted
me to do. I said I thought I needed to call the cops!

At this moment, my father made a decision that would
affect our relationship for the rest of our lives. He told me that
he would protect his mom and not admit to the cops anything
about the poisoning and that there was no proof. My father went
into protection mode, but it was not protection mode over his
kid, but protection for the person that tried to murder his kid,
the same person that tortured all of his kids for years. I hung up
the phone and knew I could never forgive him for that choice,
not ever. My entire personal life was in shambles. My marriage
was shot, my grandmother tried to murder me and I had no idea
what my last name should really be. This was a very dark part
of my life. Just recounting all of this for this book makes me
sweat. Not everyone can claim that their own grandmother tried
to murder them. All I knew was that I realized at the time I was
in big trouble emotionally and I needed to get as far away from
all of these people as possible.

I got on a plane and flew out to San Francisco, California. I
did not know a soul in the whole state except for a guy that I
grew up with in Miramar who was now living in San Mateo. I
flew right to the city and the minute I stepped off the plane, I
felt like a new person. If I was going to get off crack cocaine, I
needed to get far away from anyone I knew who did it.
California seemed a world away and for me, at the time, was a
place for rebirth. I had my old friend pick me up at the airport
and drive me into the city. He asked me where I wanted to live
and I told him right in the middle of the heart of everything. I
wanted to be around everything that made this city great. We
drove Highway 101 towards the city from the airport and right
passed the part of the highway that so famously pancaked
during the 1989 San Francisco earthquake. They were still
working on stuff at the time and retrofitting all sorts of
buildings and bridges preparing for the next great quake.

We got off Highway 101 and drove into the city. I felt a
feeling of hope and renewal as I looked up at the high-rises. We
drove right to the most famous road called Market Street and
my friend said if you want to be in the heart of San Francisco,
Market Street is it. I landed up getting an apartment on the
corner of Market and Polk in the famous Fox Plaza.

The Fox Plaza high-rise is a beautiful 29-story building
located at 1390 Market Street in the Heart of San Francisco.
Wikipedia says it was built in 1966; the high rise stands on the
site of the famous historic Fox Theatre at 1350 Market. It was
opened in the year of 1929 and later demolished in 1963. There
is so much cool history to the building. The first twelve floors
house office space. Unlike many buildings, the Fox Plaza high-
rise has a 13th floor, actually labeled with the number “13”,
however, this floor is used only as the service floor and is not
rented out. The 14th floor contains a laundry facility and a
gymnasium as well as apartments, while floors 15 through 29
are exclusively high-end rental apartments. There was no
Wikipedia back then; they just had the history of the building
on a giant plaque that was displayed when you walk into the
building.

I walked into the building and asked for the penthouse. I
was told it was already taken, so I got one of the next
apartments below it on the 28th floor. I called up a Rent-A-
Center and had the whole apartment furnished. I sent for my car
to be brought to me by rail and I walked out onto my balcony
that overlooked the city. There from my balcony I could clearly
see the Golden Gate Bridge. I stood there staring at my view of
San Francisco with all the high rises around me and realized my
life was about to change yet again. I was in California now.
40
It was now 1995 and I was running my business from
California. The beauty of telemarketing is that you can live
anywhere and do it. That is why most telemarketing hubs were
located in some of the greatest cities in America. I decided I
was going to live in San Francisco for at least a year and run
everything from there. I also decided to continue to support
Tonya back in Florida. I had to financially support both homes
and float everything, but for me, it was worth it, because I
finally felt a sense of peace.

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to me at the time, the FBI had
mounted the biggest undercover operation in the history of the
agency called Operation Senior Sentinel. For the very first time
ever, the FBI got retired law enforcement officers to volunteer
on a massive scale to help the Feds with this operation. They
even got hundreds of American Association of Retired Persons
(AARP) to pose as victims. The FBI built a gigantic undercover
web of people who would act as agents for the FBI and pose as
callers, buyers, lead sellers, sales people and so much more.
They created a vast fake world of telemarketing from one end of
the industry to the other. They had phone lines and people set
up across the country from coast to coast recording telephone
calls and the pitches that were made by sales people in our
industry.

I had no idea something of this scale was going on. I knew
they were busy fucking with our industry and I knew they
would have to show results to congress to justify the money
given to them, but I had no understanding of the scale of what
was going on. This kind of effort or this push by the federal
government was nothing less than a full-scale war to shut down
illegal telemarketing. The scale of this operation alone meant
nothing less than the complete destruction of my entire industry.
The Feds were all in now and would stop at nothing to achieve
their goal.

Living in California I had to make all sorts of adjustments.
I was an east coast guy and had to adapt to the time zone I was
living in. Everything was done just a little differently out there.
I remember the first time I walked into a supermarket in
California and saw that in the aisles, they were selling all their
booze. That blew me away. Back in Florida, we sold our liquor
in separate buildings and children were not allowed in those
buildings. Here your kid walks down one aisle, there is Captain
Crunch cereal, and the next aisle is Captain Morgan Spiced
Rum, which was all so wild to me.

Being in California in January of 1995 was something else
as opening statements in the O J Simpson Trial got off.
Everyone was glued to the TV and everywhere I went, it was
the only thing people were talking about. Having a car in San
Francisco is actually somewhat of a burden. Parking in the city
was limited and I had to pay for underground parking each
month. I never really needed my car too much because I could
go anywhere in the city for just a few dollar in a cab. I would
hail a cab, go down to China Town and eat at the Far East Caf‚.
I loved that place because they had good food and there were
these private booths that all you had to do is push a button on
the wall and some Chink would pop up at your table ready to
serve you. Even their food was different in California. When I
went to order egg drop soup, they called it white flower soup.

Being the consummate Mick that I was, I would often go
down to Fisherman’s Wharf and eat at my favorite Irish Pub
called the Fiddler’s Green and stare out to the island of Alcatraz
and wonder when my time in prison was going to come. The
city was full of adult theaters so there was no shortage of sexual
exploits for me to dabble in.

One of the greatest things at that time, when I was living in
California, was just months before I got there. Heidi Fleiss got
busted for her high class call girl ring. To my utter delight,
many of her ladies got scared and ran up to San Francisco to get
out of Los Angeles and away from the cops down there. I will
never forget the one day I picked up the yellow pages and called
an escort service to send a hooker to my apartment. When this
broad knocked on the door and I opened it, I almost died. I
realized immediately that I was about to fuck, hands down, the
best looking woman of my entire life. I mean I have had pretty
ladies before like any other guy, but there was no doubt that this
woman standing in the middle of my apartment in this high
dollar business suit was the absolute best looking chick I was
ever going to have sex with.

She was beyond stunning; she was physically perfect. I
could not find a flaw in this broad and I looked from head to toe
like a blind man running his fingers over brail. Over time I got
to know her very well and she explained to me she was one of
Heidi’s girls and that many of them came up to Frisco to get out
of the heat from the cops down in L.A. As soon as I heard she
was not alone, I asked her to bring a friend next time and make
sure she was black. I banged those two for a while until I got
sick of them. You see, even the most beautiful girls in the world
becomes boring to a man.

Back in Florida, when we were on the beach and would see
somebody surely hot, we would say somebody is at home sick
of that fine ass. You have to have a dick to understand this kind
of thinking. However, there I was living in California having
sex with Heidi Fleiss’s gals and far away from my depressing
family back in Florida. I tried not to think of any of them and I
just kept myself busy. Cocaine never even crossed my mind and
when I was offered it out there, I never partook in any of it.
Somehow, I got back to being me, which was a drinker and a
pothead, like I always was and ever will be. No way around it,
cocaine is a loser drug for losers and I was never going back to
it.

I spent my time running my business and glued to the OJ
trial. On the weekends I would drive up north of the city to the
mountains and I would hike to the top of Mt Wittenberg and
pitch a tent and read a Tom Clancy novel. Mount Wittenberg is
also an area where deer are protected and are allowed to
flourish. They had no fear of man; I never saw anything like it.
There I was on top of a mountain overlooking the Pacific Ocean
surrounded by deer reading Tom Clancy. California was
working out just fine for me.

One day I got a call from my little brother begging me to
give him a job. The kid and I never got along and I always
suspected my mother fucked the milk man and had my brother
Chris. He was nothing like me or my dead brother Keith. He
didn’t even look like my father or me in any way. We were very
far apart in age and I cannot remember a time in my life when I
even liked this kid on any level outside of his infancy. Still, he
was my mother’s kid and he was down on his luck. I explained
to him what it took to pick up the phone and extract money
from people. I trained him and set him loose on the world. I
gave him a list of numbers not to call that was floating around
the industry on the hot lists and sent him on his way. Two
weeks later, he calls me up and quits telling me that he cannot
do telemarketing. I was relieved and he went on his merry way.

I had my entire business so narrowly focused at the time. I
streamlined it down to a handful of players and I structured
everything for the long haul and not so much towards making as
much cash as I could. Rumors were so omnipresent about law
enforcement back then. Our entire world was already turned
upside down and the industry was far away from the “good ole
days.” While out in California I sat down with some west coast
guys in our world and this crowd seem way ahead of the curve
about how things were changing in our industry and what to do
to survive. They offered me some deals that I turned down,
because by this point, if I did not know you for years, I did not
trust you.

On the morning of April 19, 1995 I woke up, made a cup of
coffee, and turned on the TV. I just stood there looking at some
chaotic scene going on live in Oklahoma City. The federal
building had been blown apart and the FBI was on the hunt to
find who did it. I have to say I was not surprised to learn later
that this whole event happened because some guy got angry
with Janet Reno. Timothy McVeigh was pissed at Janet for her
butchering of all those people in Waco and that poor family in
Ruby Ridge. I always wondered if Bill Clinton’s first two
choices for Attorney General did not have problems with the
legal status of their maids, would history have been completely
different if we had another A.G. who was not such a brute. Of
course, we will never know the answer to that, but in 1995, I
felt that the illegal world of boiler rooms and telemarketing had
little to worry about from the FBI with all they had going on
that year. As I stood watching the federal building smoking in
ruins that morning, I thought to myself, “Well, they will be busy
now.” I could not imagine with all of this going on, that the
government would waste resources chasing down telemarketers.
I would soon find out how wrong I was.
41
Mark Twain once said the coldest winter he ever spent was
a summer in San Francisco. I never understood that quote until
the summer of 1995 when I had to turn my heat on in my
apartment. When I first got that apartment and moved there, I
asked the guy showing me the apartment where the air
conditioner was. He laughed and said there was no air
conditioner in the building or most any building in San
Francisco. He said we only needed the heater. Most of the year
the city stays between 35 degrees and 70 degrees and they have
a fog that blankets the city like nothing I have ever seen.

Unless you have seen San Francisco fog, you have never
known fog. Trust me. What was so wild was at the same time, I
had my heat on in my high rise while the mid-west of the
country was having one of the most deadly heat waves in my
lifetime. Over three thousand people died that summer from the
heat and in Chicago alone, over seven hundred and fifty people
left this planet due to that heat wave. I remember feeling a little
homesick for Florida that summer because of how out of place
the cold in San Francisco felt to me.

When word reached me that July that the Space Shuttle
Atlantis was docking with the Russian space station Mir, I
really felt a wave of homesickness. It was too soon to return
home, so I decided to get out of San Francisco and go
backpacking in the White Mountains of New Hampshire for a
week. I just needed to have a change of scenery at the time. I
had some business I needed to take care of in Massachusetts and
I could accomplish both by getting on a plane.

I flew to Boston and met with a guy I had running my
runner mailbox system for the New England area and squared
away some details with him and then I rented a car and drove up
to Conway, New Hampshire to go climb the Presidential Trail
in the White Mountains. I had my marijuana in my backpack
that went through the cargo bay as I flew across the country on
a commercial flight. My equipment all smells like nature and
the outdoors, so I knew any smell of weed would be
camouflaged.

While I was living in California, I would have my wife
Tonya Fed Ex me the best weed from Florida to keep me
content. I got to Conway, New Hampshire and got a room at the
Yankee Clipper Inn. I had been to this hotel before. In my life I
had climbed the Presidential Range many times and I used to
have a t-shirt that said “This Body Climbed Mount
Washington.” I was so proud of that shirt because you could
only buy it at the store on top of that mountain. Mt. Washington
is the tallest mountain in America east of the Mississippi River.
You can drive up it or you can hike the trails to the top. On top
of the mountain they built a weather station and a hotel and
restaurant/store kind of thing.

That July day when I got to Conway, it was one hundred
degrees at the base of Mt. Washington and at the very same
moment, it was fifty degrees on the top of the mountain. I left
my hotel room and went to have breakfast at the Blueberry
Muffin Restaurant. I never really hiked in the summer time
because of the bugs and that hot day I remembered why, as I got
bit up by mosquitoes just going to eat at the restaurant. I ate my
blueberry pancakes and I went back to my room to see that the
fucking maid robbed me and stole my North Face jacket. I was
so enraged because, one, it was a very nice jacket and two, the
pot and my airline tickets were in the pockets. The front desk,
of course, could not do anything or prove it was the cunt maid,
so now I had to get new plane tickets home and I was out of
weed.

Let me tell you how cool Conway, New Hampshire is.
When you read their license plate on their cars that say Live
Free or Die, they are not kidding up there. So, I went to the bar
all pissed off that I had been robbed and I tell the bartender my
woes and how I lost my weed. The bartender throws a duffle
bag on the bar, opens it, and shows me all of these bags all
measured out to be a quarter ounce of weed each. I asked how
much and gave him the cash and I was back in business being
the happy hiker. I freaking love that town! The next morning I
go to start up Mount Washington and even with the bug spray, I
was overwhelmed with the bugs. I never made it past the tree
line before I turned back and declared this one huge mistake. I
got in my car, drove back to Boston, and decided to make a trip
out to the Cape and do a little partying in Hyannis.

I get out to Hyannis Port and drank at a bar called Steamers
and had some great seafood and many cocktails. I knew a guy
who grew up there, so I drove in front of his family’s home and
took a picture of myself standing in front of his mother’s house
and then I dropped it in the mailbox. Back then, a stamp only
cost thirty-two cents. I wanted him to go get his mail one day
and out of nowhere, see me in Hyannis, Massachusetts standing
in front of his family’s house with no note or explanation, just a
picture. I cracked up thinking of his face when he opened the
envelope, laughing all the way on my drive back to Boston. I
stopped in the city to eat a meal in the Italian section of Boston
and then went over to the Irish part and did some drinking in
Quincy’s Market. It was time to return to California.

When I got to the airport, I had to argue with the airline
over the stolen ticket and I flew back to San Francisco. I got
back a day before my birthday July 13th and I was haunted once
again by homesickness watching the Space Shuttle Discovery
launch off into space. On top of the launch, it was also my
former high school sweetheart’s birthday. Ann Marie was born
on the 13th and I was born on the 14th of the same year and all
of my life, I would never forget her birthday and think of her
the day before mine, even to this day. I picked up the phone and
called a restaurant in New York that her family owned that was
only open in the summers. I got a hold of her aunt and told her
who I was and that I had a dream of Ann and that she had short
hair in my dream and not the long beautiful hair when we were
in high school. Her aunt was blown away by my call and said
Ann cut her hair not to long before I called. She was married to
some military guy now and the aunt told me she would pass my
message to Ann of hello.

I was often haunted my decision to end my relationship
with Ann Marie and felt that this was one of my life’s biggest
mistakes. I never had closure with her and it haunts me
throughout life. It is strange to see what affects us truly and
what rolls off our shoulders while we are here on this planet.

The one thing that did not just roll off my shoulders was
my dysfunctional marriage to Tonya. I flew my wife Tonya out
to San Francisco to come stay with me for a few days. We tried
to stay civil at the time, but just having her there in California
made me sick. I couldn’t wait for her to leave. I could tell she
was a full-blown cokehead by now and I started to put some
pieces together about her and started to realize how long she
had a problem with cocaine. It was a serious habit for her now
and I wanted nothing to do with it or her. She tried her level
best to hide this fact from me, but she was too far gone not to
see the signs. I instructed her to do something with her life. I
gave her the information on a bartending school and gave her
the tuition to pay for it. I knew I’d be divorcing her soon and I
wanted her to have a way to support herself after the marriage
was over. The woman loved to host parties and make drinks. I
thought it was a perfect fit.

As soon as she left, I felt normal again. Not too long after
she left, San Francisco completely changed from its normal
vibe. It was not anything that you could see, but it was
something you could feel throughout the whole city. Word got
out that Jerry Garcia of The Grateful Dead died of a heart attack
in a drug rehab in California. I do not even have the proper
words to describe how sad the people of that city were. It didn’t
matter if you listened to his music or not, the guy was a son of
San Francisco and that city wept with the passing of their icon.
The public held a memorial in the Polo Fields of San
Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. Tens of thousands of people
showed up with tie-dye shirts and flowers. They did a bagpipe
rendition of Amazing Grace and collectively the city said good-
bye to their famous son.
42
September of 1995 came around and The New York Times
and The Washington Post published a thirty- five thousand
word manifesto from the Unabomber Ted Kaczynski. The FBI
had their hands full at the time chasing this nut down and made
him their most wanted. Janet Reno was busy that month and
telling Justice Department employees that they needed to be
more helpful with helping the public with the Freedom of
Information Act and she created a rating system to judge them
on their performance. There was so much going on at the time
that I falsely believed that they had very little time to police
telemarketing fraud. All their efforts up to this point fell short
and none of it came even close to me and what I was doing.

My entire viewpoint going into the fall of 1995 was based
on false assumptions and flawed introspective looks at my
industry and my business in general. I was busy at the time
keeping my business afloat. My computer guy Gene who had
been with me now for years was asking for money for
something new put out by a company named Microsoft called
Windows 95 and he was bugging me about something called
JavaScript. At the time, I was demanding that as part of Gene’s
job he would have to type out my handwritten poetry and short
stories I wrote. He wasn’t too happy about it but he did it
anyway.

Technology was changing in 1995 and to give you an idea
of what a different time and place it was in that year, a brand
new invention was born into the world called a DVD. Years
later this invention that was announced in 1995 would take off
in America and change our lives. It really was a different time
and place. Anyone that was still standing in the world of boiler
rooms felt like we survived the storm. There was a new normal
and we knew that the government would now always be a part
of regulating our industry, but there was this false feeling that, if
we operated in a certain way, we would be fine. Nothing could
be further from the truth.

That year I hired my father to be a runner for me. I had him
open up some mailboxes to help him make some money. He
was down on his luck, needed something to do to keep him
busy, and asked me for a job. His marriage fell apart when his
second wife finally realized the magnitude of his drug addiction
and he had been fired from nearly a dozen different hospitals. I
also came to the conclusion that I was going to divorce my wife.
Stricken with Catholic guilt at the time, this was no small
decision for me. It did not help matters that the Pope, John Paul
II was running around America at the time reminding me of my
vow and upbringing. However, the Pope was never married to
Tonya and if he wanted to try that for a little while, then I might
listen to him and his teachings on the subject.

I had been out in California a year and floating two homes
was getting expensive. A trip back home for a couple of days
showed me my house was being used as a flophouse by all sorts
of shady types Tonya was now associating with. These
cokeheads turned my formal living room into their very own
dart bar as they were throwing darts at my wall playing Cricket.
There was this black guy walking around my house like he
owned it and was clearly fucking my wife. I could not believe
my eyes, but I knew I had to handle all of this gingerly. I did
not want a full-scale war with a nasty divorce because of my
business. I needed to come back to Florida and try to do this
slowly and over time. I started to tell Tonya that I wanted to
come back and work out our problems.

Sometime in October, I started to plant that seed in her
head. The world was stinging at the time from The O. J.
Simpson verdict and the Million Man March was going on
creating a strange time in America between the white and black
community. Tonya was now hanging out with black guys in the
cocaine world and I needed to get back in the door and get
control of the situation. Making believe I wanted to reconcile
with this coked out woman was not an easy thing to do, but too
many people were depending on me for a living and I had to
play the part.

A guy I knew was getting out of a Florida prison in the
beginning of December of that year from a telemarketing stint
he was doing time for. My plan was to drive across the country,
pick him up when he walked out the gate, and take him home to
South Florida. Then I would go visit my mom in Ocala for a
few days. After all that, I would drive back home to West Palm
Beach County and start the process of unwinding my marriage
once and for all. I told no one of my plans for any of this.

I wanted someone to drive with me across the country. I
had a childhood friend of mine take an express bus from Florida
to California to join me in San Francisco.

This guy was a friend of the family going way back. He
was one of those guys who was born a loser and would live the
life of a loser and eventfully die as one I am sure. His name was
Steve Bonestein. Nothing he could do in life would work out.
He was the epitome of bad luck and I and my family always felt
sorry for the guy. My mom would take him in from time to time
when he was down on his luck, which seemed like always. I
liked the guy and I put a corporation in his name and paid him
four hundred dollars a week for the use of it. It was the best
paying job he ever had, but of course, he had to fuck that up.
The cat walked into the bank one day and asked for a check for
thousands of dollars for drugs and that ended our arrangement.
That was one of those accounts that went south for the winter. It
was never a perfect science, but as long as I covered all losses
out of my pocket as the cost of doing business, than I could
retain my talent and earn their locality. I forgave him for his
transgressions constantly and pretty much understood to except
certain behavior from him.

When he showed up at the bus station in San Francisco, he
called me telling me he thought he had body lice from the drive
and the people on the bus. I had to show up at the bus stop with
the proper bug spray and spray him and all of his things down.
That pretty much personified the luck this guy had. As I said, he
was the same guy who married my neighborhood whore Maria
yet he was shocked to have his marriage end when he came
home to find Maria naked fucking another guy in Steve’ bed
right next to their baby’s crib with their infant in it. The guy
was his best friend at the time. Steve went after Maria with a
knife to cut off her beautiful hair and because she grabbed the
baby in the middle of the fight and had it in her hands, Steve
was arrested and charged with child abuse. The poor schmuck
had his teeth knocked out by some black guy in jail over control
of a TV. In one week he lost his teeth, his whore wife and
visitation with his kid.

While he was in jail for all of this, coincidentally, my old
telemarketing friend Alex Jalo was in jail there too for stealing
something petty. Alex became a drug addict and a thief. He
completely threw away his life. It just shows you what a small
world it is. Both of these guys I knew were in the same jail at
the time. Steve however was always down and out half the time.
Steve Bonestein was like a bad penny in life that would keep
showing up. He never worked or kept a job for any period of
time, so I knew he’d be available to just have the time to drive
across the country.

I tied up some loose ends in San Francisco over the next
few days and then we took off on our drive back to Florida in
my Nissan. During our trip across the nation, my friend reveals
to me that he landed up in jail in the middle of a small town in
Georgia and all of a sudden he said the FBI showed up at the
jail asking him about me and the account that was in Steve’s
name. That certainly got my attention but I did not worry much
because not a single human being had any idea of the scope of
what I was doing. Everything was on a need to know basis and I
was insulated from the worry about some cooperating witness
of any kind. Simply put, no one knew shit, period. Yes, Steve
could tell them what he knew, but that was so limited in scope. I
could easy defend myself against any one particular thing. I had
a deep belly laugh driving down the road just thinking about
what Steve’s face must have looked like when the FBI walked
into his jail cell in that small town in Georgia. Let’s just say my
buddy Steve was not the sophisticated type.

I got Steve back to Florida without even pulling out a map.
I just drove across the nation and figured out how to drive from
California to Florida on my own. I was kind of proud of that
feat. I dropped Steve off and met my schedule to be there
outside the gates as Pep walked out of a Florida prison. He
walked out of the prison gates and into my car. I drove off and
handed him a bag of weed to roll a joint, a bottle of booze to
drink on the ride home and I hand him a few grand for walk
around money. He was clean for so long in the joint that the
booze and weed hit him fast and he was buzzing away.

While driving him back to South Florida from the
Panhandle he told me that this guy would come up to the fence
and talk about telemarketing with him. He told me that he told
him all sorts of stuff about the industry and me. He tried to tell
me that it was just some nice guy who was allowed to walk up
to the fence and talk to him or some incredulous thing like that.
Just some guy who likes to talk about telemarketing my idiot
friend said. After I stopped laughing real hard, I told my friend,
“That was the FBI, you dumb schmuck.” He was not too bright,
but I could see the Feds were taking a real good look at me. My
friend knew almost nothing about my business and was in
prison for his own thing that had nothing to do with me. I
wasn’t too alarmed because my entire career was going head to
head with some agency that was trying to police me for this or
that.

I had no problems going up against anybody because I
knew the rules. If I know the boundaries and the rules of the
game then to me, it was just like a chess match. I wasn’t going
to give an inch to anyone. Give me a set of parameters to work
with and I will win every time. I will find your weakness and
exploit it all day long. That is what I did for a living and I
thought whatever was coming my way I will handle.

I dropped my buddy off in South Florida and started to
drive back to Ocala to spend a few days with my mom. I never
even told Tonya I was in town and I stopped at a XXX porn
theater to get a BJ and watch a movie while some other guy sat
next to me and just watched me get head. I was so close to my
house, but did not want to let Tonya know because I still
wanted to spend time with my mom and I needed some more
thought into how I was going to handle this whole thing with
my marriage.

I drove back to Ocala and went to sleep in my mom’s guest
room. The next morning the doorbell rang at my mother’s
house. I was expecting a Federal Express that I had re-routed to
the house with about five grand in cash in it. I got up out of bed
with one of the pee hard-ons a man gets that can break concrete.
The pup tent in my pants was at full attention so I kept that part
of me blocked from the front door and only stuck my head out
to receive the delivery. As soon as I opened the door, a man
screamed, “FBI, put your hands against the wall!”

I put my hands against the wall on my mom’s porch and
looked down to watch my pup tent in my pants completely
disappear. There was a male and female FBI agent along with a
Marion County’s Sheriff in a marked police car. As I stood in
the porch my first words to them was, “What took you so
long?”

The man asked what I meant by that and I said I had been
in the industry since I was fourteen, what makes this day so
important? He responded that I would soon find out why today
was the day. He read me my rights and told me I was being
charged with mail fraud and conspiracy to commit mail fraud. I
thought to myself what a ridiculous charge and asked if I could
go brush my teeth and get dressed.

We all went inside and they went to my mom’s bedroom
and just walked in. They leaned over the bed and woke my
mother up saying that they were the FBI and that they were here
to arrest me. My mother thought I was playing a prank on her
and she started laughing saying get out of here with your
pranks. The lady agent said, “Ma’am we are the FBI and would
you please get out of bed.”

I was brushing my teeth with the cop standing over me and
I went into the closet and grabbed a pair of pants and a sweater.
My mother came out of her bedroom and she started to cry once
she realized this was all real. I told my mother not to worry
about anything and that they would book me and I would bail
out and then see what kind of discovery they had and not to
worry. I told her this was part of my business and not to worry
about anything. The FBI told her they would take me down to
downtown Tampa and book me at the FBI building there. I was
actually very excited and could not wait to see what they
thought they had on me. I was not rattled in any way, but
dreaded the long drive from Ocala to Tampa, which was about
ninety minutes if they drove at a good clip.

They walked me down my mother’s driveway and put me
in the back seat of the car. The male agent was driving and I
was in the back. This was the first time I actually looked into
their faces. As I looked into the rearview mirror, I realized that
this FBI Agent was the guy that was in the XXX porn theater in
South Florida sitting next to me watching me get head. I
wondered how on earth the FBI can follow someone into a porn
theater. I mean what the heck does that have to do with
telemarketing? The first words out of his mouth were to ask me
about some old gangsters that I knew. He asked me what I knew
about Peter Pignola and Tony Vincenza. I could not believe my
ears. Why the hell was the FBI asking me about those guys?

Now I really wondered what the hell they did have on me. I
hadn’t had anything to do with Peter Pignola or those guys in
Tampa for many years. I said, “I know Tony likes his guns.”

The agent said, “Yes, he does. As a matter of fact, we just
executed a warrant on Tony’s house this morning and we did
find guns.” I told the agents I had nothing to say about any of
those guys.

He said, “Okay, well it is a long drive would you like to
hear a tape of your brother making a pitch to a cop that was
recorded?” He went to go slip something in the cassette player
in the car and I said, “No I do not want to hear a pitch of my
brother.”

Right away, I realized my idiot brother called one of the
numbers on the list I gave him not to call. The fucking kid
works for me for only two weeks and now he has me all fucked
up with the FBI! I started to get so pissed off. Then, he asked
me if I wanted to hear a taped conversation that took place on
top of a mountain around a campfire. He asked me if I
remembered that backpacking trip with my father and that
around the campfire that night was six guys. That trip was years
ago and I could not believe that they were on me that long or
would follow me up a mountain. Again, what the fuck does that
have to do with telemarketing? I am sitting there wondering. I
told him I had no desire to hear such a tape. I knew whatever
they had would all come out in discovery and I could address it
then. Next he revealed to me that his name was Agent John
Mule and that he seen me in South Florida the other night. He
said it in a way like he was letting me know he knew what I did
in that porn theater and insinuated that he had weight on me. I
thought to myself if this guy thinks he is going to tell my wife
and I would care, then he has no idea who he is dealing with or
believed that bullshit I was saying on the phone to Tonya while
he bugged my phone. Immediately, I thought of many ways I
would use that because, hey man, you were in there with me
too, what did you tell your bosses you were doing in that porn
theater?

When we got to Tampa, Agent Mule tells me, “By the way,
we are arresting your father and your wife today.” I was
completely stunned.

I said, “Why on Earth would you do that?” I said, ‘They
had nothing to do with anything.” He said Tonya wrote some
checks and my dad opened some mailboxes and that they had to
know. I told him if you have been following me that long, then
you already know that they do not know anything, but you
arrested them anyway. I asked if that was not a violation of their
civil rights knowingly arresting people that you know did not do
anything. He told me you cut off the head of the snake and rest
will die.
43
After they officially booked me, Agent Mule brought me
up to the floor in the high rise that housed the FBI White Collar
Crime Unit. We walked into this big open room where the walls
were lined with individual cubicles. John pointed to one cubicle
that had tons of paper stacked to the roof. It was the only one in
the room that looked like that. He said, “You see that desk?
That is mine. That is me tracking you for three years.” He told
me he almost lost his job over me because he was unable to
bring an indictment against me. He said I was like chasing
smoke and that they, the FBI, never saw anything like me. He
explained to me that they never tracked a telemarketer who paid
his bills. He told me that I never even screwed the phone
companies out of money and that I kept such a tight knit group
of people together that were all so well paid. He said everyone
around me made money and kept quiet.

I asked him how on earth this is getting me. I complained
that the FBI changed the rules of the game. I told him, “You
have not arrested a single person I have done business with in
all the years I was in this field and that arresting my family that
you know had nothing to do with anything, is not exactly
getting me fair and square.” He had no answer for that or any
smart-ass quip about snakes. All he told me is that if I fight this
and go to trial, more people will get arrested and they will throw
the book at me and charge me with more crimes. All of a
sudden, the room filled with FBI Agents and everyone started
putting on these jackets that read FBI in big letters on the back
of them.

Agent John Mule looked at me and said, “Remember when
you asked me why today is the day?” I said yes, as he started
putting handcuffs back on me and chaining me to some other
people I did not know. He said, “This is why.” I asked him
where we were going. He said, “We are going to walk you
downstairs into the streets and then cross the road into the next
building. Then we will wait a little while and walk you back to
this building.”

I had no idea what the hell he was talking about until we hit
the streets of downtown Tampa. All the press was there with
their cameras screaming questions at me and the others chained
and shackled to me about ripping off old people. The FBI
walked us across the street in their FBI jackets to the building
across the road. When we got inside they told us that was a perp
walk. Then I realized it was a dog and pony show completely
organized and planned by the FBI and the press. There was
nothing spontaneous about it. The press did not just happen to
catch some footage of our arrest; the whole thing was an
orchestrated fraud. What I did not know at the time, was this
was the image that was shown on the evening news on all the
networks across the entire country. We were the faces of
Operation Senior Sentinel that Janet Reno and the FBI dragged
across the evening news announcing their giant operation to the
nation and the hundreds of people across the country that were
arrested. All I knew was I did not think people watched the
news anymore. However, just my luck, everyone I knew from
family and friends down to my priest just happens to see the
FBI drag me across the streets of downtown Tampa that day.

There I was in cuffs while they did their perp walk in front
of the press. Even my drunken cousin in New York looked up
from the bar and caught the vision of me on TV being arrested
by the FBI. He screamed at the bartender to turn the TV up.
“That is my cousin,” he yelled. All I remember thinking was
that fucking bitch got me. When I got back to the FBI building,
I asked John what the fuck was this bullshit about ripping off
old people. He said, “You had some old customers.” I looked
him in the eye and we both knew what total bullshit that was.
This template or narrative about old people was Janet’s pitch
from the start when she wanted money from congress to go after
us. The government had their pitches too.

When they told me the name of this FBI Sting, Operation
Senior Sentinel, I knew what this all was about. Of all the things
I did in telemarketing since I was fourteen years old, how I
landed up as the face of something I was not doing was beyond
ironic. They brought me in front of a federal judge for a bail
hearing and gave me a federal public defender. At the bail
hearing I requested what is called a signature bond where I just
sign and go home and promise to show up for court. The judge
asked if there was any reason why I should not receive such a
bond and the government attorney stood up and said, “Yes your
honor he was charged with fleeing and eluding!”

I couldn’t believe my ears. That freaking day with my
father that we challenged the DOT cop was now biting me in
the ass! Because of that incident, I was denied a signature bond
and had to put up money to get out of there. I got out of jail and
went back to my mother’s house to calm her down. Mom was
really rattled over the whole thing. When I got home, I heard
about everyone seeing me on the news and people calling my
mother asking how I could rip off old people. Even one of my
aunts in New York asked me, “How could you, Charlie? How
could you do that to old people?” I was so pissed beyond words.
I was painted to be some guy who mugs old people or is some
kind of purse snatcher or something. The FBI really did a
number on me with this old person bullshit.

I tried to explain to people that I did not target old people
and that there are laws against that and I was not charged with
anything like that. However, after being the star of the evening
news, I was toast in any public opinion. It did not matter what
happen to me in the courts, I was already judged by society and
there was no reversing any of that. I spoke to my dad and my
wife who begged me to make this all go away. Both of them
were distraught over all of this beyond words.

My father lived in Mobile, Alabama at the time and was
going to school to upgrade his career from x-raying people in
hospitals to x-raying hulls of ships and airplanes. They put his
face on the front page of their newspaper in Mobile and the
entire town turned on him. He was thrown out of his school and
even his dentist refused to finish the work on my father’s teeth,
claiming he had too many old clients and that my father needed
to find another dentist.

Tonya hid in the closet of our house with the dogs barking
while the FBI raided my home and arrested her. She cried and
made me promise I would take care of all of this and keep her
out of prison. Our names appeared in newspapers all over the
place. My family begged me to do something as to keep them
out of federal prison. I was in a real pinch. I wanted to have my
day in court and fight this, but my family’s pleas to save them
trumped me taking this ordeal any further.

My heart was broken. I never in a million years thought
anything I did for a living would affect my family. Why would
I? They never had anything to do with what I did or even
understood what I did. Despite what I thought of my wife and
my father, they did not deserve to go to prison because they
knew me. I felt so horrible about what the FBI did to them. I
remember seeing my federal indictment for the first time. I
looked down at the paper, the first thing I read was “The United
States of America vs. Charles Richard Walker Jr.,” and I
thought, man that does not sound like a fair fight.

The writing was on the wall; I was going to have to throw
myself on the sword. I certainly did not need to pay a high-
powered attorney to do that. I contacted the federal public
defender they issued me and told him that I would plead guilty
if they would promise to keep my family out of prison. The
lawyer told me he would contact the U.S. Prosecutor and set up
a sit down to cut a deal. At that meeting the prosecutor would
not talk to me about a deal until I admitted that I was the head
of a million dollar criminal enterprise that span from one coast
to the other. I had to admit there was no one above me and that I
did not answer to anyone but everyone answered to me.

What they had on me were two mistakes that I made. I
open two accounts under two people’s names that were traced
back to me. One was my idiot friend Steve Bonestein who was
off the grid until he popped up in the system in a county jail in
Georgia, and would testify that I opened the account in his
name. The other account was a bartender in Ocala, Florida that
my Pop went to named Anna Sussman. She was also shocked as
the FBI walked into the bar she worked at and demanded to
know where all the money was. All she knew was that my
father drank at her bar and that his kid paid her to put a bank
account in her name because he was going through a divorce
like thing with his business partner. She was told the bank
account would stay dormant until my business divorce was over
and that I would pay her some more money when she signed the
inactive account back over to me. She was apparently aghast to
find out the account was used for telemarketing fraud. Those
two accounts, along with some testimony from the moron I
picked up from prison who knew almost nothing, was what the
Feds had on me.

I told the prosecutor that if he kept my wife and father out
of prison that I would plead guilty and not take anything to trial.
They were really concerned and thought that I had had someone
inside working for me at the bank. They wanted the bank real
bad. I had to explain to them that it was not that I had some
inside help, but rather this is how Citibank does business. In
truth, I could not have done any of this stuff without some
shady bank that would ignore all the strange business models
that I presented to them. Signature stamps and writing nothing
but checks out to cash would not fly in any other bank I knew
of. They were sad to see I could not hand them some bank
conspirator, but we cut a deal anyway.

In exchange for my guilty plea, they agreed to keep my
family out of prison. They put Tonya through some pretrial
diversion program and if she jumped through the hoops of that,
they would drop the charges. As for my father, well Pop took a
felony hit, but he was sentenced only to probation and as long
as he jumped through those hoops, he would not go to federal
prison. They had more of a problem with him, because he drove
around the entire state of Florida knowingly opening up
mailboxes under false pretenses. Each mailbox he opened was
five years in prison and a quarter million dollar fine, so he was
happy just to receive probation.

In the end, in February of 1996 I pled guilty to mail fraud
and conspiracy to commit mail fraud in the federal courthouse
in downtown Tampa. Ironically, I never used the postal system
for anything, but on the application for the mailboxes I had
opened, it had a line about their jurisdiction over anything to do
with the mailbox itself. A federal judge named Elizabeth A.
Kovachevich was originally nominated by President Gerald
Ford, appointed by President Ronald Reagan and confirmed by
congress, sentenced me. Judge Kovachevich was the first
female judge on the sixth Judicial Circuit. I stood in her
courtroom and asked her why do I, a first time white-collar
felony offender, have to go to prison. She explained to me how
congress stripped federal judges of a lot of power and came up
with a predetermined system which includes minimum
mandatories. I just stood there and shook my head thinking of
all the people who walk for more serious offences than
telemarketing. I was sentenced to thirty-three months in federal
prison, eight hundred and thirty two thousand dollars in
restitution and three years of probation or “supervised release,”
as the feds call it.

Operation Senior Sentinel, in the end, resulted in hundreds
of arrests across the entire country. Over one thousand boiler
rooms were taken down and put out of business forever due to
all the efforts of the FBI. It was one of the biggest undercover
FBI operations in the history of the agency. For the first time in
the FBI’s existence, they successfully eliminated an entire
category of crime. Branching out from all of their efforts was
congress creating a whole bunch of new laws starting with the
National Do Not Call Registry.

Finally, since the early days of our communication grid,
Americans for the first time could sit down to dinner at their
homes and not be bothered by telemarketers. Households, now
guarded by answering machines and caller ID technologies, no
longer feared the ringing telephone. Congress has continually
tweaked these laws to fit the ever-changing world of
technology. The never-ending crushing government regulation
of the field of telemarketing put down any possibility of boiler
rooms going back to the days when they terrorized a nation. In
March of 2003 President George W. Bush signed into law the
National Do Not Call Registry and strengthened the Telephone
Customer Protection Act of 1991 while forever changing a
nation and their personal relationships with their phones.

Most all of my peers landed up in jail or prison. Peter
Giovanni was sent to prison for many years by the State of
Florida for telemarketing. John Pepstall was sent to prison by
the State of Florida for telemarketing. The Feds even got Peter
J. Pignola and sent him to federal prison. The first year I was in
federal prison, Peter Pignola paid taxes on over forty million
dollars, I heard, but they still got him too. Federal Judge
Bucklew blasted Peter Pignola with ten years on a mail fraud
beef, to be served after the eight-year sentence for telemarketing
fraud even after he became a police informant and testified
against one of his partners.

The authorities chased all of us down to the four corners of
the earth. It was a war against our way of life and the cops won.
They even nailed Peter Pignola’s phone room manager, Garrett
Thomas or Jerry as we called him, before he passed away from
cancer. Hell, I bet his whore wife tried waving a fifty-dollar bill
at the arresting officer, knowing her. Even Steve Bonestein and
Alexis Jalo spent their lives in and out of jail for petty crimes. I
don’t look back at school yearbooks to see the people from my
past, I look back at their mug shots. That is how I travel down
memory lane, sadly.

In the course of writing this book, I realized what a
different time and place America was back then. I thought I was
writing a story about me, but I soon recognized that this story is
about all of us in America.

Technology and everything is moving so fast now that it is
hard to even picture a lot of this today. All of this happened
before 9/11/2001 and we forget there was a world before this
big surveillance state we have collectively built up as a society.
It is hard for a person today who goes through what they do at
an airport to understand smoking cigarettes on a plane or the
mile high club, but that world did exist. It is hard for a young
person today with a smart phone to apperceive what life was
like with a rotary phone back then. We need to tell the stories of
what America was like when it was free before 9/11. Before
technology stripped away at the very core of our privacies, in a
world where we had the freedom to make a choice from right
and wrong, a time and place where not everything we did was
recorded or watched in some way.

Just like the story of my cousins driving down from New
York to Florida and asking what a pay phone was, there are
generations alive today who will never know the freedom we
had back then. My story is one of many. It was just one story
told from The Last Generation of Freedom.
C. Rich
Author, Blogger, Poet
[email protected]

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