In Episode 9, readers voted that Rob goes to court; the deputies have him sit in the back row. He’s surprised to see his father sitting with the FBI people. After the judge is seated, police escort a handcuffed Detective Pickett into the court.
Saturday, Day 6
Rob was groggy the next morning as he sat in the back of another big black SUV with silent grey-suited men he assumed to be FBI. He’d watched TV most of the night before and felt as if he’d just fallen asleep when a young state police deputy shook him awake. He’d been given time for a shower but afterwards had to put on rumpled clothes that smelled of Jodie’s urine. And no breakfast. They did give him a small cup of coffee for the ride.
Why am I going to court? What do they think I did? This mantra cycled in his head. They reached the courthouse in what seemed like seconds, drove around to the rear of the building, and entered an underground parking space. When the electric door closed, Rob saw a fleet of big black SUVs and a couple of state police cars. No civilian cars.
“Come with me.” The younger of the grey suits ordered and reached for his elbow.
“I’m coming. You don’t have to hang onto me.”
So Rob was led to an elevator and they rode, attached, to the top floor. They went into a small courtroom with seats for a jury, high bench for the judge, but just three rows of mostly empty seats for spectators. Rob was led to a seat in the back row. His grey suit stood too close beside him.
Rob looked around and saw Michael Sharpe, the FBI man, sitting with several more grey suits. He looked back at them and realized one of the grey suits was his father! His father didn’t look back at him.
There was a rustle and the judge came in followed by three deputies tugging a large woman between them. Her hands were cuffed behind her. Her large body forced her arms upward at an awkward angle that looked painful. She stumbled along looking down at her orange jumpsuit, black hair covering her face.
The judge clicked his gavel; the woman was led to face him. Rob couldn’t hear the mumbling of the judge or the woman but woman’s attorney stepped up and loudly proclaimed her innocence. The woman was then led away in the same fashion as her entry.
What was all that about? Rob’s grey suit pulled at his arm again and let him toward Sharpe.
Sharpe was smiling and so was his father.
“Great work Rob! I never thought we’d get the king. Ahem, the queen.” Sharpe stepped forward, shook Rob’s hand, and pummeled him on his shoulder. “Never in a million year would we have suspected her!”
“Who?” Rob was in a fog.
“You don’t know?”
“Look, all day yesterday and today I’ve felt like a criminal! I don’t have a clue what is going on.”
“That last disc you emailed was a gold mine, Rob. Your man, Tom Thibodeau, turned out to be the treasurer of a big multi-state crime syndicate. They were into everything. Child porn, gambling, sex worker trafficking, drugs. I mean everything. They were using the Deep Web for making deals and untraceable Bitcoins for currency so they were buried deep. Except for Thibodeau. And that led to Pickett. She…”
“That was Detective Pickett?”
“She ran the whole thing. It started when she was teaching high school. She ran the computer lab and one of the students taught her about the Deep Web where there are so many layers of encryption that you can stay anonymous. At first she set up a site just for fun, then dabbled in regular porn for fun. But she branched out quickly to everything else. She ran much of New England’s crime from the police department in this little city.”
“Why’s my dad here?”
“He’s an FBI agent. Always been one. He’d discovered the layer right below Pickett but couldn’t crack the last nut.”
“What about Fry?”
“He’s just a cop… A little sticky fingered but he’s okay.”
“And the chief?”
“He’s stupid but that’s not a crime.”
“Oh, and Laura?”
“She’s squeaky clean. We just had to protect her while we rounded up the whole gang. We’ve got over 200 of them in court this morning.”
Rob was relieved; when they’d led Laura away yesterday, he’d felt responsible for getting her involved. He sat down while the grey suits were hammering out some details. Finally, his father sat down beside him. “So how was your first week in Vice, son?”
Rob couldn’t help it; he collapsed in a full-blown giggle fit – complete with tears. Had it been just a week? How much more of this could he take? He finally stopped. “Fine, dad. Just fine.”
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