Authors: Gary Hastings
“I have no idea why they would be following you, Pat, of all people. Can I talk to them?”
“Sure, they’re cuffed and stuffed in the back of the prisoner van.”
Mike Wilson walked over to the marked NYPD van and found the six agents soaked, cuffed, and thoroughly humiliated. He recognized a supervisor and pulled him out of the van to talk. Pat nodded to the guarding officer, indicating it was okay. He had always trusted Mike Wilson, and on more than one occasion, they had successfully worked together. To his knowledge, Mike had never lied to him.
After about 10 minutes, Mike walked back over to Pat O’Connor.
“I’m so sorry about this, Pat. The supervisor told me they were working a lead out of the Newark Joint Terrorism Task Force regarding the attempt on your life and that of the Secret Service SAIC, Maggie Parker. They were told to shadow you in case another attempt was made.”
“Did it ever occur to them that I should be notified?”
“They assumed you knew.”
“Well, you know what they say about assuming. This time their assuming got them in the crosshairs of some real cops. I have over 35,000 cops in New York. If I need protection, I would think I could cover it. No offense, but the last people I would want protecting me would be a bunch of desk jockeys from the FBI. It’s not a time for amateurs, Mike.”
“Enough with the insults, Pat.I get your drift. What’s next?”
“All of their gear has been boxed up. I hope they know the serial numbers to their weapons. Otherwise, you will have to sort through them. We’ll cut them loose.”
Mile Wilson let out a long, deep breath.
“I appreciate it, Pat.”
“We’ve always been friends, Mike, but I need to meet with you and your boss in my office at 0900. I will not tolerate this FBI bullshit.”
“I’ll call the boss and set it up.”
“Thanks, Mike. Get these idiots geared back up and get them out of here. I’m afraid they might catch a cold. I know how delicate they must be.”
Thursday, February 3 - Day 16
Chief of Detectives’ Office - One Police Plaza
Borough of Manhattan, New York
at was in the office early. He had slept very little as he fumed about the way the FBI had followed him. He assumed their intentions were honorable, but felt it was more likely that he was the cheese in a mouse-trap. The FBI had not been known for solving a lot of cases. They refused to investigate most cases, unless they were already solved. The cases they did work were often worked until they went away. The cases they actually submitted for prosecution were often cherry-picked from local departments and adopted for prosecution by the U. S. Attorney’s Office because they were already solved. Pat knew that there were many fine agents who risked their lives every day, but felt the organization was often paralyzed by the bureaucracy and politics. Since 9/11, their focus had been almost exclusively on terrorism. At least, that seemed to be the case in New York.
At precisely 0830 his desk phone rang.
“Good morning, Pat. This is Mike Wilson.”
“I recognize your voice.”
“Look, we’ve had a little snafu this morning. The Assistant Director feels you should come to the FBI Office and not summon him to your office. I’m sorry, but this is just pure ego.”
“I’m sorry too. Please inform the good Assistant Director Whittington that if he’s not in my office by 0900, at 0901, I will make a personal call to the FBI Director and the Attorney General. I know you’re aware that I’m well-acquainted with both and have their direct numbers.”
“Yes, Pat, I know you’re connected. Please don’t do that. I’ll convey the message and I’m very sorry about this.”
“So am I.”
Pat had filled in the Police Commissioner earlier about the night’s events and he called him again to let him know the latest bit of FBI arrogance.
“Good morning, Commissioner. It’s Pat O’Connor.”
“Hi, Patty, I plan to be in your office for our little
come to Jesus
meeting with the FBI.”
“Unfortunately, Commissioner, it’s turned into a pissing contest, and Roger Whittington thinks we should go to the FBI office instead of summoning him to mine.”
“What’re you going to do?”
“I told Mike Wilson to tell him that if he wasn’t in my office at 0900, I would be calling the FBI Director and the Attorney General at 0901.”
“I bet that went over well.”
“I don’t know; we’ll see if they show up.”
“I’ll be down to your office in a few minutes, Patty. I don’t want to miss this.”
At 0850 Commissioner Longstreet tapped on Pat’s door. Pat was seated at his desk reading some reports.
“Do you think the
First Bunch of Idiots
will show?” Commissioner Longstreet asked.
“I hope so. I don’t want to start turf battles, but this was just wrong and could’ve gotten somebody killed.”
“I agree with you, Patty. I think we have to insist on cooperation and information sharing. I’m not convinced the whole truth has ever been shared about what the FBI knew about 9/11, but that’s not a battle to fight today.”
“No, it’s not, and I don’t want to damage my relationship with Mike Wilson, who’s very helpful to the NYPD.”
At 0855 Angie Wilson stuck her head in the door.”
“Mike and his boss are here, Chief.”
“Thanks, Angie. Send them back.”
Assistant Director Roger Whittington and Mike Wilson walked into the office. They were both wearing NYPD Visitor badges on their jackets. Pat introduced the commissioner and everyone shook hands and sat down at the conference table in Pat’s office. Angie Wilson quietly closed the door.
Pat started the meeting. “Good morning, gentlemen. I appreciate you being here. I’ll cut right to the chase. I’m very upset about the way your agents handled this entire matter. I don’t like being the bait in anyone’s mouse-trap. We’re very lucky we didn’t have any agents or officers shot last night.”
Roger Whittington responded. “We’ve had every reason to believe this was part of an attempt on the life of a United States Government official and which gives us jurisdiction, Chief O’Connor. We assumed the New Jersey JTTF had been in full contact with you. We were actually just trying to protect you.”
“That sounds all well and good on the surface, Mr. Assistant Director, but I happen to know for a fact that the New Jersey JTTF had already eliminated SAIC Parker as a target, because they found photographs of me in the car.”
“And you know this how?” Roger Whittington snapped.
“That doesn’t matter, but you know it’s true.” Pat insisted.
Roger Whittington was red in the face and knew that Pat O’Connor had just pulled a trump card. He was very frustrated.
“What do you want from us, Chief?”
“Very simply stated, I want you to stay out of our way. Your guys seem so determined to be secretive that they rarely share information. Even now, you’re more worried about how I got this information than what we can do to mend some fences.”
Roger Whittington shot back. “Don’t speak for me about what I’m worried about. We have to protect our information. It’s the nature of our work.”
“It is the nature of the bureaucracy. You guys are so caught up in the processes of pleasing Washington by all of these rules and procedures, that I can understand why it’s so difficult for you to conduct real substantial investigations. Your damn agents are more worried about getting reports in on time and dotting every administrative
and crossing every
that the law enforcement becomes secondary.”
“Wait a minute; I didn’t come here to be insulted.”
Longstreet tried to calm things down. “If I may speak to everyone, I think we need to focus on why we’re here. Last night my Chief of Detectives was followed by FBI agents, resulting in an armed confrontation and a high-risk car stop. I can’t think of anything the NYPD did that was improper, but it clearly seems we should’ve been notified of the FBI’s intentions. What can we do to make sure this kind of thing doesn’t happen again?”
Roger Whittington took a deep breath. He was still red in the face, but it was obvious he was throwing in the towel of defeat. He spoke slowly. “I’m sorry about this incident, Commissioner, and I’ll do everything I can to make sure this doesn’t happen again. We should’ve made
sure the Chief was in the loop, and I admit that it was a little ridiculous of them not telling the Chief of Detectives why they were conducting this surveillance. I don’t make all the rules of the FBI, but I have to follow them. I wish we had more flexibility at times, but we’re a large organization, and we must be careful, because our every action is heavily scrutinized. I truly am sorry, gentlemen.”
Longstreet responded. “I do appreciate that and I’m certain we’ll do everything we can to make sure we work well together in the future. Patty, do you have anything to add?”
“I echo the Commissioner’s thoughts. We just need to make sure we do more than just quell this incident. We have to truly work together and share information. The commissioner and I both have clearances, and we’re still often left out of the loop regarding investigations in our city. We want to do this right, but time after time we run into each other in operations because we haven’t been informed. This can get agents and cops killed, and it has to stop. I understand sensitivity and the NYPD investigates some incredibly sensitive cases. However, we’ve always tried to share information, and I think Mike Wilson will verify that.”
Mike Wilson nodded his head in agreement and spoke softly. “I’ll be the first to admit that we’re the ones who most often drop the ball. Chief O’Connor and his staff really do try to keep us in the loop. We could not operate effectively in New York without the NYPD. I’m sorry about this. I was unaware of the surveillance, and I really want to convey how important this relationship is to both of us.”
Pat smiled and acknowledged Mike’s support. “Thanks, Mike, you’ve always been there for us, and I know this isn’t the way you do business. I know you guys are busy and I think we’ve resolved the issue as best we can.”
Pat and the commissioner stood up and shook hands with the agents and walked them to the door. Pat walked back to his desk, and in about three minutes Mike Wilson came back in the office.
“Did you forget your bug?”
“Not funny, Pat. Look. I feel stupid asking this, but I was sent on a mission by the boss. Does this mean you’ll not call Washington?”
“That depends on what happens in the future, Mike. You and I are square, but your boss has drank way too much FBI
Thursday, February 3 - Day 16
Chief of Detectives’ Office - One Police Plaza
Borough of Manhattan, New York
hile in the meeting with the FBI, Pat had ignored a cell phone call. He looked at his phone and saw he had a voice message. He retrieved a message from Bryan Flannery, asking him to call as soon as possible. Pat closed his door and called from his desk phone.
“Good morning, Bryan. It’s Pat.”
“Good morning, Chief. I have a tech crew out at Margaret
Butelli’s house. They went in disguised as plumbers and they’ve swept the house and you were right. There’s a wireless transmitter on her phone line, installed in the jack. It is very low power, so there has to be a receiver close by somewhere. Also, it appears the rest of the house is clean, but we haven’t checked for cameras. They want to use a lens detector to see if there are any cameras.”
“Do we have one of those?”
“These guys have everything, but they’ll have to leave and come back with the equipment. Another tech crew has it.”
“Okay, we’re leaving the device in place aren’t we, Bryan?”
“Yes sir. They understand what we want to do.”
“Thanks, buddy. Please keep me posted. There’s someone out there wanting to know who Margaret
Butelli is talking to.”
“That’s for sure, Chief, and I’m certain it’s not because he really committed suicide.”
“I’m pretty convinced Forrest Butelli was murdered. Proving it will be a challenge, but we’ve beaten the odds plenty of times. Are we going to give Margaret Butelli a safe phone?” Pat asked.
“We’ve already taken care of it, Chief. It’s one of ours. She also has her own cell phone and it should be clean. However, we’ve instructed her to only contact us on the safe phone and we’ll do the same thing on our end.”
“This sounds great, Bryan. We’re making progress.”
“I sure hope so.”