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Authors: Gary Hastings

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BOOK: FORGOTTEN
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  At 1500 hours, I met the client at the office of Manhattan Investigations. The client stated to me that he is convinced of widespread corruption in the Kings County Court System. He stated that numerous cases are being dismissed for a particular law firm at a drastically higher rate compared to other firms. These cases range from misdemeanors to serious felonies, including murders. The client feels this could only occur with the cooperation of someone in the District Attorney’s Office and selected Kings County Judges.

I explained to the client that in the event these allegations could be proven, I would be required to report it to the police. The client understood and accepted this condition.

I received a deposit of $2,500 and agreed to accept the case. The client accepted the hourly fee of $100.

The client stated he could provide a list of suspected cases. I agreed to meet him again on Wednesday, September 5, 2001, at Manhattan Investigations at 1500 hours.

On Wednesday, September 5, 2001, at 1500 hours, I met the client in the office of Manhattan Investigations. He provided
me with a list of 81 cases which had either been dismissed by a Kings County prosecutor or a judge had ruled in favor of a defense motion in what the client believes is questionable circumstances. All of these cases involved the law firm of Brewster, Kemp and Pellegrino. The primary partners of this firm are Roland Brewster, Arnold Kemp and Daniel Pellegrino.”

Pat was shocked when he saw the name Daniel Pellegrino. He had been an attorney involved in an investigation of a murdered Organized Crime Control Bureau Detective, Anthony Rodriguez. Pellegrino had been a corporate attorney for DHA International and had disappeared. He was never connected to the actual murder, but there were still active warrants against him for obstruction of justice and being an accessory after the fact to murder.  Pat’s interest in this case was immediately heightened. He continued to read the report.

“I informed the client that I would make an inquiry into the suspected cases, and we agreed to meet on Monday, September 10, 2001, at 1500 hours at Manhattan Investigations.

On Thursday, September 6, 2001, I went to the Kings County Court House and randomly pulled disposition records for 10 of the 81 cases. I determined that all 10 cases were handled by the firm of Brewster, Kemp, and Pellegrino. Seven of these cases were dismissed by the presiding Assistant District Attorney Franklin Donovan, and three cases were dismissed by Judge Robert Fitzpatrick. Daniel Pellegrino was the attorney of record in each case. I contacted the client regarding my findings, and we agreed to meet as scheduled at 1500 Hours on Monday, September 10, 2001.”

Pat read through the documents in the file. It appeared that Forrest Butelli had done a thorough investigation and had detailed basic background information on each of the attorneys, the Assistant District Attorney Franklin Donovan and Judge Robert Fitzpatrick.

Two hours later, Pat put the files back into the accordion file. He had re-read Forrest
Butelli’s report several times, made some notes and had a gut feeling that Margaret Butelli might be right about Forrest Butelli’s death. After 12 years, it would be difficult to prove.

 

 

 

 

Chapter 3

 

 

Thursday, January 20 - Day 2

Chief of Detectives’ Office - One Police Plaza

Borough of Manhattan, New York

0730 Hours

 

P
at and Dickie arrived early on Thursday morning. He spent most of the morning signing paperwork, such as transfer requests, retirements and training requests. With thousands of detectives, lots of trees were sacrificed every day. Thankfully, Angie Wilson was a master at sorting through the maze and using color-coded, sticky notes to make it easier. He could easily tell what must be handled today, what needed just a signature, and what could wait a while.

The
Butelli case was on Pat’s mind. He asked Angie Wilson to come in his office.

“Yes sir, how can I help you?”

“Close the door please. This is sensitive.”

Angie closed the door and returned to the seat in front of Pat O’Connor’s massive desk.

  “The lady who visited me yesterday was Margaret Butelli. She is the widow of Forrest Butelli, who retired off the job in ‘98 as a detective in Mid-Town South. He allegedly ate his gun in 2001. He was working as a private investigator in his own company, Manhattan Investigations.”

“I don’t remember the name, Chief, but I wasn’t in the Bureau then.”

“I don’t remember anything but the name myself. Mrs. Butelli thinks this was a homicide and says there’s no way Forrest would have killed himself.”

“All families think that, Chief, because they can’t believe their loved ones would have put them through the agony.”

“I know that’s true, but there may be some smoke in this case that’s just come to light.”

“What can I do to help?”

“Actually, there are a couple of things. First of all, get me the entire Butelli case file. I want everything we have. Secondly, get his personnel file. I want to know what kind of cop he was. Once you get that done, I’ll have something else for you to do.”

“Yes sir, I’ll pull the files.”

“Thanks, Angie.”

Pat didn’t want to jump to conclusions or give the
Butelli family false hope. Therefore, he wanted to be careful about how this case was handled. His plan of action was to get the case completely reviewed by someone he trusted who was an expert in death investigation. He would not reveal the new information until the case had been reviewed and he could determine if there were things that did not add up.

Pat dialed a familiar number.

“Manhattan North Homicide, Captain Flannery.”

“Good morning, Bryan, it’s Pat O’Connor. How’s it going?”

“I’m doing great, Chief. How are you?”

“I’m good my friend, but I need you at One PP at 1600.”

“Yes sir, Chief. I’ll be there. Want to give me a hint on what this is about?”

“I need you to take a close look at an old case.”

“Sounds interesting. I’ll see you at 1600.”

Pat sorted through his mound of paperwork and then walked to a nearby deli to grab a sandwich. As he ate alone, the
Butelli case just kept going through his head as he considered the possibility that Mrs. Butelli might be right about her husband’s death. There were several strange things to consider.

When Pat got back to his office, Angie Wilson came in, carrying several large thick folders.

“I have the case files on the Butelli case, Chief. I’m still working on the personnel files. They wanted to give me some grief about privacy, but I explained to them that a dead man had no privacy.”

“Thanks, Angie. I also have another assignment for you.”

Angie Wilson was also an attorney, who taught night classes at the John Jay School of Criminal Justice. After passing the bar she just couldn’t let go of police work. Pat wanted to take advantage of her legal skills. He pulled out a copy of the remaining cases on Butelli’s list.

“I want you to research these cases and find out dispositions, charges, presiding judge, assistant district attorney, and defense attorney. While you’re doing that, also think about how we might look for more cases.”

“Thanks. It’s nice to work on an actual case.”

“I figured you might enjoy it. Let’s keep this strictly confidential, Angie.”

“I understand, Chief.”

 

 

 

 

Chapter 4

 

 

Thursday, January 20 - Day 2

Chief of Detectives’ Office - One Police Plaza

Borough of Manhattan, New York

1600 Hours

 

B
ryan Flannery was a striking man and an impressive cop. He was an African-American who always had his 6’ 2,” and impeccably in-shape body, well-dressed. Today, he was wearing a charcoal grey pin-striped suit, with a black shirt and a black and grey regimental striped tie. Bryan was about two inches taller than Pat and was in a lot better physical shape, but Pat was over 10 years older. Bryan had most recently led the Rodriguez Task Force, who successfully investigated the murder of Detective Tony Rodriguez, with tremendous help from Chief of Detectives Patrick O’Connor, who had actually made the arrest.

Bryan and Pat shook hands, and Bryan sat down in front of Pat’s desk. They exchanged pleasantries and caught up for a few minutes before getting down to the business at hand.

“I’m sure you’ve got something cooking with a case, Chief.”

“An old case actually, but it may not be a case at all.”

“I’m not sure I understand this. It sounds a little cryptic.”

“The case was worked as a suicide in 2001. The victim, Forrest
Butelli, retired off the job as a Mid-Town South Detective in ‘98. He had his own private investigation business called Manhattan Investigations, and according to his wife, was doing quite well. However, on Saturday, September 8, 2001, he was found in his car in Central Park with a bullet in his head and a suicide note. His wife is convinced it was a murder.”

“Okay, here we go again with the old,
my husband wouldn’t have done this to me
story.”

“I must admit it crossed my mind also, but I think this deserves a fresh, unbiased look. After all, he died just before 9/11 and I just can’t imagine that a lot of time was spent on the
follow-up. His wife says his funeral was not attended by anyone from the department, due to the attacks, and I’m sure that would have been the case.”

“Okay. I’ll smoke it over, Chief.”

Pat O’Connor intentionally didn’t tell Captain Flannery about the files. He wanted an unbiased appraisal based on the evidence and the facts. If the evidence supported a suicide, then the files would be taken in that context, but still considered. On the other hand, if the evidence left any doubt as to the suicide, then the files would quickly ramp up the investigation. Either way, Pat felt that Margaret Butelli and her daughters deserved an answer.

Pat made coffee and sat at his desk with Forrest
Butelli’s personnel file. He wanted to get a feel for what old Forrest was really like.

Forrest
Butelli had joined the NYPD in 1968. He was third in his class and received the top marksmanship award. His first assignment was in Manhattan, working a foot post. There were several commendations in the file for significant arrests.

In 1971, Forrest was assigned to an RMP (patrol car) in Brooklyn. He had several commendations for felony arrests and significant contributions to major cases.

Forrest’s outstanding work was recognized and he was transferred to plain clothes at Mid-Town North Detectives in 1974. In 1975, he was promoted to Detective, got his gold shield, and was assigned to Mid-Town South.

During his career, he worked several high profile cases and every other crime imaginable. When he retired in 1998, he was a Detective-First-Grade, the highest non-supervisory detective rank in the NYPD.

Pat made some notes as he looked through the file. He had noticed that in several of the commendations, a Sergeant Ray Capese was mentioned. Ray was a trusted friend of Pat’s and was now the Chief of the Organized Crime Control Bureau (OCCB). He decided to give Ray a call.

“Ray
Capese.”

“Hi Ray. It’s Pat O’Connor.”

“Good morning, Pat. What can I do you out of?”

“Not much really, but I do have a question for you.”

“Sure, what’s up?”

“What can you tell me about Forrest
Butelli?”

“Wow, that’s a name from the past!”

“I saw in his file you guys had worked together.”

“He was quite the cop in his day and was a hell of a good detective. Damn shame he went wacko and turned out his lights.”

“Sounds like you knew him well, Ray. Did you see this coming?”

“It knocked me for a loop. Forrest was a strong Catholic. He was always doing something good for someone else. I guess he just lost his marbles.”

“Do you have any idea why he would’ve killed himself?” I don’t have a clue, Pat. It was a shock to all of us. How did Butelli’s name come up?”

“I actually had a visit from his wife, Margaret. She’s still struggling with accepting it.”

“I bet she is. They were so close. I had a hard time believing it myself, Pat. It just didn’t add up.”

“Do you know who Forrest’s closest friends on the job were?”

“I know a few, but I have a meeting I’m already late for. I’ll email you some names when I get out.”

“Thanks, Ray. You’re the man.”

 

 

 

 

Chapter 5

 

 

Thursday, January 20 - Day 2

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BOOK: FORGOTTEN
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