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SAVED BY THE BELL

Title: Saved by the Bell

Series: The Boxer Series Mysteries, Book 4

Author: Deni Starr

ISBN: 978-1-60975-262-0

Product Code: BK0168

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 248

Release Date: March 2020

Cover Price: $18.95

Our Price: $18.95

 

 

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Book Jacket

 

Sean’s impression of their potential client is that he is a brat only child of an overly protective mother, both given to exaggeration and hyperbole. The young man in question had been fired from his job a night janitor with a cleaning firm and after insisting on talking to his manager about it, ends up facing criminal charges for making threats. His mother wants Sean and Cindy to check with some witnesses that her son had not acted the way his ex-employer had described, and they were just out to get him because they were all a bunch of Nazis.

 

Sean isn’t very enthusiastic about the case, but its work, business is slow, and the young man is a promising young boxer. Plus, Sean has to admit, the young man’s employers did seem to have over-reacted a lot. Then over-night, literally, the case becomes far more serious after the manger is found murdered and their client is the prime suspect.

 

Cindy convinces their client’s court-appointed lawyer to keep them on as the investigators for the case, as she and Sean look for evidence that someone besides their client was involved in the killing.   Then abruptly, she and Sean get fired and it takes a while to discover that the lawyer’s paralegal had seen Cindy as a rival with the lawyer for his affections and so sabotaged their work. While Cindy is trying to get them back on the case, Sean notices that an oddly large number of businesses located in the building where this janitor firm cleans have gone out of business or had some catastrophic disaster, all related to someone getting inside information on the business and exploiting it. Could the “someone” in question be working for the janitorial firm?

 

Then they find out that their client’s mother wasn’t kidding when she said the family running the company were a bunch of Nazis. The ancient patriarch of the family, as it turns out, was a member of the Hungarian Iron Cross. He was a ruthless killer with no scruples, but that doesn’t explain who murdered his grandson.

 

Sean and Cindy have to put the clues together to catch the killer before their client’s inept arrogant lawyer and his paramour paralegal botch the case entirely and send a young man to prison for life.


 

Book Excerpt

 

ONE

A NEW ASSIGNMENT

 

 

 

 

The woman was holding a gun. Pointed at me.

“What do you want?” she hissed, hiding most of her face behind the two inch gap in the open door, a rape chain across the gap.

Hoping people didn’t really shoot the messenger, I said, “I am looking for Mildred Wilson.” I tried to keep very still, and sound bland.

“Why?” she demanded, still in a whisper.

“I need to leave some papers,” I said, hoping that sounded neutral. I refrained from saying that I was a process serving here to serve Mildred Wilson with a lawsuit that I was pretty sure she did not want.

“Put it in the mailbox,” the woman said, gesturing with the barrel of the gun.

“Okay,” I agreed. The door slammed shut. The gun disappeared. I sighed with relief and put the papers into the mailbox even though the rule for process servers is NEVER even TOUCH a mailbox. Whomever came up with that rule hadn’t been looking at the business end of a revolver.

 I was on dawn patrol. Just after six this morning, I got loaded up on caffeine at the Bertie Lou Coffee shop. Becky, the server, greeted me with far too much positive energy for that hour of the day. I filled up my plastic to-go car mug, opted for a chocolate croissant as well, bared my teeth at Becky when she cheerfully rang me up, and went back out to the car.

I was process serving, hand-delivering court documents, most of them lawsuits, to people who didn’t want to be up at this hour any more than I did. I know people don’t like getting woken up this early, but they are home at this hour. The lady with the gun whom I presumed was Mildred was my third address of the morning. It was this or help Cindy with the drunk drives.

Work was slow at our investigation agency, which had been up and running for about six months now. My business partner and romantic interest Cindy Matasar, a stunningly beautiful bi-racial woman, had been working as an investigator for the public defender’s office, perpetually planning to leave to work for herself when I had been asked by a friend to look into a suicide. I convinced Cindy to help me by financially backing our agency. Now we worked together running a private investigation service. As a retired boxer, I had no professional training for the work and was learning on the job. We had one regular customer who asked us to do background checks on their potential hires, which took up three hours of work a week. We had “investigated” five car accidents since we opened, none of which required much in the way of investigating. We contacted the witnesses listed in the police reports and they confirmed who was at fault. I doubted that this is how Sherlock Holmes started out.

There were also the drunk drivers, “duii’s- driving under the influence of intoxicants” of which we always had a steady flow. Our paying clients faced a criminal conviction, heavy fines, and a lengthy suspension of their driver’s license as well as an increase in the cost of auto insurance. That meant it was worthwhile for many of them to come up with the money for a defense. Many private criminal defense lawyers hired us to double-check the evidence; talk to the bartender about how much the client had had to drink, talk to any friends or passengers about how much the client had drunk, talk to any witnesses to an arrest or to the accident if there had been an accident.

I say “us” but it wasn’t “us” in that I did not work on DUII cases. I had been hit by a drunk driver three years ago, ended up in the hospital as a result, and would never be healthy again. It put an end to my landscaping business. My back still hurt if I over-used it, and it limited my ability to engage in most sports, most especially boxing which I had still pursued as a hobby even after having retired from a professional career. I could still get in a ring and go a round or two, but two rounds was it.

“Sean, you have to remember, not everybody accused of a crime is guilty of one,” Cindy had said to me when we’d been hired for the first time to represent a man accused of driving under the influence of intoxicants.

“I know that, Cindy. I’ve seen that up close and personal,” I said.

“The man we have been hired to represent has not been convicted of anything,” she pointed out.

“He may not have been convicted of anything, but he has a prior diversion. That not’s the best proof of innocence,” I argued. Ironically, I wanted to spend as much time with Cindy as I could, and not for professional reasons, but did not want to talk to drunk drivers. I never lost consciousness during my accident and I remember a great deal of pain as well as being terrified I’d broken my spine and would spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair. While the fire department was using the “jaws of life” to get me out of what was left of my car, I could hear the driver who hit me belligerently blaming me. Fortunately, he was too drunk for anyone to believe that, but I knew listening to a drunk driver deny fault was liable to send me off the deep end which would not be good for the reputation of our agency.

“These cases are going to be our bread and butter. How can we be partners in an investigation service if you won’t work with me?” Cindy had wanted to know.

“Cindy, you do the work I don’t want to do, and I’ll do the work you don’t want to do, and we’ll try to get other types of cases,” I said, offering her the best compromise I could.

Which explains why I am up at six in the morning to go serve lawsuits on people. I had ten documents to do this morning. Our agency had nearly thirty documents to be served, but only ten in North Portland. I wanted to get to every address before ten, by which time anyone with a job would be mostly likely out of the house and gone. Tomorrow morning I would try addresses in Northeast Portland, and Wednesday I would try the ones we had in Southeast.

I was not driving the right car for process serving. I had an expensive Mercedes Benz two seater S series that I had bought with the money I’d gotten when I’d settled my lawsuit against the drunk driver. Cindy had investigated that case on my behalf, which is how we’d met. The Benz did not get good gas mileage, was expensive to maintain, and there were parts of town where I didn’t feel comfortable leaving it parked on the street. I would have to think about getting a used compact for this work. It would also be helpful to have if we got surveillance assignments because my Benz was too noticeable to be a good car to use to follow anyone.

After the lady with the gun, I got to MLK, drove North to Lombard, drove west on Lombard until I’d nearly reached the University of Portland up on Willamette Drive, and started looking for my fourth address. North Portland was the hardest of the three east side areas that I worked because all the streets were named, none had numbers, so I had to look up every address in my Thomas Guide. I much preferred it to a GPS.

I liked the North Portland neighborhood. It was more like a small town than the suburb of a city. It had quaint little shops that had been there for nearly a century. In North Portland, you could still find a Ma & Pa owned pharmacy with a soda fountain in back that served hamburgers and home-made shakes. What used to be Portland’s worst welfare project, “Columbia Village,” was located here, but in the last ten years, it had been massively re-vamped into a multi-income, ethnically diverse set of apartments, townhouses, and row houses. There were some lovely old houses up on Willamette Drive which had a view of the Willamette River and was in the University of Portland’s neighborhood. There were also, here and there in isolated pockets, run down apartment complexes and cheap hotels where much of Portland’s prostitution and meth dealing took place, although most of Portland’s street prostitution had moved well out east to 82nd.

I got to my fourth address at 7:40 A.M. This was a modest house with an unkempt yard, but enthusiastic displays of University of Oregon flags and logos. There was a Chevy Blazer parked in front that looked twenty years old, and the name of the person I was looking for was on the mailbox, but no one answered my knocks. Six months at this, and I had started automatically taking note of these little details to get an idea of whom I might be serving. I noted down the date and time on my log sheet, with the license plate of the truck, and moved on to the next address. I had better luck here. The man I was looking for was not home, but his elderly mother answered the door and took the papers for him. This was an area of town where I was often asked if I was a probation officer. I found it somewhat upsetting to think that’s what I looked like.

The sixth address I just drove by. I didn’t bother to stop since I could tell from the street that the place was vacant. I found two more people home before finishing up for the morning. By now it was 9:30 and I felt breakfast was in order. I stopped at a place called “Christie’s” that was obviously very new, and ordered scrambled eggs, hash browns, bacon, toast, and of course, more coffee. This place served reasonably good food, but over-priced or so it seemed from the area. Gentrification was everywhere. This marked the end of my work day. There was nothing back at the office for me to do unless something had turned up since yesterday. What I really wanted was a major project that paid well that Cindy and I could do together. I’d been as giddy as a kid at Christmas when we’d started this venture, thinking it would be all crime fighting excitement, only to discover it was mostly mundane. When I was young, I’d been a professional boxer. After modest success, I gave that up for my health and started a landscaping business. Now, nearly sixty years old, I was looking for something more challenging than serving papers. The settlement from my car accident had been large enough that I could live off my investments, but I wanted to be doing something interesting and worthwhile and I wanted to being doing it with Cindy.

I was working on my third cup of coffee and reading about a SUV in Oklahoma City that had side-swiped an elephant while the driver was driving home from church when my cell phone rang. Since it didn’t occur to me that anyone would be calling me at this hour besides Cindy, I answered the phone with a “hi honey” without having checked the caller ID.

“And ‘hi Honey’ to you, too,” said a deep, gravelly, and unmistakably male voice.

“Excuse me, who is this?” I asked.

“Ain’t who you s’xpected. Dis Paul Short,” the man answered. Grateful for the fact he could not see me blushing to the roots of my red hair, I put my coffee down and assumed a business-like frame of mine.

“Paul, what can I do for you?” I asked in a very different tone of voice.

“I got another kid in trouble,” he said. I hesitated. The last time Cindy and I helped out when Paul, a local boxing trainer, had had a kid in trouble, several people had died in the process of getting to the bottom of the matter. I’d nearly been one of them.

“What’s up?” I asked, trying to keep the “oh, no, not again,” feeling out of my voice.

“I got dis kid who been boxing for me, Jose Garcia, get fired. He ain’t too happy ‘bout it, so he tried to talk to the boss and now got dumped with all these papers on him calling him a stalker and shit. He also got charges against him for trespass, or disorderly or somethin’. He a good kid, but he got mad and now he’s in more trouble than he needs. I’m thinking your friend Cindy could get him a good lawyer and get him out a dis.”

“I assume from the fact he just got fired that he really doesn’t have the money to hire a lawyer,” I said, trying to feel out the financial aspects of the situation.

“He don’t, no, but his ma does. She don’t know if she needs to hire some big gun or what. I thought maybe she could talk to you two, ‘fore some dude talks her outta too much money.”

“Sure. Can you give me her phone number?” I asked, fishing in my pockets for a pen.

“Don’t know it, but I’ll have her give you a call,” he said. “Sean, somethin’ up with dis. These dudes are coming down like a ton of bricks on a kid what just got mad ‘cause he got fired. Somethin’ fishy here. So, she can call you?”

“Sure, that’d be fine. I’m sure we can give her some advice,” I said. I should have said that I was sure Cindy could give her some advice. I knew nothing about the ins and outs of hiring a privately retained criminal lawyer. It didn’t sound like much was involved, but at least it was something besides another DUII.

Cindy and I didn’t manage to connect until after lunch. She had spent the morning sitting outside a courtroom where one of the DUII trials was in progress, in case she was needed as witness, and then had spent the lunch hour with a lawyer in town who handled a large number of car accidents.

“I told him we could also do forensic photography for him on his cases. Hopefully, that will be enough of a sell point to get us some work from him,” she told me, taking off her coat and hanging it up as she walked into the office. We had office space on the second floor of the 1891 Union train station, a wonderful old brick building with our windows facing east so we got the morning sun and a view of both the river and Mt. Hood. It was also a ten minute walk from Cindy’s condo near the marina. With old hardwood floors and transoms above the doors, it looked exactly like the type of place where you’d expect to find Philip Marlowe.

At thirty nine, Cindy still had a knock-out figure and set it off well this morning with a form fitting red dress, short blue jacket and white silk tie. Even in jeans, she always managed to make a fashion statement.

“I didn’t know you could do forensic photography,” I said, impressed with Cindy’s hidden talents.

“I don’t do it, but you have very good camera equipment which you know how to use, and I know what kinds of pictures would be needed, so I figured that between the two of us, we could advertise as doing forensic photography,” she said.

“Cindy, I know how to do basic photography with my equipment, that’s all.” I protested.

“That’s enough. I’ll get us a book on the subject, and we’ll be fine,” she said non-chalantly.

“Aren’t we mis-representing ourselves just a little, here?” I asked.

Cindy rolled her eyes and smiled at me. “You have no idea how little some people in this business know. When I was with the public defender’s office, I was given an instamatic 110 and told to use it for pictures. That’s what passed as forensic photography in our office because the PD’s didn’t have the time to train us in photography and didn’t have the money for better equipment. With the equipment you bought, we can already produce better results than the average P.I. Anything interesting happen this morning?” she asked.

“Paul Short may have another case for us,” I said. Her smile immediately turned to a frown. Apparently she didn’t have fond memories of the last time, either.

“It sounds simple. One of his fighters got fired from a job, wanted to argue with the boss about it, and got arrested for trespass. His mother wants to hire a lawyer for him and needs a recommendation. That’s not all that complicated, is it?”

“Probably not, but it depends on how important it is for him to not be convicted. If it could get him thrown out of college, barred from citizenship, denied a professional license, it could be a very big deal and worth one of the “A” league people. If he already has priors, isn’t worried about a criminal record, and doesn’t really have a defense, any indigent defense lawyer taking private cases would do.” she said. “Have you talked to the client?”

“No, Paul said she’d call us.” I said.

“She’ll probably just let him get a public defender and that will be that,” Cindy said with a shrug.

Naturally, it wasn’t that simple.


 

 

 

 

 

TWO

THE CLIENT

 

 

 

“The man is a Nazi,” Maria said.

Cindy had taken the call from the mother of Paul’s boxer. The woman, Maria Delgado Garcia-Gomez, did not want to discuss the matter over the phone. She wanted us to come to her house to discuss the problem. Since we were not being hired to do anything, but just making a referral, neither of us was too thrilled to have this little matter taking up so much time, but the truth was that we had very little business right then, and there was no reason not to take the extra time. It was theoretically possible it could result in a referral that would be a paying case. Our hopes for that fell when we found out where Maria Garcia lived. It was not a large apartment complex where she might know all the neighbors and send us referrals, but a house in a cul de sac our near Killingsworth and Cully.

Our not-quite-client, Jose, was there, but he seemed content, or really used to, letting his mother do the talking. The living room was expensively furnished with a big-screen T.V. what I would consider South American art, and knick-knacks. It smelled strongly of spices and roasting meat. It made me wish we’d had lunch before we’d headed over. It was Wednesday morning of the same week that Paul had called me about this, just on eleven o’clock. Ms. Garcia worked, but had Monday, Tuesday and Wednesdays off because she worked ten hours a day Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday as a nurse for an assisted living facility.

Jose was the one who let us in after Cindy had rung the bell, and I immediately sized him up as a fighter-old habit of mine. Welter-weight, I thought as he was about five feet eight, and not stocky, but solid. He had no marks on his face, no scars, no sign of a past broken nose, no missing teeth, not yet the face of the fighter. He was a reasonably attractive young man, quite light skinned for someone of Hispanic heritage, clean shaven, except for a mustache, and with short, close-cropped hair. He was dressed in a tee shirt and sports shorts, and barefoot. He invited us to take seats in the living room, and we made desultory conversation until his mother joined us from the kitchen, bringing in a large tray of coffee mugs and pastries. After this was served out, Cindy started with what she thought was an innocuous question,

“So, Jose, what was the trouble with work?” she asked. That was when Maria started her tirade.

“You think I don’t know Nazis?” the petite woman demanded of us. “I know Nazis. My mother was one of the Madres de la Playa because the Junta disappeared my brothers,” she told us with a very thick accent. She stood a little more than five feet two inches tall, slender with long braided black hair, very light skin, eyes that looked more Hazel than brown, and dressed in jeans with a multi-colored chemise. I had a hard time guessing her age, she could be worn looking thirty five or an energetic fifty. “They were all Nazi’s the men who worked for the Junta,” she informed us. “He was another like them, Ivan is a Nazi name.”

“Why were you fired?” Cindy asked Jose. I put down my coffee, pulled out a notebook and jotted down Maria’s remarks, not because I thought they were at all relevant, but because I wanted to look busy. I didn’t want to have to come up with any questions. Cindy could do that. Today, she could be Perry Mason and I could be Della Street, just the confidential secretary taking short-hand; except of course, that few retired boxers looked like Della Street- I sure as hell didn’t- and I didn’t know short-hand. Cindy didn’t look much like Perry Mason, either.

“It was because of the illegals,” Maria answered for her son. “We are not illegals. I got into this country legally and Jose is a citizen,” she said, puffing with pride, “We did not cheat. We are not wetbacks. I stood in line. I filled out all the forms. I did it the right way. It was not easy, and I had to wait and wait. I had good reason to come to this country. I had good reason to sneak in, but I did not. I did it the right way. I am legal. These others at work, they are all illegals, Jose, he says this to the Nazi, that these others are illegal and vutt, he is fired! It is not just. It is not right.”

“Who were you working for- what company?” Cindy asked.

“Triple A Cleaners,” Jose said, his mother taking a break to drink her coffee. “We clean office buildings at night. It’s a big company, has lots of accounts. We do all the big buildings, The Pink, the bank tower, the KOIN tower, all the big buildings,” he answered in a voice without an accent. It occurred to me that if he hadn’t been named Jose Garcia, but had been something like Joe Gray, he would not easily be picked out as Hispanic.

“And you had trouble with the owner?” Cindy pursued.

“He is not the owner, the Nazi. The owners hire Nazi’s as crew boss. They go out with the crews and boss them around,” Maria said. “Like a foreman.”

“And your boss’s name was Ivan?” Cindy asked Jose.

“Yeah. I don’t know his last name. I’ve heard it, sounds Russian, but I don’t remember it. I told him some of the workers were illegals, so then he fired me,” Jose said.

“How long had you worked there?”

“A couple months. I sort of thought he’d figure it out himself, but he didn’t. I dropped some hints, and then told him I’d heard the guys talkin’ about buying green cards, so then he fired me,” Jose said.

“Because he is a Nazi. They are like that,” his mother told us.

“How did you get this job?” Cindy asked.

“My counselor at school referred me there. I’m going to community college to get my AA.” Jose said.

“You see what they think of us there? His name is Garcia so they send him to a janitor job,” Maria complained. “Like he needs to study that.”

“How did you get arrested?” Cindy asked.

“After I got fired, I went to work to talk to an owner, or boss, or someone other than Ivan and they told me to leave, and I said no, I wanted to talk to somebody, so they called the cops and I got arrested,” Jose said.

“First thing the cop asked him, ‘hey you got a green card?’ like everybody named Garcia is illegal.” Maria put in.

“Have you ever been in trouble before?” Cindy asked.

“Never. Never, never, never,” Maria answered for him, “No trouble never.”

“When is your court date?” Cindy asked. Jose checked the citation he had been given and found that the court date was still a few days out. Cindy studied the citation.

“You may not need a lawyer,” Cindy told him. “The company may not even press charges. You won’t find out until this court date. If they have pressed charges, then the judge will give you several weeks to find a lawyer. In the meantime, Sean and I can come up with some names for you. If you go see a lawyer right now, you will probably have to pay several hundred dollars for a consultation and may not need it. You should probably wait until after your court date to see if anyone even bothered to press charges,” Cindy advised.

“They will press charges. Nazis always do that,” Maria predicted. And she was right.

Six weeks later, I had forgotten all about Jose Garcia and his legal problems when Cindy told me that she’d gotten another call from his mother. He had appeared in court (Maria had come along,) and charges had been pressed. As Cindy had predicted, when Maria informed the judge that she wanted to hire a lawyer, not take a court-appointed one, the judge set over the entry of plea date for three weeks so she would have time to retain one. Cindy had already given Maria the name of several lawyers, including one who handled criminal law and wrongful termination.

“If Jose was being truthful about being fired for reporting a conversation about green cards being “purchased,” then he probably was protected by Oregon’s whistle-blower statutes and could not be legally fired for that. A lawyer who could handle both cases would be ideal.” Cindy had told me.

A short time after, I got a call from an irate attorney, Paul Kramer.

“This is your idea of a viable employment case?” asked a voice I didn’t know when I answered my phone. Before I could check my caller ID, he went on with his rant.

“This is Paul Kramer, about Jose Garcia. I understand you sent me this dog.”

“It’s my understanding you were one of several attorneys given as possible referrals for a retained case,” I said coldly, wondering why I was getting blamed for sending someone a client.

“Well take me off your referral list if this is the type of case you’re sending out.”

“Is there a problem?” I asked.

“Yeah, there’s a problem. There’s a bunch of problems. Your friend is a jerk. He makes himself a nuisance at work to the point where they’ve got no choice but to let him go, then he shows up at the office, threatens to kill people, get’s himself eighty-sixed, not happy with that, comes back and get’s himself arrested, fighting with the cops and now has a trespass case, a stalking order against him, and possible civil suit against him for intimidation, and harassment, and you think a fifteen hundred dollar retainer is going to cover all this?”

“Look, I just gave his mother your name. You don’t want to take the case, don’t. I’m sure you’re not the only lawyer in town,” I said.

“Damn right I won’t take this case. And don’t send me anymore like this,” he said and rang off.

Jose was not my problem, and I couldn’t care less if some lawyer I didn’t know was pissed off at being on Cindy’s list. I wouldn’t have given it another thought, if Paul Short hadn’t called me again.

“Sean, you got to come talk to dis kid,” Paul said told me two days after the call from Kramer. At least this time I had checked my caller ID and didn’t answer it by saying, “Hi honey.”

“I have to come talk to what kid?” I asked. I was at the office, doing a background check for our one and only regular client while Cindy was getting her hair done.

“Jose Garcia.”

“Doesn’t he have an attorney to deal with this? I thought Cindy gave his mother a list of lawyers to call,” I said.

“He can’t get no lawyer. Dis whole thing goin’ crazy. He keeps getting more and more of these legal papers. You got to come look at dis, and talk to dis boy,” Paul insisted.

If I had been busy, I’d have told Paul no, I wasn’t a lawyer referral service. Cindy and I had done our part, without pay, and that was that, but I wasn’t busy. I didn’t have anything else to do with my time, once I got this current project finished.

“When is he coming in to the gym next?” I asked.

“Tonight.”

“All right. Tell him to bring whatever papers he has and we’ll come by and talk to him about them,” I said.

Cindy and I met with Jose in Paul’s cramped uncomfortable office at seven that night. Jose had brought with him a stack of papers that had been served on him at his court hearing and which he had taken in to Ivan Kramer- hence the irate phone call.

“This is all bullshit. This didn’t happen, all this bullshit about me beatin’ anyone up- fighting with the rental cops- that’s all bullshit,” Jose protested.

Cindy read over the top document in the stack of several hundred pages of paper and then handed it to me. It summarized the concerns about Jose which were more detailed in the attached pleadings and exhibits. The summary indicated that Jose had been fired for verbally abusing a female co-worker. The next day, he had come to the main office of the company and demanded to see the owner. He was asked to leave. When he wouldn’t, he was escorted off the property by security. Then the company as well as companies in the buildings they cleaned began receiving anonymous phone calls with threats of bombs. Jose had come back to the office the next day and threatened to beat up his boss. The police arrived and arrested him but only after a scuffle. The company was seeking a restraining order to keep Jose away from their office and all the buildings where he used to work a list of which was attached, which had forty names on it.

No wonder Ivan had not wanted to take this on for a modest retainer.

“I didn’t do any of that shit. They’re making this all up,” Jose said for the umpteenth time. I had no idea what to do with this mess, so I looked at Cindy.

 Cindy patiently listened to what Jose had to say, and when he ran out of steam, she said,

 “It looks like they’re afraid of a lawsuit for firing you. The biggest priority here is to make sure you don’t end up with a criminal record. You probably shouldn’t think about suing them until you get rid of the criminal matter. I’ll get you some names tomorrow of some good criminal lawyers who are reasonably priced and who will probably be willing to take this on, but they’ll just handle the criminal charges. Any lawsuit you have against the company will have to wait until after the criminal matters are resolved,” Cindy said. Jose went back to his rant for a bit, wound down, so we used this pause in his angst to make our escape.

“What do you think of all this?” I asked as we drove back to her condo on the river.

“I think he had an attitude problem because his vocational counselor set him up with a janitor’s job, he was a pain in the ass at work, he didn’t take it well when he got fired, and he’s been behaving like a jerk,” Cindy said.

“Won’t you have a hard time getting him a lawyer where he’s telling all these lies?” I asked.

“Not at all. Criminal lawyers are used to having clients who tell lies. They can work with that.” Cindy said, “It shouldn’t be all that big a deal.”

“Don’t you think serving him with all these papers is over the top?” I asked, weighing the heavy stack in my hands as Cindy drove. The papers were all in a large manila envelope.

“I think the company had cause to fire Jose, but they do hire undocumented workers and they’re afraid of legal action against them. They are attacking his credibility every way they can so if ICE shows up at their door based on Jose’s complaints, they can discredit his report. Plus, of course, they don’t want to have to pay him unemployment plus they don’t want him filing a civil suit. He can probably make the criminal charges go away with a simple civil compromise. He promises not to sue them and they drop the charges. It should be easy.”

It wasn’t.

 


 

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