CHAPTER 80

I’ve got him stashed,” Gage told Peterson across the conference table on the eleventh floor of the Federal Building the following morning. Zink sat at the end of the table near the door, childishly sneering.

“It’s called kidnapping and false imprisonment,” Peterson said.

“You don’t know when to give up.” Gage shook his head. “How do you know he doesn’t want to be stashed? You’ve listened to the recording I made last night. Does he sound like a guy who’s ready to cozy up to you again?”

Peterson leaned back in his chair. “What do you want?”

“Transactional immunity for Burch. No prosecution ever for anything related to SatTek.”

Peterson tossed his pen onto the table, as if Gage’s demand was absurd. “I’ll only give him use immunity for anything he tells the grand jury.”

Gage looked hard at Peterson. “You don’t get it. Maybe you don’t want to. Maybe you’re still addicted to the headlines you’d get bringing down a lawyer like Burch. Maybe his indictment was going to be your ticket to Willie Rose’s job after he quits to run for governor.” Gage paused for a beat. “I’ve got news for you: Burch…didn’t…do it.” Gage stood up. “Maybe your boss will catch on a little faster.”

Peterson straightened himself in his chair. He glanced over at Zink. The sneer was gone. “Okay. Sit down.”

“What does okay mean?”

“It means transactional.”

Gage sat down. “And I want a court order before I leave today.”

“Fine. And I assume that’s not all you want.”

“You got that right. I don’t want Burch or his firm named in the civil suit.”

“I can’t control what Braunegg does,” Peterson said. “DOJ policy says I can’t interfere.”

“It’s a little late to start drawing ethical boundaries between you and Braunegg. You’re the tit he sucks on. He’ll do whatever you tell him.”

Peterson smirked. “Anything else on your wish list?”

“Nope. But I’ve got twenty million dollars that Matson had in a Swiss account. KTMG Limited. I’ll wire it to the court’s bank when Braunegg confirms that Burch is out of the case.”

“Why the court?”

“Because I don’t want Braunegg getting a cut of it. If he doesn’t recover it on his own, he doesn’t get a percentage. His thirty percent will go to the victims.”

Peterson picked up the telephone and dialed.

“Franklin Braunegg, please…Frank, this is Bill…Yeah, fine…Look, the complexion of the SatTek case changed…Yeah, just today…I’ll fill you in on the details later…You’ll need to drop Burch and his firm from the complaint…Yeah, that’s what I said…It’s gotta be that way…Yeah, how’d you guess? He’s sitting right here…” Peterson covered the mouthpiece. “Can they interview Burch?”

Gage shook his head. “They’re not coming anywhere near him. I’ll tell them what they need to know.”

Peterson removed his hand. “He won’t go for it…Gage will do it…He’s kinda got a gun to our heads on this one…You need to cut your losses…okay…I’ll talk to you later.”

Peterson hung up. “He agrees.”

Gage nodded, then dialed his cell phone. “Bring him in.”

Two minutes later the conference room phone rang. Peterson picked it up, listened for a few seconds, then said, “Zink’ll come down,” and disconnected. Zink pulled himself up from his chair and shuffled out.

Gage watched as Peterson began to write a column of names on a blank yellow pad in front of him. Gage knew what it was without asking: a revised grand jury target list.

“You’re pretty light on your feet for a big guy,” Gage said.

“It’s the only useful lesson from football. Sometimes you have to settle for a field goal.”

“Who’ve you got?”

“Matson, the stockbrokers, Gravilov, the controller at SatTek…what’s his name?”

“Milsberg, Robert Milsberg. Leave him off. He’s worked his tail off helping me.”

“Will he debrief?”

“He’ll do what I tell him.”

“Okay. He’ll be an unindicted coconspirator.”

Gage tossed a bone. “Why not the Ukrainian president’s son instead? He’d be a prize.”

Peterson brightened.

“You’d get headlines around the world. A helluva press conference for your boss.”

“Not a bad idea.”

“Of course, you’ll never get him to trial. No extradition treaty.”

“I’m not so sure,” Peterson said. “CNN is saying the new president wants to put his predecessor and his cronies on trial. Maybe him and his son will make a run for it and we’ll snag him in a country where we do.”

Peterson rose and headed toward the door. “You want coffee?”

“Sure. Black.” Gage knew Peterson’s offer wasn’t really about a warm drink. He’d simply made peace with the reality Gage had imposed on him.

Peterson returned just a minute before Viz, Matson, and Zink approached the door. Matson froze at the threshold, glancing first at Gage, then at Peterson, then back at Gage, uncertain where to sit, not sure who now owned him.

Gage pointed at the end of the table, farthest from the door. Viz walked him to a chair and unlocked the handcuffs. Matson rubbed his wrists, then pulled out the chair and sat down. Viz leaned against a bookshelf behind him.

“What about his lawyer?” Peterson asked. “Shouldn’t Hackett be here?”

“No.” Gage looked at Matson. “Didn’t you tell me you wanted to represent yourself?”

“Yeah,” Matson said, slumping down in his chair. “I guess so.”

“You disappointed me,” Peterson said, glaring at Matson. “And you’re gonna pay for it.”

“I’m willing to do a few years. I told Gage I’d do that.”

“A few years won’t do it.”

“Okay, five, five years.” Matson said the words in an expectant tone, as if a negotiation had begun. “I can do five years.”

“Not a chance.” Peterson’s forefinger thumped the table. “There’s something called sentencing guidelines and you’re now off the fucking chart.”

Matson swallowed hard, then sat up rubbing his hands together. “We can work something out. I know we can work something out.” He forced a weak half smile, his salesman’s instincts taking over. “I got it. Gravilov. He’s big. Him and Kovalenko were behind the killings. Absolutely. And they weren’t part of my deal. It’ll be something new. I can testify about those guys. Then go into Witness Protection.”

“No chance,” Peterson said. “You were double-dealing behind the back of the United States government. The jury wouldn’t believe a word you said.”

“What about the missiles? The missiles blew up, right? Can’t we say that was the plan all along? I was working undercover. That’s what we can say.” Matson nodded, glancing back and forth between Peterson and Gage. “Then I can go to Ukraine and testify against the president’s son. And I met two generals. I can testify about them, too.”

Gage stood up. “You’re a hell of a piece of work, Matson.”

Viz walked toward the door, and Gage followed behind him.

“Wait,” Matson called out. “What does KTMG stand for? I have to know.”

Viz laughed.

Gage glanced back at Matson. “Kiss The Money Good-bye.”

Peterson walked with Gage and Viz down the hallway toward the lobby.

“What’ll you do with Matson?” Gage asked.

“Zink’ll take him over to North County Jail in Oakland. Mix him in with a thousand old gangsters and dope dealers. He might as well start getting used to hard time.” Peterson looked over at Gage. “You think he realizes that he’ll never get out?”

“I’m not sure it’s dawned on him that he’ll never even get bail. If I was him I would’ve bolted for the door when Viz took off the handcuffs. That was his last chance to see daylight.”

They walked to the end of the hallway in silence, then Peterson asked, “What now?”

“I’ll take Burch up to my cabin for a few days. He’s been a prisoner in his house too long.”

Peterson paused at the exit before opening the door to the lobby. “Tell Burch I’m sorry about all this. I really thought Matson was being straight. Everything he said seemed to check out.”

“Maybe that’s because you had Zink doing the checking.”

Courtney was helping her husband down the front stairs as Gage parked his car in their driveway a couple of hours later. She waved at Gage as he opened the passenger door, and then guided Burch to it. Gage helped ease him into the passenger seat.

“Take it slow, champ. No rush.”

Burch grimaced as he dropped into the seat, then smiled.

“If I was moving any slower, I’d be standing still.”

Gage walked Courtney back up the stairs. She turned at the top and looked back at her husband.

“There may be some things Jack wants to talk to you about once you get settled up at the cabin,” she said.

“Did he tell you what they were?”

“He tried, but couldn’t find a way to say what he meant. I think he needs to talk it all through with you in order to figure it out.”

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