CARDINALCULPABILITY G. DANIEL PERNELL      PublishAmerica        Baltimore
© 2004 by G. Daniel Pernell.All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored ina retrieval system or tr...
This book is dedicated to my wife Jeanne, themarathon runner, care giver RN, blood donor,volunteer and champion of many ca...
Luxurious cars, perfect women and recreational drugs do not sit at thefringes of Anthony Pirilli’s life; they are his life...
CHAPTER 1It was a balmy southeastern afternoon and Anthony Pirilli has justcelebrated his fifteenth birthday in true Itali...
G. DANIEL PERNELLads in the paper he says, “Ah ha, here we go, boy, I got a good one!Now you keep your eyes and ears on me...
CARDINAL CULPABILITYfinanced by Tony at a high rate of interest with a thousand dollarsdown. If this individual fails to m...
CHAPTER 2Five years later, Anthony, now twenty years old, is the youngestmanager of luxury used cars in the city. The Jagu...
G. DANIEL PERNELLhad groomed Anthony to arrive at this point. More than a milliondollars was a considerable sum of money, ...
CARDINAL CULPABILITYwhether it made business sense or not. As a result, many of his keymanagement individuals either left ...
CHAPTER 3G. David Banks, who was referred to as “G” by friends and colleagueswas a prominent attorney who represented corp...
G. DANIEL PERNELLmeeting?” states G while extending his hand to Trish.   Formalities aside, all settled on the aft deck to...
CHAPTER 4The sales managers of both the new and used car departments werefriends of many years. Although much older than A...
G. DANIEL PERNELLlooked like she belonged in this upscale environment. The problem wasthat she couldn’t sell her way out o...
CARDINAL CULPABILITYendlessly, because the money is not there to pay the bills. They starthaving regular meetings to go ov...
CHAPTER 5Two weeks have passed since spending the weekend on “G’s” Sea Rayand it is time to get together again. Anthony ha...
G. DANIEL PERNELLbring him a current financial statement. He specifically wants to knowwhat receivables can be expected wi...
CARDINAL CULPABILITYdiscovered Terry’s activities, which of course he denied. Unfortunatelyfor Terry, Anthony had proof, w...
CHAPTER 6The state Attorney General’s office had received two complaints fromconsumers stating that over sixty days had pa...
G. DANIEL PERNELLthat you have done everything you could to resolve the problems. Iappreciate your time.”   Feeling as tho...
CHAPTER 7By now, Anthony is so enthralled with his new boating passion that hecan hardly wait for the weekend to arrive. T...
G. DANIEL PERNELL   “Let’s take a swim,” suggested Anthony, when in an abrupt moveTerri stood, undressed and leapt into th...
CHAPTER 8Friday morning as Anthony and Terri prepare to get underway for theday’s cruise, the last thing on his mind is th...
G. DANIEL PERNELL    Paul responds, “It was exactly like you thought. First, Mercedes saysthey’ve never seen these letters...
CARDINAL CULPABILITYA Monday morning wake-up call from Pete comes early. “Anthony,Jesus, where have you been? I’ve called ...
G. DANIEL PERNELL    “Yes, and he wanted copies of some of the MSOs.”    “Did you have those letters in the files that nee...
CARDINAL CULPABILITYhair on ‘em, damn it. Hey Pete, close my door.”    Anthony places a call to Dr. Shields as he notices ...
G. DANIEL PERNELL    “I was at the lake and I forgot to charge my phone, sorry about that.”    “Well, that is part of the ...
CHAPTER 9“Okay, folks, that’s it, meeting adjourned.” Tom Williams has justconcluded a staff meeting. “Paul, would you sti...
G. DANIEL PERNELLabout your past employer, Anthony Pirilli. We already know most ofwhat we need to incarcerate his ass, bu...
CARDINAL CULPABILITYwith about a month ago. What was her name, Paul, Sherry?”    “I think that’s right Tom,” replied Paul....
G. DANIEL PERNELLand I bluffed it with him. I decided that we were going down soon andthe money I made on those deals real...
CHAPTER 10Anthony is in his office trying to make numbers work when Peteinterrupts. “Anthony, do you know this guy Jerry B...
G. DANIEL PERNELLhome and crash. As he throws a couple things in his briefcase thereceptionist tells him he has a call. “L...
CARDINAL CULPABILITYand is awakened by nightmares. His nightmares of late have been bothfrightening and realistic. He has ...
G. DANIEL PERNELL“Good morning everyone,” Anthony begins. “Hey Gary, where did youget that tie, the circus? I’m just kiddi...
CARDINAL CULPABILITYtoday until noon on Monday for your deals to count. Now, one lastthing. How many ways are there to ask...
CHAPTER 11The plane landed in Las Vegas at 2:30 PM. After gathering theirluggage Anthony and Terri noticed a man holding a...
G. DANIEL PERNELL    “I don’t know, I’m sorry. It doesn’t have anything to do with you.I’ve got a lot going on at work. I ...
CHAPTER 12It was indeed a long night and most did not see a pillow before 3:00AM. Although Anthony is not much of a golfer...
G. DANIEL PERNELLAttorney General’s office.    “Are you talking state or federal?” asks G. He tells G it is the state,but ...
CARDINAL CULPABILITYfigured it out.”   “Okay, Anthony, I think you’re telling me this because you want meto help you. Am I...
CHAPTER 13The return flight was comfortable and arrived home in time forAnthony to get a good night’s rest. He had not tal...
G. DANIEL PERNELLis right in the middle of it laying down for ‘em. I don’t have to tell youthat Phil and Carmen don’t like...
CARDINAL CULPABILITY  “I didn’t know I was still taking orders from you?”  “Hey, you dumb peckerwood! This is no joke, I j...
CHAPTER 14Tuesday afternoon finds Tom Williams and Paul Werner consulting onthe Pirilli case. “I’m ready to call a grand j...
G. DANIEL PERNELLhas to get away.   “Anthony, marone me, what the hell happened to you?” Tony asks.   “Everything, Grandpa...
CARDINAL CULPABILITY   “Stevie, you know my grandpa doesn’t know shit about the businessor how we’re doing business togeth...
G. DANIEL PERNELL   “Yeah, do you think I’m next?”   “No way! Tony is family, no way! Stevie didn’t say nothin’ likethat, ...
CHAPTER 15Anthony has been at the lake for three days. He is by himself and sinceit is mid-week the docks are pretty well ...
G. DANIEL PERNELLFriday evening, activity picks up considerably on the docks. Theboaters are arriving with their weekend c...
CARDINAL CULPABILITYcausing the carbon monoxide fumes to back up into the boat’s interior.    Whether Anthony died by his ...
G. DANIEL PERNELL   Lastly, Anna Marie Pirilli mourned the deaths of both her husbandand grandson and spent much of her ti...
Cardinal culpability
Cardinal culpability
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Cardinal culpability

  1. 1. CARDINALCULPABILITY G. DANIEL PERNELL PublishAmerica Baltimore
  2. 2. © 2004 by G. Daniel Pernell.All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored ina retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means withoutthe prior written permission of the publishers, except by a reviewerwho may quote brief passages in a review to be printed in a newspaper,magazine or journal.First printing ISBN: 1-4137-2463-9 PUBLISHED BY PUBLISHAMERICA, LLLP www.publishamerica.com Baltimore Printed in the United States of America
  3. 3. This book is dedicated to my wife Jeanne, themarathon runner, care giver RN, blood donor,volunteer and champion of many causes and mybiggest supporter.This book is also dedicated to my great friend ofmany years, Oscar Nominee actor Tom Berenger,who has been a constant source of inspiration for mesince 1972. A man who showed me that ordinarypeople can do extraordinary things.
  4. 4. Luxurious cars, perfect women and recreational drugs do not sit at thefringes of Anthony Pirilli’s life; they are his life. His Mob connectionsbrought him the money to make it all real. His Mob connections set thestage to bring it all crashing down.Cardinal Culpability is unlike any other novel we have encountered.G. Daniel Pernell has taken a broad-stroke approach to story telling andhas produced a brief novel that is both concise in its execution andabundant in its effect. In the tradition of Mickey Spillane, Mr. Pernell’swhiskey-and-cigarette monologue sets a rapid pace from which thereader is helpless to break free. In his first novel, and with a sterile yethighly appealing approach to writing, he has sculpted the tale of therise and fall of the ambitious American male from meteoric success tothe ultimate corruption of power and its inevitable downfall.Cardinal Culpability is not a quick read; it is a fast read. To say thestory compels you to run through the pages would not do it justice; weenjoyed every aspect of the book, including the hours’ worth ofdiscussion it generated. It is devoid of extraneous information andencourages you to keep up. Time is short here; if you don’t payattention, you’ll never see it coming. Reviewed and highly recommended by S. Bond Herndon and Heather Hyde-Herndon, co-authors of Into the Blue
  5. 5. CHAPTER 1It was a balmy southeastern afternoon and Anthony Pirilli has justcelebrated his fifteenth birthday in true Italian style. Four sets of auntsand uncles, fourteen cousins, grandparents and twenty-five familyfriends were in attendance. Visiting automobiles lined both sides of thestreet in this predominantly Italian, suburban neighborhood. As guestsconsumed dessert, Anthony’s grandfather announced that he and theboy would be leaving the party. “Come on, Anthony, Grandpa’s going to show you how to makemoney!” Tony Pirilli was the boy’s namesake and had been successfulin the wholesale and retail liquor business. His two eldest sons hadtaken over operation of the family business, a mom-and-pop liquorstore that had blossomed in the late 1970s and produced a substantialliving for its owners. Although never a certified member of the localMafia, Tony certainly knew them all and may have seen benefits oftheir persuasion over the years. Tony was a handsome man in his mid-sixties with only a touch ofgray, primarily in his sideburns. Not long before this day he and hiswife Anna Marie had celebrated their thirty-sixth wedding anniversary,another family affair with many in attendance. Anna Marie was apleasant young grandmother and attractive in her own right. The onlytime that her ordinarily pleasant demeanor appeared to fade centeredaround any event that threatened the peaceful existence of the family.Like the time her daughter-in-law threatened to leave eldest son Joey.Joey’s wife Sarah, not of Italian descent, felt Anna Marie’s wrathand—shall we say—stepped back in line. Tony enjoyed owning Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham sedans andwould never consider owning one of those foreign jobs. “Let’s go,Anthony, jump in the car with Grandpa,” Tony tells the boy as he pullsa map from the glove box. As he skims through the classified used car 7
  6. 6. G. DANIEL PERNELLads in the paper he says, “Ah ha, here we go, boy, I got a good one!Now you keep your eyes and ears on me when we see this guy, right?”Anthony acknowledges and knows what to expect.Bob Stone, an accountant, has advertised his 1979 Pontiac Firebird inthe newspaper. Because Bob takes good care of his belongings his caris very clean, with average mileage. Tony and Anthony arrive at Bob’shome at 3:45 P.M. on Saturday afternoon. Tony tells Bob that the boyjust had his fifteenth birthday and he wants to buy him a car. Bobindicates he is asking $7,500 for his Firebird. Tony reacts as though he is quite put out by the price. “Anthony, it’stime to go.” Anthony replies, “But Grandpa, I like it!” Looking at Bob, Tony says, “Ah, now look at this. How did youcome up with that price?” Bob indicates that he researched the valueby calling dealerships and asking what it was worth. Tony replies,“Those guys are thieves! They don’t want you to sell your car, that’swhy they told you it was worth so much. I’ll give you what it’s worthright now in cash.” Although Bob still believes his value is correct, he asks Tony howmuch he will pay for the car. “I’ll give you $5,000 in cash right now.Have you got the title?” Tony pulls the cash out of his pocket andbegins to count it out. “Wait, I didn’t say I would take $5,000,” Bob exhorts. Tony replies, “I got fifty-two hundred dollars here. You say yes yourcar is sold, otherwise we’re leaving and you’ll wait till hell freezes overto get more! Go on, Anthony, get in the car.” Even though Bob feels that he is being taken advantage of, hereluctantly agrees to sell the car to Tony for $5,200. As Tony and the boy drive home he explains how he has just madea lot of money. “That guy is stupid, Anthony. His car is worth $8,500.Grandpa just made $3,300 off this dumb peckerwood!” The wholetruth of how much Grandpa will make when selling this car will beexplained to Anthony in detail. Tony now operates what has becomecommonly known as a “BUY HERE—PAY HERE” used car lot.Credit-deprived individuals are fed upon here, since they are unable tobuy a vehicle anywhere else. This car will be sold for $10,000 and 8
  7. 7. CARDINAL CULPABILITYfinanced by Tony at a high rate of interest with a thousand dollarsdown. If this individual fails to make even one payment on time, Tonywill repossess the car and sell it again. By the time they arrive at home, Tony has explained to Anthony thatthis car may actually make him $10,000 over what he has paid for it.A total of $15,200. returned on a $5,200. investment. Anthony has hadhis first lesson in economics, how to make it on both ends at theexpense of others.That night at Berone’s Pizza Anthony told his friends how his grandpa“ripped this guy off today.”“It’s easy, that’s what I’m gonna do to make big money.” 9
  8. 8. CHAPTER 2Five years later, Anthony, now twenty years old, is the youngestmanager of luxury used cars in the city. The Jaguar-Audi dealership henow works for is Jewish owned. He has learned much the past fiveyears working with his grandfather while finishing high school. Theyear is 1987 and the market for cars is booming. His “street smartdegree” has shown him that people are easy to take advantage of andhe revels in excitement with each consumer conquest. His wardrobenow consists of Armani suits, silk ties, starched cuffed shirts and $200shoes. He is an attractive single man and now enjoys throwing hismoney around entertaining. He’ll never be caught without at least$1,000 in hundred-dollar bills in his pocket and begins to find youngladies as sexual trophies. Of course, he must drive the nicest cars,especially since he does not pay for them. Life is good, with only oneexception. He wants to own his own dealership and it must beprestigious.For the next ten years life for Anthony would be prosperous, glitzy andfast track. As with many who could afford it, cocaine found a presencein Anthony’s daily life. Parties with local celebrities and pro sportsicons became regular events. Now his spending habits had grownenormous and with his new circle of influential friends would continueto escalate. Then one day, as if a fantasy had come true, he discoveredthat the owner of the area Mercedes-Benz dealership wanted to sell.This, above all else, was meant for him and he would not be denied thisopportunity. But where would he come up with over a million bucks?It was time to see Grandpa Tony. “Grandpa” Anthony said, “this is what I have been waiting for allmy life. I need your help to raise the money.” Tony loved his grandson more than any of the others. After all, he 11
  9. 9. G. DANIEL PERNELLhad groomed Anthony to arrive at this point. More than a milliondollars was a considerable sum of money, however, and some callswould have to be made. “Let me see what I can do, Anthony.” Tony had a casual relationship with “the boys” who met regularlyat Cerro’s Italian Restaurant. It was there that many deals were struckand decisions made. It was there that Anthony would find financing forhis new Benz dealership.It was a beautiful spring morning on May 14th 1997 when the doors toPirilli Imports, the new Mercedes franchise, opened for the first time.A gala event that evening attended by many, including members of thelocal media, pro-sports personalities, community business leaders,bankers, lawyers and “the boys” kicked off Anthony’s new claim tofame. Glorious, breathtaking luxury automobiles were on hand for allto sample. This night Anthony would make his first sale at the newfacility. Smooth at ninety, a luxuriously appointed SL 500. Dr. DonaldSpicer and Anthony pulled back into the dealership. “Twelve cylinders,almost 400 horsepower, Doc, this is the most incredible car in theworld!” exclaimed Anthony. “As well it should be for a hundred grand,” replied the doctor. “I can only get five of these all year and this is the only black one.You’ll be the only guy in town with one for the next sixty days. Whatdo you say, let’s put your name on it!” And it was done.Now in business for himself, with a lot of help from “the boys”, hemanaged to steal some of the best sales help away from the other “hi-line” stores. The money was good; the facility amenities fabulous byindustry standards and Anthony now knew for sure that he had arrived.He often thought to himself, How many 30-year-olds own a Mercedesstore? For a time, as with many new things, all went well, but soon theunraveling began. The parties, the cocaine, the late nights began to takea toll. He started coming in later and later each day. He knew how tosell cars and manage sales people, but he had never run such a largeoperation. There were multiple departments, multiple managers foreach and many more employees. He wanted things done his way, 12
  10. 10. CARDINAL CULPABILITYwhether it made business sense or not. As a result, many of his keymanagement individuals either left fed up or he fired them. Hisdealership became a revolving door for good talent. He had becomewell known as a womanizer and would spend hours visiting withattractive women in his office. He even hired a young lady with whomhe was involved to sell automobiles. A no-no in any business, theconsequences were predictable and caused much upheaval in the salesdepartment. Anthony had let his new empowerment go to his head. Streams ofpeople, many of Italian descent, would visit with him for hours on adaily basis. It was so obvious that the sales people called him “TheDon” and coined his office the “Don’s Chamber”. He insisted that hispeople generate high profits on vehicles sold, but would himself givethem away for little or no profit to friends, sports figures and those ofinfluence. When his best salesman made a casually suggestivecomment to a female customer away from the dealership he had thesales manager fire him. The salesman’s response to the manager, “Sohe wants to fire me for making a suggestive comment while he issleeping with every good-looking woman who buys a car here?” 13
  11. 11. CHAPTER 3G. David Banks, who was referred to as “G” by friends and colleagueswas a prominent attorney who represented corporate concerns bydefending their intellectual property rights and patents. For some timeprior to Anthony acquiring the Mercedes store G had been driving carswith the star. He had recently purchased a luxurious 460 SEL modelfrom Anthony in a plum color called Almandine. His own attorney,Bob Moran, had referred G to Anthony. While visiting Anthony discovered that G owned a fifty-foot SeaRay yacht that he kept at Georgia’s Lake Lanier. G suggested thatAnthony join them on the yacht for a weekend and “Bring a friend!” Aplan was set. Friday morning of the week Anthony summoned the chieflot attendant to his office. “Bobby, pull this black 500 off theshowroom. I want it filled with gas, waxed and spotless by noon. Whenyou are done park it at the front door and bring me the keys.” Anthonypicked up Trish at 12:30 and they were on their way to the lake. Trish was Anthony’s age and breathtakingly beautiful. She had onlyone flaw in Anthony’s eyes, she was a smoker. Although Anthony hadnever smoked, his nightlife activities kept him constantly surroundedby those that did. Visiting G on the yacht required the right girl and theright car. He was confident in both. Upon arriving at the docksAnthony was amazed at the millions of dollars worth of floatingfiberglass second homes. It was not that he did not know about it, hejust had not experienced it firsthand until now. “Step aboard, folks,” said a young man securing ropes to the dock“G is expecting you.” Anthony was in awe as his eyes gazed past theaft cocktail deck into the richly appointed salon of this fabulous vessel.He had always loved luxury automobiles and was rapidly finding a newlove. “Anthony, welcome! And who do we have the pleasure of 15
  12. 12. G. DANIEL PERNELLmeeting?” states G while extending his hand to Trish. Formalities aside, all settled on the aft deck to get better acquaintedover cocktails. G had just turned forty-nine and his wife Jean was hissecond. An attractive thirty-seven-year-old former para-legal, they hadmet five years prior at G’s law firm. Both were very bright, welleducated, and G was at the top of his game in the legal profession. Likemany other well-to-do execs and professionals, this was theirplayground. A place where they could let their hair down and enjoy thespoils of their wealth. After an hour or so in port, G announced it was time to set sail.Even though the yacht is not powered under sail, to “set sail” is acommon phrase among sail and power boaters alike. Anthony couldbarely hold back his enthusiasm as the twin 440 horsepower CATdiesel engines were fired up for the cruise. Jean showed Anthony andTrish the private stateroom for their accommodation while on board.It would prove to be an outstanding weekend of sunshine, finewaterfront dining, cocktails and of course sex.Monday morning arrived and following breakfast at the yacht club allbid farewells until next time, which was already planned for two weekshence. Although he had originally planned to be at the dealership bymidday, Anthony found himself at another dealership shortly afterbreakfast … the yacht dealership. Based on weekend discussions hewas aware that G had spent $850,000 for his yacht. He wondered howhe could possibly compete in that arena. He would soon find out. Although $850,000 truly was out of reach, he learned that a personcould buy a beautiful yacht for $350,000, especially with twenty yearfinancing. And so it was that Anthony would wear a new moniker as“Skipper”. It was a Carver Yacht of forty feet in length, which hewould aptly name “FATE”. 16
  13. 13. CHAPTER 4The sales managers of both the new and used car departments werefriends of many years. Although much older than Anthony, the new carmanager, Pete Civinelli, was a good friend of his grandfather and hadbeen in the car business all of his working life. The used car manager,Terry Gilbert, was a childhood friend who tagged along with Anthonyduring his previous employment in the business. Pete was an interesting character. Although he was never a “goodfella”, like Anthony’s grandfather he was associated with those whowere. More importantly, he had a distinct appearance, a stereotype ifyou will of the “good fella” image. Unlike the young Anthony, whoseappearance gave him the material of which the term “hunk” was born,Pete’s appearance gave customers an uneasy feeling. When working adeal it was not uncommon for a customer to say something to thesalesman like, “That guy looks like a mobster.” He was gruff andtough, but like all other managers couldn’t do a thing withoutconsulting Anthony. All managers who wanted to keep their jobs didthings Anthony’s way. He did, however, have a great sense of humorand was a constant sense of entertainment for the sales staff. Theyounger salesmen loved hearing his war stories about the car businesstwenty years prior, although they could have used a few lessexplicatives. Terry Gilbert was different from Pete, in the sense that he wasyounger and cockier. Being Anthony’s best friend, he felt lessvulnerable to the threat of being fired or ridiculed for his actions. Inaddition, he “ran with” Anthony on a regular basis and was theprovider of the great white powder that they both partook of on aregular basis. Then there was Veronica, Anthony’s “girlfriend” on the sales staff.A former fashion designer, Veronica was very classy and always 17
  14. 14. G. DANIEL PERNELLlooked like she belonged in this upscale environment. The problem wasthat she couldn’t sell her way out of a paper bag. She insisted thatAnthony give her a job on the sales staff, and like so many things thesales staff could not understand, it happened. She was, however, verygood at getting what she wanted.Saturdays were the big game day for car sales. A typical Saturdaywould start out with the sales meeting at 8:00 A.M. Pete was thefacilitator with absolutely no formal presentation skills. “Anthony ispissed at all of you, except you, Veronica! Yesterday he told me that ifyou guys don’t start selling more cars he is going to fire everybody,including me! You fuckers aren’t going to cost me my fuckin’ job!Now I’m going to go around this damn table and you’re going to tellme how many cars you are going to sell today, and if it’s less than threeyou can just go home!” Now there is a motivational speech for you. Meeting over with everyone fired up for the big day. Terry Gilbertmakes the rounds to each salesperson’s office saying, “Don’t pay anyattention to Pete, Anthony busted his balls yesterday. Get fired up andsell some of these used Beamers I’ve got, you can make a killing onthem.” The car business is the car business no matter where you go. It isyou against them and them against you. You would expect a littledifferent treatment at a hi-line store and you get it. The salespeople aremore polished and in most cases able to deal with the “upscale” client.However, they are not above employing any dirty trick to make moremoney and certainly feel that it is their obligation to do so. Anthony strolls in at noon and wants to know how many cars havebeen sold. The answer does not please him. He is now under hugepressure. His financiers want more performance and a bigger take ofthe pie. Business has been slower recently, mismanagement on his parthas produced gaping wounds in his operation and he has lost a lot ofgood talent. He is not willing to change his lifestyle and blameseveryone else for decreasing revenue. It’s time to cook the books. Marjorie White is the Office Manager.Her job is to make sure that all revenue is accounted for from alldepartments and to oversee payroll, accounts receivable, accountspayable, title processing and taxes. She has been nagging Anthony 18
  15. 15. CARDINAL CULPABILITYendlessly, because the money is not there to pay the bills. They starthaving regular meetings to go over what is owed and how to prioritizethem. Anthony tells her what to pay and what not to pay. Not unlike awife, she becomes increasingly frustrated at his cavalier attitude aboutwhat she is dealing with among creditors. She is critical ofexpenditures he makes for country club memberships, restaurant tabsand other expenses she feels he should give up in light of the financialpressures on the business. 19
  16. 16. CHAPTER 5Two weeks have passed since spending the weekend on “G’s” Sea Rayand it is time to get together again. Anthony has rented a slip for hisnew boat at the yacht club where “G’s” boat is moored. Once again,Trish joins him and G takes them by water to pick up Anthony’s boat.He must spend several hours of orientation and training to becomfortable taking it the short distance to the yacht club. G has agreedto spend time helping him learn to navigate the vessel. Anthony is inseventh heaven while at the lake and the day-to-day pressures of thedealership elude him. However, Monday comes too soon and he mustreturn for a meeting with Mercedes.Time marches on and things get worse. Marjorie calls Anthony on theintercom and says, “I have to see you now!” He is in his office with a field rep from Mercedes-Benz. “I am withBill Courtney from Mercedes, I will have to get back to you.” She replies, “I’m sorry, I did not mean to interrupt; however, it isurgent that you see me as soon as possible.” A surprised look on his face, Bill asks “Is there anything wrong?” Anthony replies, “Everything is an emergency with Marge.” They conclude their meeting and Anthony calls Marjorie to hisoffice. Upon arriving at his office she literally throws a clipboard on hisdesk. “I can’t pay for these cars we traded for, what do you expect meto do?” He tells her to calm down and close the door. Anthony tells Marjoriethat it is a temporary situation that will correct itself. Since this is nother first trip around the block, having worked in dealerships for 18years, she demands an explanation. He reluctantly confides in her that“the boys” require a bigger piece of the action and that he must abideby their wishes. He further instructs her not to pay off the cars and to 21
  17. 17. G. DANIEL PERNELLbring him a current financial statement. He specifically wants to knowwhat receivables can be expected within two weeks. She leaves hisoffice very concerned and knowing that the only way she can avoidpaying off the cars is to lie to the financial institutions holding theliens. Now, just so we all know, Anthony has just asked Marjorie to assisthim in committing a federal crime. The term used in the industry andby legal authorities is “Operating Out of Trust”. Other federal crimesmay accompany, such as “Defrauding a Lender” and “ConsumerFraud”. What happens when a dealership trades for your car and then doesnot pay off the balance owed? First, and of most concern to theconsumer, is that although the dealership has obtained a payoff amount,if they don’t pay it off the creditor has no idea that the car was traded.If the payment does not happen within 30 days of the last payment duedate the consumer will have a 30-day late payment posted to the creditbureaus. Ultimately, this brought down the house for Pirilli Imports. In the meantime, Terry, the used car manager, like Anthony, isaccustomed to living large. Between cocaine and holding up the façadewith their friends and acquaintances neither can survive on less than$25,000 a month. Now, what we failed to tell you earlier is that Terryis a convicted felon who did time in the “Big House” on narcoticsdealing charges. Incarceration would have most likely kept most of usfrom falling back into bad habits—however, not Terry. His appetitehad become so enormous that he figured out another way to get hishands on more money. The company could not afford to keep used cars that were not ofhigh-line label. They do not fit into the inventory profile and tie upneeded revenue to be reinvested in the right type of inventory. SinceTerry had been in the business for many years he knew a number ofwholesalers, or people that buy and sell cars from one dealer to thenext. A middleman, if you will, who agrees to buy a car from Dealer Aand sell it to Dealer B. Unknown to Anthony, Terry would sell a givencar for say $17,000 on the books of the company, however, with anagreed sale price to the wholesaler of $20,000. The wholesaler wouldthen “kick back” $3,000 to Terry under the table. After some time the walls came tumbling down on Terry. Anthony 22
  18. 18. CARDINAL CULPABILITYdiscovered Terry’s activities, which of course he denied. Unfortunatelyfor Terry, Anthony had proof, which left him no choice but to fire him.This troubled Anthony, as close as they were, but after all Terry wasstealing from him. Case closed. Now that Terry is out, Anthony decides not to replace him. He andPete will handle Terry’s responsibilities, thereby reducing a manager’scompensation. Upon reviewing the used car inventory he made adevastating discovery. Not only had Terry sold unwanted cars towholesalers pocketing under-the-table kickbacks, he had alsopurchased other cars from them with the same intention. Under thisscenario, Terry would instruct the office to issue a draft to thewholesaler for say thirty thousand dollars. The wholesaler would thenkick back three or four thousand to Terry. The car was not worth theextra money that Terry received, thus leaving Anthony with a stable ofused cars with which he was too heavily invested. Anthony decided that the only way to offset this debacle was to getit from the consumer on future trade-in transactions. He called ameeting of the sales staff and informed them that the store was goingto try a new sales technique that would improve the salespersons’incomes. “When I bid a customer’s car and put the ‘ACV’ (actual cashvalue) on the bid slip I’m going to give you a lower number that I wantyou to tell the customer is the bid amount. We are going to up ourgrosses this way and I will pay you on the additional profit.” One of the staff asks; “What if the customer wants to see the bidslip?” Anthony replies, “I will keep your bid books, so that you can tellhim that you don’t have it. I do not want this discussed outside thisroom, and especially not with anyone in service. These guys get tooclose to the customers and I don’t want this coming back on us.” Andso the stage was set to “steal” the previously lost profits from the futurecustomers. 23
  19. 19. CHAPTER 6The state Attorney General’s office had received two complaints fromconsumers stating that over sixty days had passed and the dealershiphad failed to produce titles to their new cars. Tom Williams is the chiefinvestigator to whom these complaints would find their way. Tom is abright, ambitious man in his late forties who has been with the A.G.’soffice for over ten years. In almost all cases such as these complaints,fraudulent business operations are suspect, as the normal flow ofconsumer paperwork is typically hassle free. In the event that the casesdo involve fraud, and more specifically a result of the dealershipoperating out of trust, a whole host of state and federal charges wouldbe in the offing. Tom assigns field agent Paul Werner to the case. “I can smell thedirt on this one,” he tells Paul as he hands him the files. “Haven’t wehad previous complaints on this dealer?” Paul peruses the files and replies, “Yes, but we didn’t pursue them,because by the time we received the complaint files the dealer haddelivered titles.” Tom peers over his reading glasses and tells Paul, “Well, I don’tgive a damn if they’ve delivered titles on these or not! They’re dirtyand I want you to go after ‘em. And keep me posted.”Within several days Paul visits the dealership and is the recipient of awell-executed dog and pony show put on by Anthony. He tells Paulthat the manufacturer had failed to provide the MSO or Manufacturer’sStatement of Origin for the vehicles in question. He gives Paul copiesof fictitious correspondence from the dealership to the manufacturerand then states that since the letters were sent the MSO’s have come inand were in process of being sent to the customers. Paul accepts the copies of correspondence and states, “It appears 25
  20. 20. G. DANIEL PERNELLthat you have done everything you could to resolve the problems. Iappreciate your time.” Feeling as though he had dodged a bullet, Anthony tells Marge tomake sure that “dummy correspondence” exists in any file where titlehas not been delivered within twenty days from the retail delivery date.On Wednesday afternoon Paul sits down with Tom to apprise him ofhis findings at the dealership. He explains his meeting with Anthonyand tells Tom that he doubts that he had been told the truth. He showsTom the copies of the correspondence that Anthony had given him. “This guy is a rat, Paul. Take a couple of your people out there afterhours and get the VIN numbers off of fifteen new cars. Oh hell, getanother ten off of the used cars, too. This son of a bitch is going tojail!” Paul responds, “What do you want me to do with the VINs?” “First, I want you to contact Mercedes-Benz and see if they validatethis correspondence. A dollar to a doughnut they say it’s bullshit. Then,I want you to ask ‘em if they’ve provided the MSOs to the store forthese VINs. When they tell you they have, and they will, I want yourass back in that store pronto. Make ‘em produce every file and if theMSO is missing out of even one file or if you find more of this bullshitletter crap, I’m gonna fry this bastard!” The next evening Paul returns to Pirilli Motors with his crew andobtains the VIN numbers as instructed by Tom. 26
  21. 21. CHAPTER 7By now, Anthony is so enthralled with his new boating passion that hecan hardly wait for the weekend to arrive. This week he has decided toleave for the lake on Thursday evening. He’ll be spending the weekendwith a new friend, Terri, whom he met at a party a few weeks prior.Terri is a real estate agent whose friend Sheila has been seeing one ofAnthony’s close friends, Carmen Russo. This weekend Anthony willhost the trio aboard the yacht. Prior to picking up Terri he’ll stop at thefamily liquor store where his order is packaged and waiting. Amongsome of this weekend’s libations will be a bottle of cognac and severalbottles of Moët & Chandon and Dom Perignon. He is looking forwardto the first weekend that he will assume full captain’s duties inoperating the boat. His period of tutelage under G is officially completeand he is confident in his abilities to command the craft. He and Terriwill spend Thursday night on board alone and will be joined byCarmen and Sheila on Friday. Anthony is also excited to be with Terri,who was one of only twelve women to appear partially clad forAtlanta’s first ever “Girls of Atlanta” calendar. The couple arrive at the docks at eight thirty P.M. It is a fabulousstar-studded evening with a temperature in the mid eighties. Reflectinglights shimmer on the water’s surface while ripples rock the boat everso gently. Terri is thrilled as Anthony escorts her through the boat’sbelow-deck accommodations. Next it was on to the aft deck for theuncorking of the Dom. The two enjoyed conversing under the stars andfound themselves cracking open a second bottle when the first hadseemed to evaporate. They decided to step down to the boat’s swimdeck and dangle their legs in the water. It was most relaxing andcreated the perfect ambiance for romance. A toast to themselvespreceded the first kiss, however, there was no delay in getting to thesecond. 27
  22. 22. G. DANIEL PERNELL “Let’s take a swim,” suggested Anthony, when in an abrupt moveTerri stood, undressed and leapt into the water. She was beautiful, hethought as he scurried to remove his clothes and join her. After frolicking in the water and finishing their champagne it wason to the shower. Although Anthony desired to join Terri as she bathed,a $350,000 boat has only room for one in the shower. Fortunately, sucha yacht does lavish two bathrooms on its owners. The lighting in themaster stateroom was subdued as Anthony admired the contours ofTerri’s body and she, in turn explored his masculinity. After mutuallygratifying one another in the foreplay sense Anthony felt Terri’s innerwarmth encompass him. Small waves tapped gently on the hull of theboat. 28
  23. 23. CHAPTER 8Friday morning as Anthony and Terri prepare to get underway for theday’s cruise, the last thing on his mind is that anything is developingat the Attorney General’s office. Investigator Paul Werner calls hisboss, Chief Investigator Tom Williams. “Good morning, Tom.” “Yeah, Paul, what’s up?” “Have you got a few minutes to visit on the Pirilli Motors deal?” “Yeah, come on up.” Paul proceeds to Tom’s office with his updated findings. “Knock,knock,” says Paul. “Hey, how are ya, Paul, come on in. What ya got for me?” “Well, I got lucky. Pirilli wasn’t there, because he left early for along weekend at Lake Lanier, and get this, to spend the weekend on hisnew yacht.” Tom peers over his glasses, “What the mother fuck, how does thisguy have that kind of money? Wait a minute, how old is this guy?” Paul glances into the file and replies, “Would you believe thirty-five?” “How does a guy thirty-five years old own a damn Benz dealership,anyway? You know, I want you to fill me in on what you found, but Iwant to hold up on taking action yet. I want to know more about thisPirilli character. I want to know where the money came from to puthim in business and I want to know how it’s getting paid back. Therejust might be some skimming going on here and some unreportedincome. I’m sure the Feds would be interested in knowing who this guyis in bed with, don’t you think?” “Yeah,” replies Paul, “and get this, that salesman who told me aboutthe yacht said it cost 350 thousand G’s.” “Well, we’re gonna bust his ass before he gets a goddamnedhelicopter! So, what did you find out on the VIN numbers?” 29
  24. 24. G. DANIEL PERNELL Paul responds, “It was exactly like you thought. First, Mercedes saysthey’ve never seen these letters that he gave me. Secondly, they saythere have been no instances of delayed MSOs to the store.” Tom points his finger at Paul, “I told you that son of bitch was dirty,I just knew it. So, what did you find in their files?” Paul pulls out additional copies of dummy correspondence andstates, “I got more of this garbage and get this, that salesman I told youI was talking to said Pirilli just fired his used car manager for stealingon under the table deals with wholesalers.” Tom rubs his forehead, “Listen, I want you to find out who this usedcar manager is and what his bio looks like. He just might be a littlepissed at Pirilli about now and who knows where that could take us?” Paul replies, “Okay, Chief, I’m on it.” “Hey Paul, you’re doing a great job, thanks!” says Tom as he gazesout the window at the traffic below. Paul walks out the door. “No sweat, Boss.”Anthony and Terri arrive back in the city on Sunday evening. Both arevery tired as a result of too much party and plenty of sun exposure. Inaddition, spending a lot of time on the water tends to affect one’sequilibrium. The two exchange parting pleasantries and Anthonybegins his final ten miles home. This is the first time that he has beenalone since Thursday morning and he begins to think about the state ofthe dealership. He starts to realize that by being gone as much as he hashe might be losing his grip on the financial affairs. Ironically, hesuddenly realizes that he failed to charge his cell phone all weekend.He reaches over, picks it up and discovers it is completely discharged.He then pulls his car charger from the glove box, plugs it in and turnson the phone. The display indicates that there are multiple voicemailmessages. Pete Civinelli, the sales manager, has left several urgent messages.In addition, Marge has left him several messages also and informs himof Paul Werner’s visit on Friday. He knows that he should call themboth at home, but he is just too exhausted. It will have to wait untiltomorrow. 30
  25. 25. CARDINAL CULPABILITYA Monday morning wake-up call from Pete comes early. “Anthony,Jesus, where have you been? I’ve called everywhere trying to find you.How come I couldn’t reach you on the cell phone? All hell is breakingloose around here!” Anthony interrupts Pete, “Okay Pete, calm down…. What is goingon?” Pete, as mentioned earlier, has a gruff exterior; however, he is veryinsecure and is constantly worried about losing his job. He begins totell Anthony his tale of woes. “You know that dentist we sold thatgreen 300E, Dr. Shields?” “Yeah, what about it?” Pete continues, “You remember we decided to put him in the onewith miles on it. Well, he came back in Friday and pitched a bitch. Hesaid the car he was buying only had ten miles on it and he wanted toknow why we delivered him one with thirteen hundred miles. I tried totell him it wouldn’t affect his warranty, but he got all pissed off thenand wanted out of the deal.” Anthony was gritting his teeth, “Well, why didn’t you just tell himit was a mistake and put him in the one he wanted?” Pete insisted, “I tried that, but by then he was so mad he insisted onbacking out of the deal and getting his down payment back. Marge toldme there was no way she could do that and that’s why I was trying tofind you. This guy has already called that action news investigator guyand says he’s going to the prosecutor. What was I supposed to do?” “You were supposed to take control of the situation, damn it! That’swhy I pay you a hundred grand a year. What the hell, do I have to bethere every damn day! Get Marge on the phone.” While holding forMarge, Anthony wonders what she’ll have to say about Paul Werner’svisit. “Hi Anthony, this is Marge, why didn’t you return my calls on theweekend?” “Damn it, Marge, my phone was dead, what’s the problem?” Marge responds, “Well, that guy from the Attorney General’s officeshowed up Friday and said he needed access to all the files.” “How long was he there?” “About two hours.” “Did he ask about any particular cars or delivered units?” 31
  26. 26. G. DANIEL PERNELL “Yes, and he wanted copies of some of the MSOs.” “Did you have those letters in the files that needed them?” “Yes, and he wanted copies of those too. I think the shit’s about tohit the fan around here. I suggest that you come in and at least settlePete down. The poor guy’s about to have a heart attack.” “Okay, Marge, I’ll be there in an hour.”Anthony arrived at Pirilli Imports at 9:15 AM, where Pete meets himas he is getting out of the car and begins apologizing for the situation.“Anthony, I’m sorry about this, but you can’t believe this peckerwoodgoin’ off on me like a madman right in the showroom!” “Well, do you blame the guy?” Anthony replies. “We tried to fuckhim and he caught us.” As they walk through the showroom toward Anthony’s office hetells Pete to bring him Dr. Shield’s phone number. He walks into hisoffice, sits down at his desk and calls Marge. “Marge, I’m here. Bringin any files that that investigator wanted copies from, oh, and bringcurrent financials.” He begins to page through the stack of pinkmessage slips sitting on his desk. He notices four separate messagesfrom “the boys” representative Steve DeLuca, also known as Stevie. Pete walks in with the file on Dr. Shields’ delivery. “So, where is the car?” Anthony asks. “He’s still driving it. He said when he gets his money back he’llbring the car. Actually, he said we could bring him his check and getthe car.” Anthony slams his hand on the desk and says, “Well, that’s great,we can’t get him to take it with thirteen hundred miles on it and nowwe’re gonna get it back with twenty-five hundred fuckin’ miles! Howmuch money were we making on this deal?” Pete states that the gross profit was eight thousand two hundreddollars before paying the salesman thirty percent. “We got anotherproblem, though,” Pete tells Anthony. “We already sold his trade.” Anthony keys some numbers into the calculator and asks, “Whatwholesaler has it?” Pete replies, “We retailed it to some lawyer chick.” “Oh well, that’s just fuckin’ great!” says Anthony. “Leave me thefile and go see if we can sell some cars, and let’s have deals without 32
  27. 27. CARDINAL CULPABILITYhair on ‘em, damn it. Hey Pete, close my door.” Anthony places a call to Dr. Shields as he notices Marge heading forhis office. He holds his hand up signaling five minutes through theglass wall. “Doctor, this is Anthony Pirilli of Pirilli Imports, have yougot a few minutes?” Dr. Shields responds, “If you’re calling to tell me you have mycheck ready.” “Doctor, I’m really sorry about this mess. I’m not sure why ithappened, but I want to make it right and want to earn your business.What can I do to keep you as our customer?” “Try being honest for starters. You guys tried to stick me with adifferent car than I agreed to buy. That’s about as dishonest as it gets.” “Once again, Doc, I don’t know why this happened, but I do not likeit myself one bit. Let me make this proposal. I’ll have the original caryou wanted to buy detailed and ready by noon today and I’ll give youa check for three thousand dollars to boot for your troubles. You haveto admit, I’m trying hard here.” Dr. Shields hesitates for a few seconds. “Well … I guess I’ll do that,but I don’t want to deal with that Civinelli character.” “That is no problem,” Anthony assures him. “I will personally beavailable and I want to thank you for your courtesy. See you at noon?” The doctor responds, “Yes, I’ll be there.” One fire is out and now it is time to visit with Marge. She explainsthat the cash flow has actually been improving, due in large part toservice and parts department revenues. They also have a largeinsurance payment coming in today as the result of a hail storm thatdamaged cars in inventory. It appears that with a strong sales monththey could be in a much-improved posture. Anthony tells Marge thathe is very concerned about the re-visit by Paul Werner. He wants to tryto clean up the outstanding sales and tells Marge that this is priorityand to use the insurance funds toward that purpose. At this point,Anthony felt that at least if he got caught up by paying off the cars thathad been sold and traded for, he could potentially avoid furtherconcerns with investigators. Now he must call Steve DeLuca and determine what “the boys”have on their minds. “Hey Stevie, how are ya?” “Okay, Anthony, what took so long to get back to me?” 33
  28. 28. G. DANIEL PERNELL “I was at the lake and I forgot to charge my phone, sorry about that.” “Well, that is part of the reason that I called you. The guys heardabout your new boat, how much did that cost?” “Well, Stevie, it’s not that bad, I got twenty-year financing, youknow?” “Yeah, that’s good, Anthony, but you been telling us that businesswas slow and then we hear you bought this boat. It just doesn’t addup.” “I know what you’re saying, Stevie, but things have been gettingbetter and I think we’ll be out of the woods before long. Tell ‘emeverything’s okay, would ya, Stevie?” “I wish it was that easy, Anthony. I mean that’s good what you’retelling me and all, but the other reason I called you is that sources aretelling us you’re under investigation by the Attorney General’s office.What’s that all about?” “Oh, I don’t think it’s an investigation, Stevie, I just think we hada couple complaints about getting titles to people. It should blow oversoon.” “They got people out asking questions about you. They’re trying tofind out who you’re in business with and that’s not good. I need you totell me that you got your books right and there is nothing in there tyingus to you.” “Absolutely, I guarantee it, Stevie. We’re good to go.” Anthonyhangs up and wonders what is next. 34
  29. 29. CHAPTER 9“Okay, folks, that’s it, meeting adjourned.” Tom Williams has justconcluded a staff meeting. “Paul, would you stick around?” The staffexits the conference room and Tom visits with Paul for an update onthe Pirilli Imports investigation. Paul explains that finding a definitivelink between Pirilli and potential partners has not materialized yet. Heinforms Tom that he has located Terry Gilbert and that he is operatingas a wholesaler. “Let’s get this Terry in here and have a talk, Paul.” Paul replies, “No problem. By the way, the guy is on parole. Hespent three years at Leavenworth for pushing drugs.” “Oh really?” says Tom. “Good, let’s get his butt in here right away.This gives us some leverage to work with on this guy.”Two days later in the same conference room we find Tom, Paul andTerry Gilbert. Terry appears calm and not nervous. Tom takes his timebeginning the conversation while shuffling through papers. It is deathlyquiet for five minutes, which seems like twenty to Terry. “What are wewaiting for here? I’ve got things to do.” Tom peers up at Terry over the top of his glasses and says, “Are youstill sellin’ drugs?” Terry replies, “Why, what do you need?” “Is that the way you want to play this, son? Cause if it is, you’ll behere all day, you understand? Son, we know all about you and we’renot impressed. You want to come out of this on the best side you can,then I suggest you listen to me and answer my questions without anybullshit. Capesh? We’re not here today to break your balls and throwyou back in the slammer; however, that remains an option if you don’twant to work with me.” Terry remarks, “Do I need to call an attorney?” “Only if you’re not willing to work with us. I want to talk with you 35
  30. 30. G. DANIEL PERNELLabout your past employer, Anthony Pirilli. We already know most ofwhat we need to incarcerate his ass, but we want a few more details forclarification. Did you see the movie Training Day?” “Yeah.” replies Terry. “Okay then, you wanna go to jail or you wanna go home?” “I get the picture,” Terry indicates. “Okay, first question. How long did you work at Pirilli?” “From when we opened until two months ago.” “Did you work with Pirilli before that?” “Yeah, at Steinberg Jag and Audi.” “What did you do there?” “Well, Anthony was the used car manager and I was assistantmanager. I desked deals when he wasn’t around and got the carsdetailed and shit.” “Who owns that place?” “Jerry Steinberg.” “What was his story?” I don’t know, he’s Jewish, ya know, he just made a lot of money.That’s really all I know, he wasn’t around much. The G.M. was HarveySeidel and he’s the only one I saw much of.” “So, let me ask you something. Pirilli has quite a reputation as aladies’ man, how about you?” “I do all right.” “Did you guys ever do the same girl at the same time?” “What’s your point?” “I guess I just want to know how good your friendship was?” “I still consider him a friend.” “Okay, let’s get back to Steinberg Jag. Did you guys ever takemoney under the table over there? And hey, I already know why youand Pirilli split the sheets.” “You’re telling me that anything I say isn’t going to screw meover?” “As long as you come completely clean with me, you have nothingto worry about, but if you fuck me around your address will be rightback there at Leavenworth.” “How do I know that you have anything on me to do that?” “Well, you don’t, but just think about a couple gals you hooked up 36
  31. 31. CARDINAL CULPABILITYwith about a month ago. What was her name, Paul, Sherry?” “I think that’s right Tom,” replied Paul. “You do the math, as they say, and don’t think that I don’t havemore.” At this point, Terry has been pretty well convinced that Tom has aline on his activities. He decides that in his own best interest he hadbest cooperate. “Okay, so what do you want to know?” Tom asks, “Who is Pirilli’s money? Who put him in business?” Terry became flushed. “I’ll tell you, but you have to guarantee methat I’m not gonna get exposed on this.” “Look,” says Tom, “nobody besides you, me and Paul here is gonnaknow shit about this conversation. Just tell me who is involved and youcan go home.” “I don’t know everybody beyond Stevie DeLuca, but I’m pretty surethat he works for Phillip Castelano and Carmen Rinaldi.” “So, if you had to guess, and I’m sure you know, they are pullingmoney out of Pirilli’s operation, right?” “Yeah, they’ve been hitting him pretty hard and it seems like it’snever enough. Listen, I really don’t want to fuck Anthony over. I knowyou think I would because he fired me, but I don’t. So, are you goingto work around him?” “Listen Terry, I’d like to share in your enthusiasm for Pirilli, but theguy fucked up and he’s gonna have to pay for it. Hell, I should beputting your ass back in jail, it’s not like you’ve been a saint.” Terry asks, “Okay, are we done then?” “Just a couple more questions and you’re out of here. We know thathe’s not been paying off cars that they’ve been selling. What do youknow about that?” “That’s true,” Terry explains, “but he’s not had a lot of choiceconsidering what DeLuca’s been demanding. They were literally handsoff until this year and then all of a sudden we couldn’t choke upenough for ‘em.” “So, let me get this straight, you’re his best friend, these guys arehitting him hard and you decide to rip him off doing deals under thetable. Am I confused here?” “Look, I tried to tell him how we could make things work, but hewouldn’t listen to me. Stevie started calling me wanting to know shit 37
  32. 32. G. DANIEL PERNELLand I bluffed it with him. I decided that we were going down soon andthe money I made on those deals really wouldn’t matter in the end.” “Okay, son, I got only one more question and you better be straightwith me. Is the old man involved?” “You mean his grandpa?” replied Terry. “Yeah, Tony Pirilli?” “As far as I know, he had nothing to do with the store. He’s a goodguy, please don’t fuck with him.” “Okay,” Tom says. “You’re out of here. For the record—thisconversation never happened unless you screw up and tell somebody.” 38
  33. 33. CHAPTER 10Anthony is in his office trying to make numbers work when Peteinterrupts. “Anthony, do you know this guy Jerry Beam?” “Yes, I know him. Is he here?” “Yeah, he’s throwing your name around like he owns the place.What do you want me to do?” Anthony looks up from his desk. “Pete, God damn it, can youhandle anything anymore? I gotta tell ya, I’m starting to get pissed. Sookay, he’s throwing my name around. What does he want?” “Well, he’s got a 740il that he thinks is made of gold. I bid it atthirty-five grand and I think I’m all over it, but he’s telling Don that hewants forty-five grand.” “Okay, so you’re telling me that you’re all over it at thirty-five andwhat, he wants to talk to me?” “Yeah, for some fuckin’ reason he thinks you’ll see the light.” “All right, look, I don’t want to get involved, so just tell him thatyou talked to me and I said we’ll give him thirty-eight grand and a freeloaner car anytime he needs service. Pete, can you do this? I’m worriedabout you lately. You’re the best damned salesman I ever met. Get itdone, would you?”For the most part Anthony feels as though he has a handle on things.Even though Pete is acting a little weak, he has taken over the used carsand has not asked for additional compensation. Pete might be insecure,but one thing he felt he could count on was his loyalty. This was true.Pete would have gone to jail before telling anything he knew. Eventhough Terry has been a friend with Anthony since childhood, the lackof the Italian connection is clear. Terry will talk and Pete won’t andthat’s just the way it is. This has been a long day. Anthony is tired and just wants to go 39
  34. 34. G. DANIEL PERNELLhome and crash. As he throws a couple things in his briefcase thereceptionist tells him he has a call. “Listen, Stacey, just take a message,okay?” Stacey replies, “Are you sure you don’t want to take it? It’s G’s wifeJean.” He rubs his forehead and says, “Thanks Stacey, yeah, I’ll take it.” “Anthony, how are you?” asks Jean. As much as he wanted to say, ‘Life Sucks!’ he cordially responded,“Jean, I’m good, how are you?” “Excellent!” she says. “Say, listen, G and I are not going to be at thelake this weekend. We’re going to Vegas and we want you and Terri tojoin us. What do you say?” Anthony was intrigued at the prospect of joining them in Vegas;however, he really thought he would be best served staying around thedealership this weekend. His confidence in Pete was waning and he justthought that possibly the salespeople might try a little harder if theyknew he was around. “Jean, are you kidding? There is nothing I wouldrather do than to spend the weekend with you and G in Vegas. Listen,I’ve got a few challenges here that will prevent me from joining you,but I’d sure like to make it happen sometime.” “Anthony, I’ve got to tell you. G told me to call and invite you andTerri and not take no for an answer. Listen, he’s very fond of you andguess what?” Anthony replies, “I’m afraid to ask.” “Well, don’t be afraid, just be on time, G paid for your airlinetickets and your room at the MGM Grand.” “Jean, I’m flattered. Are we talking about this weekend?” “Absolutely, in fact, G’s secretary is going to fax you a completeitinerary.” Oh boy, it seems as though there is not much room to wiggle out.“Thanks, Jean, you are very persuasive. We’ll plan to see you. I’ll lookfor the fax. Tell G hello and thanks.”Friday morning rolls around and believe it or not Anthony is the firstperson to arrive at Pirilli Imports. It is not that he intended it that way,it is more in the fact that he is having trouble sleeping lately. If he isnot having difficulty falling asleep then he has managed to get to sleep 40
  35. 35. CARDINAL CULPABILITYand is awakened by nightmares. His nightmares of late have been bothfrightening and realistic. He has had dreams of being in prison for allof his misdeeds. He has also dreamt of never making it to prison whenStevie shows up with several associates. He takes a walk around the store, past the sales offices through theservice department and around the building eyeballing the vehicles andhow they are lined up. At precisely 8:20 AM Pete Civinelli comesthrough the door. Even the music system is off and one could almosthear a pin drop. “Pete,” Anthony hollers, “give me your first five minutes.” Pete has to go to the little boy’s room after drinking two cups ofStarbuck’s on the way in. He is surprised that Anthony is there so earlyand begins to think that he is about to be fired. While taking care of hisbusiness he is thinking about how he will defend his position. He joinsAnthony expecting the axe to fall. “Pete, I have to be gone this weekend. I really wanted to be aroundhere to put some heat on these salesmen to get some cars sold. I wantto have a sales meeting this morning instead of tomorrow. I’m gonnaallude to the idea that I am going to be here so these guys don’t laydown on us. Did you run those ads that are supposed to start today?”Pete indicates that he did. Anthony continues, “Pete, I know I’ve givenyou some shit lately, but you know there’s a lot of pressure on andfrankly I’m running scared and I think you ought to be too. I don’t wantto let any deals get away from us starting today. I mean even, if we’reonly gonna make a grand, let’s roll the son of a bitch, okay?” “Whatever you say, Anthony, we can do it.” “All right, I have to leave at 1:00 PM so let’s have this meeting withthe guys at 10:30. At least we know that Veronica will be here by then.I want everybody in this meeting, no exceptions. If somebody is witha customer, I want you to talk to the customer and tell him or her thatwe’re having a special meeting that won’t last long. Let them know itwill mean substantial savings for them and ask them to have a cup ofcoffee and be patient. Pete, don’t let ‘em walk, and I’ll see everybodyin the conference room at 10:30 sharp.”Anthony is going to control this meeting from start to finish. He wantsit to be upbeat; however, the goal is a significant impact on sales. 41
  36. 36. G. DANIEL PERNELL“Good morning everyone,” Anthony begins. “Hey Gary, where did youget that tie, the circus? I’m just kidding. If it makes you feel good,more power to you. Okay, you guys know we usually have our salesmeeting on Saturday, so this is unusual. I’m gonna do my best toconvince you that starting today you’re gonna double your sales andmake some serious money. First, I know there are some rumors flyingaround here that we have problems. Pete, as far as I know you’ve allgotten your paychecks on time, right?” “Absolutely!” replies Pete. Anthony continues, “We don’t have any problems that we can’thandle and they are being resolved as we speak. So, do yourself a favorand just concentrate on selling cars, okay? “Second, I know you’ve been making more money since we startedholding back on bids. Don, you picked up an extra three grand thismonth so far, right?” “Yeah,” Don acknowledges. “Okay, here is the deal. Pete has some great ads running startingtoday. He’s gonna pass them out to you now. This place should becrawling with people and I expect the phones to ring off the wall.You’re gonna think I lost my mind when you see these ad prices andour competition is going to think so too. Don’t worry about whatyou’re gonna make, because I’m gonna pay a minimum of six hundredbucks on every deal. What you have to do is work smart and ask forcommitments. It’s not gonna do us a lot of good if we take a long timewith these customers. Get ‘em landed on a car and ask ‘em to buy it.Nothing changes on trades, we can still hold back on the bids,especially at these prices. If somebody walks out of here and buys a carup the street it’s because they ran into a salesman there and not here!The key here again is don’t waste a lot of time making friends out ofthese people. Ask for the order, get the deal and then get another one.Everybody with me? That’s right, nod your heads up and down, notsideways.” He chuckles. “All right, lastly, I haven’t even told Pete about this, but here is thedeal. You can all make big money this weekend starting today. OnMonday I’m gonna give twenty-five hundred in cash, not a check, buttwenty-five crispy one-hundred dollar bills to the person with the mostunits sold by noon. So, you have from the time you walk out of here 42
  37. 37. CARDINAL CULPABILITYtoday until noon on Monday for your deals to count. Now, one lastthing. How many ways are there to ask ‘em to buy? Plenty right? Youknow my favorite—‘Go for it!’ So, let’s go for it! Good luck!” 43
  38. 38. CHAPTER 11The plane landed in Las Vegas at 2:30 PM. After gathering theirluggage Anthony and Terri noticed a man holding a sign bearing thename “Pirilli”. It turns out that G had arranged a private limousine forthe short trip to the MGM Grand. On the way to the hotel they enjoyedthe magnum of champagne awaiting them in the vehicle. It was alreadyshaping up to be a long evening. The limo driver informed them thatthey would be G’s guests for dinner at the lower level steak house atthe Bellagio. He indicated that he would pick them up at 4:45 PM.After check-in the bellman introduced them to the spectacular suite thatG had arranged for them. Another magnum of champagne appeared onthe living room coffee table along with a note. “See you at 5:00!” What to do with roughly an hour and a half? Terri made the decisioneasy as she began slipping out of her clothes. “I’m heading for the hottub,” she said while removing pieces of clothing along the way. “WillI be alone?” she hinted. Anthony grabbed the champagne and theglasses and followed the garment trail. After fifteen minutes or so inthe tub sipping their champagne and caressing one another Terri stoodup and stepped out. She stood at the vanity as Anthony approached herfrom behind. They smiled at each other in the mirror as Terri leaneddown and rest her forearms on the countertop. As she spread her feetapart she felt Anthony’s hands caress her buttocks. She could feel herown moistness building in anticipation as his hardness began fondlingher genital area. Once again, their eyes would connect in the mirror justas penetration occurred. Anthony saw himself in the mirror as Terrilowered her head during intercourse. His mind was suddenly struck with the events that had occurredinvolving Paul Werner’s visit to the dealership. He rapidly lost hiserection and withdrew himself from Terri. “What’s wrong, Anthony?” she asked. 45
  39. 39. G. DANIEL PERNELL “I don’t know, I’m sorry. It doesn’t have anything to do with you.I’ve got a lot going on at work. I guess we should probably get readyfor dinner.” “Okay. I’ll just be a few minutes in the shower,” she states. Anthony lay down on the bed and stared at the ceiling. It was thefirst time that he had literally been stricken with a panic attack. He toldhimself not to panic, but his physiological self wasn’t buying in, andprobably with good reason. What if they knew more than he thought?What if it went deeper than just the complaints he knew about? Whydid Paul come back to the store while he was at the lake? Did TerryGilbert go to the authorities after he got fired? Surely not, not with hisskeletons. It was then that he realized it was just not knowing that hadtaken him over. It certainly would not be good if they knew aboutDeLuca and “the boys”. No, that would not be good, in deed.The driver assisted Terri as she exited the limo at the Bellagio. It is abeautiful hotel and the water jets in the lake out front dance withperfection to the crooning of the “Chairman”, Frank Sinatra, in anawesome water and light show. Downstairs the Maître d’ escorts thetwo to the table where Jean and G are sampling their glasses of Merlot.“Anthony, Terri, you made it,” exclaims G. After both respondAnthony shakes G’s hand and thanks him for the incredibleaccommodations. “My pleasure, we’re just glad you could make it.”states G as he waves at the waiter. “Shawn, please get our friends adrink.” Terri asks Jean if they knew the waiter, to which she repliedthat this was one of G’s favorite haunts and that the food and servicewere superb. 46
  40. 40. CHAPTER 12It was indeed a long night and most did not see a pillow before 3:00AM. Although Anthony is not much of a golfer, G insists that he roundout the foursome the next day. And though he was not looking forwardto playing, ironically he found it most enjoyable and relaxing.However, when he teed up for the eighteenth hole it happened again.Another panic attack, just as it had happened the previous day. Itoccurred without warning and a warm flush came over him. He pickedup his ball and walked back to the cart. “Are you okay?” asked G. “I really think I’m done, G,” replied Anthony. G responded with, “Yeah, that’s okay. You probably just need agood Bloody.” After their round the guys hung out for a while at the clubhouse,where a couple of Bloody Marys really did do wonders for Anthony’scondition. “I’ll bet that’s the first Bloody you’ve had made with Clamato mix,huh?” asked G. “Yeah, I’ve always had the traditional mixes. These are great!”stated Anthony. G ordered two more as Anthony resigns himself to another longevening of cocktails and whatever. As they sit and chat, out of nowhere Anthony says, “I think I mightbe in some big trouble, G.” G laughs and says, “Awe, don’t worry, I’m not gonna drag you backout on the links.” Anthony laughs along for a minute and then states, “No, G, I’mserious. I’ve got some big problems.” “Okay, what’s up? Did you buy some bad tech stocks or what?” Anthony tells G that he thinks he is being investigated by the 47
  41. 41. G. DANIEL PERNELLAttorney General’s office. “Are you talking state or federal?” asks G. He tells G it is the state,but the Feds could get involved also. “Is this a tax thing, Anthony?” Anthony goes on to explain that taxes might be an issue, but hethinks it is something else right now. “You see, we’ve had serious cashflow problems for a while, and well, I did some things I shouldn’t haveto keep the business afloat.” G asks, “Okay, can you give me some examples?” Anthony explains in detail the situation which led to not paying offcars, which in turn led to the company operating out of trust. Hedetailed how his cars are financed with his bank on what is referred toas a “Floorplan Agreement” and that they are to be paid off when theyare sold. He further told G about the MSO titles that are required to begiven to the purchasers shortly after delivery and how that had becomea problem. “Okay, so what you’re telling me is that you have waited the fullthirty days to provide your customers with the MSO and they only havethirty days to register the vehicles?” “Not exactly,” replies Anthony, “we’ve actually stretched out toninety days in some cases.” G responds, “I don’t get it. How do you get away with that, aren’tcustomers screaming because they can’t register their cars?” Anthonyexplains how they have blamed it on the manufacturer not getting themthe MSO, which of course is not true. At times they have givencustomers additional thirty-day permits for their cars even though it isnot legal to do so. He has reimbursed customers for late registrationcharges. “All right, I understand what’s going on and that it’s not on the upand up, but if people are tolerating it, where are you in this serioustrouble?” Anthony tells G that not everyone is tolerant and that complaintshave been made to the A.G.’s office. He further explains the first visitby Paul Werner and that he thought he had satisfied them with hisexplanation. He tells G that he is trying to get caught up on theoutstanding deliveries, but that while he was at the lake the investigatorcame back to the dealership. “Marge tells me he went through all of thefiles and made a substantial number of copies. I’m afraid that they have 48
  42. 42. CARDINAL CULPABILITYfigured it out.” “Okay, Anthony, I think you’re telling me this because you want meto help you. Am I right?” Anthony replies, “Well, yeah, I really don’t know what to do.” “Have you consulted Moran about this?” “No, it would freak him out and it’s not his area.” G tells Anthony that it is not his area either, but that he will get BradWright in his firm involved. He further tells Anthony that he must fullydisclose everything to Brad. Anthony acknowledges affirmatively.“Brad’s a good man, it’ll be all right. Let’s deal with it as soon as weget back and in the meantime let’s have a good time while we’re here.” Anthony agrees and somehow, as if an anvil had been lifted fromhim, he felt like he had been absolved of his crimes. Once again, lifewas good and by God he and Terri would spend the next twenty-fourhours in Vegas having a great time. And so it was, even sex was nolonger a problem. 49
  43. 43. CHAPTER 13The return flight was comfortable and arrived home in time forAnthony to get a good night’s rest. He had not talked to Pete, andbelieve it or not Pete had not tried to reach him. Anthony was anxiousto get into the store Monday morning and tally up the weekend salesresults. Upon arriving, once again Pete met him at the car door. He hopedit would be good this time and it was. Pete was excited. The store hadhad its best weekend for sales in nearly two years. In addition, theypotentially had three more deals that would finalize by noon. Anthonysent Pete to the bank to get twenty-five crisp one-hundred-dollar billsfor the noon sales award. Anthony settled into his office after touching base with eachsalesperson and congratulating them on their great weekendperformance. He began shuffling through his messages and noticed thatG had already called about setting up a meeting with Brad Wright. Thiswas good, as he now knew for sure that G was in his corner. There wasalso a message from Stevie that was check marked “urgent”. Sincethere had been a delay in responding to him previously he decided itbest to make that his first call. The official books of the business didnot reflect the payments to “the boys”. This meant that the books hadto be cooked in such a manner as to create departmental expenses thatnever existed. Anthony hoped Stevie wasn’t looking for anotherincrease. “Stevie, it’s Anthony. How are ya?” “Yeah, hold on,” Stevie replied as he cleared his office of the peoplehe had been visiting with. “Anthony, we got a shit storm brewing!” “What do you mean?” Anthony queried. “You remember our last conversation? I told you we heard you wereunder investigation. Well, it’s a fact and it looks like your buddy Terry 51
  44. 44. G. DANIEL PERNELLis right in the middle of it laying down for ‘em. I don’t have to tell youthat Phil and Carmen don’t like this a bit. Are you sure your phones areclean?” “Well, hell, I don’t know, Stevie, based on what you’re telling me.” “Call me right back on my cell phone and call from your cellphone,” Stevie commands. “Yeah, Stevie, it’s me, Anthony.” Stevie responds, “Here’s the deal. I don’t think we can let Gilbertfuck us up, you understand?” “Look, Stevie, I just don’t believe he would do that.” “Anthony, you ever hear of a guy named Tom Williams?” “No, should I have?” “He’s the Chief Investigator in the A.G.’s office and he’s a hard-nosed prick. Your buddy Terry spent two hours with him and the wordis they’re planning to bust you.” “Stevie, with all due respect, where do you get this information?” “Look, Anthony, that don’t matter. Phil and Carmen pay me a lot ofmoney to keep this kind of shit from happening.” “So, what are they supposed to be busting me for?” Stevie raises his voice in response, “What am I, some sort of fuckin’crystal ball? I don’t know what they got on you, but again I’m tellingyou that Phil wants Gilbert out of the picture. I’m just telling you soyou don’t go ballistic and do something stupid if something happens tohim. You hear me?” “Okay, Stevie, I understand.” “We’ll talk later, Anthony, okay?” “Yeah, Stevie, yeah.” Oh, for God’s sake, Anthony thought, what is happening? He is byno means a good boy himself, but he has never been associated withmurder. Even though he and Terry had had a falling out, they’ve beenfriends since they were kids. Anthony makes a call to G and sets up hismeeting with Brad. He then calls Terry Gilbert. “Terry, it’s Anthony.” “To what do I owe the pleasure?” Terry replies. “Where are you right now?” “I’m just up the street from you bidding a car.” “Well, I’m telling you, get over here as soon as you’re done. It’simportant!” 52
  45. 45. CARDINAL CULPABILITY “I didn’t know I was still taking orders from you?” “Hey, you dumb peckerwood! This is no joke, I just got off thephone with Stevie. You’d best get here ASAP!”Terry arrives at Pirilli Imports twenty minutes later. Don Radcliffe, thetop salesman, greets him as he enters the store. “Hey Terry, good to seeyou back. Are you and the ‘Don’ gonna patch things up? We could useyou back!” Terry replies, “Hey Don, yeah, you never know. Is he in his office?” “I think so, hell, I can’t see around those trees he’s got in front of hisoffice.” Terry sits down with Anthony, who picks up the phone and tells thereceptionist to hold his calls. He gets up and closes the door. “Well,Terry, thanks to you this conversation may not be private.” “Okay, so what does that mean?” Terry asks. “Hey, I’m not the dumb fuck talking to the law! All I can say is thatStevie DeLuca thinks you spilled your guts and I can’t convince himotherwise. You know where I’m going with this?” Terry asks, “So what does he want to do, kill me?” “What do you think, Terry?” “Anthony, I didn’t do shit. They hauled me in, I didn’t call them.Can we call Stevie, I can explain everything to him?” “Honestly, Terry, I think that would be a bad idea. Phil has alreadytold him what he wants. What you need to do is drop everything, get inyour car and get out of town. If I were you I wouldn’t even go homefirst. Have you got money?” “A couple grand,” says Terry. “That’s not gonna last. Here, take this credit card, but don’t getbusted using it. I will continue to try and defuse them, but in themeantime I’m telling you, get the hell out of here, and don’t go tofriends or relatives. You hear me?” 53
  46. 46. CHAPTER 14Tuesday afternoon finds Tom Williams and Paul Werner consulting onthe Pirilli case. “I’m ready to call a grand jury up, Paul. You think wegot enough for that at this point?” Paul responds, “Yeah. Say, I know we don’t need him, but TerryGilbert is off the radar screen. You think the wise guys got a clue thathe talked to us?” “They probably did, damn it! We can’t keep a secret around thisplace to save our own lives. I hope he’s got a good hiding place, ‘causeif he don’t….”Several weeks later a grand jury is convened. The evidence is sufficientenough to hand down indictments. In the meantime Anthony has hadseveral meetings with Brad Wright; however, Wright feels confidentthat prosecutors have a solid case. He advises Anthony that under thebest-case scenario he will spend a minimum of seven years on statecharges. Meanwhile, one investigation spawns others. The Feds have beenapprised of potential unreported income and withholding shortfalls.The state is also looking at sales tax issues. Somehow, the news mediahas discovered that something is up and are calling Anthony andshowing up at the dealership. At this point, G has even decided it bestto distance himself from Anthony. Anthony is all but despondent. Sales are up and he is down. Hispanic attacks have resurfaced and with more regularity. Every day hewonders if Terry is still alive. He is no longer returning Stevie’s calls,which could certainly result in personal harm. He has become veryconcerned about the well-being of his grandfather Tony. He’ll have lunch with Tony tomorrow and then go to the lake. Thereis little he can do to prevent the inevitable from happening and he just 55
  47. 47. G. DANIEL PERNELLhas to get away. “Anthony, marone me, what the hell happened to you?” Tony asks. “Everything, Grandpa, everything. Have you heard from SteveDeLuca?” Tony responds, “Yeah, he called me today. He wants to know if Iseen ya, and why you didn’t call him back. You gotta call him,Anthony, you know that!” “I’m worried about you, Grandpa, very worried.” “Anthony, don’t worry about me. I was a kid with Carmen and Phil,they won’t bother me. They will leave you alone too, if they know thatyou aren’t gonna hurt ‘em, but you gotta call Stevie or they’re gonnapush the panic button.” Tony pleads one more time to do so and tells Anthony that hisgrandmother, Anna Marie, is worried sick about him. Anthony assuresTony that he will call Stevie.Later that day Anthony keeps his promise to Tony and places a call toStevie. He is not certain how the conversation will go, but he has to tryto diffuse their concerns. “Anthony, I’m in a hot seat here. You did call me on your cellphone, right?” “Yeah, Stevie, I’m on the cell.” “Look, when you don’t call me I got nothin’ to tell Phil. We got heatall over and I hear there’s more comin’ from the Feds. I told ya this guyWilliams was a prick and now ya know. So, what the fuck do you wantme to tell Phil?” “Stevie, just tell ‘em not to worry. The books are clean and I’mcertainly not gonna say anything.” “What about your bookkeeper?” “She knows she can’t say anything.” “So, what if she does?” “I don’t know, Stevie, what do you want me to say? Just like I toldyou that Terry won’t talk, she won’t either.” “Well, Anthony, you can be sure that Terry won’t talk and I suggestthat you tell that to this Marge.” “Oh man, what are you telling me, Stevie?” “You know, Anthony, I don’t have to spell it out for you.” 56
  48. 48. CARDINAL CULPABILITY “Stevie, you know my grandpa doesn’t know shit about the businessor how we’re doing business together, you know that, right?” “Anthony, nobody’s gonna fuck with Tony. Him and Phil go wayback. Don’t worry.” The conversation comes to a close and Anthony places his face inhis hands. He knew they would find Terry and his fate was sealed. Heactually begins weeping and finds it difficult to restrain himself. Afterseveral minutes he regains his composure. He begins to wonder, am Inext? What about Marge? He calls her and asks her to come see him. “Marge, we’re in trouble. I just got off the phone with SteveDeLuca. He wanted to make sure that regardless of what happens, youwill never mention their involvement here.” Marge replies, “Well, surely you told him not to worry about me.Shit, I know who they are.” “I know, Marge, and I don’t want to scare you, but Terry’s gone.” “What do you mean he’s gone? Are you saying they killed him?” “I’m not saying anything except that he is gone for good, okay?” “Jesus Christ, how did I ever get into this mess? I knew I shouldhave left a long time ago! Are you saying they’re going to kill menext?” “Marge, here is what I am saying. Here is Stevie’s cell phonenumber. Call him and tell him yourself that they have nothing to worryabout. Now listen, if you do this I think you’ll be okay. Just go to youroffice, close the door and make sure you call him on your cell phone.One more thing. Be calm and talk to him with assurance and don’t lethim think that you are scared. He’ll be more likely to have confidencein what you say. Okay?” “Okay. Shit, I don’t believe this.” “Marge, calm down and don’t call him until you have!” “All right, Anthony, okay.” Next, Anthony calls Pete to his office. “Pete, listen, I’m gonna getout of here for a few days. The shit is getting deep and I just gotta getaway from it.” Pete replies, “That’s cool, Anthony, I got ya covered.” “Pete, you go way back with my grandpa and Carmen and Phil.Stevie says they’re nervous and they got to Terry.” “Are you saying they iced him?” 57
  49. 49. G. DANIEL PERNELL “Yeah, do you think I’m next?” “No way! Tony is family, no way! Stevie didn’t say nothin’ likethat, right?” “No, but I don’t know if I can believe him.” “Anthony, I’m tellin’ ya, there’s no way, no fuckin’ way, man!” “All right, Pete, do me a favor and keep things in order around here.I’m gonna go to the boat and I’ll have my cell with me. Don’t haveanybody call me or mention where I’m at, and listen, tell the these guysnot to talk to any damn reporters, okay Pete?” “No sweat, Anthony. Be safe, man, you’re blood and you’re gonnabe fine.” 58
  50. 50. CHAPTER 15Anthony has been at the lake for three days. He is by himself and sinceit is mid-week the docks are pretty well deserted. He has been drinkingheavily and sleeps until mid-morning daily. Today it is warm andmuggy with afternoon thunderstorms in the forecast. He musters up acup of coffee and steps out onto the aft deck. There is little activity onthe water, but enough to generate some small waves that gently rockthe boat. Anthony clutches his coffee cup and stares across at G’s SeaRay. He muses how that is where it all started for him at the lake andthat led to him sitting on the back of his own yacht. He then thinksabout the irony of his boat’s name “FATE”. What is his fate, hewonders. It can’t be good. His attorneys have all but assured him thathe will go to jail and this is before the results of further investigations.Is Pete right about “the boys”? Is he, in fact, blood and is Tony’srelationship strong enough that they would risk letting him off thehook? What would prison be like? Terry had told him aboutLeavenworth. Awe Christ, he thought, they killed Terry. Why wouldn’tthey kill me, hell Terry only knew a fraction of what I know.Thursday evening as the sun set over the water Anthony is extremelydepressed. He has been drinking Bloody Marys since 2:00 PM and itis now 8:00 PM. It is very warm and muggy, however the marine air-conditioning system of the yacht provides a comfortable environment.He has not been eating much these past few days, which happens oftento people who are binge drinking. At 10:00 PM he is out of BloodyMary mix and mixes his vodka with lemonade. He sits back on theleather sofa in the salon and drifts off to sleep with his drink in hishand. 59
  51. 51. G. DANIEL PERNELLFriday evening, activity picks up considerably on the docks. Theboaters are arriving with their weekend crews and coolers stocked withparty favorites. Ben Irwin owns the forty-two-foot Viking yacht dockednext to Anthony’s boat. After boarding his boat and bringing weekendsupplies aboard he smells exhaust vapors. He looks around and noticesthat the generator is running on Anthony’s Carver. This is mostunusual, because generators are used while the boat is navigating topower the various systems including the air conditioning. However,when “in port” they are turned off and replaced by “shore power”consisting of large yellow extension cords known as shore power cords.In fact, it is quite dangerous for boats to sit idle in enclosed space witha generator operating due to the risk of carbon monoxide buildup inand around the vessel. Boaters are, in themselves, a tightly knit group. Even if one does notknow another, there is rarely hesitation to lend a hand or to assist astranded boater. Ben mentions to his wife that something does notappear right on Anthony’s boat and suggests that he is going to checkit out. Upon boarding and looking into the salon through the slidingglass doors he sees Anthony on the sofa. It appears as though he isasleep, so Ben knocks on the glass. Anthony fails to move, so Bencontinues to knock and yells out Anthony’s name. When a few minutes have passed, he becomes quite concerned andattempts to open the door. He discovers that it is not locked andproceeds to enter the salon. He is immediately overwhelmed himselfby carbon monoxide fumes. Holding his hand over his mouth hereaches out to Anthony with his other hand. He finds that Anthony’slifeless body is cold and stiff. Assuming the worst, he steps outside tothe aft deck for oxygen, fresh air. After a few moments Ben steps backinto the cabin, locates the generator switch and turns it off. He checksthe body once again to confirm his suspicions. Yes, it is true, Anthonyis deceased.The local authorities removed Anthony’s lifeless body from his yacht.As a matter of routine, investigators searched and examined the vesselfor foul play. The conclusion was that somebody killed Anthony,possibly himself. The facts were that he or someone else had pluggedthe engine compartment exhaust vents and started the generator, 60
  52. 52. CARDINAL CULPABILITYcausing the carbon monoxide fumes to back up into the boat’s interior. Whether Anthony died by his own hand or not will never be known,at least not by most. As we know, Terry did not die by his own hand,nor did Marge, who met an untimely end the day after Anthony’s bodywas discovered. Although Stevie attended Anthony’s service, neither Phil norCarmen were present. In a moment outside the funeral home Stevieassured Tony that the deepest regrets were extended by both, whounfortunately were out of town. Tony accepted the condolencesgraciously; however, he suspected that they chose not to be present.Over the coming months Tony made an unusually high number ofvisits to Cerro’s Restaurant. It was almost six months to the day sinceAnthony had been laid to rest that Tony made his final visit. Carmen,Phil and Stevie were dining with their wives as Tony approached theirtable. He withdrew a handgun from his pocket and without a word fireda fatal shot at Carmen. Phil and Stevie hit the floor as their wivesscreamed hysterically. Tony walked around the table and fired twoshots into Phil’s back. Inadvertently he had turned his own back onStevie, who grabbed a steak knife from the table. As Tony turned toface his final victim he himself became the final victim. Phil would survive, however paralyzed from the waist down. Tom Williams would comment to Paul Werner, “We got more thanwe bargained for in the end.” G and Jean would be reminded of their relationship with Anthonyevery time they stepped onto the dock. Terri had fallen in love with Anthony and would torment indepression for some time. Pete still wasn’t sure if Anthony had taken his own life or not, buthe knew that Terry and Marge certainly did not. He lived a guardedexistence until his death by natural causes. Anthony’s employees now worked in various other dealershipswhere the topic of conversation often came around to the events atPirilli Imports. Mercedes signed another franchisee to promote their products at anew location. Luxury car buyers throughout the city demanded viewingthe MSO at the time of purchase. 61
  53. 53. G. DANIEL PERNELL Lastly, Anna Marie Pirilli mourned the deaths of both her husbandand grandson and spent much of her time visiting their gravesites. For everyone else, life moved on. * 62

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