It appears to be just another case in a pile of hundreds for seasoned San Jose police detectives Rex Johnson and Kat Sanchez. But when the two detectives open a seemingly standard investigation into credit card fraud, they are soon pulled into the murky underworld of Asian organized crime.
Rex and Kit center their investigation on San Jose's card clubs and soon uncover evidence of counterfeiting, loan sharking, extortion, and human trafficking. Led straight to a shadowy Vietnamese underworld figure who views himself as a modern day Al Capone, Rex and Kat find themselves not only immersed in a deadly game with the criminals, but also their own police administration. With the chief of police more focused on his political ambitions than the outcome of their investigation, Rex and Kat have no choice but to follow their gut instincts as they work their way deeper into the case.
In a final twist that leads to an explosive life or death confrontation, Rex and Kat come face-to-face with international terrorists who are intent on retaliation-regardless of the personal cost to two detectives sworn to serve and protect the citizens of San Jose.
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Read an Excerpt
Follow the MoneyAn SJPD Novel
By Bob DeGeorge
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2011 Bob DeGeorge
All right reserved.
Chapter OneRex pulled the gold Chevy Impala to the curb of South Seventh Street and parked. He looked up the street and could see a dark green Plymouth Voyager van pulling in to the curb. That would be Five-O and his partner from the U. S. Postal Inspectors.
Rex picked up the mike and keyed it. "Mitch, you up?"
"We're in the back and set."
"Five-O, you ready?"
Rex reached down and switched the radio to another channel.
"5 King 10, 24-0-2."
"Go ahead to 5 King 10."
"24-0-2, we're in position and starting our surveillance."
"10-4. All units have been told to stay away from your op."
"Thank you. We'll be back on channel 9."
Rex turned to Kat as he put the mike down. "Go ahead and call the grandson."
Kat picked up her cell phone and punched in a number. When the caller answered she spoke to him briefly and then disconnected. Five minutes later, her phone rang. She spoke briefly and disconnected.
"The grandson says that she's on her way. She told him she would be here in five minutes.
Rex picked up his handpac and hit the transmit button. "Heads up everybody, she's on her way."
They were staking out an old Victorian house on South Seventh Street just south of San Jose State University. Back in the 1920's and 1930's, when these houses were first built they were the homes of San Jose's upper middle class. Now they were converted into one-bedroom apartments for college students, single-room apartments for pensioners on Social Security, and half way houses.
Still, the neighborhood was pleasant. The streets were lined with mature trees that had grown tall and stately. Some of San Jose's new rich had bought the houses and were restoring them to their original splendor. It was a quiet neighborhood, but not dead. People were walking on the street or sitting on their front porches.
Today they were hoping to collar the Black Widow. She was the suspect in a case that Kat was working with the US Postal. They had dubbed her the black widow because she was preying on old men. She would befriend them, offer them sex, and then get them to sign over their social security checks.
Just then, Rex heard Kat swear, "Damn, can you believe this? Look at the Postal van."
A meter maid had just pulled up behind the undercover Postal van in her Cushman and was getting out with her ticker book. She walked up to the front of the van and looked at the windshield.
"What the hell is she doing?" asked Rex.
"Look at the sign," Kat said pointing to a street sign they were parked in front of that said you could not park on this street without a permit.
Rex keyed his handpac, "Five-O, just flash your badge and she'll go away." There was no response, but a couple of seconds later Rex and Kat saw the Meter Maid do a double take and quickly get in her Cushman and drive off.
As they watched the Meter Maid drive away, Kat spotted their suspect walking up the street towards the old house. "There she is, across the street walking up to the house."
Rex keyed his handpac, "Suspect approaching from the South, standby."
The suspect walked past the driveway and up onto the front porch where she stopped and talked to two elderly men who were sitting out there.
Rex keyed his handpac again, "Suspect on the front porch, standby, wait until she goes in."
The suspect spent a couple of minutes talking to the two older men then turned and walked into the house. Rex keyed his handpac, "She's in the house, Five-O move in."
Rex and Kat got out of their car and started toward the house. There was still no movement from the Postal van. Then Five-O and his partner jumped out of their van and ran for the house. They hit the steps just in front of Rex and Kat and continued through the front door.
The two old men just sat and watched. First two people with guns drawn had run past them. Next came Kat and Rex in dark blue raid jackets that said police with their guns' drawn. Rex winked at one of the old men and gave him thumbs up as he hurried past. The old men just stared back with that look that only old people can give, that look that says I have seen it all and nothing surprises me anymore. Rex and Kat cleared the front door, they heard Five-O shouting "Federal Agent, stop." They heard a sharp cry and some thumping sounds. Kat was down the stairs first.
Rex hit the bottom of the stairs. He saw Agent Cunningham wrestling in the cramped hallway with the suspect. The suspect screamed and yelled, "Get off me you fucking bitch."
Cunningham and the suspect were sprawled in the middle of the hallway. The suspect had a knife in her right hand, and Cunningham was desperately trying to keep the suspect from stabbing her. Cunningham had both of her hands around the suspect's right wrist, and she was smashing the back of the suspect's hand against the wall. Meanwhile, the suspect was trying to claw Cunningham's face with her left hand.
Cunningham was on top of the suspect and in the narrow hallway, there was no way to take a shot. Out of the corner of his eye, Rex saw Kat holster her weapon, move up, grab the suspect's left hand and arm and twist it up behind her back forcing the suspect face down on the floor.
The suspect yelped in pain, the knife fell to the floor, and she said, "All right, all right, I give up. You don't have to break my fucking arm."
Kat pulled the suspect's right arm behind her back and cuffed her. Then she picked up the knife. "Honey, don't you know you don't bring a knife to a gun fight? You're lucky you didn't get shot."
As Kat and Agent Cunningham searched the suspect, Rex thought back as to how this morning had begun. He was sitting in the Financial Crimes Unit at his desk.
* * *
"Good Morning Kat," Rex called out as his partner walked in and dumped her briefcase at her adjacent desk.
"Good morning Cowboy. Did you get the Op Order done?"
"Yeah, I got it done last night before I left." Rex handed her a copy of the Operation Order for their Surveillance/Arrest Operation that was going down this morning.
"Sorry I couldn't stay and help you with it last night, but I had to pick up the kid from school," Kat said.
"No big deal. It was a simple thing to write up and besides, family comes first. I got a call from Postal just before you walked in. Five-O said he'd be here in about fifteen minutes."
Kat looked around the still empty office. "Are we going to have a supervisor to go with us?"
"Yeah," Rex said, "The Burglary Sergeant, Pike. He's in his cube waiting for everybody to get here so we can brief. Since your Sergeant decided to take the morning off the L. T. assigned him to us. I already gave him a copy of the Op Order."
Kat made a face. "Can't we get somebody else besides Edward the Lump? I'd almost have Sergeant Alvarez over him."
"Nope, he's the only supervisor in this morning and we have to take a supervisor with us."
"Well, hopefully he will stay out of our way," Kat said.
This was such a basic operation that neither Rex nor Kat saw any reason to bring along a Sergeant. They were seasoned senior officers entrusted to investigate cases involving millions of dollars. In the old days, you just grabbed up some people, went out, and did your thing.
However, in this new era of hand wringing, ever since Robbery shot a suspect down in Salinas, you could not do a thing without a Sergeant. It had gotten so rediculous that the Chief of Detectives had made it an order. You were not even supposed to leave the city to interview a witness without notifying your Sergeant, who then notified the Lieutenant, who then notified the Captain, who in turn told the Chief of D's that a couple of his Detectives were "out of town."
Rex and Kat ignored this rule on a regular basis. Crooks did not pay any attention to city limits especially in financial crimes. Their investigations would start in San Jose, but often took them all over the Bay Area. If they were out in the field doing follow up investigation on a case and it took them out of town, they were not about to stop and call in to the office to find a supervisor to ask permission to go out of town.
Five-O walked into the office. He was a senior US Postal Inspector in the San Jose office. His real name was Harry Ho, but he was affectionately known as "Five-O" after the TV cop show because he was from Hawaii and usually wore Hawaiian shirts to work. Today he was dressed in tactical 5-11 pants and shirt, and a black raid vest that said Federal Agent on the front and back in gold letters. His nine-mil pistol was strapped to his right leg in a tactical holster.
Kat flashed him a smile and said, "Five-O, welcome to the party. I see you dressed for the occasion. Who's your friend?"
Behind Five-O was another Postal Inspector also dressed in tactical gear.
"Kat, Cowboy, I'd like you to met Susan Cunningham, she just transferred to the San Jose office from El Paso. Thought I'd bring her along so she could see how we operated."
They shook hands all around. US Postal and the SJPD worked closely together, primarily on financial and identity theft crimes. Rex and Kat liked working with Postal. With Postal, everybody was equal. The FBI always acted as if they were better than the locals were and did not share anything. Secret Service was good, but they were constantly being pulled off cases to work some protection detail, so you could not count on them. However, Postal was always there, especially Five-O. They had worked several joint investigations together.
Mitch and Terry walked over and joined the group. They were two Burglary Detectives that were going to help today.
"O.K.," said Rex, "Looks like we've got everybody, let me get the Sergeant and then we can have our briefing."
A couple of minutes later Rex walked back to the group with Sergeant Pike in tow. "This is short and sweet, so we can brief right here." Everybody grabbed a chair or parked it on the edge of a desk.
"Kat, this is your case so why don't you bring us up to speed," Rex said to Kat.
Kat took over. "Five-O and I have developed a joint suspect. She's a little crankster who hustles elder single men living in low-income apartments for their social security money. She also gets them to take out life insurance policies where she is named as the sole beneficiary. One of our victims is in the hospital, but our suspect has continued to try and reach him. His grandson is cooperating with us. The suspect has mail coming to the victim's apartment, and she is anxious to retrieve it. This morning the grandson will lay in a call to the suspect telling her she can come over to his grandfather's apartment and get her mail. We'll be waiting for her with arrest warrant in hand."
Rex took over. "Five-O, since you and your partner are dressed for the occasion; you guys will be our arrest team. Take a position just north of the target house. Follow our suspect in and take her down. We've got an arrest warrant for her, so we don't need her to do anything else, just take her as soon as you can.
"The house is an old Victorian that's been carved up into a bunch of one-room apartments. The victim's room is down a hallway on the left of the entrance hall that goes down a short flight of steps.
"Mitch and Terry, you take the back of the house. There is a wide driveway and parking area back there that gives you a place to park where you can eyeball the back door. If our suspect comes out the back, take her.
"Kat and I will set up out front to the south. We'll follow Postal through the front door. The Patrol District Sergeant has been notified and will keep his marked units out of the area. Radio channel 9 has been reserved for us."
When Rex had finished the briefing, he asked if there were any questions. Nobody had any. It was quiet for a minute while they all looked at Sergeant Pike who sat looking at the Op Plan.
Finally, Rex leaned over and said to Sergeant Pike, "I think this is the point where you're suppose to say, 'O.K., if nobody has any questions, let's go.'"
Sergeant Pike looked startled, gave Rex that deer-in-the-headlights look and then said, "O.K., let's go, see you out there." He got up, turned, and walked out of the room.
Rex just shook his head. "Right, I'll go ahead and call radio and log everybody on. You guys can head on out there. Kat will call our victim's grandson as soon as we are set and have him lay in the duped phone call. Hopefully our suspect will take the bait."
* * *
Kat and Agent Cunningham helped the suspect to her feet and marched her down the hallway towards the front door. Rex followed along smiling at Kat.
Kat looked over at Rex and asked, "What?"
Rex, still smiling, said, "I guess that Grab My Crotch stuff paid off."
Kat made a face, "It's called Krav Maga, a form of Israeli street fighting, and you should try it."
Rex said, "No thanks, I'm too old fashioned. I just prefer ramming the dirt bag's head into the nearest wall or car fender."
Kat just shook her head and continued outside with the suspect.
Cunningham and Kat walked the suspect over to the detective's car and sat her in the front passenger seat, putting her seatbelt on to secure her in the car.
While the girls were taking care of this, Rex pulled out his cell phone. He punched one of the speed dial numbers.
"Dawn Summers, KTVU Channel 2 News," she answered after two rings.
"Hi Dawn, this is Rex, perp walk picture show in ten minutes," he said and then hung up.
Dawn Summers was a television reporter for the local Fox affiliate, KTVU Channel 2. A while back, she had done a real favorable story on Kat and Rex's investigation of a con artist couple that preyed on the elderly.
Cops usually did not like reporters because they were trying to make the cops look bad, especially in San Jose. It was said of the local newspaper, the Mercury News, that their editor only believed in two kinds of police stories, police corruption, and police brutality. That was why the cops called it the "Murky News." The cops usually felt that the Murky News slanted their stories and tried to put the cops in a bad light.
Still, the news media were useful, if you knew how to use them. Getting the story of an investigation or an arrest out could help you find additional victims or witnesses. Rex and Kat were old hands at using the news media. You had to understand that the media had different deadlines they were up against. If you gave them enough information with enough lead-time to get their story into the next day's paper, or on the five o'clock news, they could be your friend. If you were prepared before you talked to the press, knew exactly what you were going to say, and how many facts you were going to give out, it went a lot easier and the press did not make you look like a fool.
Because Dawn was an honest reporter that had not tried to screw them yet, Kat and Rex had developed an unofficial relationship with her. It also helped that she worked for the local Fox News affiliate, which was known for its fair and balanced reporting.
By Department policy, all news stories were supposed to go through the Public Information Officer, the PIO. This usually meant that the story did not get to press for a couple of days unless it was some significant event. Television reporters did not like doing old stories; they wanted the news that was happening now. If a TV reporter could include film of something that was happening now, that usually meant that the story got on the evening news.
Rex genuinely liked the "Perp Walk." This was the shot of the suspect being taken out of the police car and lead in handcuffs into the police station. It was tremendously popular with TV news people too. Rex was not above getting a little positive publicity for him and his partner and the department. He just had to be a little cagey in how he did it.
He had Dawn's cell phone on his speed dial, and whenever they were bringing in some criminal they had just arrested, Rex would make that cryptic call to her cell phone. It told her that if she could get her cameraman in place on West Mission Street, in front of the police department, he could get a telephoto shot of the suspect being taken from the back seat of the police car and marched into the San Jose PD Pre-Processing Center, San Jose's mini jail. This let Dawn know that she needed to get a hold of the Public Information Office and ask about any recent arrests. The deal was that Dawn would not burn Rex. In return she got live footage of the arrestee. She had an action shot that would almost guarantee the story would be on the evening news.
After the suspect was secured in the detectives' car with Agent Cunningham and Kat guarding her, Rex asked Five-O what happened.
Five-O handed Rex his handpac and said, "Our radio quit working. I thought that was her but I wasn't sure until you guys jumped out of your car. When Susan and I caught up with her in the hallway, I yelled for her to stop and she started to run. Susan was faster and took her down with a flying tackle and the fight was on."
Excerpted from Follow the Money by Bob DeGeorge Copyright © 2011 by Bob DeGeorge. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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