The Hellhole

Sunday, September 27, 2015

The book I'm currently reading is called Black Mass, which is about criminal Whitey Bulger and the FBI.  It put me in mind of an anecdote I didn't think I'd ever told Alan, so I asked him, "Have I ever told you about the time the FBI came to my office?"

"No - what did you do?"

Seriously???  This is my husband of nearly a decade, who's been with me even longer than that, and when he hears that the FBI visited my office, the first question he has is, "What did you do?"?!?!?!?

Hmpf.  I'm not sure if I'm flattered or insulted.  [Over my shoulder, Alan reads what I've just written and remarks in an irritatingly logical tone, "In my defense, you've got to admit it's a totally legitimate question to ask."  Again, not sure if flattered or insulted.]

Okay, so the FBI came to my office and I wound up in our conference room with them interviewing me.  NO, I didn't do anything.  The company for which I worked at the time, not my current employer, was fairly small, less than 30 people probably, one of whom was our resident CPA, Dan Whitfield [totally fake name].  One day, a typical office day was unfolding when my extension rings and the receptionist, Samantha [another TFN] says, "Helly!  The FBI is here and they want to talk to Dan Whitfield's boss!"

Of course I assumed, as any normal person would, that Samantha was pranking me, so I replied, "Tell them to piss off!  We don't want no truck with the Gub Mint!" - and hung up.  Immediately my phone rings again and Samantha hisses, "Helly!  The FBI is here in the lobby and they want to talk to Dan Whitfield's boss!"

Still sure I was being pranked, I suggested she call Dan's boss then, and hung up.  I was in no way Dan's superior.  We worked in the same department but he outranked me in terms of seniority,  tenure, responsibility, etc.

My phone rang again.  Samantha, becoming agitated, said, "Helly!  The FBI is totally for reals standing in our lobby, they insist on talking to Dan Whitfield's boss and you have to come up here!  Think about it!  There's no one else I can call!  [steely tone] Get. Up. Here."  I did think about it, and most of the higher-ups were at an industry trade show while our office manager, who suffered from migraines, was that day at home suffering, and when that happened, she quite understandably turned the ringer off on her phones.  Really, the most senior employee on site at the moment was Dan himself, which is how I found myself in our conference room with two agents of the FBI - who by the way looked almost exactly as stereotyped in films - by virtue of the fact that I was one of the only people (besides Dan) who was (a) management, and (b) physically present.

They asked a lot of questions about Dan - how long he'd worked there, what were his birthdate and Social Security number, had we (and how had we) verified those things before employing him, what were his responsibilities, had we met any family members, etc.  It was nerve-wracking; even though I hadn't done anything wrong and they weren't even there about me, I still felt edgy and like I might be in serious trouble if I didn't answer correctly.  Most of the questions I couldn't answer anyway, because I wasn't in charge of hiring or personnel files; that would be our migraine-suffering office manager.   However, she and I were friends and I knew where she kept the key to the personnel-file cabinet, so even though it was breaking lots of office rules, I figured I had FBI dispensation and liberated Dan's file.  They wanted copies of many things, which I made them, and after some more questions they departed.

One might think the story would end there, and we'd have been forever left wondering WTF that was all about, but believe it or not, the FBI followed up with us fairly quickly, and it turned out that what had happened was this:  one evening the television show America's Most Wanted aired a story about a CPA who had brutally murdered his wife and disappeared.  Generally, the age and physical description matched Dan Whitfield and somebody, I guess one of our employees, had called the show and dropped a dime on Dan.  As it turned out, it was a dead end:  Dan hadn't murdered anybody - several of us had seen both his ex-wife and current wife walking around totally alive - and he'd moved to our town and been working at our company a couple of years before Bad Guy CPA killed his wife out in the Midwest (I think it was the Midwest).  But someone thought it looked and sounded enough like Dan that they'd called the show, and I thought it was pretty cool to know for sure that those tips got investigated and sorted.

I would love to find a link to the story/profile of the actual Bad Guy CPA for whom Dan was mistaken, but there's another guy, John List, that's a much more famous criminal.  He was an accountant who killed his entire family - wife, mother, three children - and disappeared for quite a long time before apprehension.  He was much older than Dan and not physically similar; it was another case entirely that drew the FBI's attention to Dan, but because List was infamous, any Google search terms I could use to find Dan's Bad Guy CPA yield tens of thousands of search results about List, and I don't have enough lifetime to sift through all of them.

But that's the story of when the FBI came to my office and interviewed me.


  • Umm..not sure whether insult or flattery, but when she called home to tell us (parental units) about this event, both of us reacted the same...., "what did you do!?"

    Sorry, honey.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:37 AM  

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