About Me

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After being in the legal field for a few years, I am consulting other process servers, and starting a golf company. In the meantime I wish to convert my blog into a book so that women will know about this career.

Friday, November 23, 2012

LET'S STEAL A BRAND NEW LANDROVER!


    Yep, I did steal a brand new Land Rover. What a beautiful ride. The things I do for money. Do not attempt this unless you have a lot of experience with law enforcement. 

    It's not my fault people can't get along...I just go where the market takes me. It was Christmas week 2008. A guy calls me from...ah, well, I am changing the state here, so let's say he called from Utah and his name is Gary. His attorney told him to call as he knows an attorney I work for in Sacramento.

    Gary travels for business and recently came home to Roseville and found his rental house empty, his stuff gone including his brand new Land Rover. He just talk to his wife, Cindy, earlier that week and he had no idea she'd been planning on splitting. Now, she won't return his calls and he has no idea where she went. Her relatives won't talk to him either. She just did a bunk.

    Since Gary traveled for work and was usually gone for one to two weeks, he figured she had plenty of time on her hands to plan this move. He had been suspecting she was having an affair for quite some time and this solidified it for him.  Really dude?

    Which reminds me people: If you think someone is having an affair, they are, they always are. No need to hire a PI, save your money and hire a divorce attorney. 

    Gary then returned to the house he actually owned in Utah and hired an attorney. He still could not reach his wife, he wanted to get his Land Rover back. He made several calls to the Roseville City Police, Placer County Sheriff's, the California Highway Patrol and called tons of Repossession Companies - Repo Guys.

    Get this: the Repo Guys would not help him locate his Land Rover because they don't work for individuals - they only work for bank and financial companies.

    Get this #2: The Placer City Police told him since the Land Rover was taken from his street that's in the County, he had to call the Sheriff's for help.

    Get this #3: The Placer County Sheriff's would not help him, they do not get involved in domestic or family squabbles unless guns or beatings are involved. When he told the Sheriff's that the Land Rover was in his name only - they still said NO. Same for the CHP.

    Gary found out from his attorney that I am somewhat of a Maverick. He asked if I'd be willing to take this on. I thought for a moment, then decided sure, let's test my skill and hell, I've never been arrested or incarcerated, well actually I have, that's for another story...stay tuned.

    Gary was willing to pay me any amount to get his vehicle back and I needed Christmas money so it seemed a win-win. The first thing I had to do was find Cindy's whereabouts and find the Land Rover...how I found her is a trade secret - the silly chick made a simple mistake. 

    Here's where it gets tricky. What will the police or sheriff's do to me when Cindy reports the Land Rover stolen? Shoot me and ask questions later? Chase me down in the vehicle throwing nails on the freeway, then arrest me and take me to jail? I picture myself driving the Land Rover down Freeway 80, then all of a sudden looking up at the Amber Alert flashing sign - there I am...seeing the Land Rover's license plate and description, (they really don't use Amber Alert for this) but all of these senarios seemed a bit nerve racking as I had no idea what the police would do.

    I had an extra car key, as well as a copy of the pink slip and insurance card from Gary, but still, once Cindy sees the vehicle driving off, or her new boyfriend sees me, they are gonna call and report it stolen. Cindy might be too dumb to realize maybe Gary came and got it. We'll see.

    Then the simplest thing came to me, why don't I just call the police/sheriff's telling them I am going to take the Land Rover? It is not in Cindy's name anyway, how could this be illegal? I'll just give the 911 operators my name, my CDL number, what address I am taking the vehicle from, it's license plate number, the date and time I am going to take the Land Rover and the address I am taking the vehicle to for safe keeping. This way, when Cindy calls 911, the operators will have all the information on file, and they will tell her, "Sorry, the vehicle is not in your name and we don't get involved in domestic disputes".

    The vehicle was located at a residence in Placer County and is under the Placer County Sheriff's jurisdiction. BUT first I visited all of agencies giving them copies of the registration, my CDL and business card. I went to the police, the Sheriff's and the CHP because I could not trust these agencies to be on the same page, thus stepping on each other's jurisdiction and I'd have three agencies on my ass. 

    Christmas Eve, in Roseville, while driving down the street, I spot the Land Rover from before when I did a drive by. It was just sitting there in front of the house, so I drive by the Land Rover two or three times getting a feel for my exit strategy after I steal the vehicle. In the front bay window of this house there she is, Cindy's on the treadmill and she will probably see me drive away...oh well.

    My associate drops me off at the end of the street, I have the key in my hand and I start walking towards the Land Rover, just "meandering" down the street watching for neighbors or any activity that might distract me. As I am walking by the Land Rover on the drivers side, I notice out of the corner of my eye that Cindy is still running on the treadmill, looking down like she is reading something.

    I stand still by the drivers door for a few seconds, to gain composure and make sure everything around me is quiet, no other vehicle noise, especially no one driving down the street like maybe Mr. Boyfriend. 

    I put the key in the door, open it just enough to get it, I am freaking out, this is a brand new vehicle, so many damn knobs, lights, gadgets and the seat was way back, how do I adjust this damn thing? I decided to screw it, just sit up, start the thing and drive, so off I go.

    My associate is following me as I have to drive 5 miles on main roads through Roseville to the Sheriff' s substation. I have tons of traffic lights, most of them red of course, never fails huh?

    I just concentrate on driving, not thinking about the possibility of copper's blaring their red lights or sirens. I swear two Sheriff's vehicles passed me going the other way on a side road and I almost needed an oxygen tank. I got my heart rate back to normal by taking slow deep breathes, then 10 minutes later pulled into the Sheriff's substation and parked. I got out of the vehicle, then walked next door to a Starbucks in the same shopping center, bought a mocha, sat outside and kept watch on the Land Rover. 

    After thirty or forty minutes, I then decided to find out if the Land Rover was reported stolen, so I walked back to the Sheriff's substation. Usually at these substations I find older people, in their 70's, who volunteer their time, taking police reports etc.

    I told them my name, pointed towards the Land Rover that is sitting outside, right in front of their station window, and told them this is the vehicle I just stole. You should have seen their faces, I thought one of them was going to stroke out. They all get up from their desks and came to the counter to talk to me. I told them I had visited all the agencies earlier in the week giving them a heads-up, that on this date and time I was going to bring this vehicle here. I explained the whole scenario about the police not helping my client, and that he has every right to take his Land Rover back.

    A couple of Sheriff volunteer's said they had to make phone calls to find out if the vehicle was reported stolen. I gave them my cell number, telling them I am right next door waiting at Starbucks. I also made it clear that I will wait 30 minutes, then take the vehicle home.

    I had to find out if Cindy reported it stolen because I still had twenty miles of freeway to drive home, and I didn't want anyone chasing me down.

    A few minutes later, one of the volunteer's found me saying one of the 911 operators wants to speak to me. I go back in the substation and speak with the woman on the phone. She stated Cindy did report the vehicle stolen, and two Sheriff's were dispatched, and what in the hell was I doing?????

    I explained all over again about calling and visiting the Roseville police, the Sheriff's and CHP a week earlier giving all agencies a copy of the registration and a copy of my CDL, letting them know that my client is the only registered owner of the vehicle. She then put me on hold for god-knows-how-long, and when she returned she stated the Commander found the documents I dropped off and he called Cindy. The Commander told Cindy she is on her own, that this is a domestic (family) issue, that she is not the registered owner so therefore, Gary can take his vehicle back, and she had no rights except via the court system. Then the 911 operator told me she called off the Sheriff's dispatch.

    I drove the Land Rover back to my place, kept it for a few days until the client returned from Utah to drive it back. And, I got to buy a lot of cool Christmas presents.

    Moral of the Story:

    Don't take things that don't belong to you.

    Oh... and another Moral:

    If you think your significant other is cheating, he or she is - don't go into denial, unless you're on PROSAC, then who knows what you're thinking.















Monday, October 1, 2012

A QUICK NOTE ON CELEBRITIES



    I have served my share of celebrity’s over the years, and it’s true, celebrity's do try to live normal lives and do have their own crap to deal with, so I make it a policy never to discuss details of serving them or even who I’ve served.

    No need for bragging to your friends or other associates as I respect a celebrity’s privacy.

    The easiest way to contact and serve a celebrity is by giving them a heads up via their agent or publicist. You can find this information on the Screen Actors Guild website. 

    I find that just simply being upfront with them about the lawsuit (as they usually know they might be served anyway), the agent and/or publicist always cooperate. They sometimes allow me to personally meet and serve their client, or refer me to their Attorneys. It might take a few days as the agent has to make phone calls, probably contacting their Attorneys, or coordinating with other agents, or they are talking to the celebrity themselves, but they always follow through.

    One time, I learned a very valuable lesson about dealing with people in this job, that to this day, I have never forgot. I still think about this lesson from time to time when the same type of situation comes up.

    What I can tell you is this: 

    A few years ago, I received a phone call and the phone number was "restricted". When I answered the phone I instantly recognized the voice, it sounded familiar but I couldn't place it AND this person gave me a name that was common like Susie Smith or something, so I kind of got confused between the name and the voice. Oh well, I thought, not important - at the time. I did not ask this person how they were referred to me, but found out sometime later. 

    This person wanted me to deliver a simple but important message to an aviation pilot who was not contactable through regular channels. I received a Federal Express package the next day and was told not to open it, just deliver it and ask no questions.

    I thought to myself, "Jeez, what's with all the secrecy and stuff going on here, they could just hire some messenger company to deliver this. I got better things to do, but oh well, it's their dime". 

    My assignment was to drive to a particular airport, be there at 3 AM on the flight deck, meet a "security guy" (who was expecting me), then this "security guy" was going to take me through more security, then I get to see the aviation pilot.

    I figured it was all on the up and up since it was an airport, with Home Land Security and lots of Sheriff's so off I went. I arrived at the flight area, the security guy, a real one, was waiting for me and off to the side I saw two men with black suits, white ties, ear plugs on and wearing dark sunglasses. I started to get a bit nervous - then the "suit men" took me out to one of the hangers, and when I saw the pilot, in a flight suit, walking up to me, it all came to me - the voice, the secrecy with the original phone call - he looked just like this celebrity I know. Then one of the security guys said to him, "Your Mom's package is here".

    The pilot opened the envelope and reads the letter and when he is done, he looks at me and says, "Thank you, you have no idea how much this means to me". Then the "suits" took the pilot and walked to another part of the hangar. The security guy then escorted me back out to the public area and I left the airport.

    The lesson learned is that regardless of any phone call or job you get, don't assume anything. Treat every person as though the job they hire you for, no matter what, is important to them, and that some simple tasks can have a huge impact on someone's life - as in this case.

    I never did know what the letter said or why it had to be hand delivered. It will always be a mystery to me. BUT the next day I got a phone call from the celebrity and her agent thanking me and that it also meant a lot to them.

    I also realized that this celebrity hired my profession (me) for this simple task because it guaranteed the utmost discretion.

    Lesson learned.











 



Thursday, September 27, 2012

STUPID REALLY IS AS STUPID DOES



    Legwork received an assignment in March 2008, to effect service of a Deposition Subpoena on Ricky Hutchinson, last known to live with his parents in Northern California. The deposition was set to take place in a month, at the office of a court reporting agency in Sacramento.  

    The reason we want to take Hutchinson’s deposition is that on his very first day of employment with a car dealership (also fired the first day after this incident), he allowed a young female, a minor, to test drive a brand new 2009 vehicle, and during this test drive this minor female caused a collision by broad-siding another vehicle, a woman in a brand new BMW. No injuries by any parties, just vehicle damage.

    The BMW woman hires an attorney and sues the female minor and the car dealership. I am working for the defense. This minor is covered under her mother’s vehicle insurance policy.

    In taking Hutchinson’s deposition, it can be determined exactly what happened, ascertain our real liability for settlement issues, and to determine liability on the part of Hutchinson or the dealership.  

    Sounds simple enough, this is what insurance is for, accidents do happen and this is not a catastrophic situation, just a simple legal routine, get the facts, write a check and settle this thing.

    As far as the dealership – their lawyers deny any liability stating it’s not their fault “stupid employees allow minors to test drive new vehicles”. The lawyers pretty much say this using legalese in their pleadings. Ricky Hutchinson states he was never told this specific policy by any management at the dealership. 

    I originally figured that serving this subpoena on Hutchinson was going to be a slam dunk because he was not an actual defendant (only the dealership was named in the lawsuit) and he was going to be a nice-honest-young-responsible adult who will want to assist everyone in settling this matter.

    So I thought.
 
    Ricky Hutchinson, 21 years old, appears to be living in a high-end neighborhood of Sacramento, living with his parents. I visit the parent’s residence and no one was home, there was a scooped up nice sports car out front, but that’s all. I leave this residence for now and go be-bopping into the dealership where Ricky used to work. I have no intention of talking to any management personnel as they are being sued, and they wouldn’t talk to me anyway. The idea here is to find some young salesman or mechanic, who WILL talk, and just ask them if they know where Hutchinson is working now.

    I walked around the dealership, without any legal papers in my hand as I am just there to get some information. Outside walking around the car lot I find one of the salesman named  Rob, and in speaking to him, I find out he is Ricky’s brother-in-law.

    Rob stated Ricky is not working now, is going to college, recently got married, and he is now living down the street from his parents, but he had no idea what his address was. Rob was willing to give me Ricky’s cell phone number, and after jotting this down, I left quickly before the dealership management got wind of what I was doing there.

     A few minutes later, I called Ricky on his cell phone (still thinking this was going to be a slam-dunk). He answered his cell all upbeat but as soon as I told him who I was and what the deposition was about, man, was he hostile. He just started yelling and using profanities, more or less stating it’s all the dealership’s fault for not telling him minors could not take test drives in their vehicles.  He was talking so fast it was hard to keep up with him; he went on and on about it being his first day on the job and this was bullshit. I tried to calm him down but he was just being a little prick. I told him that as a witness, we needed to take his deposition to resolve the case so everyone can go on with their lives. He remained hostile the whole time so I had to end the conversation by telling him he can accept this subpoena the easy way or the hard way. He said, “not my problem” and hung up on me.

    But it is his problem.

    I didn’t have his new apartment address, so for a week after this cell phone conversation, I made attempts at the parent’s house and there never was a response, even with vehicles in the driveway. I figured Ricky told his parents I was after him so they decided to support their arrogant son and refuse to answer the door. I just kept going back to send a message to his parents - I wasn’t giving up.

    I needed to verify if Ricky and his new wife actually lived with his parents or live in their own place. By submitting an address request from the post office, we learned the post office had no new address. As his brother-in-law stated, Ricky lived down the street from his parents, but you never know who’s lying so checking out every detail is crucial and lessens your chances of getting jacked around. Confidential databases were consulted showing that Ricky listed no new address as yet, only his parent’s address. Ricky’s cell phone number was also traced showing this to be under his father’s name and address, so no luck there. 

    Since we were getting no response from the only address we had, we had to search other ways to find him. Social sites were searched such as Facebook, My Life, Classmates and My Space. I was glad to find a little information; Ricky and his wife were found on My Space. They were married on January 19, 2008; both attend college and are members of some school associations. The site said they recently visited Europe after they married, and as an added bonus, there was a picture of both of them so at least now we had physical descriptions for them. Some actions were taken in locating Ricky and his wife on campus but this did not work so another plan was needed.  

    I continued to leave nice phone messages for Ricky on his cell just so he knew this is not over. I told him he needed to be a standup guy and call me. This resulted in no return calls, which I expected.

    Sub-Rosa and stakeouts were now necessary. I tried the nice and simple way but it was time to up the ante. First, I staked out his parent’s house on a nice early morning, sitting in my vehicle from 7:00 AM to 11:30 AM, watching and getting an idea of who comes and goes when at 8:30 AM, I observed the mother leave for work in her BMW SUV. Then a while later, I observed a female, not Ricky’s wife, but maybe a sister, leave the house with school books and drive off in her vehicle. At no time did we see Ricky or his wife.

    During this time I observed neighbors watching me, so I told them what I was doing, just being upfront as this avoids them calling the police reporting “suspicious behavior”. As it turns out, these neighbors had run-ins with the Hutchinson family over the years, and did not care for them. They also had not seen Ricky in a while. I concluded at this point that Ricky definitely did not live with his parents. 

    Now it was time to put our second plan into action, and there is no one better at Sub-Rosa than Trudy Harris, an associate of mine. We needed to find out where Ricky lived, and since the parents would recognize me, (previously seeing me when they peeked out the windows when I knocked on their door), Trudy was the perfect person for this Sub-Rosa role.

    One evening watching the house and making sure the Hutchinson family was home, Trudy knocked on their residence door @ 8:30 PM, with belated “wedding flowers”. To our luck, Ricky’s sister answered the door ONLY seeing the flowers through a peephole.

    Just so you know, I am not an advocate of “delivering flowers” every time in situations such as this, nor am I in favor of delivering pizza or packages either. In these times, people are very suspicious, and if they even have a hint that process server is after them, this kind of action will not work.

    It did work in this case because it was 100% believable Ricky would receive belated wedding flowers. If you know you’ll get a 100% result, by all means use this ploy.

    The sister actually invited Trudy into the house! After explaining we have flowers for Ricky and his wife, and “no, we don’t know who sent them, we don’t read the cards, we just deliver them” speech, the sister calls Ricky on his cell, stating someone was here at the house to give him some flowers. Ricky told his sister to give us his address, which she did. Yeah!

    Ricky and his wife live one block from his parent’s in an apartment complex. After punching in the gate code (this is a trade secret, I have all the gate codes), we arrived at the apartment of Ricky and his wife, and when he answers the door, he is very pleasant. When he was informed that he was also served with the subpoena (which was in the card attached to the flowers), he immediately was stunned and just stood there, yelling while Trudy walked away.

    He should of chosen the simple way. 

    Ricky Hutchinson did show up for his deposition but he was fired-up. He told the lawyers during the deposition that , 1) I was a liar, 2) I never left him any messages, 3) That he would have cooperated if I gave him the chance and 4) He kept stating this accident wasn’t his fault and he still doesn’t want to be involved. Ricky was making a last ditch effort to be right and if lying does that for him, fine, at least we prevailed in finding him and getting his statement on the record - which was the point. If you give someone a choice as to whether they want to be served the easy way or the hard way, and they choose the hard way, this is the result, which is what you were hired to do.

Monday, July 30, 2012

PSYCHO SUZI

    The names in this case really are made up as I don’t need Psycho Suzi looking for me in retaliation, as she is one pissed off babe, as you’ll see.

    This was the summer 2011, on the golf course, skipping work as usual, just made a par and my cell phone rings. Hopefully this phone call was not going to interfere with my game; I didn’t want to leave the course right away with only two holes to go.

    I say, ”Hello” and wait with anticipation of what this could be at 6 PM at night.

    “Yes, my name is Brad Thomas. I was referred to you by a law firm in Sacramento and I kind of have an emergency”.

    I think to myself, Oh God, it’s a restraining order, usually is, especially when they say they have an emergency and there is anguish in their voice. Here we gooooooo ---

    Brad has an ex-girlfriend that is harassing him, calling all hours of the day and night, driving by his place throwing rocks through his windows and driving her car up on his lawn, ruining the landscaping. She won’t leave him alone. AND to top it off, he doesn’t know where she is, or where she is living.

    A Restraining Order is the worst kind of legal paper you can serve. Restraining Orders are all about stopping someone else from doing something you don’t like such as “I am going to burn your house down”, or “I am going to continue to throw rocks at your windows”, “I am going to keep slandering you on the internet”, “I am going to take our kids out of the state even if you don’t like it” etc. A person who wants a Restraining Order has to visit the courthouse, fill out the court forms stating their problem, in triplicate probably, then a judge has to sign it, then a court clerk has to file it, then the person has to find someone like me to serve it. A judge will not sign a restraining order unless you can show actual physical abuse of yourself or your property; you can’t say “I think my boyfriend is going to beat me up”. You have to say, “My boyfriend beat me up and I have 20 stitches in my face”. You cannot exaggerate or tell lies when applying for a Restraining Order. The action against you has to have already been done in most cases. Whatever you are trying to get another person to stop doing, he or she has to have already done it.

    Sorry but the law is not in your favor. You have some wacko hurting you or your property and you have to pay the fees and submit all the paperwork, then get a judge’s signature, only then can you serve the person. Only after service of this Restraining Order is given to the psycho, and if the psycho then violated the “cease and desist” order, the police will then get involved, usually not until then. I am only telling you this from my personal experience, maybe the police can get involved prior to the restraining order but even then, a Restraining Order has to be served on the psycho to get any permanent law enforcement or legal conviction on this.

    It is not uncommon to walk into a courthouse anytime on a Friday or Monday morning, and see long lines of people filling out forms, writing checks for court fees, feeling frustrated, and then waiting all day for a judge to sign the paperwork. Usually, if a person is there on a Friday, they feel something bad is going to happen over the weekend and they want to head it off at the pass, and convince the judge it is serious enough for his signature. Mondays are for people wanting a Restraining Order against someone who actually DID something over the weekend. You spend hours at the court, then usually around 4 PM, the clerk calls your name, then you see if the judge agreed with you, if so, he signed the order, if not, you have to wait until you get beat up. I am not an advocate of this kind of judicial thinking or policy, I think it’s ridiculous. But you hear about it on TV all the time, such as a woman warning the police that something is going to happen but they tell her there is nothing they can do until something DID happen.

    Remember, it’s not our (process servers) fault people cannot get along. It’s a job to be done if you accept it and want to work for this individual. Before I take on a case like this, I get a lot of information from the person about what his situation is, who really is the crazy one, him or his girlfriend? Is he going to call me day and night or is he going to leave me alone and let me do my job. If they pass the test on the cell phone, cool, if they don’t I tell them I am actually on vacation and give them someone else to call.

    You have to charge the client triple fees because you are going to eat up the first third of your fee in emotional distress, yours and the clients. Taking on this kind of case means: the client calls you ALL the time on your cell phone even when you tell them your plan and the exact time you will call them with an update. It’s a lot of hand holding. If you don’t control them to the inch of their lives, you will receive a call at 11 PM waking you up. “Sorry to bother you, I just need to know what’s happening”. It’s all emotion for these clients; this restraining order consumes their whole lives. Don’t get me wrong, I have empathy for them (not at 11:00 PM at night though), but just be in this frame of mind when you accept the job.

    Back to Brad, he is a general contractor, has his own business, just built a house he really likes in a new and upcoming suburb near Sacramento. He dated this psycho Suzi for a few weeks, couldn’t take it anymore, broke it off and Suzi obviously doesn’t want closure on this.

    Brad’s Restraining Order was signed by a judge, no problem. Brad has already been harassed, has suffered property damage and monetary damage as well replacing the house windows and shrubs..

    After discussing the “triple” fee with Brad, he said no problem. Ok, I am in. Psycho Suzi here I come.

    One thing about cases that have a lot of agitation, upset or and disturbance, you need to stay focused. Do not get involved in the person’s emotional state, stay focused and the most important thing: The more difficult the situation is, the lighter approach you take. An example:

    I needed to serve a Restraining Order on a guy who had a lot of guns and threatened to kill his wife. She got the Restraining approved because he recently pointed one of his guns at her. This was enough for a judge to hear.

    I did not knock on his door, duh. I waited for him to leave his house in the early morning to go to work. I wait until he is approaching his car and then I approached him instantly saying Good Morning. He stops and I raise my arms saying “don’t shoot”. He starts laughing. That broke the ice, I explained the Restraining Order to him, and he stated he would attend the hearing and explain to the judge that it was all a misunderstanding. My job is not to listen to their side, or get involved in what is true or false about cases, my job is to effect service by sizing people up, predicting their reaction, and using the right approach to get the job done.

    Knowing what approach to take with people you are serving comes from experience, knowing how to predict their behavior comes from experience, but when you have this down, your work is easy, you get quick results and you have no stress to manage.

    Back to Brad, I met up with him at Starbucks and got the papers (Restraining Orders) from him and he gave me a picture of psycho Suzi. The only thing he knew about her was that she might be a subcontractor for a local Interior Design business. Brad seemed like a won’t-rip-me-off kind of guy, so I told him he could pay me when I was done, then he handed me a partial payment of $80.00 for the hell of it. Awesome.

    I never tell clients what my exact plan is, because to be honest, I don’t always know right then and there. People you need to serve come in different forms, shapes, sizes and emotional states needing different approaches. To serve psycho Suzi I had to find her, so this was the first step.

    Seems complicated? Well, this is where you take the light approach not to mention the simplest approach. You trap her.

    The next day, I called the Interior Design business and wanted to make an appointment with them to redesign the window treatments in my office (I wish). Suzi would not have answered the phone because she is a sub-contractor so I was free to say whatever I wanted. I made an time and date over the phone telling the appointment setter I was referred by so and so and asked if Suzi was still working there? The designer who answered the phone said yes, then I immediately said that’s great but any designer will do. (We don’t want Suzi to know we specifically asked for her and tip her off, we want to do this right, even if it takes a few appointments to nail this broad). She said she didn’t know who was available to come Friday at 3:00 PM but someone would be there. I gave her an address of a commercial building with several offices (not my address or Suite #). I only had to give her my first name and gave her a phony work number. When I give a phony number, I only change one number from my real number, that way if I need to be in touch again, it would appear they wrote it down wrong.

    On a sunny Friday afternoon @ 3:00 PM, I was waiting at the designated commercial building in the parking lot. Since I had a picture of her and a description of the car she drives, I would know it’s her when she pulled in. There was only one driveway in the complex. If it wasn’t her, but another designer, we would go through the motion of pretending that we had an work emergency and needed to reschedule.

    At 2:57 PM, as luck would have it, Suzi pulls up in her nice blue Honda. I wave at her and she pulls into a parking space. She rolls down the window and says “Hello”. I say hello back, and then tell her, with a nice but straight face, that she is actually being served with a Restraining Order from Brad Thomas. I show her on the papers the section about the court hearing date, time and what court address she is to go to. She instantly goes into bitch mode and tries to roll the window up on my arm almost catching it. I throw the papers through the window and they fall on her lap. I then start walking towards the front door of one of the buildings and while walking I hear her gun the engine and peel out of the parking lot.

    I don’t take Restraining Orders lightly, I figure out the safest and fastest way to serve them, then get it done.

    A permanent restraining order was granted against Psycho Suzi, and our client never heard from her again. And, if she ever wanted to find me, she couldn’t.

    Sorry, wrong number.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

SWOOP AND SQUAT


    Its fall, such a beautiful day as I’m driving to the office. My phone rings, it's an Attorney who sounds a little frantic and starts telling me he is on a break from a trial in Sacramento County Superior Court. Must be serious if he is calling during any trial, so I pull the car over and grab paper and pencil.


    Mr. Roberts, an Attorney, is a big-time litigator from out of town and the lead attorney on a case along with two other associate attorneys from California. They are one week into this trial involving a staged motor vehicle accident, a scam which caused one death and serious injuries. This scam involves perpetrators who purposely cause motor vehicle accidents and target unsuspecting drivers. These perpetrators use one or more vehicles, strictly done for financial gain bilking insurance companies for false injuries.

    According to my law enforcement buddies, the two most common vehicle scams used in staged collisions are known as the swoop and squat” and the “drive down”.

     “Swoop and Squat” involves two or three scammers, each driving a separate vehicle. These scammers target vehicles with a single driver. This way there are no witnesses to the accident that is about to occur. The “squat” vehicle usually contains two scammers, who position themselves in front of the victim’s vehicle, slowing to close the distance between the vehicles. Then the “swoop” vehicle changes lanes in front of the “squat” vehicle and suddenly stops while the “squat vehicle” slams on his breaks causing the innocent victim to rear-end the “squat” vehicle. The “swoop” vehicle then leaves the scene in a hurry, never to be seen again.

    In the “Drive Down” version of this scam, the perpetrators stage an accident at any street location where there is a yielding of right-of-way. The innocent driver thinking the perpetrators are being nice by waving the driver ahead, and as he proceeds through the intersection, the perpetrator purposely accelerates broad siding the victim’s vehicle.

    Roberts goes on to explain the trial he is working on is a “Drive Down” case where he believes their clients were scammed. The Plaintiffs’ (perpetrators) screwed up the driving logistics of the scam involving several cars and one of the scammers died (guess no one heard or saw the fire truck with its sirens coming through the intersection). The Plaintiffs’ (perpetrators) are suing our clients for wrongful death. It is also common for these Plaintiffs’ to stage witnesses at the scene, giving false eyewitness statements and lying again at their trial testimonies.

    Just before lunch, this attorney had Jose Hernandez on the stand (a hostile witness and one of the scam drivers.) During his cross-examination of Hernandez, this guy denied any connection to one of the witnesses at the scene, Miguel Menendez, whose statement stated our client ran a red light causing the accident. This attorney believes Menendez and Hernandez are connected, both giving false testimony, but he can’t prove it. He needs to find a way to prove it.    

    This attorney wants to put Hernandez back on the stand the next morning at 10:00 AM, and wants me somehow, if I can, to get the phone records of Hernandez, who is from Reno but staying in a hotel here in Sacramento. The attorney wants evidence showing Hernandez has been calling his buddy, Miguel Menendez, in Reno, giving him updates of the trial.


    By this time, it's 3:30 PM - I have only one night to figure out what to do. I arrive at the courtroom by 4:30 PM, and meet the attorneys. They give me $500 in cash as a retainer for any costs I incur in the next few hours and the phone number for Miguel Menendez. I told them I’d see what I could do, then while I was leaving one of the attorneys interjected that I came highly recommended, which is nice but I could feel their desperation bearing down on me.


    I really need a miracle here.


    The attorneys know this is a long shot as you cannot obtain someone’s phone bill or a list of phone calls a person makes without a court order, which this legal team does not have.  


    So how to get Hernandez recent phone records…um…and most importantly – LEGALLY!


    Assignments like this will take creativity. Don’t get desperate, just think about it, drive home, see your kids, make dinner, and hire a babysitter for the night, then go to Starbucks. Now you are ready, having no pressure on the domestic end, you can really plan. 


    Then after thinking about it…an idea comes to me but can I really pull it off? I sit at Starbucks while playing devil’s advocate, side checking all angles and scenarios of what could happen. I knew the attorneys would bail me out of jail if somehow this did not go right, or someone went ballistic on me. 


    It's 8:00 PM, I am sitting in my vehicle at the hotel where Jose Hernandez is staying purposely waiting until dark. This hotel has three huge buildings, two stories of rooms, all separated from the main building where the check-in counter is, as well as the restaurant and gym which overlooks the spacious glimmering pool. I drive around all the buildings, locate Hernandez’s room, and then watch the main entrance for a while to see what kind of activity is going on. I decide not much is happening so I put my plan into play.


    I parked my vehicle out of sight, but close enough to get to for a quick get-a-way if needed. I walked to Hernandez’s room and knock. If he was there, I would pretend I had the wrong room, ask for my sister or something, apologize to him then leave. For my plan to work, he could not be in his room. I waited on the stairwell for a while in case Hernandez was in the shower and 20 minutes later, no response again so I was good to go.


    I watched the parking lot in case Hernandez or any male pulled up to the rooms while I walked to the main office. No one pulled in so I entered the lobby.


    As I walk in, the first thing I do is observe the night attendant in the hotel lobby while scanning quickly for any Hispanics or Hernandez himself, who might be sitting around. Then I check out the night staff. If you are trying to pull off a situation like this one, you want to work with as few employees as possible. It must be the right environment, you must always have the feeling you can pull the plan off. It will only backfire if you do not have good intuition or vibes about a person, place or thing.

    I figured I only had a few minutes to pull this off because Hernandez could possibly visit the front desk for some reason. 

    I say to the clerk, “Hello, how’s your night going?”

    Adrenalin starting to pump.

    “Fine, how can I help you?”

    “Could you call Room 209 and see if the guys are in their room? I was supposed to meet them here.”  

    Notice I don’t mention any names(s).

    If Hernandez did answer the phone in his room, then I would ask the night clerk to ask him if he was Steve Miller, saying I actually “forgot” the correct room number for Miller thinking it was Room 209. If Hernandez did answer the phone, then I know he is there and could not pull off my plan.

    The clerk rings the room – no answer so I say, “I am dropping off some money for the guys in Room 209, our company pays their expenses, and to make matters worse one of them lost their wallet. Luckily I live local or they’d be up a creek. How much do they owe you for their hotel room? “ He looks on the computer and says, “$160.00.” I then counted out the cash asking for a  receipt. He does not ask my name or anything.  

    But I had to wait for him to go in the other room where the DOT MATRIX printer was. I could hear the damn receipt slowly and agonizingly creeping through the printer. I mean real SLOW, painfully SLOW. Finally, he hands me the hotel receipt. 

    My heart is racing now.

    I then say, “Thanks for the receipt, but while I’m here I might as well pay their phone bill too, how much is it?”

    “That bill is $67.00”, he says.

    “Ok, let me pay that too and get a receipt.” (I knew any phone bill receipt from hotels list all incoming and outgoing calls). I plunked down $67.00 and waited for another receipt. It is SLOWLY grinding its way through the DOT MATRIX printer.


  He hands me the receipt. I then thanked him and told him to have a good night. I wanted to run but instead slowly walked out the front door, then when I was out of view, I ran like hell to my car of course.


    My adrenaline was out of control.


    Not one time did I say Hernandez’s name or my name and paying cash makes me untraceable.
 
    I concluded that when Hernandez found out his bills were paid, I'm sure he thought he lucked out and someone paid his bills by mistake. This is why I never mentioned his name; he cannot prove he was targeted. And if this happens to drive him "bonkers" - SNAP!
 
    I drove directly to my office. Made no stops. This is a chain of custody thing you don’t want to screw up. The chain of custody requires from the moment evidence is collected, that every transfer of this evidence from person to person is to be documented; every stop you make has to be logged. This proves there was no way anyone unauthorized had access to this evidence to alter or change its contents.


    In the courtroom, if the witness questions the chain of custody of the evidence, it can be proven by the log and my own testimony, that the phone bill is the same phone bill gotten from the hotel. However, if there are discrepancies and it cannot be proven who had the phone bill at a particular point in time, then the chain of custody is broken and the witness can ask to have the resulting evidence declared inadmissible.


    At my desk, I was anxious to know if the phone numbers belonging to Menendez were on Hernandez’s phone bill. Yes!


    I then put the phone bill in an envelope, sealing it with red tape, and then locked it in the office safe. I then called the Attorney's, letting them know what I found, and handed these documents to them the next morning in the courtroom at 8:30 AM. 


    Later that day, the Attorney called thanking me profusely. He was thrilled in being able to submit the evidence to the court, and not only that, but the phone bill had matched another number to another false witness which resulted in them winning the case a week later.


    The attorneys let me keep the remainder of the $500.00 and they could not have been any more grateful.


    It took a couple of days for my adrenalin to return to normal and I kept thinking about that damn MATRIX PRINTER!  

Thursday, February 9, 2012

WRITER'S NOTES #10



SERVING INMATES AT PRISONS
 
 
 
A few notes about serving inmates -
 
You can find out if a person is incarcerated by visiting the website of the particular prison you think he is in, most prisons have an on-line database, BUT you will need their full name, date of birth and/or their prison ID number. Most of the time, a prison ID number is needed if you don't have a date of birth. This number can be found in the inmates criminal file at the courthouse where that person was convicted. Some prisons require all three criteria or just one, depends.
 
Also, each prison has different policies on their inmates being served. You should call them first BUT they are extremely hard to get though to on the phone, not so much the County jails but the State jails are rough. You might not have any choice but to drive there and talk to the guard at the gate.
 
Sometimes on the prisons website there are administrative/legal office email addresses, then I email them asking how I can go about serving one of their inmates. Sometimes I get a response and sometimes I don't. It's a crap shoot.
 
When you arrive at any jail or prison, remove all metal including staples from the legal papers. Nothing sharp is allowed on prison grounds, not even a staple.
 
You can also visit http://inmatelocator.cdcr.ca.gov/ and find out what prison your subject is at.
 
Beware, you CANNOT wear any blue jeans or any blue jean material when visiting a prison. The tower guards will see you coming and over the loud speaker they will tell you to go back to your vehicle, also telling you blue jeans are not allowed on prison grounds.
 
Hint: If you are trying to find a defendant to serve them and you can't locate them, go ahead and check the inmate locator. I have found my share of defendants in prison and would not have known this if I didn't check for the heck of it.
 
Here's a quick story: A family was referred to me a year ago, seems their son was traveling by car with a friend to New York and the last they heard from him, he was in Ada, Oklahoma or some Midwestern state, I forget which one. He had not been in touch for 3 days. I found out from his parents he did have a little history of being a flake, so I checked the websites for Ada county jails, checking for recent arrests, and his name was listed. He was arrested for being in a vehicle with his buddy who was drunk. Originally, when he was allowed to make that one phone call, he didn't call his family, he called another friend in New York, but his family eventually got through to him at the jail. He was eventually released.
 
Checking resources like this is valuable so use it.