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DEATH BY PARKING – Episode V: The Shakedown We Plan the Sting By JVH

Damn, PaulManning muttered, that Hartison jerk always threw a curve.We had the per- fect way to expose him, and on TV. The problem now was that he had Mary’s son held

hostage, and would be taking Mary with him to the university awards dinner. That’s where he was to be honored and we were going to stage our little takedown. We had to make some adjustments, and fast.

Mary was Moncrief Hartison’s wife, but in name only. Her son’s real father was JamesNelson, who had just come back into the picture. Nelson didn’t want to interfere with Mary, but he did want to meet his son. Mary was having an affair with my client, Larry Levinson. He was accused of killing his garage manager, Miguel.We knew Hartison had done it but had no proof.We neededHartison to confess, and to spill the beans about his sleazy parking operation. We also needed that to be a public confession, so I would earn my fee from a second client,William Jefferson. Hartison had discredited him by using Jefferson’s parking operation to steal and launder money. Whew…you should be up to speed now.

The entire room realized that Mary may have signed

Miguel’s death warrant simply by being his friend.We also real- ized that with Moncrief Hartison’s jealousy, and the fact that Mary was really having an affair with Larry Levinson, he was next on the gangster’s list. Mary had called with the latest news. I asked her where they

were holding her son, and she told me she was sure that a couple of Hartison’s goons had Roger in her cabin at Arrowhead. They were going to be watching the awards dinner on TV, and if any- thing went wrong, they were to fill Roger with holes and toss him in the lake. I told Mary to play along with Hartison; we would handle

this problem. My girlfriend Shirley and I

discussed the situation and decided that if we rescued Roger, it had to be right before or during the awards dinner. Hartison had to think he still was in complete control. The next morning, I called

son thinks I’m Mary’s estranged lover. She would run to my side, plant a kiss on Nelson, and confuse the hell out of Hartison. His famous temper would kick in, and with just the right

questions, Alex would get his story, Vose would get his arrest, Mary and Larry would have their lives free of Hartison, Nelson would be able to spend time with his son, and my bank account would be considerably more healthy. A side benefit would be that my girlfriend Shirley, who

worked for Larry, would be very, very grateful. Shirley,William Jefferson and I spent the afternoon prepping

Alex at Channel 5 News. Jefferson explained how Hartison was able to use his parking operations to line his own pockets. Jefferson owned the park-

He would charge the driver the full amount, but then put the stamp on the ticket and keep the difference.

Lt. Bill Vose at the LAPD and shared our little problem. Vose said he could ask the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Depart- ment to pick up Roger. They were fairly skilled at such activities. Their SWAT teams had plenty of experience with drug labs, biker gangs and the like. They could go in, cut the phone lines, grab Roger and arrest Hartison’s goons on whatever schedule we liked. Perfect. With that problem solved, I needed to talk to my buddy

Alex at Channel 5 News. He did live exposes, and loved to get a politician or crooked businessman in the corner with a camera andmike. The university awards dinner was the next evening. The

plan was to lull Hartison into a false sense of security. During the break between the dinner and the presentations, when he was supposed to receive his award and give a substantial dona- tion to the university, we would maneuver him into an inter- view withAlex. It would start out slow, and then about halfway through, I would show up with Nelson, the real father of Mary’s son. Harti-

Parking Today

ing company and hired man- agers and staff to run his indi- vidual locations. Hartison would manipulate the hiring process and have his people installed as managers. He would then run the garage as if he owned it, keeping two sets of books. The set his managers turned in to Jefferson would

look fine, but the other would be the one that told the truth. Hartison’s managers had a number of scams going in the

garages. The most lucrative was selling monthly parking permits “off the books.” The permits usually ran about $75 a month. However, if the person paid cash, they would get the permit for $50. The managers would limit the number of permits handled this way so as not to arouse suspicion. But Jefferson felt that he had a problem in 30 locations, and if

Hartison’s people did 40 permits in each, they would steal nearly three-quarters of a million dollars a year. And at a time when the Sunday LA Times cost a dime, that was big bucks. Jefferson also felt that there was considerable shorting going

on with the daily parkers.When the driver came in, the cashier would stamp a ticket with the entry time.When that car left, the driver would give the cashier the ticket. He would then compute the fee, charge the customer, and let them go on their way. There was a system of validations in the building complex.

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