Chapter 10: The Setup
November 7, 1984: 0800
Crockett arrived at the office the next morning grumpier than usual. The blue tee shirt he had pulled over his head that morning was rumpled, a noticeable coffee stain on the front. His cover sometimes called for an unshaven look, but this morning, the stubble was thicker than usual.
It had been several nights since Sonny had gotten a decent night’s sleep and this morning it was beginning to show. Even the strong black coffee he had brewed aboard the Vitus had done little to help re-energize him. Lighting up a cigarette for the fifth time that morning, he coughed vigorously when the tobacco fumes hit the back of his throat.
Castillo’s office door opened suddenly. “Crockett?” he called out. Catching Sonny’s eye, he nodded
toward his office. “We need to talk.”
“Now what?” Crockett muttered under his breath.
“Have a seat,” Castillo said to him when he entered.
The two men eyed each other warily.
“I know. I missed Schroeder’s inquisition, right? That’s what this is all about.”
“That’s not why I asked you in.”
“Well, I don’t have any case reports outstanding. Hell, I don’t even have any cases at all for that matter, ” Crockett laughed.
“Tubbs came and spoke to me last night.”
“His plan makes sense.”
“Okay… I mean, I’m glad.”
“There are definite weaknesses in Schroeder’s powers of deduction.”
“You think so, Lieutenant?” Hope welled up inside of him so powerfully that Sonny could barely hold himself back.
“We need DeMarco’s statement to clear you,” Castillo was saying. “Setting him up by making Lombard believe there’s been skimming from the profits should convince him he’s in big trouble. He’ll be begging for protective custody.”
“If there’s a way to do it, Rico will find it.” Sonny dragged hard on his cigarette and blew out a plume of smoke.
“Don’t underestimate an allegiance.”
Sonny snickered. “Lombard’s got a special relationship with his money. He’d cut off his own grandmother’s hand if he caught it in the till!”
The office door burst open and Schroeder poked his head in, pointing an accusing finger in Sonny’s face.
“Your no-show at the prelims was good, Crockett. Where’s the Clarence Darrow defense? Why don’t ya just hang it up and become a security guard?”
“Schroeder!” Marty snarled.
The IAD officer stopped gloating. “Yes, Lieutenant.
“Who do you think you are, to walk into my office and mouth off to one of my detectives? I went over Crockett’s file and given his arrest record, commendations and the interest he shows during an investigation I’d say either you’ve been had or you’re a complete idiot for believing the charges against him.”
Laughing at Schroeder’s expression would have ruined the moment. Sonny chewed on the inside of his lip and hurriedly looked down at the floor.
“Plenty of dirty cops have squeaky clean histories. It don’t mean anything,” Schroeder was saying, his eyes slipping away guiltily from Castillo’s laser-like glare.
“One thing that it does mean is that he doesn’t have to walk around here being harassed by you.” Castillo said angrily. “If you’re done with the files, get out!”
Few moments in Crockett’s life were as sweet for him as this one. He took a deep breath and looked up at Castillo.
The lieutenant cleared his throat as if he was about to speak but said nothing. He hesitated for a moment and then seemed to make up his mind about something.
His glance toward Crockett was curious, probing. Sonny shifted uncomfortably.
The sound of Tubbs’ whistling broke the spell. With a happy grin on his face, Sonny’s partner leaned into Castillo’s office to tell them that he had met with Lombard after the cockfight the night before and had successfully muddied DeMarco’s standing with his boss.
“Good,” Sonny smirked. “We should be hearing from Mr. DeMarco.”
“You already have. DeMarco’s on the line,” Trudy called out happily.
Vincent DeMarco was frantic.
“What are you trying to do to me? I got people watching my house. Watching my car. I’ve got family! Lombard’s not returning my calls.”
“It’s called payback, De Marco.”
“It’s called murder. Mine. Payback for what? I don’t even know you. What do you want, money?”
“Yeah, well listen, Vincent, you’re gonna have to do me a little favor.”
They knew they were going to have their work cut out for them. Convincing Lombard that DeMarco was skimming had been a piece of cake. But now persuading DeMarco to cooperate with the law was going to take some expert handling.
“Careful how you play this,” Castillo warned. “It could blow up in your face if he gets cold feet.”
“Don’t worry, Lieutenant. DeMarco knows he’s history on the street. He’ll cooperate.”
“Make sure your method of interrogation doesn’t feed a lawyer an excuse to throw out the charges.”
Rico and Crockett’s silence was ominous. No doubt the racketeer’s legal rights were something they were not about to consider.
“Thanks to Vincent DeMarco, a young mother with two kids is dead,” Sonny said softly.
“Look at the bigger picture, Crockett. DeMarco is small fry. Lombard’s the one who ordered the hit.”
“Oh, I know that, Lieutenant. Protective custody and promised immunity for DeMarco will come with
a high price this time. He doesn’t know it yet, but he’s gonna have to help us get Lombard.”
Rico continued to explain. “We still have that invitation for lunch with Lombard this afternoon. Zito and Switek will be fitting DeMarco with a wire beforehand so that if Lombard makes any incriminating statements, we’ll have the evidence we need to bury the bastard.”
DeMarco was willing to sign the statement that retracted his allegations against Detective James ‘Sonny’ Crockett but his enthusiasm about having lunch with Lombard with a wire under his shirt was not as forthcoming.
“Forget it! I’m not signing nothin’!”
Crockett’s eyes gleamed with malice. “On what we know now, a court order will rescind the immunity from prosecution Schroeder got for you on racketeering charges. And I’m not even gonna bore you with the peripheral stuff, pal. Extortion, assault, R.I.C.O. Statutes. Vinnie, honey. You’re facin’ five years federal prison time minimum.”
“Dealer’s choice, Vinnie!” Rico jeered. “Jail, or lunch.”
Barely hesitating to consider the alternatives, DeMarco took a pen from Zito’s hand and signed on the dotted line.
“You’ll need these,” Castillo said to Crockett. Some of the ice had disappeared from the edges of his voice. He picked up a large yellow envelope and spilled the contents out on his desk. Crockett’s eyes lit up when he saw his badge and the gun that had been confiscated by Schroeder after he had been taken into custody.
“Make sure the report on the Lombard arrest is on my desk tomorrow morning, Detective,” Castillo warned.
“Yeah, okay Lieutenant. Bright and early.”
Sonny hesitated. “Lieutenant. I… appreciated what you said about me to Schroeder.”
“I only said the truth.”
“Yeah, but all you had to go on was my file and you still gave me the benefit of the doubt. That means a lot.”
Sonny reached out his hand, determined that this time his welcome would be genuine and Castillo
sealed the allegiance with a firm handshake of his own.
Rico was back to tell them that everything was set up.
“Later, Lieutenant,” he said, turning away with a brisk two-fingered salute. The two young detectives left his office, sauntering confidently toward the swinging doors while members of the squad called after them, wishing them good luck.
Castillo sat at his desk, his gaze wandering to the bottle of aspirin still resting by the carafe of ice-water. For the first time in days, the throbbing pain was gone. The muscles in his face relaxed at
Doug Hanson may have thought he had successfully neutralized Martin Castillo but the senator had miscalculated badly.
The battle lines for the war were drawn; the troops experienced and ready.
Miami was his home. It was where he needed to be.