“Sounds good.” Duane glanced at his watch. “You’d better be on your way.”
Five minutes later, Jane and Colin walked into the conference room to find only their accountant present. Ten minutes later, a Bend attorney Colin had encountered in courtrooms before arrived to say that his client was angered at this intrusive investigation and had chosen not to cooperate. He saw this as a political attempt to get rid of him. He would be speaking to Mayor Chandler and possibly filing a civil suit against the city, in particular naming Captain McAllister.
When he left, the three of them looked at each other. Colin nodded after a minute, resigned.
“I’ll call the mayor.” He looked at the accountant. “Anything you can tell us?”
“The questionable payments are from two sources, both corporate holding companies that consist of nothing but some named officers—all attorneys—and a post office box. Going deeper is beyond my means. I’ve got to tell you, though, entities like this raise obvious red flags.”
“So, since explaining is problematic, he’s decided to see if he can get by with not explaining.” Colin nodded again to them both. “Thank you for coming. I’ll let you know what we need to do for follow-up.”
The two left him alone to make the call.
He stood at the window looking out at the river as he dialed. He was put through to Noah Chandler right away. Colin explained what he knew.
The silence felt reflective, and he waited patiently.
“I think this investigation needs to get bigger,” Chandler finally said. “If he’d cooperated, I would have been willing to keep this confidential until we had answers. As it is, I’ll let him know that any hope of keeping his job is conditional on that cooperation. If he won’t give it, I’ll ask for his resignation. Give me a day before you take any further steps.”
“What do you want to do next?”
Like most cops, Colin didn’t love bringing in the feds, but the time had come.
“We need to bring the DEA in on this.” He told the mayor what the accountant had reported. “They have the resources to dig deeper into the source of that money than we can.” He hesitated. “I think it’s important that, for both our sakes, we avoid the appearance of this being some kind of coup.”
There was a moment of silence.
“I’ve heard a lot of gossip about drug shipments moving through this area,” Chandler said bluntly. “What I haven’t heard about is the number of arrests you’d expect. Not a lot of shipments seized, either.”
Colin had given up being anything but blunt. “Detective Vahalik is currently coordinating with the members of the Drug Enforcement Team in an attempt to find out whether these payments coincide in any way with failed raids.”
“Good. What worries me is that he couldn’t act alone. If he warned about raids, who gave him the information in the first place? You know we’re heading toward an internal investigation. Who else has been paid off?”
Colin swore under his breath. “Every officer in this department is going to feel unfairly targeted. Morale is already poor. This may be the killing blow.”
“You’re suggesting we let it go?”
“No.” He squeezed the back of his neck. “No, of course not. It has to be done.”
“All right. Let’s hold off for a day or two, see where we get with Bystrom. Then I think we can’t afford to wait.”
They talked for a minute more about the whys and hows. A minute later, Colin ended the call and growled a few words he didn’t usually allow himself.
Before he knew it, the finances of colleagues and friends within the police department would be under intense scrutiny. These were men and women he had trusted and would need to trust again in the future. But he knew as well as Chandler did that, if the police chief had been on the take, there had to be others.
Goddamn it. He would have liked to warn Brian Cooper, his counterpart in Patrol Services, a straight arrow if he’d ever known one. And Duane. Blindsiding a longtime friend like Duane didn’t sit well with him. But he also knew he wouldn’t say a word to either.
This wasn’t how he’d anticipated accomplishing his longtime goal of cleaning up the Angel Butte Police Department. He wouldn’t be a popular man by the time he was finished. He would be traveling a dangerous road, and essentially doing it on his own. His only backup would be a man he hardly knew, the political outsider who had become mayor.