Taking Trust Into Account

Chapter 7

“So this is the guy? You’re sure?”

“Positive.”

Peter turned the laptop to face Mozzie, the screen illuminating the shorter man’s face in the dimly lit apartment. They’d found the contact information of Richard Graff, the manager of Midtown Mutual before Allen had taken over. There was a chance he’d know about this drive.

Peter pulled out his phone. “I need to call Diana and Jones. We have to find Graff and—”

“No, Suit!” exclaimed Mozzie, taking Peter’s phone out of his hand. “You can’t involve the FBI in this one! If you do, Neal’s going straight back to prison!”

“Mozzie,” stressed Peter. “This is Neal’s life we’re talking about. We can’t—”

“The more agents you involve, the worse it is for Neal’s life,too. If the FBI steps in, Maverick and Allen are going to take it out on Neal.”

The raw emotion was back in in Mozzie’s eyes. Peter wanted to explain it to Mozzie, to get it into his head that the only thing that could help Neal now was the government. Though… Mozzie had a point. Even if the FBI found a way to save Neal’s life, it meant that he would be going straight back to prison. Half of the white collar division hated the idea of having a criminal working with them and they’d jump at the chance of getting rid of him once and for all.

“Okay,” said Peter at last. “What do I do?” Peter never thought he’d see the day that he’d be saying those words to Mozzie.

Mozzie seemed surprised that Peter agreed with him. He paused, momentarily changing his response. “Well, we’ll go talk to this guy—”

“We?”

“Yes, we.”

Peter placed his hands on his hips, thinking. It wasn’t smart to do this alone, without the FBI. But he had to admit... Mozzie was right. Allen and Maverick were smart. They could smell the FBI from miles away. Mozzie and Peter would never find Neal with a group of agents storming in behind them.

“Alright, Mozzie. Fine. No FBI.” said Peter, defeated.

“Music to my ears.”

Peter rolled his eyes. Peter turned the laptop around again and Mozzie handed him his cell phone back. Peter dialed Graff’s number and listened to the dial tone. It was almost midnight. He might not even pick up. Peter and Mozzie waited.

“Who is this?” asked a voice on the other line.

“Richard Graff?” asked Peter hesitantly.

“Speaking.”

Peter and Mozzie looked at each other. Peter cleared his throat. “Mr. Graff, I’m calling to ask if you know anything about a flash drive found in the Midtown Mutual vault.” The other line was quiet for a while, and for a moment, Peter thought Graff had hung up. He looked at Mozzie, both of them sharing a grim glance.

Finally, “Who is this?”

“My name is Peter Burke,” said Peter, relieved that he got a response. “This drive is putting my friend in danger. I need to know if you know where it is.”

“Your friend is in danger?” asked Graff, his tone suddenly serious. He paused, then said, “We shouldn’t be talking about this over the phone. Can you meet me at the café on the corner of Tenth and Wall Street?”

“Yes.”

“Ten minutes.”

Mozzie looked at Peter as he hung up. “That was easy.”

“He sounded nervous about this drive.”

“He didn’t sound like a bad guy,” said Mozzie.

“Well,” said Peter, shutting the laptop. “Graff was asked to step down from management. Maybe it was because he and Allen fought over this drive.”

Only one way to find out.


It took them about nine minutes to get to the café. Mozzie and Peter took a taxi. Halfway through the ride, Peter got a call from Diana. He lifted his phone, hesitating. What was he supposed to tell her?

“Well, don’t answer it.” said Mozzie, looking at Peter’s phone screen.

“I have to,” said Peter, getting tired of being ordered around. “If I don’t, they’ll think something happened to me.”

“If you do then you have to lie!”

Before Peter could decide, Mozzie took the phone out of his hand and threw it out of the window.

"Mozzie!” exclaimed Peter. “What the hell?!”

“Sorry.” he said, not looking apologetic in the least. “Had to be done.”

Peter simmered. “You owe me a phone.”

“Look,” said Mozzie, pointing out the window as the taxi came to a stop. “We’re here.”

Peter and Mozzie got out of the car and started toward the café. The streets were still busy, despite the late hour. Peter knew why Graff chose this café. It was small, out of the way, and open late into the night.

It was warm inside, with soft lighting. The café had a bar, and a single barista behind the counter. He didn’t even look up as Peter and Mozzie entered. There were few tables, and booths lining the windows. Only one customer was in the café. Peter and Mozzie slowly approached him, sliding into the booth across from him.

Graff looked up. He was nearing sixty, his hair graying. He was dressed in business attire, his jacket lying on the end of the table. He wore glasses, his eyes bright behind them. Graff smiled grimly.

“Which one of you is Peter?” asked Graff.

“I am.” said Peter.

Graff turned to Mozzie. “And you are?”

“Haversham. Dante Haversham.”

“Now,” said Graff. “How do you know about the drive?”

Peter looked at Mozzie, but Mozzie made no effort to stop him. So Peter simply said, “I’m an FBI agent.”

“You are?” asked Graff. He didn’t seem to be bothered by it.

“Yes.” said Peter, relieved it didn’t scare him away. “I was the agent who arrested a man called Maverick who robbed Midtown five years ago.”

“Ah.” Graff sat back in his seat. “Yes.”

“Did you know Roger Allen well?” asked Mozzie.

“Yes.” Graff sighed. “I was manager of Midtown at the time of that heist. I had a feeling it was going to happen. I’m going to have to start at the beginning to explain this, so bear with me. It’s all because of this.” He reached in his jacket and pulled out a silver flash drive. He placed it on the table. “This drive was not my creation. It was the creation of the manager before me and I will say now that I don’t condone the use of it. I’m ashamed to say I have had to use it in the past.”

“What is it?” asked Peter.

Graff sighed. “It contains the information of every client we have.” He shook his head, seeming to hate what he was saying. “When a new client creates an account with us, our computers are wired to send a copy of their information to an online database my previous manager created. It holds each client’s account numbers, PIN numbers, passwords, social security numbers, security questions, you name it. Everything that we promised to keep confidential was a complete lie.”

Peter stared at him, speechless. He himself opened an account with Midtown Mutual.

Graff continued, “We’re a bank. We hold billions of dollars in credit and millions in cash. A few years ago, before the heist, we were falling hard. I don’t know the details, I wasn’t in the loop at that point, but it was enough to clean us out of a lot of money. If that came to light, the bank would have had to file for bankruptcy. So… they created this drive in the intent to take the money out of our client’s accounts. When we drained a client’s funds, we blamed it on identity theft, robbery, anything anonymous and anything we didn’t have to replenish for them. There’s nothing in our contract about refunding identity theft, that’s up to insurance.”

“So you stole from your own clients to cover up bankruptcy?” asked Peter, astonished.

“Yes.” A shadow crept over Graff’s face. “We didn’t do it often. If we did, people would start asking questions. But, luckily, identity theft and bank fraud are very common so no one questioned us. We were in the clear.

“But that’s when Allen started rising up in management.” Graff went on. “There was still only a handful of people who knew about this drive, and he was one of them. I’d always been suspicious of him. He seemed to develop a certain obsession with it, too eager to use it.” Graff paused to take a sip of the coffee in front of him. “I became head of Midtown and I watched him carefully. I didn’t trust him. I started to realize that he was planning on stealing the drive. He’d reached out and met with a thief. I didn’t know when he was planning to do it, but the next thing I knew, he was trying to remove me from management. I don’t know what he told the board, but it was going in his favor. Knowing I didn’t have much time left, I decided to take the drive out of the vault and replace it with a fake. Only two days after that, the heist occurred, and a week after that, I was fired.”

Mozzie and Peter were silent. Peter’s mind was racing. He looked down at the flash drive on the table. Whoever held it held billions of dollars. If they drained each account, they’d be the richest people in the world. And no one would ever be able to track them down.

Peter picked up the flash drive. His own account information must be on it as well. That was unsettling. The first thing he was doing when this case closed was closing his Midtown account.

“How do you know about the drive, Agent Burke?”

“My friend got mixed up with Allen and Maverick. They think he stole the drive. They kidnapped him a few hours ago.”

Graff’s eyes widened.

“I’m going to have to take this with me,” said Peter, lifting the drive.

“Please.” Graff said. “I’ve always wanted it to get to the police. But, you see, they’d see it in my hands and rush to conclusions.”

Peter paused. Graff was involved in illegal activity. He should be arresting him for that. But…

Graff was cooperating. He gave Peter information—more information than he’d expected. The man was no criminal.

Peter stood. “Thank you, Mr. Graff. Your information was incredibly helpful.”

Graff stood quickly, before Mozzie and Peter could leave the booth. “Please, don’t let that drive fall into the wrong hands. If Roger or this Maverick has it—”

“I won’t.” said Peter. “They’re not getting away with this.”

Graff smiled wanly. “I wish you luck in finding your friend.”

Peter and Mozzie nodded their thanks at him. They left the coffee shop and Peter stared at the drive. “This…”

“-is genius!” exclaimed Mozzie, snatching the drive out of Peter’s hand and holding it to the light. “Pure genius! I can’t believe I’ve never thought about it before-”

“Give me that.” snapped Peter, taking it out of Mozzie’s hands and putting it safely in his pocket. “Mozzie,” sighed Peter, rubbing his face tiredly. “Using this would be stealing billions of dollars from innocent people!”

Mozzie stared at him. “I’m sure that more than half of them are not.”

Peter shook his head. “Why do I bother?”

Peter stared into the darkened streets of New York, trying to work out a plan in his head that didn’t involve Neal’s death or the bankruptcy of millions of people. He sighed.

“Mozzie,” he said. “I need your phone.”

“Not a chance, Suit. I’m not replacing your phone with mine.”

“No. I need to call Neal.”

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