KERRI'S WAR (Volume 3 of The King Trilogy)

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Chapter 8

Toronto. Monday, 9:45 A.M.

Kerri rode the elevator to the sixty-fifth floor of The North American Bank Building, a seventy story glass and steel clad structure at the foot of Bay Street, the fulcrum of Toronto’s financial district. She was greeted by six foot five inch DanTurner, now sixty-one, yet as regal and dominating as ever in his black pin-striped suit. He hugged her and uttered his condolences. “I am not capable of understanding your pain. You have my deepest sympathies,” he whispered.

She returned the hug. “Thanks, Dan. You’re very kind.”

“Your father said you need help. I’m at your service.”

“Can we go somewhere private?”

He led her to his lavishly decorated office in the south west corner of the building. She had seen his commanding view of Lake Ontario ten years earlier, but it still captivated her.

Once seated, Kerri reminded Turner of their meeting in The Loyalist Restaurant, and of Jim Servito’s stolen money. She went on to tell him the same story she had told Karen and her father in Muskoka: of the residuals from Servito’s ‘estate’, and of the incredible investment success of Miles Dennis. The deeper she proceeded into her story, the more it amazed Turner. His mouth had opened involuntarily, his grey eyes bulged. “That’s incredible! I told your father years ago, and now I’ll tell you. The Kings are by far the most exciting clients I’ve ever had... Please tell me about Miles. Is he still with the company?”

Kerri’s expression turned morose. “He didn’t make it out,” she said, tears streaming down her cheeks.

“I’m so sorry. I know he was very close to you.”

“He was the very best friend I’ve ever had...Now he’s gone.”

For the first time in his career, Turner had difficulty deciding what to say next. He said nothing, by no means a small achievement for a lawyer.

Kerri stared at him with reddened eyes. “I want to give every dime of that money to the families of the Iacardi employees who died on Tuesday. I would do it directly, but I have no idea what the status of that money is.”

“You’re an amazing woman. I’m very proud of you. Given the same set of circumstances, I don’t think there are many people who would choose the same course of action.” The corners of Turner’s mouth turned ever so slightly northward. “You’re not sure if it’s still hot, or not. Am I right?”

Kerri nodded.

Technically, it’s not. The Feds have been paid and have signed off on their claim against your father. They were delighted and satisfied then. At the time I don’t think they cared if there was any of Servito’s money left over. Time, however, has a habit of changing things. Since there was no income tax ever paid on that money, it’s likely still categorized as the fruits of crime. Furthermore, you’re sitting on a huge unrealized capital gain... Have you ever declared any of this to the I.R.S.?”

Kerri shook her head.

“I’m glad I asked... God knows how much you’ll be penalized for failing to file for ten years. In addition, if a half a billion dollars suddenly hits the street, a lot of people are going to start asking questions, including the Feds. They will likely get greedy...Your father and Karen know about this. Does anyone else? Think about it, Kerri. I can’t tell you how important this is.” He gave her his penetrating stare, leaving no doubt about the sincerity of his question.

“Nobody!” she replied with emphasis.

“Okay. Forgive me. I stressed the importance of secrecy. I hope you understand.”

Kerri nodded.

“You still want to do this?”

“With all my heart,” she replied without hesitation.

“Do you have the history of Miles Dennis’s stewardship of the money?”

She reached into her overnight bag and removed a single letter-sized page. She handed it to Turner. Miles wrote this and gave it to me a long time ago. He said he would advise me if anything changes. We spoke about it occasionally, but at my request, he spared me the details of his trades. The entire account, from the beginning, has been with the Geneva branch of Liechtensteinische Comco AG.”

Turner fastened his reading glasses in place and examined Kerri’s sheet. He nodded. “Good. He included the contact, account number and access code. Do you have any reason to believe this information is incorrect?”

“None. Miles was the most honest and accurate individual I’ve ever known.”

“Do you confirm that you are the sole owner of this account?”

Kerri nodded. “I do.”

“Okay, here’s what I think. If I were to assist you in any way in the distribution of this money, I would be breaking the law, and that is something I’m not prepared to do. As you know, I stepped way over that line for your father and Karen, but that was then. The rules were a little less stringent then, and I didn’t have as much to lose. I’m simply not about to do it again. I will, however, never be able to thank you and Miles Dennis enough for bringing that ugly chapter to an end. Your father would likely still be in jail if you two hadn’t pulled off that miracle... If you still want to proceed, then you’re going to have to do it yourself, or find someone, ideally in Switzerland where the laws are different, who will do it for you. I suggest that you start with your contact in Liechtensteinische Comco. Finally, I suggest you move with extreme care. You’re dealing with a very dangerous amount of money. If the Feds discover your connection to it, you will likely be in a world of trouble.”

Kerri showed a hint of a smile. Even though Turner had disappointed her by not agreeing to assist her, his commanding presence and take charge demeanor had given her the confidence she needed, a confidence that gave her the courage to do whatever it took to use her money, hot or not, to provide financial assistance which would enable a very large number of families to grieve with dignity. “Thanks, Dan. You’ve told me what I need to know. I’m sorry you can’t help me, but I understand your position,” she said, then shook his hand and left.

She exited the North American Bank Building, then walked a block and a half north on Bay Street. She entered the Iacardi Building, an aging but attractive four story structure with grey stucco covered exterior walls and black shuttered windows. Iacardi’s Canadian division occupied the entire building. She took the elevator to the top floor and was greeted with hugs and condolences by all seven members of senior management. All were impeccably dressed in dark blue or black suits. Kerri wore her faded jeans, white sneakers, heavy grey sweat shirt, and brown leather jacket. Her Yankees hat was stuffed in her bag. By sheer force of will she managed to avoid tears.

Jason Abramson, the stocky balding Managing Director of the Canadian division and a member of the Iacardi board of directors, spoke. “We’ve taken a vote, Kerri. It was unanimous. We’re prepared to do whatever it takes to save the company.”

“Thanks, Jason,” she replied, moved by his statement and no longer able to stifle her tears. “Let’s go to the boardroom.”

All eight proceeded to the boardroom and took seats at a heavy round mahogany table for twelve. Kerri made eye contact with each attendee, then spoke. “I’ve had almost a week to live with this nightmare. I’ve been tormented with the choices available to all of us almost constantly. I can’t begin to tell you how gratified I am with your decision.” She allowed a brief smile. “I agree with it, without reservation,” she said, prompting a loud applause.

She took a sip of water, then continued. “We’re going to have to circle the wagons and pass out ammunition to everyone. Starting now, there will be no rules, no policies, and no limits on the number of hours we all work. If anyone has an idea of how to get things done, do it. Don’t wait for approval. We’ll sort it out later...It’s pretty certain that our New York division has only four employees, so until we replace the ones we’ve lost, the Canadian and European divisions are going to have handle all of the U.S. accounts. Every detail of information related to those accounts is available to you on our New Jersey server. I want it done with professionalism, and I do not want to miss a beat. I’ve made arrangements for all of the U.S. telephone calls to be directed to this office until further notice. Following the conclusion of this meeting I’m flying back to New York with two objectives: the first is to find a new office, the second is to hire people, and to keep on hiring until we have a functioning division.”

Kerri again made eye contact with each attendee. “Any questions?” she asked.

“What are you going to use for money?” Abramson asked.

“That will be taken care of this week,” Kerri replied, avoiding any discussion of her planned use of her Rainy Day Fund for that purpose. “I’ll phone you with the details. Any more questions?”

Susan Quinn, the only female attendee and employee relations manager, spoke. “I haven’t been able to stop thinking about the families of all those employees who were lost. They’re going to need some form of income and health care. How on earth are we going to make that happen.”

Kerri frowned, wishing she could disclose the details of her intended philanthropy, but couldn’t, ever. “That’s a great question, Susan. It’s become my obsession. I wish I had an answer. The best I can do at this point is to tell you it’s one of the reasons we’re all going to have to work our asses off. We’ll all likely have to make sacrifices, some you won’t like.” She paused and stared at Susan. “I can assure you that I won’t stop until I’m certain that those families have the wherewithal to continue their lives with the dignity they deserve.”

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