Monday, March 20, 2023

Heller and Shannon: Delegating is an art

Agent McCafferty had been confident that a lead would pop up. That is what investigation was, relentlessly sifting through data until motive, opportunity and means presented themselves.

The phone data revealed two non-natives phones sat in the Turner driveway for exactly 63 seconds and then departed. One of those phones called 9-1-1 and the 9-1-1 logs verified time and GPS position. The caller declined to identify herself but that was of little consequence.
The FBI had the phone numbers and were rapidly vacuuming up their life histories: Encounters with law enforcement, social media posts (even the parts they might have deleted), call and texting history. Everything.

McCafferty was convinced they had the get-away driver. If McCafferty had not been a professional, he would have classified her as “typical, down-river trailer-park trash”, but that is not how he described her in the daily meeting. People can draw their own conclusions.

“The primary person-of-interest is a woman, age 23. No known employment history. Known to law-enforcement for shoplifting, driving with a suspended license and being disorderly in public. Latest address of record is in Ecorse, Michigan. Self-described as a 'party-girl' on her social media accounts.”

Ecorse was a rust-belt, poverty-blighted suburb wedged in the armpit between Detroit and the Detroit River. It was not an “aspirational” suburb.

“Our social media team is constructing a map of known associates.” 
"We haven't been able to locate either phone because they must have turned them off and then dumped them. We have warrants to bring them in for questioning.”

It felt good to be able to report some progress on the case!


Ken Aarons, Shannon and Heller’s lawyer sat in his minivan and had another meeting with Shannon. It was lunchtime and Shannon asked to meet him in the parking lot of a farm-supply store on the south side of Ionia, Michigan.

Normally, Aarons would not have inconvenienced himself but given the amount of money she was randomly throwing away, he would have driven to the North Pole if that is where she wanted to meet.

Aarons was taken off-balance by her request.

“Heller and I had a long discussion and we want to buy a business” is how Shannon started out.

“That sounds like a very practical thing. Of course I will be glad to help you with that” Aarons responded. Giving away millions of dollars wasn’t normal and he was glad to be returning to activities he was more familiar with.

“We then we want to give it back to the employees” Shannon continued.

“Well, that would be your choice” Aarons said. “It is your company. You can do what you want with it.”

“You might want to consider the tax implications, though. The IRS will consider it ordinary income and you will create tax liabilities that will force the employees to sell their stock at a loss to pay those liabilities.” Aarons said. Any lawyer would have.

“I didn’t think of that” Shannon admitted.

“Another thing you need to consider is who will actually own the business before you give it to the employees: You? LR? Split it 51%-49%?” Aarons said. “Life is more complicated because you two are not married.”

The expression on Shannon’s face indicated that she had not thought of that, either.

“The other condition is that we want to be completely anonymous” Shannon said.

“Tough, but doable” Aarons said confidently.

“Do you have a business in mind or do you want me to help you find one?” Aarons asked. He had lots of connections in the Detroit area that would be very helpful in the search.

“Oh, we have one picked out” Shannon said. “Whelen Sporting Goods.”

It took Ken Aarons’ mind a second to whir-and-click into place. The scope of what Shannon was proposing was...breathtaking.

“Are you sure you have enough money?” Aarons ventured at last.

“Well, that depends on how good of a negotiator you are, doesn’t it?” Shannon responded. “They are in Chapter 11 and it isn’t going well for anybody. Their most senior bonds are trading for about forty cents on the dollar and they really porked up on debt at the end...that junior debt is running a bit over a penny on the dollar.”

The young lady continued to amaze Aarons. Just when he started thinking of her as young and naive, she started spitting statistics like a Wallstreet Analyst.

Aarons started to backpedal. “THAT will be a lot, lot tougher” he confided.

“There will be a lot of scrutiny from the courts and even more from the banks” Aarons said.

“Federal law requires that banks report large cash transactions. It is part of the war-on-terrorism and the war-on-drugs. You can’t just give them a pile of money and expect to remain anonymous” Aarons said.

“You know, it is probably time for me to give you the standard talk on MY legal obligations” Aarons said.

“I am an agent-of-the-court. You can ask me if something is a crime and I will tell you if it is or it isn’t. But if you TELL me you are going to commit a crime then I have an obligation, as agent-of-the-court, to stop you” Aarons said.

“Another thing is that if you TELL me that the money we are moving around is the fruit of illegal activity, then I cannot help you although I can still represent you should you find yourself being criminally prosecuted” Aarons said. “If you DON’T TELL me that it is the proceeds of illegal activities, then I will assume that the money is not tainted and we can continue to do business.”

“So are you telling me that we cannot buy Whelens or that we can buy Whelens?” Shannon asked.

“I am telling you that it will be impossible to buy it and turn around and immediately give it to the employees while remaining anonymous” Aarons said.

“Immediately…?” Shannon said.

“You can hire me to create a series of off-shore, shell corporations and we can bounce the money around between them several times, then one of the shell-corporations can make a White-Knight offer for Whelens” Aarons said. “Run it for ten years and make stock-options a substantial part of the employee pay. Then after ten years offer the remainder of the company to the employees.”

“Own and run Whelens...while working as a bank teller...for ten years. Sure, why not” Shannon said.

“I have the money in three crypto accounts. Let me hand you the thumb-drives” Shannon said. Having a pro run the money through off-shore, shell corporations sounded like a good way to make the money less traceable. Mostly, she just wanted the monkey-off-her-back.

“Don’t you want a contract?” Aarons asked, surprised.

“No. Pay yourself what you are worth plus 20%. And about those off-shore accounts, why don’t you pick countries you and your wife want to visit. Its not like Heller and I will be visiting them.”
Note from author: I was blessed to have a top-notch lawyer help me with this passage. I will gladly identify him if he gives me permission. All errors are mine.
If you need a lawyer, don't rely on fiction. Get a lawyer.


  1. Second the comment. Get a lawyer.

    Interesting twist ERJ.

  2. Aren't they now doing what Shannon argued with Heller about exactly not doing, which was using the money for "themselves"? While the benefit is for friends in this case, they have to be directly involved now. Shell companies still need real people to sign the SEC documents. And as the Pandora Papers and similar hacks have shown, the veil of secrecy of shell accounts can be broken.

    1. Life is messy.

      If they don't push the money out then it might get recovered by the bad-guys.

      The company that is the template for "Whelens" has 2000 employees. Once the first set of stock-options or physical stock is given to the employees, it becomes a cluster-festival to try to rip it back. And there are some legal nuances if they strip it from the shell companies but not the employees.

      Finding somebody to act as a paid agent for the vapor-companies will not be difficult.

  3. I have been very intrigued with all the unexpected twists and turns in the story. Also kind of confused. How and why did they pick out this guy Turner to ambush, cripple, and then take his many millions of ill gotten crypto currency? and who is Dusty? And why did they pick out this Whelen's Sporting Goods to buy and then give it to the employees? Do they have friends who work there? And finally, what does any of their recent actions have to do with getting back at Cee Diff and her boss and the HR Director who conspired to fire Shannon?

    1. I'm assuming that like other authors (e.g. OldNFO) snippets, these are eventually intended for publication as a complete story, the gaps will be filled in in the complete, release version.

    2. Turner (and several others) popped out of the data analysis supplied by PluggedIn. They followed the money.

      Dusty was the guy behind the gun counter where Heller liked to do business. Incidentally, it was at a Whelen's Sporting Goods. Dusty was laid-off due to the company imploding as a result of financial manipulations by Turner's company.

      Turner used Whelen's name and reputation to take out a huge amount of loans, then passed the money through a fire-wall before cutting the bled-white Whelen's loose. They were broke but still on-the-hook to pay back the loans.

      Heller and Shannon picked Whelen's because that is where a chunk of the cash that fell into their lap came from. Also, the Dusty connection.

    3. I had at first read thought "Dusty" was referring to one of the girls Turner had roughed up badly, but read back through all of the posts and found him at Whelen's. Which is also where the investment company Turner runs comes into play.

  4. Heller & Shannon's risk profile has increased substantially. There is an increasing number of vectors pointing back at them now. Great story, Joe.

  5. Agent McCaffery's 'leads' will pull attention away from H & S for a long time. Consider it from their side, if Turner was getting a rep as rough trade with the locals the authorities might decide the girls were going to strike first. Then they can start chasing down "Dusty" as the street name for one of Lon's previous victims....

    There are motive and opportunity. Now, they just need excuses for the methods (gun and taser) they can't find.

  6. Aggie is right. NOT a good move on their part, regardless of the 'intent'...

  7. Thank you, Joe, for filling in the gaps for me. BTW, it was me (George True), a long time reader and fan, asking the questions. But your new comments function sometimes changes my name to anonymous.

    If you can tolerate just one more pesky question - What is the connection to the casino that suddenly had no money to pay its vendors and employees as a result of Shannon's manipulations?

  8. Reads like the FBI are going to "round up the usual suspects". That is not going to ever lead them to Shannon and Heller.

    Factions contending with the one that included Lon could make moves into his vacated position, further confusing the track. (The casino people ?) Plenty of distractions for the government to follow elsewhere, and commendations to be had by all. Good times.

    But buying out Whelen Sporting Goods is going to leave durable traces back to Shannon and Heller, regardless of the indirection layers they construct. A retail weapons business of any kind is bound to be a target for continuous investigations from departments far removed from the hapless agent McCafferty.

    So much for going quietly into a peaceful life together. They must continue to be very careful. Some good luck would be helpful too.

    And what about Ce'Diff?

  9. My curiosity--
    Is this where the name "Ce'Diff" came from

    "which includes one strain of food poisoning as well as
    the “C. diff" (Clostridium difficile) infection"
    (source 3/21 Prep school daily web site

    I AM enjoying this "series" keeps one guessing on where it goes


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