For the gentleman in need of a special favor or two, it is important to know where to go. This manual therefore, will provide, as a public service, some simple rules on how to go about setting up such a deal.
It is obvious, for example, that one cannot suddenly appear in the halls of the State Capitol announcing that he is looking for a political fix. Except under very lucky circumstances he is likely to be hauled away and locked up. Newspaper advertising can also be very misleading. An ad calling for a special contact will usually bring a response from some very kookie single girls, which may have some application in a different kind of manual.
No, in all activities involved with corruption it is important to follow strict rules of behavior to avoid the wrath of the incorruptables ( see definitions).
So the following few notes will clarify the likely methods of making the initial contact and point up some of the pitfalls to avoid.
The Taxi Driver
An excellent source. Taxi drivers usually know all aspects of the city life and therefore who to approach for special favors. This is due to a special talent for memorizing all conversations held in the back seat while pretending utter disdain for all humanity. Actually many taxi drivers have got disdain for all humanity, but this does not impair their hearing.
It is vital to be clear, however, in your request. For example, asking for a fix can lead to an embarrassing experience if the driver happens to be a “narc” in disguise. One elderly gentleman from the suburbs recently tried to fix a variance he needed to build a circular driveway he’d wanted all his life. He asked the taxi driver for the right contact and ended up spending four days in a plush east side message parlor. While the experience was not altogether disappointing, he never got his driveway. So be clear.
If the driver who is approached answers: “That’s not my job”, the safest thing to do is to get out of the cab immediately since it is likely that he doesn’t know how to get to your destination either. Hail another cab and try again.
A Candy Store Owner who Drives a Cadillac
This can be one of the best sources for lower level favors such as fixing a building inspector, — a highly useful source, especially if the Cadillac is white.
In driving through a neighborhood, look for a candy store with lots of people filing in and out. Since everybody knows that you get cavities from candy, it is likely that something else is going on. This can be confirmed by slapping five dollars on the counter and asking for O. Henry. If the response is “is that to win?”, you’re in the right place. Otherwise you will collect a fair number of candy bars ( which can be dispensed to annoying nephews in the hope they get tooth decay).
While it is true that the vast majority of Italians are hard working decent people, they usually can be relied upon to know the best places to get Italian food. Ask one where you can get the best Calimari in town. Chances are you will be directed to a dingy out of the way restaurant named somebody’s-or-other’s Clam House. Don’t be afraid to walk in, as your chances of getting mugged are considerably lower than being attacked in the oval office of the White House.(maybe a questionable analogy?)
Sit down quietly and look for a somewhat paunchy man wearing a dark shirt and a light colored tie. Pay no attention to the two mugs sitting with him but make your contact by passing him a note via the waiter. Be explicit, however, since it would be a disaster to be misinterpreted under these circumstances.
Jewish Friends who Manufacture Dresses
A particularly bad source unless you are interested in fixing some minor union official or a head waiter. These friends are very useful, however, in arranging trips to Las Vegas.(5)
Get a Lawyer
As a last resort, a lawyer will usually know the right contact. This is likely to be quite expensive, since they always cut themselves in for a percentage.
Be careful, because they will always try to tout you on a legal way to circumvent the law you want to by-pass, and in the long run this will end up costing you more money, especially in legal defense fees.
It is clearly understood, but nowhere inscribed, that compensation for a corrupt act is never handled at the time of discussion. Whether reimbursement occurs before or after delivery is immaterial since all parties to the arrangement are honorable persons demonstrating their loyalty to the democratic system by the very act itself.
It is therefore necessary that a system of delivery be devised which is both effective and devious enough to bypass those angels of the masses — the G-men — whose duty it is to give the appearance of constantly apprehending evildoers, while in fact they are frequent participants. They maintain their roles as guardians of the masses by dint of the general ignorance of the average man about the machinations of corruption in keeping things moving properly.
In order to maintain this appearance of guardianship, the police have developed the most sophisticated equipment to detect crime ever devised and are in a constant and are in a constant state of activity involving surveillance and apprehension. Criminals under arrest are photographed, details published in the local press, houses put up for sale or confiscated. The extent of the dealings are multiplied by several thousand to give a grand total of enough magnitude to reassure the public. If ant interested party ever thought to inquire as to the fate of these arrested criminals he would find that few, if any, ever make it to jail. Their punishment for being stupid enough to be caught usually involves the payment of large fees to lawyers specializing in avoiding jail sentences for their clients. Needless to say, such firms are eminently successful..
A number of standard methods for payoffs have been designed to confound the authorities. A few of the more common techniques follow:
The Brown Paper Bag
The brown paper bag is a favorite method of carrying large amounts of money. It is a common site, clearly indicative of poverty since it usually contains two bologna sandwiches and a pickle. One would never think to pile money in an attache case since only important documents such as mortgage foreclosures are carried in such prominent receptacles.
The unobtrusive brown paper bag , therefore, has assumed great prominence as the payoff container. Various methods of passing cash in a prearranged manner have been designed.
Back Seats of Taxis
This favorite method of passing the cash is founded on split second timing. The payer will take a taxi to a prearranged meeting place (street corner), leave the taxi with the paper bag on the back seat, while the recipient enters through the same door, taking the taxi to his destination.
As mentioned before, the timing must be accurate, particularly in busy cities where much of the action goes on. Recently a recipient was a step behind and an aggressive but unsuspecting young female, seeing an available taxi at last, darted into the back seat and took off, (the driver cursing under his breath at the anticipated poor tip). Somewhat surprised, she screamed at finding the brown paper bag with ten thousand dollars in small bills, which immediately ruined any possibility of stuffing it into her purse and taking off. The poor payer, naturally, had no recourse but to deny that he had ever been in that cab, ever carried paper bags with money, or even knew where to get ten thousand dollars in small bills.
The Tree Stump
Hollow tree stumps in parks were at one time extremely popular dropping-off places. The appropriate designation would be made and the pickups could be accomplished at any convenient time. Coded maps of the best areas were surreptitiously published and passed around when the arrangements were made. The large number of dead trees made surveillance impractical.
A small businessman from the Bronx became wealthy by manufacturing plastic tree stumps which closely approximated the real thing. You could but one with holes at eye level, hip level, or top-sided holes for easy placement of payoff packages. In addition you had the added advantage of moving the payoff spot to any area of town.
Business boomed until an unfortunate event occurred. A huge squirrel, seeing the package placed , darted after it and being somewhat disappointed at not finding a bunch of chestnuts, deposited a large commentary of his disappointment on the surface of the bag. Two hours later a prominent bank vice-president reached down the stump to get the package and was greeted by a most disagreeable experience. When word got around, the taxi business began to pick up again, and the Bronx businessman began to manufacture living room tables.
The Right Man
Herman”s Delicatessen in Manhattan was a busy place for takeout lunches. Founded during World War II at the height of the meat shortage, it was labeled as a likely site for evildoings. The police were not sure what was going on, but they knew it smelled bad (not the food, of course).
Surveillance had been increased recently by the addition of Lieutenant Joe Ferguson, the top notch watcher, who was assigned to the restaurant when suspicions were aroused by the hiring of the mayor’s son to cut salami. Everybody knew that somehow information relating to cash payoffs were being passed at the Deli — but the exact method couldn’t be detected. Furguson was assigned to have lunch at the place every day and make direct notes of all the activities.
Nothing turned up. He wondered if he had been spotted. Impossible — his disguise was perfect — pinstripe suit, attache case, the perfect Jewish banker or insurance salesman. No one would suspect he was an Irish cop. Impossible, he thought as he swallowed another portion of his corned beef sandwich — on white bread with mayo.
Barney Feinstein was a likely suspect. Joe was sure he was the man. Feinstein ran a small newsstand down the street from the Deli, and each day he would come in, pick up a sandwich, and march out. Payment was made on a monthly basis, but each purchase was followed by the usual totaling of the amount on the front of the paper bag. Furguson was sure that this bag contained the information which could blow the operation — perhaps the address of the drop.
Each day Feinstein would step out of the store to a small park across the way, toss the bag and sandwich wrapper into a nearby trash can and eat his sandwich while sitting on a bench. The routine never changed.
Ferguson fingered him as the likely suspect and Feinstein was in for a careful going over. One day on his way back to his newsstand Feinstein looked surprised to see four men scrutinizing the garbage can near his park bench. They turned it over and began to collect garbage in a cloth sack. Weirdos, he thought.
That night Feinstein was mugged for the first time in his life. Nothing was taken, but he was searched and let go. “Odd. They never took my wallet,” he later told his wife.
Two days later a car rammed his newsstand. No one was hurt, but papers were strewn all over the street. Strangely, there were groups of men immediately on the scene helping him clean up. They seemed to be looking for something.
The police had examined every aspect of Feinstein’s sandwich wrapper and brown bag. They looked for coded messages, invisible ink, microdots, anything that might lead them to the payoff spot, but to no avail.
Furguson mulled this over as he finished his sandwich. “Feinstein’s the man, all right,”he thought. ” I’ll get ‘im.” He got up paid for his lunch, walked to the door, and stepped outside into the gray afternoon. He glanced down the street, breathed a sigh, crumpled up the register receipt for his lunch and tossed it in the gutter. He walked slowly back toward the office.
A few minutes later a window washer who had been standing nearby idled toward the edge of the sidewalk. He bent down and grasped the crumpled receipt, flattened it out and perused the numbers.
He deciphered it immediately — 144 W. 38th street, the payoff site that day. He placed the paper in a pocket and resumed washing the windows.
Three eighty tax on a sandwich . . .” that’s dumb,” he thought. They’d better think up something better soon!
5 Crime and no Punishment ed. Seagull, B. Plenum Press 1946, Las Vegas.