The following investigative report, The Undercover Man, is taken from the Chester P. Karrick, Jr. book entitled Clyde and Chester, The Investigators: Fraud, Embezzlement, Theft.
On Monday, April 9th at 7pm, Author Chester P. Karrick, Jr. will be at Friendswood Public Library to discuss some of the investigative cases conducted by himself and legendary Houston private eye, Clyde A. Wilson.
A client owned and operated a mining operation just inside the California state line in Death Valley. Suspecting thefts of materials and supplies, the client requested that Clyde and Chester review the operation.
As they were currently tied up on other matters, they decided to use an undercover man to observe the operation until they could review the matter in person.
Clyde and Chester did not as a practice use undercover operatives as it often could be very time consuming and expensive to the client. Results could not always be predictable.
You may recall an earlier case in this book where a truck driver stole oil from oil production tanks and had hidden stacks and stacks of one hundred dollar bills in his freezer. When that case was finished, the truck driver told Clyde and Chester he thought he would make a good investigator and wondered how he could get in the business. He begged to work with them.
Clyde thought it would be a good idea to engage this man as an undercover man in the mining operation by getting him a job at the mine site. The former truck driver was contacted and told to get some old, beat up clothes and shoes, hitch a ride into Death Valley, and get a job at the mine operation. He agreed as he thought this would be fun. He successfully arrived on the scene and obtained a job in the parts depot. At the end of every week he called Clyde and Chester to report on his suspicions and findings.
Soon he started to complain about the weather and wondered when they were going to be there so he could leave. It was summertime in Death Valley and the temperatures approached 118 to 120 degrees during the day. Summer is miserable there.
After about a month Clyde and Chester left for Death Valley. They flew to Las Vegas and rented a car to journey to Death Valley.
Arriving late in a town called Furnace Creek, they decided to spend the night and go on early the next morning to the mine location. At Furnace Creek there was only an old motel and a nearby small building called an opera house.
Entering the office of the motel, they noticed that the owner was frying potatoes and onions over an open fire on the dirt floor.
Chester asked, “Do you have any vacancies for tonight?”
The owner turned to his wife and said, “I don’t know about number six, as Ralph likes to stay there when he visits.”
Chester asked, “Does Ralph have a reservation for tonight?”
The owner said, “No, but he likes to stay in number six when he stays here.”
Chester asked, “How long has it been since Ralph was last here?”
The owner replied, “Oh, about six weeks.”
Chester said, “I don’t see any other cars in the parking lot. You must have some other rooms available.”
The owner and his wife talked among themselves for a little while and finally said, “I guess you can have number seven and eight if you are only going to be here one night.”
Chester thought that was awfully nice of them as it was obvious that no one else was going to be staying there that night and probably not for the next several weeks.
Entering their rooms, it was obvious that very few people stayed in that God forsaken place, as it was old and dirty.
As evening came, Clyde and Chester went next door to the opera house. The building was open and looked like an old country church with several rows of pews on either side of the aisle. Stage curtains walled off a large stage in front. Reportedly, a former renowned opera diva had settled in the area. She had built the opera house in order to have a place to continue to perform various operas in which she had formerly starred in the New York area.
She performed about twice a week and only occasionally had a few attendees. She had painted the walls with bench seats. Men and women had been painted in the bench seats so that it appeared when she sang that the house was full of people. Fortunately, she was not scheduled to perform that night.
Going to bed and asleep early, Chester was shortly awakened by the braying of a donkey which had been tied by someone to a railing just outside Chester’s room. This went on for quite a while which kept Chester awake.
After finally falling asleep, Chester was again awakened this time by finding the bed soaked with water. A thunderstorm had peppered the area with heavy rain. The roof apparently had several major holes that had allowed the rain to leak through onto Chester’s bed. Chester got dressed and spent the rest of the night sleeping in the rental car. This was probably the first time this area had seen rain in several years and they had to pick that one night to be there.
The next morning they proceeded to the site of the mining operation. Upon arrival they noticed several young beautiful women, about 20 years of age, deeply tanned, and driving huge pieces of earth moving equipment. The wheels on the equipment appeared to be ten to twelve feet in diameter. Later they found out that these women were chorus dancers or prostitutes from Las Vegas who were taking a few months off from their professional duties to rest and gain a good tan. The girls were usually at the company bar every night. However, they didn’t have anything to do with the men who worked there, which drove them crazy.
Clyde and Chester met with their undercover man to find out what he had learned while employed at the site. The former truck driver had suspected that thefts of materials and supplies from the parts storage room where negligible. He believed, though, that purchase orders were being issued for major purchases, invoices subsequently paid, but no deliveries made of the materials and equipment ordered. This indicated that a client employee had made a deal with one or more Las Vegas supplier companies to obtain kickbacks or split the proceeds from this activity.
Chester began checking various purchase orders against warehouse receipts and inventory records and found many items reportedly purchased but not received. Clyde called in the purchasing agents and confronted them with the evidence and suspicions.
Signed statements were obtained from two purchasing agents who admitted that they had made a deal with two Las Vegas suppliers whereby they would issue purchase orders for items of materials and equipment. No deliveries were made against these purchase orders. When the company paid the invoices, the supplier companies split the money with the purchasing agents.
The client had incurred a loss of about $45,000 from these fraudulent activities. The employees were unable to make any restitution and were terminated.
The former trucker expressed his pleasure with his involvement in the investigation. He expressed his desire to continue working with Clyde and Chester, but not in the desert area, as it was much too hot. The truck driver returned home, and although he frequently called Clyde and Chester for new assignments, he was never used again.
Clyde and Chester left for Las Vegas to confront personnel of the supplier companies. On their way Clyde complained of being hungry. They approached a grimy looking café in the middle of nowhere and Clyde wanted to stop. Inside the dirty looking place Clyde ordered chili.
Chester told Clyde, “You can’t eat the chili here. You don’t know how long it has been setting out. You will get sicker than a dog.”
Clyde replied, “No way, I’m hungry for chili.”
Chester reluctantly ordered a piece of apple pie and ice cream figuring that probably wouldn’t make him sick.
Sure enough after they left the café and were about 50 miles from Las Vegas, Clyde complained of being sick. They had to wait a day or two for Clyde to get over his bout with the chili before they could confront the suppliers.
After Clyde recovered, they approached personnel of the two supplier companies. Faced with threatened prosecution, the companies agreed to make restitution of the $45,000 loss to the client company and Clyde and Chester returned home without eating any more chili.
Also by Chester P. Karrick, Jr.
Corned Beef and Cabbage
Over the Fence they will go
Also by Chester P. Karrick, Jr.
Corned Beef and Cabbage
Over the Fence they will go