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A Wiseguy's Odyssey
Part 4 - The Shit Hits The Fan
By now the cash I had laid out for our Vegas trip and office setup combined with the considerable amounts I had outstanding on loan left me with little resources. It was not as if I had flexibility with Barry and Wes' bankroll because we had it set up so that I settled on a weekly basis with Barry's brother-in-law who lives locally. Still I was able to juggle cash coming in along with credit card and line of credit advances to keep everyone paid and even handle the occasional new expenditure.
So it goes without saying that when Spiro brought up a new dilemma that he was faced with, I wasn't very sympathetic. It turned out that Chan was pressuring him for the $50,000 Spiro owed him. Spiro said that Chan made him a final offer to pay 1/2 ($25,000) or he would sell the debt to some real vicious types who would collect the whole amount and do him some serious bodily harm. At first I said, "that's your problem bud", but I could see that this was really getting to him - he was really sweating it. I maintained my resolve even as he took to following me around like a puppy dog, literally begging.
Needless to say all these distractions were taking their toll on my full time studies. What with confirming balances, collecting and paying both the outs and my customers, frequently attending sessions at our office and keeping an eye on my associates, I could barely concentrate on my school work at all. Sucker that I am, Spiro's dilemma was weighing heavily on me the next evening when Tom called and asked to meet. I invited him to my place where he explained the purpose of his visit.
He also wanted to find a way for Spiro to solve his problem. He was there on Spiro's behalf and he was willing to contribute the balance ($7,000) if I could come up with $18,000. He figured we could make the money back in no time and that would be the end of Spiro's major problems. My heart and the prospect of even more interest income made the decision for me, especially with Tom pitching in. At this point I approached my family for a loan to raise the scratch. Remember that by now I had exhausted all available cash, credit and retirement savings that were at my disposal.
Tom was going to send a good friend of his to pay Chan since neither Tom nor I were supposed to be associated with Spiro and we didn't trust Spiro to go on his own with such a large amount of cash. Also Tom's friend had a certain amount of muscle in order to convince Chan not to get any cute ideas after this final payment was made.
I remember meeting Rob, Spiro and Tom for lunch after amassing the $18,000 cash from several financial institutions. I was out of breath from rushing around and I hadn't counted it out yet. I was so stressed out that I asked Tom to re-check it after losing count several times. I cannot overstate the headaches in dealing with large cash amounts in transactions with banks and others. Once Tom confirmed the amount I told him to hang onto it so he could give it to his friend later. That evening Tom told me that everything was taken care of.
About a week later Tom called me to let me know the balances wouldn't check because he had played some personal action on Chan's account and lost. He normally had another out he played into for his personal stuff, but he told me Chan's line had been better and that he had bet some of the sharp plays at his out. He assured me he would make good on the amount (around $7,000) once he collected from his out. This left me in a pinch since I had to fork over the dough to pay Chan before Tom collected from his guy. We had an understanding that there would be no personal plays on my account, so I wasn't happy. I had it out with Tom and he assured me it wouldn't happen again.
As you can see things were starting to get rocky and when I discussed things with my family, my brother started casting doubt on where the $18,000 that I had come up with for Spiro actually went. He said it was quite convenient that things were set up in such a way that I couldn't personally deliver the money. He suggested I was being conned. I thought this was just more of my brother's paranoid drivel, but the more I thought about it, the more it bothered me. It got to the point that I asked Spiro and Tom point blank if the cash had gotten to it's intended destination. My trust was wavering and Spiro and Rob's interest payments, by now huge, were being added to the principal because more often than not they couldn't afford to pay. The last straw was when Tom didn't come up with the cash he had promised me and I could tell I was being stalled and toyed with.
I felt I now had to take action. I decided to meet Chan and ask him directly if he had received the $25,000. I met him at his office and asked him if Spiro had paid him. He was not very forthcoming because he had no idea that I was involved with Spiro and felt it was none of my business. I finally leveled with him about our whole setup and how I had given Spiro $18,000 destined for Chan. Well now he dropped the secrecy and was astonished to what extent Spiro would go.
He said he hadn't received a red cent. Let's just say that at this moment I knew everything was falling apart and I was furious that someone I had treated like a brother had robbed me blind. My first call was to Tom and I confronted him on the phone. He responded that how dare I accuse him - the son of a bitch! Later I called Spiro and he admitted it laying the blame on Tom.
I met with him at Dunkin Donuts with Rob who was not involved in the scam. I read Spiro the riot act and he just sat there and looked like a lost soul. I told him I couldn't believe after how straight I had been with him that he could screw me so badly and bring in his friend Tom for seconds. He pleaded for me to allow him to remain part of the team and that we could make it back, but I realized that would be like trusting an alcoholic to tend bar. The hurt was too deep. I didn't ever want to be associated with Spiro or Tom again. I was ready to throw in the towel, practically suicidal.
For the next month I was numb and just went through the motions of daily life. The realization that it would be a hell of long time before I saw any of my money, if ever, set in. Chan told me he would no longer take my action even though he knew I was honorable. He simply no longer wanted anything to do with sharp plays. Rob wanted to continue on our own with the one out we had left. I told Barry what had happened and he sympathized with me and was willing to continue our relationship.
I was amazed at how much the combination of a little greed, lots of inexperience and too much trust can cost. I was not only demoralized, but my family's confidence in my judgment had severely wavered. Prior to this they had considered me extremely sensible and relied on me whenever a major decision had to be made - especially in financial matters. It would take a long time before I got back on my feet.