This town runs on rumors and innuendos.
And it was time for Ravi, Richard and Andy to become part of those rumors and innuendos.
The best part about a rumor was that once it was printed in the paper or reported on television it would take on a life of its own. And anyone who was the subject would react, either publicly or privately but they would react. And that reaction was priceless information especially if you knew how the rumor started.
The key to creating a top notch rumor that could be reported as a scandal was in giving the media just enough facts to make the rumor seem plausible and just enough sizzle to give the media a hook to bite.
The second most important part of creating a scandal that started with a rumor was to have plausible deniability. The subject of the rumors first reaction would be to try to find out who “leaked” the story. They never would but that’s what they always do first.
Cadillac Curtis had taught me from the beginning that the only way two people could keep a secret was if one of them was dead.
Apply that to scandal rumors and all you had to do was tell one person a secret and by the time it was printed nobody could ever prove where it started.
Now there are lots of ways to plant a story with the media but the best way I knew of was to tell Dante Dorr a story and swear him to secrecy. If you told Dante at 10 am by 2 pm it was being reported as fact by at least three news outlets.
Dante had been around Albany forever. He was a reporter at the student run Albany College newspaper focusing on state politics. He mixed his average reporting talents with his slightly above average baseball talents to become the starting centerfielder on then lieutenant governor Mario Mazzone’s coed softball team in the prestigious legislative correspondents’ beer league. Dante was a slap hitter with good speed which also described his reporting skills and made him a perfect fit for the Associated Press whom he began working for after graduation. Dante would slap out a so so story and then immediately move to the next story without any follow up. After a year at the AP he moved on to become the statehouse reporter for Albany’s flagship paper the Times Union, known to its shrinking base of readers and advertisers as the Times Useless. When Mazzone became governor Dante reunited as his assistant public information officer and starting centerfielder on Mazzone’s new coed softball team in the prestigious legislative correspondents beer league. Dante stayed with Mazzone for five years rising in both the governors’ hierarchy at the capital and in the batting order. When he finally had to stop playing softball as a result of a severe groin pull he was batting cleanup, still a slap hitter but with enough leverage to guarantee his spot in the order. And by the time he simultaneously had to resign from the governor’s staff as a result of leaking a story to the New York Post about his own failure to spellcheck a press release that spelled Mazzone’s name wrong, he had risen to become the governor’s director of communications. Following his resignation and the numerous leaked stories of potential corruption investigations resulting from the misspelled name on the press release, all centered around the governors use of Dante’s state position to write a press release related to Mazzone’s use of the state airplane to allegedly meet with the Washington National baseball team to allegedly discuss Mazzone’s future hiring as the Washington National’s general manager. A completely fabricated story to provide cover for Mazzone’s real reason for using the state airplane to travel to Washington which was to meet and have a liaison with an underage Indonesian male prostitute. Dante caught on as a public relations specialist at White Smoke Communications a small communications firm with ties to Governor McLoweys niece Shelly Gold.
Some would argue that McLowey benefitted the most from Mazzone’s fall from power as he was able to parlay his investigation as Attorney General into Mazzone and the prostitute into his present position as Governor.
Be that as it may Dante knew everybody and talked to his friends and enemies (whom he still thought were his friends) in the press all the time.
With that thought in mind I called Dante in his office and spoke to his secretary.
“Is Dante available?”
“Certainly, hold on a sec Mr. Leathers and I’ll tell him you are on the phone”
“Leathers what do you know what do you hear?”
Dante’s standard salutation. I could picture him at his desk wearing yellow lensed sunglasses with four computer screens fired up and five cell phones in front of him.
“You have to keep this between us Dante, it very sensitive”
“Of course Leathers you have my word”
“I got a call from Richard Siler last night, his niece was arrested for a DWI on the Northway and she was driving a stolen car owned by Ravi Kamatrappa’s development company Oxford Road Development”
“That’s not the worst of it the FBI is investigating Oxford Road for some kind of insider trading deal related to their purchase of state land around that new micro dot factory Ravi is building”
“How do you know the FBI is investigating/”
“Richard told me when the state police impounded the jaguar she was driving they found one of those tracking devices with, get this, a tag that said property of the FBI please return if found, those cheap bastards”
“Do you know who is leading the investigation for the feds?”
“No but my guess is Andy Karp he does all the public corruption cases”
“Wow that’s a big story”
“Dante you can’t tell a soul, Richard swore me to secrecy he is mortified with embarrassment that his 17 year old niece would have stolen a car”
“Why would his niece have stolen that particular car?”
“I have no clue Dante and no way am I going to embarrass Richard further by asking questions. Gotta run, later.”
By the time Dante was done making calls and these idiots in the media asked the wrong questions a shit storm should fall on Richard, Ravi, Andy and some 17 year old coed whose only sin had been blowing Ravi.
Little did I know that a large Israeli gentleman named Lev Bacuma would also get splashed with the shit from the shit storm and come looking for revenge. But that was the nature of a rumor you never knew where it would lead.
Before I left to meet Bob Haxter for drinks I had one last loose end to attend to.
I called Dan Kerr on his private line.
“Hey Danny how’s it hanging?”
“Good, good did you hear about Richard’s car getting stolen?”
I smiled, count on Dante to be Dante. He was fast but the game of telephone always resulted in a different story coming out the end of the pipe.
“Really who did you hear that from?”
“The hose’s press guy just asked me about it”
“No shit. Speaking of the hose I need a favor”
“Can you get me into a foursome with the hose this week? We can play at my club in East Greenbush, make it me, you, the hose and I’ll bring Rocky Schwartz.”
Rocky owned more developable real estate in upstate New York than anyone. He was also 6’5” tall and hung like a gerbil. He was my client but I knew Dan would like nothing better than to spend 5 hours with Rocky on the golf course and try to sign him as a client of Dolan and Kerr.
“Sure on one condition”
“You ride with the hose and I put Rocky in my cart”
“You got it. Let me know what day the hose wants to play”
“You sure Rocky will be available?”
“Count on it. He is in the middle of some deal that needs senate support he’ll be there trying to get you and Mickey on board cheap”
“Ok I’ll call you back as soon as I lock the hose in”
I hung up and hit the intercom.
“Pat I’ll see you tomorrow I’m going to meet Bob Haxter for drinks”
“I know I made your reservation remember. And take my advice don’t drink too much and go straight home after, I hear there are a lot of coeds out there that will steal your car if you aren’t careful”
God Pat was really good at her job.