An undercover drug investigation leads to a web of political corruption that has ties to an international crime syndicate. As the case unfolds, our two detectives, Matt, who’s working undercover, and Blake, his handler, begin to wonder if the corruption reaches into their own department, too.
The Detectives: Detective Matt grew up in Pennsylvania. He joined the police department in the town where this story takes place shortly after graduating college. He worked in patrol at first and then moved to the street crimes unit before he started as an undercover narcotics investigator. After he worked this case, he went to a DEA task force and worked to infiltrate a major political party conference. He received a medal of valor for his efforts. He is now a deputy in another state.
Detective Blake started working as a police officer in 1987 after serving four years in the Marine Corps. He worked in one department for 26 years and then moved to the area where this story took place. There he started out as a patrol officer and then took a role in vice and narcotics. He finished his career as a lieutenant while in the same area. He was married for 35 years and has two grown children.Read Transcript
Yeardley: [00:00:03] Hey, Small Town Fam. How are you? Well, we have a fascinating case for you today. It takes us deep undercover with Detective Matt, whose ultimate target is a corrupt politician on the take. But before he can arrest this man, Matt has to play the long game. He has to gain the trust of the local mafia, as well as a couple of high-level drug dealers. It’s dangerous work. And while it’s no surprise the bad guys don’t want Matt to succeed, it’s quite a surprise that some of the so-called good guys don’t want him to succeed either. Please settle in for Politically Incorrect.
Yeardley: [00:00:46] Hi, there. I’m Yeardley.
Dan: [00:00:49] I’m Dan.
Dave: [00:00:49] And I’m Dave.
Yeardley: [00:00:50] And this is Small Town Dicks.
Dan: [00:00:53] Dave and I are identical twins, and we’re retired detectives from small town USA.
Dave: [00:00:58] Together, we’ve investigated thousands of cases. From petty theft to sex crimes, from child abuse, to murder.
Dan: [00:01:04] Every case on our podcast is told by the detective who investigated it, offering a rare personal account of how they broke the case.
Dave: [00:01:11] Names, places, and certain details, including relationships, have been altered to protect the privacy of the victims and their families.
Dan: [00:01:19] And although we’re aware that some of our listeners may be familiar with these cases, we ask you to please join us in continuing to protect the true identities of those involved out of respect for what they’ve been through.
In Unison: [00:01:29] Thank you.
Yeardley: [00:01:39] Today, on Small Town Dicks, we have the usual suspects. We have Detective Dan.
Dan: [00:01:45] Hello, everyone.
Yeardley: [00:01:46] Hello. And we have Detective Dave.
Dave: [00:01:48] I am back.
Yeardley: [00:01:50] I’m so glad to see you. It’s always good to have you both. And Small Town Fam, we are so pleased to welcome two new guests to the podcast. We have retired Lieutenant Blake.
Blake: [00:02:05] Hi, everybody.
Yeardley: [00:02:06] How are you?
Blake: [00:02:07] I’m doing fine.
Yeardley: [00:02:08] Thank you so much for joining us. And we have Detective Matt.
Matt: [00:02:13] Hello, everyone.
Yeardley: [00:02:14] It’s great to have you both. We’re always grateful, because our guests just donate their time to bring us the stories. We really appreciate it. So, Matt, I know this case starts with you. So, I’m just going to hand it over.
Matt: [00:02:28] All right. This case started 10 to 15 years ago in the town that I was living at the time. And at that time, I was an undercover detective, working narcotics and prostitution and everything that an undercover works. And I had blown out my knee in the springtime. And so I was out of work for about three months where I was just sitting behind a desk doing paperwork. When I finally got to get back out on the street, it’s one of those things in narcotics, you learn really quick that it’s feast or famine, that you’ve got to have sources and you’re going to get them quick, or you’re not going anywhere, and you’re not doing anything. And also to clarify, when I say sources, I’m talking about informants. People that will do drug buys for us or tell us who to buy drugs or introduce us to drug dealers.
Yeardley: [00:03:17] And are you saying that those relationships when you say feast or famine, they’re very transient, so if you don’t continue to use somebody, they might disappear? Or, they might change their mind, is that what you’re referring to?
Matt: [00:03:28] Absolutely. You learn really quick that there’s pretty much two main types of informants that you deal with. People trying to work off charges that have gotten hit up for whatever, and they really don’t want to go to jail. So, they decide to play for Team America. [Yeardley chuckles] The other type are the informants that just want money, that they know they can make a little bit extra doing this, and they want to go with that. If you’re lucky, you can kind of keep the money ones around for a little while, but especially the ones that are working off charges, like when I get hurt, obviously, I’ve got to peddle them off to somebody else, because you have a certain amount of time before they’ve got to go to court, and they have to handle their stuff. So, to be fair to everybody, you give them someone else to work. And then, the other problem is with your money ones, if they rely at all on that money, or if they’re greedy, they’re not going to wait for you. They’re going to move on.
Yeardley: [00:04:15] Meaning, these informants will move on to another agency and inform for them.
Matt: [00:04:21] Yes, exactly. And it’s funny because we’ll compete with every other agency. You have your local police departments competing with each other for it, and then the FBI, the DEA, Homeland Security.
Yeardley: [00:04:33] So, basically the highest bidder.
Matt: [00:04:34] [chuckles] It can get that way, yes. And you’ll learn your local agencies do not pay nearly as much as the feds.
Yeardley: [00:04:40] [chuckles] Well, sure.
Matt: [00:04:41] Hopefully, no informants are listening to this or that’s going to come back and–
Matt: [00:04:46] So, long story short, after the injury, I’ve got to start doing something to get informants back. I remember right before I got hurt that I had just bought a little bit of cocaine from a stripper and I was like, “Well, all right, I’ve still got that number. Let’s see If it works.” I called her and she said, “Oh, yeah, I can supply it.” So, I bought what was called an eight ball. It’s like 3.5 grams of powder cocaine. I remember she was connected to another individual, a subject named Mark. He was a good target. We knew that he supplied all the clubs in my town, and was a heavy hitter. So, I was like, “All right, she can be valuable.” I talked to her and asked if it would be possible to buy more. I used a ruse that the eight ball was for my sister. I told her basically that I was a billionaire. [chuckles] That turned out to be a mistake. Well, it paid off but it was also a huge mistake.
[00:05:40] One thing that Lieutenant can definitely touch on is, in narcotics, obviously, the work is very serious, very hard, we take it very serious. But we also like to joke around a lot. And sometimes, even, for lack of a better word, push the envelope. And this was more for fun, telling her I was a billionaire. Probably, in retrospect, shouldn’t have done it, but it paid off.
Yeardley: [00:06:01] Does this dripper have a name?
Matt: [00:06:03] Cindy. I get to talking to her. And basically, the first buy goes down in my car in a parking lot. We talk for a minute, and then we’d have a couple conversations on the phone, and I tell her about wanting to buy more significant quality, one to two ounces. And that I’d like to get together with her and talk about it, which we call a yak. And all a yak is, is a meeting usually eat, go somewhere and you discuss what the price is going to be, get a little more comfortable with each other so that nobody thinks they’re going to get robbed, ripped off, or anything like that.
Cindy lived in a really nice part of town. And so she invited me over to a restaurant to do the yak. I was like, “Perfect. Not a problem.” We get multiple people. Lieutenant is aware of it. He’s like, “All right, that’ll be good. We’ll get a recording of it. And we’ll go from there.”
[00:06:53] I go and show up for this yak, and Cindy shows up in a very, very nice white dress, a little bit skimpy, a little bit unusual to be doing a yakking when you’re sitting there talking drugs. And the restaurant turns out to be a really nice restaurant that I didn’t know was a really nice restaurant. [Yeardley giggles] So, of course, I have my phone with me while we’re there and try to get the conversation about drugs. And we get a little bit that, “Oh, yeah, absolutely. I’ll talk to my person and we can get you what you need. It won’t be a problem.” But she keeps diverting away from wanting to talk about drugs and wants to know more and more about me and talk about my life. And, of course, everybody’s listening to this because I’m mic’ed up, and it takes maybe halfway through the dinner before my phone is nonstop. “You’re on a date. You’re on a date.”[laughter]
Yeardley: [00:07:46] From all your colleagues?
Matt: [00:07:47] Yes, exactly. After I was able to get myself away from the dinner and then answer numerous phone calls after the meal, Cindy called me back a little while later and was like, “Hey, we’re good to go. I’ve got something that’s going to bring it to me. I’m working at a local establishment uptown,” not a strip club on this though, she was working in another place at the time. She’s like, “Can you drop me off the money, and then they’re going to come and bring me?” I can’t remember for sure, but I believe it was an ounce for the first one. Blake, do you remember?
Blake: [00:08:16] It wasn’t a trafficking amount, a small amount. And one thing in narcotics cases, we don’t necessarily want to float the money to begin with and so that was a decision we had to make. Especially when you first start a case, and there’s no real trust built up, you don’t necessarily want to hand him the money and then the drugs come later. You want to do the transaction there, and just be done with it. So, we now agreed to float the money, and we’ll see where it goes.
Yeardley: [00:08:44] Why did you agree to that, if that’s not your usual policy?
Blake: [00:08:47] Basically, it was clear that Cindy was really into Matt. And I just felt that she probably had some good connections, and if we could start making greater buys, we could sort of work the chain, go up to the next level of drug dealer, and possibly go up to a source that was getting it from out of state wherever. And that’s generally the way the larger narcotics cases work.
Matt: [00:09:14] We do the deal that night, and it actually goes perfect. I give Cindy the money. She ends up meeting the guy. I come back to the establishment later and get the cocaine. We do that one. And then, of course, because of my stunning personality, nothing to do with the fact that I said I was a billionaire, Cindy goes, “Hey, I got invited to a private birthday party that’s going to be a lot of fun. It’s at a new club. You want to go?” Now being that I do like my job, and I didn’t really particularly want to get fired, I thought I better bring a female with me as my clothes cover. Things are going to get a little awkward. So, I ended up bringing in another, UC, who was my sister.
Yeardley: [00:09:53] UC is undercover agent?
Matt: [00:09:56] Correct.
Yeardley: [00:09:57] And this other UC, she isn’t really your sister, right? She’s just posing as your sister for this particular undercover operation?
Matt: [00:10:05] Yes. And we go to this new club, private birthday party and meet another individual named Sam. My original target that I wanted to get to was Mark, and I meet the Sam person. And for lack of a better word, you go into this party, and it’s a target-rich environment of what you would suspect to be high-level drug dealers. We took a step back and just play it for a minute and see what’s what. And during that time, I start to develop a relationship with Sam. That starts to go really well, he likes me a lot. He totally believed that I was a billionaire. And so, we kept running with that, and that was going good, and then it became, “Well, you should open up a club in my town.” [laughs]
[00:10:49] I was like, “Well, that was my intention to begin with, was to open up a club here.” And obviously, my cover story took me all over the place. And for everybody that doesn’t know a cover story, we also call it a legend, it’s your backstory where you grew up, like everything. They start trying to research you, are you going to make it through it. A little trade secret, which I can tell now, because it doesn’t exist, it doesn’t work anymore, is I always said, “I was from an orphanage.” I made it simple, I didn’t have to remember parents. Plus, it’s very hard to get information on orphans. And it worked out well for me, because where I grew up was actually pretty close to an orphanage. And so, I knew enough that my cover story worked very well for me. So, that was my legend then. Lived in a couple other places, I used my parents were killed– and this sounds awful when you say it out loud– were killed in a horrific accident, and that I got a settlement out of that. And that’s how I had money, and then through the stock market, and business investments is where I gained all my money.
Blake: [00:11:45] Sort of like Batman, Bruce Wayne.[laughter]
Matt: [00:11:47] Exactly.
Yeardley: [00:11:50] Do people like Sam and Mark actually try to trace that story, like trace your money, figure out if you have those bank accounts, etc.?
Matt: [00:12:00] Yes, they will trace it. Luckily, at this point, I was winning them over on personality, I guess, that they weren’t asking for anything yet. We weren’t talking anything that they were concerned about. Like with Sam, we had never even talked about drugs at this point. It was all friendship talk, all start a business here, this and that. Mark, on the other hand, was a little bit different. But still, he trusts me a lot, and wasn’t too far into it. I don’t think we had done the second buy yet. Mark hits me up and he’s like, “Hey, come help me move.”
Blake: [00:12:30] You could see that level of trust that for some reason, Matt’s personality, I guess, these folks were bought into who he was. I guess as a supervisor, this is when you wanted to really start to push the envelope if I’m on an investigation, find out exactly what these folks were into. And again, we were assuming it was cocaine trafficking, and how deep we could go into it. And Matt was doing a good job. And I just gave him [unintelligible 00:13:03] and let him run with it.
Matt: [00:13:05] At this point, we end up going out with my sister, the other UC and myself. We end up going out a few more times. And I develop a relationship with Sam, away from Cindy so that we don’t need Cindy anymore to deal with Sam. Sam likes me, he likes hanging out with me, he’s inviting me out all the time. So, we feel comfortable there. So, we decided, “All right. Let’s focus back on Cindy getting to Mark.” We set up a deal. The first one we do, we go to a restaurant to do the deal. And Mark is nice enough to bring the drugs in a little happy birthday bag. This is really nice for me, because everything I’ve really done up to this point was, I think, a max of a couple ounces type of thing. A lot of street deals, you’re eating at Burger King, Jack in the Box, I think I did multiple deals and Jack in the Box.
[00:13:55] Now, I was on a meeting at nice restaurants, this is great. I could do this life for a long time. We do the deal there, start to get that relationship with Mark. And I make the call at that time where I think we need to get Cindy either on board or completely out of the picture. We talked back and forth for a while and we said, “All right, we’ll get the other UC,” I refer to her as my sister, “And get my sister to do the deal and leave me completely out of it. I’m the ‘getting the money to my sister, my sister’s doing it.’ But I’m not a part of it.” That way we don’t burn my identity with any of this. If it doesn’t work right, at the same time we can get my sister out of the picture.
Yeardley: [00:14:35] And your so-called sister is doing a deal with Sam or with Mark?
Matt: [00:14:41] With Mark. I think we ordered two ounces, and we’re going to pull her over on the road after she gets it before we give her the money to give to him.
Yeardley: [00:14:51] Basically, Cindy’s the mule, right?
Matt: [00:14:54] Yep.
Yeardley: [00:14:55] Her job is to bring two ounces of cocaine to your undercover sister, and then bring the money that she’s paid back to Mark?
Matt: [00:15:05] Yes, exactly.
Yeardley: [00:15:06] Except that your team is about to interrupt all that.
Matt: [00:15:10] Correct. We take her down on the road, bring her back in station. At this point, she has no idea I’m a cop, I’m involved in any way, and they start the interview process. And Cindy won’t give me up no matter what. She’s willing to take the blame for the cocaine, won’t mention my name, she’s protecting me 100%.
Yeardley: [00:15:29] She doesn’t see you at the station?
Matt: [00:15:31] You know how you always see where you have the interview room and then you have the place where you can watch all the interviews, I’m in that room listening to it. They come back, and Cindy is willing to work. She basically said, “If it will keep me out of trouble, absolutely.” And then at that point, we come up with a plan that they’re going to bring me up, that they know that I’m involved. And then, I’m going to go down for this as well. They basically have her hit me on the phone and say, “Hey, we got nabbed. I need to cooperate. What should I do?” I was like, “All right, well, I’ll cooperate and we’ll just work through this.” Basically, Cindy’s now cooperating, she thinks I’m cooperating. She still has no idea that my sister or myself are actually officers.
Matt: [00:16:29] We go to the clubs a few times with Cindy as a cooperator, trying to get a couple more ins and get in better with Mark. And Cindy is extremely hard to control in the club. She is getting drunk, trying to flirt with every guy in there, like just all over the place and just not a healthy situation for us at all. So, we made the call, “All right, this isn’t going to work. We just need to get her pretty much out of the picture,” and lessen Cindy’s role in this plan. The good news is since Cindy was very excited about the amount of money that I had, the best thing that she did for me in this whole case was she pretty much told everybody in my town that we were sleeping together which, granted, you’d normally think is awful. It was huge for us, because that was instant credibility among everybody.
Yeardley: [00:17:20] Among all the drug dealers.
Matt: [00:17:21] Yeah, exactly, because everybody’s thinking, “Well, he can’t be a cop.” So, it worked out great. Now, my sister who’s the other UC, she would play lots of tricks on me. There was one time that we had to take Cindy back to her place when she was cooperating. And we get to her place, and my sister is like, “I’m just going to stay in the car, you can just take her inside.”
Dan: [00:17:42] She’s fucking with you.[laughter]
Matt: [00:17:44] Oh, big time. Oh, yeah. I’m looking at her like, “I’m going to kill you.”[laughter]
Matt: [00:17:51] And then of course, she wouldn’t do that to me. Luckily for me, like I said, Cindy is telling everybody that we’re sleeping together. She works at a local strip club, which is a prominent strip club for many, many figures. So, that made the perfect cover for me. The reality of the situation was she’s telling everybody this, because she does not want any other female to come up and start poaching her territory, for lack of a better word. Cindy did not care that we were not actually sleeping together, had any kind of physical contact, all she cared about was I had billions of dollars. She wants to get her hands on it.
Dan: [00:18:25] When it comes to situations like this, you have protocols. That’s why you have your UC sister observing when you’re with Cindy. I just wanted, for the listeners, to really clear this up that there is no way Matt is sleeping with Cindy, because we take steps to ensure that that doesn’t happen and that there’s no question.
Yeardley: [00:18:47] So, that is Cindy goes rogue and says, “Matt and I had a physical relationship,” you have actual backup in this “pretend sister” saying, “No, that never happened. I was basically the chaperone.”
Matt: [00:19:01] That’s exactly right. There was never a time where it was just the two of us.
Blake: [00:19:04] You don’t want that type of stuff to come out in court.
Matt: [00:19:06] Yeah, exactly.
Blake: [00:19:07] Yeah. That’s why you have the protocols.
Yeardley: [00:19:10] That makes sense. So, you were spending a lot of time at this strip club that Cindy worked at. You said it was popular with a lot of figures. Do you mean like public figures, politicians, wealthy businessmen, that sort of thing?
Matt: [00:19:24] Yes, everybody. It was the number one, number two gentlemen’s club in the town. So, definitely a ton of drug dealers as well that would frequent the establishment. Matter of fact, Sam knew the owner, and it was basically Sam’s office. And that’s how I ended up spending a lot of time there later on.
Yeardley: [00:19:42] Did Mark and Sam have legitimate jobs, forward-facing jobs?
Matt: [00:19:47] So, Mark, no, his job was strictly selling drugs. And then, Sam had a front business as an architect.
Yeardley: [00:19:57] Interesting. I wonder what you put on your taxes when you’re a drug dealer.[laughter]
Dave: [00:20:02] Entrepreneur.
Matt: [00:20:03] Exactly. There you go.[laughter]
Blake: [00:20:06] He’s also associated with some business development corporation.
Matt: [00:20:09] That is correct, yes. And it’s funny because he didn’t have– you need a license to be an architect, and he didn’t have any of that stuff. They had to rubberstamp through somebody else for him.
Yeardley: [00:20:17] Wow.
Matt: [00:20:18] At this point, like I said, we tried to minimize Cindy’s role, which the bad part of that, for me meant a lot of phone time with her. And it would have to call her, so I didn’t have to do the face to face with her, so she still thought everything was good, because she thought I was traveling on a plane all over the world constantly. So, that was nice. But then, I would come to our town for a couple days here and there. And during that time, I started to work more on Sam than Mark. But Mark liked me and became closer to me. So, he would call me, keep in contact with me. We did another couple of deals with him, just to keep him close and keep him satisfied while I was working towards Sam.
[00:20:57] One day that is very vivid in my memory, and I’m going to guess is very vivid in Blake’s too, is a night before I’d gotten talking to Sam, and we started talking about moving cocaine. And Sam is from Bolivia, and very, very, very well connected in Bolivia. Sam started saying he can get me 50 kilos every couple of weeks, no problem. And, of course, then I’d be rude not to say, “Well, I have a plane that we can get it from Bolivia to United States.” Sam loved that idea. He thought that was a great idea and that we needed to move on this idea. We decided that we’re going to meet for lunch the next day, we’ll talk about it, and go from there. We meet, and it goes down a different road, like it starts to go down to drug road, but he starts talking about we’re going to need a club to store the drugs and–
Yeardley: [00:21:56] Wait, he wants you to buy a nightclub?
Matt: [00:21:59] Correct. One club that’s legit for show for everybody in town. And then, one club that is basically a dive bar that we’ll use the back of it to store all the cocaine.
Yeardley: [00:22:12] And these are the clubs he thinks you’re going to build, because you’re a billionaire?
Matt: [00:22:16] Correct. Yes. In my town. Sam goes, “Now in order to do this, we’re going to have to pay some people off.” And he says, “I know the right people. I’m going to have to introduce you to some people. And you’re going to have to also get permission and pay some people to even be allowed to operate anything in their area.” And that’s where everything took a dramatic turn. He talked about having to pay politicians, and that there was also an organized crime element that I was going to have to pay. So, I say okay, and then ended up meeting with Blake after that, and some other people and was basically told, “Well, this case is now going to go down a different road.” ATF was involved in the case up to now as well, obviously DEA and they got in touch quickly with FBI. And FBI was like, “Absolutely, we want to hear this.”
Yeardley: [00:23:10] How do you actually approach a dirty politician? What’s the intro?
Blake: [00:23:15] Sam calls up this politician, and he’s allowing Matt to listen to the conversation. The way he presented the problem was that the local ABC Unit, which we have an Alcohol Beverage Control Unit within our city’s police department, and they basically police the clubs, the alcohol beverage licenses, and so forth. We have a nightclub district downtown, and the ABC Unit had been on one of the bars because they had been selling to underage people. And Sam tells Matt, “Watch how I take care of this problem.” And I guess he was trying to–
Matt: [00:23:55] He was showing his force. He was bragging.
Blake: [00:23:57] He was bragging and showing the connections that he had. So, he calls up this politician and says, “Hey, look, I’ve got this problem with a nightclub. The police are messing with it. They’re threatening their liquor license, because he got caught a couple of times selling to underaged.” And the politician turns around and says, “I will take care of it. Don’t you worry about it. Just go about business as usual.” Now, Matt tells me this conversation and about three days later, I overhear a conversation by the officer that was actually doing the investigation into the nightclub. And he said he got called into internal affairs and told to shut down the case on this bar.
Dave: [00:24:40] So, clearly the guy that Sam called up on the phone in front of Detective Matt, he’s got his hands into your department, at least to the point that he can get some people moving and get people called into offices and kind of shake your tree a little bit.
Blake: [00:24:55] That is correct. The fact that he could get an investigation shut down on the basis of a phone call made me– I started worrying about my own department at this point. Our internal affairs unit is headed by a major. So, it either had to come from that person, or most likely it came from the executive staff level, which is somewhere along the chief level.
Dave: [00:25:19] And this is how you get the Department of Justice involved in your police department.
Blake: [00:25:23] [chuckles] Rather quickly.[laughter]
Blake: [00:25:27] I tell Matt, I said, “This is way beyond us at this point. We shouldn’t be investigating ourselves. We need to try to find out who we can get to investigate it.” And that’s where Matt– he had been working with DEA and ATF, and that’s where they sort of steered it said, “Hey, look, this sounds like it’s public corruption, and you need to approach the FBI on this.” And that’s basically what we did at that point.
Yeardley: [00:25:52] And were the ATF and the DEA already looking at Mark and Sam, and possibly Cindy or you brought that trio to their attention?
Matt: [00:26:02] That is correct. Yeah, they did not know about the three of them at all.
Yeardley: [00:26:06] Okay, so you’re listening in on this telephone conversation between Sam and some politician.
Dan: [00:26:12] Do you know which politician it is at this point?
Yeardley: [00:26:14] Do you recognize the voice?
Matt: [00:26:16] Yes, I did know who it was. We’ll call him Frank. [chuckles] So, there was more to it at this point than just the political corruption side. There was obviously a very organized crime side of it too away from the political corruption. Sam was introduced to me on the early times on as Sam, Friend of the Greeks.
Yeardley: [00:26:38] Like the Greek mafia?
Matt: [00:26:39] Yes. You had a melting pot, you actually had Greek mafia, Russian mafia and Italian Mafia. They all had their own roles in the town of what they did. I had no idea any of this. It was a little unnerving, to say the least.
Yeardley: [00:26:57] I would say.
Matt: [00:26:59] The FBI’s stance was basically, “All right. Stay the course. Keep going the route you’re going except we don’t care about the drugs. That’s nothing to us. We want the political corruption. That’s your main focus.” Okay. Sam and I start hanging out constantly. Basically, every single night I’m with Sam. Mark will show up quite a bit, just because Mark wants to keep that friendship, which is good for me.
Yeardley: [00:27:24] Mark is interested in keeping the friendship with you or with Sam?
Matt: [00:27:29] With me, and this becomes a problem. Mark really liked hanging out with me. And Mark does have his own segment. I mean, he is the drug dealer for all the clubs uptown. Sam had all the connections and come to find out when I start to get closer to Sam and start to be introduced to other people. At this point, Sam becomes an unwitting where he doesn’t realize we don’t care about him anymore. It’s the people that he’s introducing me to that become targets of the investigation.
Dave: [00:27:58] So, we’re going to kind of break down unwittings just to shed some light for our listeners.
Matt: [00:28:03] An unwitting is somebody who may or may not actually be committing a criminal act, but is introducing you and helping you to get to people who are committing criminal acts. Sam had no idea, obviously, that I was a cop. He did know he was introducing me to were committing criminal acts. He himself was trying to get his own criminal act on the side, but his function is he was supposed to vet people out. Before anybody else would deal with me, basically, the Greeks would go to Sam, and say, “Can we deal with this guy or not?” And it was Sam’s job ahead of time to make sure that I wasn’t the police, that I wasn’t a fraud or anything like that.
Blake: [00:28:43] And I remember at one point, Sam demanded a $10,000 payment, just basically, “This is your fee to play the game”.
Yeardley: [00:28:51] He’s demanding that from Matt?
Matt: [00:28:52] Yes.
Yeardley: [00:28:53] Initiation fee.
Matt: [00:28:55] Exactly. And as a supervisor, with city funds, you’re looking at, “Oh, my God.” And this was right before we took it to the FBI. We actually used $10,000 of city funds, and I was sort of on the line for that to further the investigation. It came out of the undercover fund that all narcotics units have.
Dave: [00:29:18] But you’re a sergeant at the time, and you’ve got to convince your lieutenant or somebody above you, “Hey, I’ve got a little investment we need to make in this case. I promise it’ll be okay. But we want to join the Criminal Country Club here, and this is what the cost is.”
Matt: [00:29:33] It gets more tricky for Blake on this one, because he can’t talk about it, because of what we talked about earlier. Obviously, there are cracks in our department. So, if he talks about it and goes into specifics, we’re doomed before we even start.
Yeardley: [00:29:47] You could have a leak.
Matt: [00:29:48] Yeah.
Blake: [00:29:49] Right.
Matt: [00:29:49] So, he has to walk a very tight line.
Blake: [00:29:51] And we had no idea where the leak was. At the time, I felt that I could not go directly to my captain and say, “Hey, this is what’s going on,” because we had a fairly new chief in at this point, and people were looking to get promoted, and did not want this person running to the chiefs saying, “Hey, look what we’ve got. Look what we’ve got.” So, basically, we were able to use $10,000 to pay the fee to get in the club, and I was basically able to keep it hush hush for quite a while.
Matt: [00:30:24] Which is amazing.
Blake: [00:30:25] Yeah.
Matt: [00:30:40] So, there were specific clubs that we would frequent every single night. And depending on what club you would go to, man, how much of it was business and how much of it was just wanting to hang out. There’s one specific club that Sam would take me to that I knew it was going to be a business-type night. We’d always sit in the same spot. And basically, he would ask me questions, “Well, how are we going to do this? How we’re going to do that?” Or, “Tell me how we’re going to do this? How we’re going to do that.” There was a specific night that Sam takes me to the club, and a female named Brittany was the host of the club at the time. When we go up and see her, we both know how or I know how the game rolls that we get to go sit wherever we want, and we’re fine. We get there and she goes, “Your seats are ready.” So, I’m caught off guard right there. I’m like, “All right, something’s up.”
Yeardley: [00:31:29] Because Brittany seems to be saying you have reserved seats that night, and that’s not normal?
Matt: [00:31:34] Yes. And she takes us to the far edge of the bar, and sits us down where I know that there’s a room. Just where our backs are facing, there is a room that just has a sheet that I know they do a lot of business in.
Yeardley: [00:31:47] The room just has a sheet over the doorway, there’s no door?
Matt: [00:31:51] Yep, something like, “All right, this is interesting.” And the whole time, Sam is getting texts on his phone. And he’s usually very wide open, he doesn’t try to hide the text, they’re out on the table, I can see him, we have that level of trust. Prior to this, he had introduced me to his family, I had hung out at his house, I’d eaten dinner with he and his family before. So, there was a huge level of trust between the two of us. We sit there and Sam also has a tendency to drink quite a bit. I would wager my salary that he is an alcoholic, but he’s not drinking a lot this night. He’s paying very, very close attention to what he’s drinking, which is very not normal for him.
[00:32:27] We have a cigar there. We’re hanging out and he’s getting texts. He’s not saying anything. “What’s going on?” “Nothing, just waiting on some stuff.” And he asked me a couple stupid questions like, “Where did you say you grew up again?” Just wasn’t that enough. So, I was like, “This is this is a dangerous road we’re on right now.” And the FBI had not been involved for very long, but thank goodness, because this is where they had to backstop stuff in a huge hurry.
Yeardley: [00:32:53] What’s backstop?
Dan: [00:32:55] What the FBI is going to do for Matt is they’re going to build evidence of his backstory. They’re going to build a credit history. They’re going to give him bank statements and bank accounts and real estate holdings to show proof that he is who he says he is.
Matt: [00:33:12] Yeah, exactly.
Yeardley: [00:33:13] I see.
Matt: [00:33:14] We hang out there for a while. Then we go to another club. Sam and I walking into the club, he gets a phone call this time and he says, “Stand right here. Hold on.” And he walks away, he doesn’t want me to hear this conversation. Again, very not normal for Sam. Obviously, all my spider senses now are going, “Oh. Oh, crap.”[chuckles]
Matt: [00:33:33] “It’s going to be a very long night.” So, he goes, “Come on, we’re going back to my condo.” Another funny part about this, I’ll interject real quick is, like I said, the FBI had just gotten involved, and they had had a meeting with me about how the UC operations go. And they’re basically, like, “We’ll be in there, but there’s nothing we can do for you. [chuckles] And if something happens, it is what it is.”
Yeardley: [00:33:55] “We could have eyes on you in the club. But if something happens, you’re on your own.”
Matt: [00:34:00] Right.
Blake: [00:34:00] And up to this point, we had been covering Matt, the local narcotics unit. But once the FBI basically took over the case, I sort of got pushed to the side, and Matt, at this point, became attached to the FBI, and was working under their operations and rules and regulations.
Yeardley: [00:34:21] Wow. So, now Sam says, “We’re going back to my condo, we’re not going to go to this club after all”?
Matt: [00:34:27] Right.
Yeardley: [00:34:28] And your spidey sense is spiking.
Matt: [00:34:30] Yeah. [chuckles] We go back to his condo. Sam lives in a high rise and he lives– it was either 14 or 15 story. We get up to his and he opens the door and he goes, “Go on inside.”
Yeardley: [00:34:44] Ahead of him?
Matt: [00:34:44] Yeah, ahead of him. And it’s pitch dark, and I had been to his place before, I knew the layout. And I knew there’s a kitchen as soon as you walk in, the living room, and then a patio which goes straight down off the back. So, I just walk straight out to the patio. I’m like, “Well, I might as well see where I’m going to fall.”[laughter]
Matt: [00:35:02] I take a look out the back, and Sam turns on the lights and pours a couple glasses of wine. From all the other times that I had been in his condo, all the doors were always open. And yet the bedroom, like there were two bedrooms, and both doors were shut, which again, I’d never seen that, like, “That’s not normal.” And his family didn’t live with him. He was separated from his wife. So, he goes, “Have a seat on the couch.” And he said, “Sorry, tell me again where you grew up? Tell me about what was your life like growing up? How did you get this money again? And what’s your bank account look like right now? I need to see documents.” And it goes on till 6 o’clock in the morning, and it’s the same questions over and over and over again. Now, I know how it feels to get interrogated. It’s not a lot of fun.
Dave: [00:35:45] At some point, do you push back? Are you defensive? I’m just curious how that interaction went for hours.
Matt: [00:35:51] No, I did not push back. I just kept saying the same thing over and over again that, “Right now, I think I have a million some in my account. The rest is in investments. And all this. Bank account is out of here. This is the address. This is what bank I normally use. I have a club you can check out in another town. You can send people to it. Parents’ names before they died were this and this.” It was literally that intense. And I did forget to mention that two nights prior to that, they had stolen my driver’s license and credit card that the FBI had provided. And they gave it back at the end of the night.
Yeardley: [00:36:26] Who stole it?
Matt: [00:36:26] It would have been the Greeks that took it. And then, I got it back at the end of the night. So, they had already run some checks. We knew that. So, this happens all night until 6 o’clock in the morning. And Sam who’s normally very funny, very personable, always laughing, is dead serious this whole time. I was pretty confident that I failed at some point, I messed up, said something wrong, because it was even your name over again, your date of birth, addresses constantly– I mean, he wasn’t trying to hide what he was doing. It wasn’t that, “This is just friendly talk. You’re being vetted right now.” He didn’t say that. But common sense, you knew what was up. And I was confident that we weren’t the only ones in the condo. I just didn’t know who the other ones were.
[00:37:11] Finally, that finishes about 6 o’clock in the morning, I leave. And about an hour later, I get a call from Sam. And Sam says, “All right, we’re in business. We’re good to go, and we’ll start moving on things.” There was no doubt what that was. And then, the FBI’s involvement really picked up at that point in terms of backstopping because I had to have a bank account to show off Sam.
Blake: [00:37:32] And they set you up with an apartment as well, didn’t they, Matt?
Matt: [00:37:35] Yep. It was a whole new life for a while.
Blake: [00:37:37] Way beyond your salary.[laughter]
Matt: [00:37:39] Yes. And I always joke about this, I did another deep cover case, what about two years later, I guess, it was. This next deep cover case I did, it was for domestic terrorism. And I was basically living on a street with a bunch of anarchists. So, I really went the wrong direction in my UC career. [laughs]
Yeardley: [00:37:55] That’s the pendulum for you.
Matt: [00:37:57] Yeah, exactly. There was one night. I was literally sleeping on the street, and one of the anarchists was playing club music on this little thing he brought out there, and they’re playing a song that I would hear all the time in the club. And all I can think about is, “How did this happen? How did I go from the club to the street listening this?”[laughter]
Yeardley: [00:38:16] Before you get stashed in this apartment by the FBI, this fancy apartment, did Sam never actually want to come to your abode?
Matt: [00:38:25] Yes. Oh, of course, he would. He asked about it and I had to play very careful, like, “I’m getting ready to fly out. I’ve got to be here at this time.” A lot of gameplay that way. With Sam and with Mark, so much it was getting them to break the rules, because they had rules that they are supposed to go by. And if they follow the rules, I’d never make it in, I’d never get vouched for. So, you try to get it and this goes against everything you learn when you start to be an undercover, you’re told always keep it business and never, ever let it get personal, which is very good advice. It’s when it gets personal that bad things happen. And there’s one thing I learned is deep cover is the exact opposite. You have to make it personal. You have to gain their trust, because even with your best backstops, especially in today’s world, you’ll never make it. Social media and everything else, you’re doomed before you started.
Blake: [00:39:12] I had been in narcotics as a detective as well, and I know a lot about the history of our narcotics department, vice narcotics. And we had maybe only one other time done deep undercover. So, it’s generally surface undercover, working informants, a lot of street stuff. When this deep into this investigation, we’re sort of starting off from square one. It was a little nerve wracking for me as well, because once the FBI takes over, I get cut out of it. Matt’s not coming to vice narcotics anymore, our building, not being associated with anything law enforcement, not showing up for court. Nothing. I mean, he is in deep. Again, I can only think of maybe one other time that we’ve had somebody go in this deep.
Yeardley: [00:39:58] That must be so scary. I don’t know how you sleep, like actually literally sleep with that amount of stress.
Matt: [00:40:06] [chuckles] It’s good nights, bad nights. I mean, obviously, there are parts of it that are fun. You get to blow all kinds of money that doesn’t belong to you. So, that’s always nice. One of the ones that made me laugh, and for our town, this was a lot of money anyway. We go to this really nice restaurant. I’m a very simple person in my actual life. I don’t eat at very expensive restaurants, that kind of thing. So, this is a really nice restaurant. And I’ve never once in my life up to this point had surf and turf, the actual thing. So, I went and get the surf and turf, end up getting their most expensive bottle of wine, which I actually want to say was over $1,000, but I don’t remember for sure, and just blew through all this FBI money.[laughter]
Matt: [00:40:45] They didn’t care at all.[laughter]
Dave: [00:40:48] Cost of doing business.
Matt: [00:40:49] I guess so. So, that goes on. I end up keeping the side relationship with Mark during all this as well. We end up doing operations with Mark. And there was one time I introduced an FBI undercover into the fold. That was kind of our goal, and it took way longer than anticipated. We introduce another UC, that’s an FBI UC, and we back me out, so that I don’t have to stay an active role.
Yeardley: [00:41:18] Did it take longer, because they didn’t trust this new UC and you had to build it?
Matt: [00:41:23] Yes, exactly. And we were having a very tough time building that connection. So, he kept me vouching for him over and over. We took Mark out on multiple occasions, trying to build that trust, because Mark would go out dealing drugs, they’d see him with us hoping that that would build the rapport some. It took a long time, but it did eventually happen.
Blake: [00:41:43] And I think part of it was, the FBI did not necessarily want a local undercover eventually testifying or being part of the case. So, they wanted to have their person available, that they could control 100% of the time to do any testimony, or anything going forward.
Yeardley: [00:42:03] What’s wrong with the local guy testifying?[laughter]
Yeardley: [00:42:08] Why are y’all laughing? [chuckles]
Blake: [00:42:10] Who gets credit for the case?[laughter]
Yeardley: [00:42:13] Ah.
Blake: [00:42:14] Yeah, exactly. And it’s funny because Blake and I both agreed that we do not want credit for this case. When we were finally getting to a point where we had a sit-down, meeting with FBI when I was finally able to get out, they’re like, “Oh, you’re going to get so many awards for this. This is such a great case.” And I was like, “That can’t happen.” Unless I have to testify, unless there’s no way out of it, no one ever, ever needs to know that I was a part of this case, because it did it branch right back into my department, and not everybody goes to jail. That’s how these things work. And I knew that if people found out that this was me, it was going to be haunting.
Yeardley: [00:42:48] So, you feared for your safety if you got those awards?
Matt: [00:42:51] Yeah, like if there was any recognition that this was me– and I’ll get back into that because obviously, things don’t always go as planned. So, anyway, while we’re working on getting the FBI UC involved, we did a lot more hanging out with Mark, and I ended up getting called in at one point to meet with Sam and the Greeks, and I could tell that I was in trouble. They were super angry with me. And he said, “If you want to open up clubs in this town, and operate and do things in this town, you are not going to hang out with that drug dealer scumbag.”
Yeardley: [00:43:26] Who, Mark?
Matt: [00:43:27] Yes. They were livid that I was going down that road, and that my clubs would never get established if I continue to hang out with him. So, that was an element that we did not really expect. But they looked at that as they had their business going on, anything like that just draws attention to them and gets them in trouble. And they weren’t going to have it. Apparently, Sam was already in a little bit of hot water. Sam had a bad habit. He definitely liked prostitutes, and I told you liked alcohol. It was at that point of time, he started to get himself in trouble with them.
Yeardley: [00:44:02] The Greeks, they didn’t deal in drugs or prostitutes. What was their supposed business? And did they have a legitimate forward-facing business?
Matt: [00:44:14] So, they had pretty much every single club uptown. And then if that wasn’t their club, like that $10,000 that I had to pay, I know some of that went to them. So, they would get money from all the clubs. I remember a story about there was an independent bar that opened up in their area, and they basically shut it down. The bar would have trouble with its liquor license. Basically, it became impossible for it to function.
Blake: [00:44:39] They were also big into gambling. There was a number of underground gambling locations. I remember hitting at least two of them, and they were always Greek controlled.
Matt: [00:44:48] Yeah. And they still do the same thing. They’d it in hotel rooms, where it’s a $50,000 buy in, and it was Texas Hold’em.
Dan: [00:44:54] And they’re laundering the money using the businesses that they have.
Matt: [00:44:58] 100%.
Blake: [00:44:59] Yes.
Dave: [00:44:59] Now that you’ve got the FBI involved, they’re not so interested in the drugs, as you had said, but they are seriously trying to track down who this politician is that has his hands into law enforcement and the other side of the law.
Matt: [00:45:13] That’s exactly right. So, that’s when the bribes start coming into play, “I need this permit expedited. So, $5,000, let’s make this happen.” And that’s how that all came about. And so, there were a couple people. Again, as an UC, you don’t get to know every part of the case. And that’s a good thing, because I don’t want to know more information what you’re supposed to have, because then I can blow it out there when I’m dealing with them that I’m not supposed to know something and I do because they gave me that information, and then it messes everything up. Plus, your job is to do the UC, your job is to make sure that you get the elements of a crime that they tell you you need.
Dave: [00:45:47] Are you wired every time you’re out with these guys?
Matt: [00:45:50] No, I’d say probably averaged about 70% of the time. Now keep in mind too, and I won’t go into what equipment we use, I was searched every single time. Once I got very close to Sam, Sam would always take me to the strip club. And then, they always use the girls to make sure you weren’t– like that was some kind of covert way of searching the police.
Yeardley: [00:46:11] Oh, wow.
Dave: [00:46:13] It’s got to be stressful. I mean, that type of anxiety that you’re constantly trying to avoid being detected. I couldn’t do it. There’s no way. I wouldn’t be able to sleep.
Matt: [00:46:25] I’ll be honest, it becomes very addictive. I guess, for lack of a better word, almost like the adrenaline junkie, in some senses, where you like that constantly where it’s a constant chess match. You’re trying to keep that going in. It’s challenging, and in a sick way, fun, I guess.[laughter]
Blake: [00:46:56] So, the FBI eventually cuts Matt out of it, because he has at that point introduced the FBI undercover as his co-business partner, and Matt eventually returns back to our unit. And then, the FBI runs with their undercover officer.
Matt: [00:47:15] And it goes for another year and a half, two years. There was very little communication during that time. There’d be phone calls or quick meets where they had a question that they needed to answer or they either needed me to talk to somebody or vouch for something.
Yeardley: [00:47:28] The FBI needed this intel?
Matt: [00:47:30] Yes.
Dave: [00:47:31] Were Sam and Mark still reaching out to you?
Matt: [00:47:33] Yes. Mark reached out and then hit me up one time, and said, “Hey, I’m going to Brazil, looking for a new line of cocaine suppliers.” And I even had a good conscience. I said, “Mark, I don’t think this is a good idea. Bad things are going to happen if you go there, because it’s just not a safe place. And especially trying to just get a new line or somebody.” And he’s basically, “No, no, it’s going to be fine.” And he takes off and we never heard from him again. So, I don’t I don’t know if maybe he came back, went somewhere else. But I don’t know what happened to him.
Yeardley: [00:48:09] Really?
Matt: [00:48:10] Yeah.
Blake: [00:48:11] In the interim, while Matt is back, I have to hide him in the unit, because Matt can’t be showing up in court and testifying, and the Democratic National Convention was going on. We hid him there for a while, which he did deep undercover with some of the anarchists there. And then eventually, we hid him in another DEA taskforce, I think, it was.
Dave: [00:48:34] And are you altering your appearance between these gigs?
Matt: [00:48:38] Yeah. When I was the billionaire, I got to be clean shaven, and looking all pretty. When I went with the DNC, obviously I went full beard, long hair, and pretty scummy looking.
Dave: [00:48:52] And you think about clearly this is a bigger city than I worked in. And it’s amazing how even in a big city, it’s a small town, that you can see faces, and you see people you know, or you get recognized, or you come across a colleague in law enforcement and they, not understanding that you’re in character, call you by your real name.
Matt: [00:49:15] So, that happened.
Blake: [00:49:16] You’re at a club or at a party somewhere.
Matt: [00:49:17] Yep. It was a club, but there was a private party. So, I’m with Cindy and Mark, and another officer shows up at this party. First, he’s calling my name, my actual name. And then, I’m playing off like, “I don’t know him.” And then, he grabs my shoulder, and he goes, “Hey, aren’t you so and so, worked for the police department?” And it was one of those moments like, “Did this really just happen?”[laughter]
Blake: [00:49:44] We had to put out a memo department wide that if you know an officer who is assigned to the Vice narcotics unit and you see them out in the open, do not approach them. Wait for them to approach you first before initiating any contact.
Dave: [00:49:59] Right The “oh shit” moment.
Matt: [00:50:01] Yeah, big time, right? Luckily, Mark comes to my rescue. He’s like, “No, this is so and so, man. Leave him alone.” “I can’t believe this just happened.”
Dave: [00:50:10] Mark and his final moments in Brazil was like, “Oh, wait a minute, Matt was lying to me.”
Matt: [00:50:16] “It’s all coming together.”[laughter]
Yeardley: [00:50:19] So, how does this case progress? You’re sort of off the radar of your local agency, and you’re giving Blake surreptitious updates. And you’re basically embedded with the FBI.
Dave: [00:50:31] But then, he’s pulled off.
Blake: [00:50:33] Once Matt was cut out, he ran it for another two years with the FBI undercover. And that’s where he got close to the city councilman, to the point where I think they bought a club, and he was going to do a payoff to grease the wheels for liquor license, club permits, building permits.
Yeardley: [00:50:54] So, the FBI was going to provide this payoff to grease the wheels and the city councilman was in on it, orchestrating it even.
Blake: [00:51:01] Exactly. The funny thing was, by this time, the city councilman in question, he was the chairman of the Public Safety Committee. That’s why he had a lot of sway and was on a first-name basis obviously with our chief and the higher-ups in our department. But in the meantime, he had got elected as mayor.
Yeardley: [00:51:22] This is Frank?
Matt: [00:51:24] Yes.
Blake: [00:51:24] So, he became mayor. And they did a $50,000 pay off, the FBI, to get these permits going. I think he had been mayor three months at that point. And the FBI did the deal with him. And once they did the deal, they arrested him.
Matt: [00:51:40] I’m picturing, the typical FBI blue jacket with the yellow FBI on the back going into City Hall, into the mayor’s office, executing search warrants.
Blake: [00:51:50] They actually took him off at his apartment when he did the deal.
Dan: [00:51:54] So, they take him down right there and then do the search warrants after that?
Blake: [00:51:57] Yes.
Yeardley: [00:51:58] So, our city councilman who becomes mayor, we call Frank, can you go into a little more detail as to how they got him?
Blake: [00:52:08] It was a payoff for permits for the club that they were going to open basically just to grease the wheels so it goes fast. Building permits, ABC permits, any other licensing that the city required to open up a business.
Dave: [00:52:23] Frank gets $50,000, and he’s basically the sherpa for that business to get their licenses.
Blake: [00:52:29] Right.
Dan: [00:52:29] Were you guys able to ever find out how the Greeks– how’d they get their claws in Frank to begin with? I mean, it probably started small, $500, $1000?
Matt: [00:52:39] Yeah, they had MO. It wasn’t just Frank. They were very, very good at what they did. To be honest, I was extremely impressed with the way they work. It was kind of a small favor type thing and something that seems inconsequential that they could turn into a big deal. They start with this. I’ll use law enforcement because that’s the easiest one. Somebody comes in to one of the Greeks, eats at their restaurant for free, and it’s a law enforcement officer. And then, the Greek comes up to him one time, after never asking him for anything and says, “Hey, I just rear ended a car, but I couldn’t stick around. I had to go. I got the license plate. Can you just give me their information so that I can make sure I pay them?” Where it seems harmless, like you’re doing the right thing, like, “Oh, okay,” even though you know that you’re not supposed to give them that.
[00:53:29] In our town anyway, the Greeks were very good with the strippers. They would definitely use that, and they would put them all over everybody, pretty much. That was another way that they would go about getting dirt, but start little and then they’d worked their way up until they had them on the hook where they could ask them to do anything.
Yeardley: [00:53:47] So, they let you eat for free and/or they intentionally put you in a compromising situation with, say, a stripper. But either way, they now have something to hold over you as leverage?
Blake: [00:53:59] Right.
Dave: [00:54:00] Once they got ya, they got ya.
Matt: [00:54:02] Yeah. They knew what they were doing. And they were very smart about making sure that they have ties in the political system.
Blake: [00:54:10] I mean, giving credit where credit’s due, they had to stay out of drug business, it’s going to get hard to get people to complain then, that’s for sure.
Yeardley: [00:54:17] And did the Greeks suffer any consequence once the DEA, ATF and the ABC all the letters were aware that the Greeks were behind greasing the wheels in this way?
Matt: [00:54:29] So, the minute the FBI took the case over, all other agencies backed out at that point, and rightfully, so that’s normal. That’s not anything abnormal when it comes to those kinds of cases. As far as my knowledge, whatever the reasons may be, there were a lot of people that walked in a lot of organizations that weren’t touched in this.
Blake: [00:54:46] FBI was solely focused on this political corruption case, and that is all they wanted. And once they had it, they didn’t care about anything else. Funny thing is, is this entertainment center, what finally killed it was COVID. They went bankrupt up here this year.
Matt: [00:55:01] Did they, really?
Blake: [00:55:01] Yeah.[laughter]
Matt: [00:55:03] Sorry.[laughter]
Dave: [00:55:05] You had a lot of good times there.
Matt: [00:55:07] Yeah. No, I’m going to miss it. It was your money, Blake. You should be like [crosstalk] of this.[laughter]
Yeardley: [00:55:13] Do you know if the Greeks shifted gears once the club business dropped out because of COVID? Did the Greeks go, “Okay, we’ll do this instead?”
Matt: [00:55:21] There are still numerous restaurants and bars that are still affiliated. Blake hit the nail on the head. One of their other main things is they do a lot of gambling stuff, and they make good money out of it. They’re on top of it. So, the FBI told the person from my agency that I had spearheaded this.
Blake: [00:55:41] And Matt was dropped for a urinalysis by the department the next day.
Matt: [00:55:45] Yeah.
Dan: [00:55:46] Huh. Coincidence?[laughter]
Dave: [00:55:49] So, we found the source of who was pissed off about it–[crosstalk] [laughter]
Yeardley: [00:55:53] So, because the FBI told this person at the police department who’s basically playing both sides of the fence that, “Matt, you are responsible for exposing their operation. You now have to pee in a cup,” for a drug test, I assume. Just to humiliate you.”
Matt: [00:56:12] Yes, exactly.
Dave: [00:56:13] Just so we put this issue to bed, was it a clean UA?
Matt: [00:56:17] Definitely. Absolutely.
Dave: [00:56:18] Right.
Yeardley: [00:56:19] What’s a UA?
Dave: [00:56:20] Urine Analysis. He got drug tested.
Yeardley: [00:56:22] Ah, yes, I see. I see.
Dave: [00:56:24] I just don’t want any speculation out there. Like, “Oh, he never answered the question.”
Matt: [00:56:28] I got that one right away, and that wasn’t the last one I got. Then, it was a pretty regular basis where I was going to go get tested.
Dave: [00:56:35] That just seems a little bit vengeful and punitive.
Yeardley: [00:56:39] Here’s a question for you, Matt. Speaking of drug tests, let’s say you’re undercover, like you were and you’re dealing with drug dealers like Mark. How do you avoid doing drugs if they tell you to sample the product as a way, for instance, to make sure that you’re not a cop?
Matt: [00:56:54] You’ve got to be able to think quick. The case where I was a billionaire, honestly, that was one of the easiest ones, just because I could use a whole, “I’m not going to use my product. I don’t do this. I stay clean. I’m just about money.” When I was with the anarchist, that was the most creative one. [chuckles] And that one it was, “My shaman said that I should not use drugs. [Yeardley laughs] And that gives me a split personality.” So, that gave me an excuse as to why because pretty much everybody smoked weed, and then a large percentage used coke, and then some used heroin.
Yeardley: [00:57:30] So, your shaman saved your life.
Matt: [00:57:33] Exactly. Yes. [laughs]
Yeardley: [00:57:35] Fascinating. That is very clever.
Blake: [00:57:38] That type of drug use they’re asking you to use is generally more on smaller deals, the big deals and the upper-level stuff, it’s about money. That’s all it’s about. Stuff you’re buying off the street, yeah, he may ask, “Yeah, you need to hit this first before I give it to you.” To makes sure you’re not a cop, because they understand the rules as well. They know we can’t use.
Yeardley: [00:57:59] What do you do in that scenario?
Matt: [00:58:01] I think my number one go to, Blake, I don’t know what yours was, mine was normally I’d accuse them. “So, what you’re a cop? Are you trying to entrap me? This is a bunch of crap.” Throw it right back at them.
Blake: [00:58:09] Either that or, “Hey, look, they’re drug testing me at work tomorrow. So, I’ve got to hold off.” You’ve just got to think fast and come up with some bullshit story. And they’re trying to make money too. So, if you got a good enough story, it’ll fly.
Matt: [00:58:24] Yeah. The whole thing that you always hear about either you put– if it’s marijuana that you put in your mouth, you don’t actually inhale, you blow it out, no, that’s all crap. You can’t do it.[laughter]
Yeardley: [00:58:34] You can’t do that.
Matt: [00:58:35] [laughs] No.
Dave: [00:58:37] So, the cast of characters, Mark is AWOL. Nobody knows where he is. You had to break up with Sam at some point. How did Sam take that?
Matt: [00:58:46] Sam and I kept in contact for a while, and then he’d gone back to Bolivia. Even then, I got a couple emails from him while he was there. I don’t know exactly how things ended there. My guess is that he was told never to come back to United States by other people, because he’s the one who introduced me. And if they put two and two together, then Sam is the one who messed up.
Dave: [00:59:11] What is the largest shipment or container of drugs you’ve personally witnessed? I’m just curious.
Matt: [00:59:18] So, physically involved, I think we did one that was 20-25 kilos.
Dave: [00:59:22] That’s an F ton of drugs.[laughter]
Matt: [00:59:25] Yeah. Oh, yeah, big time.
Yeardley: [00:59:27] And what happened to Cindy. Is she’s still in your town?
Matt: [00:59:30] I have no idea. That is a great question.
Yeardley: [00:59:33] When you were then reintroduced to your police agency, do people go like, “Hey, dude, where have you been?” Anything like that?
Matt: [00:59:42] There were a bunch of stories thrown out there to kind of keep people not knowing. I was told when I got back somebody came to me and said, “I heard you were in South America.” Not that I know. [chuckles] Again, this was a bit of a learning lesson, is hard coming back in a lot of ways. Definitely when you go away, especially with FBI and you’re with them and you come back. Once everything came out, and people knew that I’d started the case, and I’ve been in it for so long. Obviously, there were a lot of people that still did not get arrested. I had several people talk to me and decided that it’d probably be best if I tried somewhere else for a while.
Yeardley: [01:00:16] Like pack up and go work at another agency?
Matt: [01:00:19] Yeah, exactly.
Yeardley: [01:00:20] Were they concerned that you might be targeted by people who’d been in cahoots with Frank?
Matt: [01:00:26] Yes.
Dan: [01:00:27] Was there any fallout with command staff?
Matt: [01:00:31] Yes, absolutely. I was given a warning by a very high up, who’s a friend of mine, but not in a bad way. Just that my head was on a chopping block.
Blake: [01:00:38] They were looking at him.
Dan: [01:00:40] So, Frank still had their ear.
Matt: [01:00:42] Oh, yeah. 100%. That wasn’t going to end.
Dave: [01:00:45] Oh, man. It’s just terrible. Our short-duration mayor, what kind of sentence did he look at?
Blake: [01:00:51] He should have done a lot more than he actually did. When it all came out, he was sentenced to 44 months in federal prison, and I think he served 22. And last week, he just put in his paperwork to run for city council again here in our city.
Yeardley: [01:01:07] You would think if you were convicted of a felony, I’m assuming this was a felony, that you’re ineligible to run again.
Matt: [01:01:14] Especially if it’s public corruption, you would think that would be one thing that they look and say, “You know what? That’s probably not somebody we want in office.”
Dan: [01:01:20] Whoever runs against him, if you lose, how much ammo do you need to win an election?[laughter]
Yeardley: [01:01:28] Fair point.
Dave: [01:01:28] Right. The campaign ad writes itself.
Blake: [01:01:31] You would think so.
Matt: [01:01:32] You would have to feel pretty bad about yourself if you do it.
Yeardley: [01:01:34] Did Frank cooperate once he was arrested?
Matt: [01:01:37] No, he did not cooperate. He didn’t say a word.
Dave: [01:01:41] What was the public’s reaction to this going down?
Blake: [01:01:44] It was major news, obviously. And a lot of people were extremely angry. We also have a certain percentage saying, “This is the way business is done,” at that level. But for the most part, everybody was very outraged. I think it was a lot of disappointment that he did not get as much time as he should have gotten, and he didn’t serve as much time as he should have.
Dave: [01:02:05] I believe Frank is rehabilitated. They wouldn’t have let him out early if he wasn’t.
Matt: [01:02:10] Uh-huh.[laughter]
Matt: [01:02:12] We’ll see how he does this time in office.[laughter]
Blake: [01:02:16] Yeah, we’ll see.
Matt: [01:02:17] I’m guessing I won’t be doing the UC this time. [laughs]
Dan: [01:02:19] He just learned in federal prison how to do it better.
Matt: [01:02:23] Yeah.
Blake: [01:02:24] That’s what I’m afraid of.
Yeardley: [01:02:26] Well, gentlemen, that is a job well done, and gutsy.
Dave: [01:02:30] Thank you, gentlemen. Great work, both of you.
Matt: [01:02:33] Thank you. Appreciate it very much. Thanks for having us.
Blake: [01:02:35] Appreciate it.[music]
Yeardley: [01:02:44] Small Town Dicks is produced by Gary Scott and Yeardley Smith, and coproduced by Detectives Dan and Dave. This episode was edited by Soren Begin, Gary Scott, and me, Yeardley Smith. Our associate producers are Erin Gaynor, the Real Nick Smitty, and Alec Cowan. Our music is composed by John Forest. Our editors extraordinaire are Logan Heftel and Soren Begin. Our books are cooked and cats wrangled by Ben Cornwell.
Dan: [01:03:13] If you like what you hear and want to stay up to date with the show, visit us on our website at smalltowndicks.com.
Yeardley: [01:03:20] Small Town Dicks would like to thank SpeechDocs for providing transcripts of this podcast. You can find these transcripts on our episode page at smalltowndicks.com. And for more information about SpeechDocs and their service, please go to speechdocs.com.
Dan: [01:03:37] And join the Small Town Fam by following us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @smalltowndicks, we love hearing from you.
Dave: [01:03:45] And if you support us on Patreon, your subscription will give you access to exclusive content and merchandise that isn’t available anywhere else. Go to patreon.com/smalltowndickspodcast.
Yeardley: [01:03:57] That’s right. Your subscription also makes it possible for us to keep going to small towns across the country-
Dan: [01:04:03] -in search of the finest,-
Dave: [01:04:05] -rare, true crime cases told-
Dan: [01:04:07] -as always by the detectives who investigated them.
Dave: [01:04:10] So, thanks for listening small town fam.
Yeardley: [01:04:13] Nobody’s better than you.