Hands on my arms, shoulders, and now on my shirt front, assisted me as I was whisked into the green car. The engine was still running and one of the agents wasted no time in putting the car in gear and pulling away from the curb. There were four of us in the car; one of the four agents that had stepped out of the car must have found a different ride. As we pulled away from the curb and merged with traffic, the agent sitting in the back with me quickly recited my Miranda rights. After that nobody said anything; we rode in silence. The silence dragged on long enough that it became quite noticeable and awkward. I didn’t know what to say so I stayed quiet. In fact, I hadn’t spoken a single word yet. I decided this was prudent; let them explain the charges and their intentions first.
We pulled up in front of a glass office building, the kind with color-tinted mirrored glass. The glass on this building was tinted rust-brown. The driver turned onto a garage ramp leading under the building. He brought the car to a halt before we had gone very far into the garage, stopping directly in front of a large steel door. There were two other agents standing there waiting for us. One of the two reached out and opened my car-door. He grabbed my wrist and pulled me out of the car without saying anything. The other three occupants immediately got out of the car as well. Together, the six of us went through the steel door and down a long brightly lit corridor. There were very few door-ways along the hallway and it seemed longer than I would have expected from the exterior view of the building. Eventually we reached an elevator, which opened instantly upon being summoned. Only five of us entered the elevator, one of the agents remained behind in the hallway (whether he was one of the ones from the car-ride or one of the new ones, I do not know).
After exiting the elevator I was lead to a small room with only a small table and five straight-back wooden chairs for furniture. Perhaps the room was ten feet square; perhaps smaller. A single panel of fluorescent lights illuminated the room in stark, white light. I was told to sit in one of the chairs. As I did so, the tallest of the four agents dragged one of the chairs over to the wall, near the door. He turned the chair around so that it faced the wall and sat down facing me, leaning against the back of the chair with his arms folded across the top, his legs spread wide. He leaned forward slightly so the front legs of the chair lifted off the floor behind him. He still had not taken off his sunglasses. His short blonde hair and fair complexion stood out in sharp contrast to the dark glasses. The other three agents pulled the remaining three chairs over to the the opposite side of the table from where I sat. For the next four hours the three agents at the table fired questions at me. I answered as best I could, not holding anything back. I had already decided during the car ride that I would cooperate fully and tell them everything I knew. I was in big trouble and now was not the time to play games. I kept reminding myself that I had not actually stolen any money, nor had I ever planned to do so. Meanwhile, there seemed to be no shortage of other people who had indeed stolen money. Somebody altered the amounts of Lisa’s EFT’s. Somebody was accountable for the delay scams practiced by banks world-wide. Somebody would have to take the fall for these crimes. In a situation such as this, my best bet seemed to be to help the FBI find some of the real criminals and thereby ingratiate myself to them and clear my own name. Otherwise, I feared, I might end up the scape-goat.
Most of the questions came from the biggest of the three agents. A burly black man with a shaved head, he wore a black suit and a white shirt, like the other three. Unlike the other three, his suit looked as if it would split at the seems, especially at his biceps. The bulging muscles in his upper arms ballooned against the fabric of his coat.
The questioning was somewhat hostile, but nobody threatened physical violence. They remained on their side of the table throughout. The blonde-haired agent with the sunglasses never did get out of his chair. Nor did he ask any questions. He simply sat, chewing gum with his chin resting on his arms, which were in turn resting on the chair-back, and he listened.
Did I have an account with First Chicago, they asked. No. Did I have an account with Bendix? No. What was my association with Jeff Newstrom? Never heard of him. Had I traveled outside the country in the last two years? Nope. Had I traveled outside Chicago in the last three months? Yes. Where?
The questions were delivered in rapid succession, one atop another. My answers were terse, but this did not bother them. Perhaps they preferred it that way. There were no breaks; whenever the large overpowering agent in the center seemed to run out of questions, one or the other of the two agents flanking him chimed in with questions of their own. They never skipped a beat; never gave me time to reflect. After a couple of questions from one of the flanking agents, the leader in the middle would resume the questioning, having recharged his batteries and replenished his arsenal. The questions were not all entirely new; they were occasionally repeated, worded slightly differently with each asking.
The agent sitting to the right, when he spoke at all, tended to ask the easy questions, sticking to simple facts about my background. He was a tall black man with short hair and a handsome face. He was not intimidating like the other agents. When was I born, he asked. Where? Where had I gone to school? When did I graduate?
When the questions eventually turned to the funds transfers between First Chicago and Bendix, my answers were no longer brief. I was careful to explain my involvement fully, making sure that there was no confusion over the limited nature of my role. I explained that I hadn’t actually altered any messages. I had not forged any message authentication codes.