Crime and Punishment

“There is freedom of speech but I cannot guarantee freedom after speech.”

— Idi Amin

Enjoy a few moments of a conversation I had with a fellow inmate. It appears in the five volume treatise entitled The Gulag — among conversations from my four years earned by writing about the corrupt politicians in the Hamptons and controlled by the Suffolk County District Attorney, Thomas Spota — who is now in Federal prison.

He was the 5’3″ black and hispanic guy who walked like he was rocking back and forth from one foot to another, while carrying the extra 75 pounds he had around his middle. He was a pleasant guy and reasonably smart. Harry talked to him before but today was different for some reason.

“How are you doing?” Harry asked him, as he was preparing some food. 

“I’m okay.”

“When’re you getting out?” Harry asked him.

“I’m outtahere in 11 months. I hadda 7 flat.”

“What was it for, if you don’t mind my asking?”

“Well, ya see I’m a safe cracker. But, what I really do is take on jobs, like assignments.”

“You’re a safecracker?”

“Yeah, I went ta school for it.”

“You went to school for safecracking?” Harry laughed.

“No, I went to school to learn about installing and repairing safes. It was in Massachusetts, an’ while I was there, this professor comes up ta me an’ asks me if I wanned ta do a job fa him.”

“No shit?”

“Yeah, he says, ‘You know Perez, let me ask you somethin’, If someone was ta come to you and offer you $50,000 to open a safe, and nothin’ else but ta open it an’ walk away, would you have some interest inat?’ So, I says, ‘Well, maybe…’”

“What happened?”

“I opened the safe. And, he gave me $50,000 in cash. I made enough money crackin’ safes to pay for my education.”

“You opened safes to pay for your education teaching you about safes?” 

“Yeah,” he laughed. “But, sometimes the job involved taking things. Mostly not money. For example, I hadda job to open a safe and take some documents. For D.A.’s, Senators, important people who needed things that was in those safes — like tapes and papers, y’know importan’ stuff. An’ I’d get $50,000, $60,000, $70,000 tado the job.”


“So, how’d you get caught?” 

“My wife.”


“Well, first, my wife’s in a store, Circuit City, an’ she gets inta an arument wid the manager and she calls me an’ I go down ‘ere an’ I’m arguin’ wid da guy. An’ I say, ‘If ya don’ give ‘er the money back, you not gonna have a job by Monday.’”

“So, he says ta me, ‘Oh, really,’ and throws me outta the store.” 

“So, then what happened?”

“Well, he pissed me off. So, I hire a tractor-trailer an’ drive it ova ta the store on the weekend and I go through the roof, into the vents and drop into the merchandise area and take everything. I gotta whole tractor-trailer fulla merchandise and wiped out their entire inventory.”

“Are you kidding?” Harry looked at him. He had a straight face and he couldn’t help laughing.

“No. He couldn’t open up monday morning. Hadda send everybody home. They had nothin’ ta sell. An’ ‘ey fired him. They’d left the safe open. And, I’d disabled the alarm system. I learned that in the school in Massachusetts.”


“But, my mistake was in fuckin’ aroun’ wid some cops wife.” 

“What do you mean?”

“Well, y’know I usta dress up like a cop, wid the regulation uniform, gun, handcuffs, y’know allat crap, fa wen I did a job. An, I got involved wid dis woman. Y’know we was fuckin’ and we got caught, y’know. The husban’ was gonna shoot me. But, instead, he sends a tape ta my wife. He suspected his wife was fuckin’ aroun’ and set up a camera. So, when he foun’ out, he jes send it ta my wife.”


“An’ she gets so pissed off, she goes ta the cops and rats me out fa the Circuit City job. She walks inta the cops and gives’em the $120,000 she had inna house and a tape I took from the break-in and tells ’em I’m a thief.”

“Jesus Christ.”

“I said ta her, ‘You crazy? how you gonna live, how you bring up the kids, whatsamatta wid you?’ But it din’ matter, that’s how pissed off she was at me.”

“A woman scorned,” Harry said. “But, did they ever get you for any of your other break-ins or safe cracking?”

“Never. Never got me on anythin’.”

Stay Tuned.

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