[Editor's Note: The Department of Homeland Security, surveilling an ostensibly abandoned Strip District warehouse while conducting a vital national security mission concerning unlicensed Penguins hoodies, unexpectedly recorded a New Year's Day meeting. An Infinformant within DHS provided a transcript, which is supplemented here by a routine FBI recording from within a city-issued SUV:]
Federal Bureau of Investigation Transcript, January 1, 2011, 4:43 p.m., City of Pittsburgh vehicle Hound One (Operation Mamaluke):
Target 1: Hey, wait ... shouldn’t you have made the left back there?
Driver (distractedly): What?
Target 1: The left ... hey, you should have gone left back there ... we need to turn around. The South Side, it's the other way, it’s behind us.
Driver: South what?
Target 1: South Side, Carson Street ...
Driver: You didn’t say South Side, Mr. Mayor.
Target 1 (incredulously): Since when do I have to say it?
Driver: Oh, uh, well, this time I thought we was headed to the Strip ...
Target 2: Strip? What are you, kidding, the Strip? That’s so 1995. I’m not sure Metropol is even open any more. Nah, you’re taking both of us to Diesel, then dropping me off at home, then heading back to Diesel for Luke .
Target 1: What do you mean, home? I thought you were coming out with me tonight, Yarone. (smiling) There's plenty of tail for both of us.
Target 2: No ... what? Who told you that? I thought you wanted me to stop by with you, just for a minute, to talk to Adam about that new place of his, then ...
Target 1: Why ... Adam got a problem? I thought I told you to take care of that thing with ...
Target 2: Hold on. (to driver:) Where are we going?
Driver: Right up here, on the left.
Target 2: Where? There’s nothing there.
Driver: Uh, I think it’s where you’re gonna meet that guy. He got a new place over here, a new club or something he's doin'. I don’t know. I’m just doing what I was told.
Target 1 (to Target 2): I thought I told you to take care of that thing for Adam.
Target 2: Yeah, well, Kraus is still busting his balls over that liquor license.
Target 1: I thought Danny was taking care of that license thing. Christ, you’d think that was the one thing the guy could handle.
Target 2: Yeah, well, not that easy, at least so far, but I think it’s gonna work out.
Target 1: You think? It’s gonna? (shakes head) What’s that the Justice always asks you?
Target 2 (uneasily): What? What do you mean?
Target 1: You know, that question he always asks you. Every time.
Target 2 (unconvincingly): I don’t know ... what? A question? What?
Driver: He says, “Remind me again why we keep you around?”
Target 1 (laughing): Yeah, that’s it, he says “Hey, Yarone, remind me again why we ... ” (stops laughing, turns toward driver) Hey, how come you know what he says? When we meet with the Justice, you always wait outside.”
Driver (scrambling): I don’t know, I mean . . . um, you’re right, how would I know? You musta told me about it.
Target 1 (puzzled, but just for a moment): OK, yeah, I must have told you.
Driver: Right. OK. We’re here.
Target 2: What? Where? There’s nothing here.
Driver (pointing out window, toward dark building): There.
Target 1: What there? What? It’s abandoned, for chrissake.
Target 2 (looking around): I think the URA owns this whole block.
Driver: Yeah, this is the place. I think it’s, like, another new place that guy Adam is involved in. I mean, it sure looks like a shithole, but that guy seems to know what the kids like. (looks up and down street) Hey, look, boss, uh, maybe I should walk you guys in ... you know, just ‘til we’re sure this is the place, make sure you get where you need to go.
Target 2 (warily): OK, but ...
Target 1 (opening vehicle door): C’mon, let’s go. I'm thirsty.
Homeland Security Transcript, Operation Protect Our Freedom, January 1, 2011, 4:51 p.m., abandoned warehouse (owner: Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh):
Luke (as the three enter the building and follow a darkened hallway, moving toward a lit doorway) Hurry up, I’m thirsty.
Yarone (entering the room, finding it nearly empty): Wait a second, Luke, this ... this isn’t right ...
Luke (turning toward driver, who entered room behind Luke and Yarone): Yeah, you sure you got ... (notices that driver is no longer behind them, just as door closes and lock clicks) ... hey, what the hell?
Yarone (trying door): It’s locked, Luke.
Luke: You got the key?
Yarone: What? Why the hell would I have a key?
Luke: Well, when you said URA, I thought ... OK, that’s it, wait ‘til I get ahold of Mike. This is the last time this jackass drives me anywhere.
Yarone: Forget that, Luke, look around. (surveying a room with a couple of chairs and a table in the center of the room, a couple of burlap sacks in the corner, and a speakerphone in the middle of the table) Nobody here. What the ...
Voice 1 (from speakerphone): Good evening, gentlemen.
Yarone: What? Who is that? Who the hell are you?
Voice 2: (aggressively) Told you already! Do not speak to my father that way, you cliptipped little ... you’re lucky I ain’t there, swear to God!
Voice 1: That’s enough, son.
Voice 2: (chastened) Yeah, well. (louder) You two’s in enough trouble already, so ...
Voice 1: I said “enough,” son.
Voice 2: OK, Pop.
Yarone (as situation clarifies in his head): Hey, hello, sir, I mean, Mr. Justice, sir, I mean, Justice Z ...
Voice 3: Hey! Whoa! Pazzo!
Voice 2: No names, Smithers! No goddamn names! Pazzo! You nuts?
Luke (brightening): That you, Your Justice, sir? Hi, this is Luke!
Voice 2 (whispering): Mamaluke is more like it.
Voice 4 (whispering): Freakin’ moron. Told you we should have gone with Shields.
Voice 2: We get it, for the hundredth time. We know already. You were right. Kid’s a putz. Move on. For chrissake, for once can you just let that one go ...
Voice 1: (clears throat loudly)
Voice 2: OK, Pop. Sorry.
Luke: Sure, sure, no names. It’s just that you’re usually so picky about what we call you ...
Voice 5: Che cazzo! Fifty says this putz doesn’t make it through five minutes before Pop ...
Voice 3: Make it a hundred and you got ...
Voice 1 (sternly): That’s enough. (more evenly:) Luke, I . . .
Luke: Hey, sir, it’s really good to talk with you, ‘cause, you know, I been thinking about you the last couple of days, I been thinking, “Man, I sure wouldn’t want to be any of those council guys who fouled up that whole parking deal. You know, like, I was, like, “Good thing it was them that messed it up and not me,” because I know how you ...
Voice 5: Make it five hundred. And two minutes.
Voice 6: I’ll take a grand of that, too. Two minutes.
Voice 3: Nope, no bets. No bets. Not on this mamaluke! All bets are off.
Voice 1: Silence! (silence) Now, if we might proceed with our business. Gentlemen, please have a seat. Luke, I want you to focus very carefully on my questions and your answers. I need precision, and I need the truth. You need these things, too, Luke. Do you understand?
Luke: Um ... do I? I mean, I do.
Voice 1: Now, Luke, we all have watched with great disappointment as the parking transaction has, well, it has not gone as expected, nor as you were instructed.
Yarone: Yes, sir, but, sir, if I might ...
Voice 2 (whispering): Smithers ... coglione ...
Voice 1: Yarone? Well, young man, I was not ready to address you yet, but now that we are speaking, I must tell you that you, you in particular, because you seemed to have at least some intelligence, you have greatly disappointed me.
Voice 2: (whispering) Here it comes ...
Voice 1: Remind me again what your purpose is here?
Everyone except Voice 1 and Yarone: (snickering)
Voice 2 (to voice 4): You owe me a hundred.
Yarone (stunned by Luke’s snickering): Well, sir, I, uh, of course, what I ...
Voice 1: Rhetorical question, you putz!
Everyone except Yarone: (laughter)
Voice 2 (to voice 4): Two hundred.
Voice 1 (enjoying humor): All right, all right, that’s enough. Now, Luke, as I have asked myself, how could this happen? And as I have inquired of others, why did this happen? . . . something especially disturbing has come to my attention this afternoon.
Luke: This afternoon? Wasn't me. I didn't do nothing. I was barely in the office, 15 minutes tops, ask anybody, I'm never there for more than ...
Voice 1: Focus on listening, Luke. I have been informed that when representatives of our associates indicated that they wished to speak with council members, to ensure that our business would proceed smoothly, I am told that you told them it wasn’t necessary. You assured them that council would vote to approve our transaction, that five votes were ... (quietly:) What was that he said?
Voice 2: The doughboy said it was "in the bag," Pop. Exact words. (chuckling:) While he could still talk.
Voice 1: Oh, yes, "in the bag." They were told it was "in the bag." Said you had it “under control.” Indeed, I have been informed, you actually forbade them to speak with any member of council other than Mr. ... son, who’s that ... the preacher ... you know, Jeff Thomas’ guy ...
Voice 3: Reverend Burgess, Pop?
Voice 1: Yes, yes, Reverend Burgess.
Luke (beginning to understand the situation): Look, if that Mr. Lazerowski guy told you I said any of those things, anything like that, I wish he was here right now, because I'd straighten this out, tell him to his face he’s a lying sack of ...
Yarone: (nudging Luke, after noticing that one of the burlap sacks is moving slightly) Shhhh!
Voice 1: You were saying, Luke?
Luke (staring at burlap bag): Well, um, sir, I was saying that, um ... I was ... can you repeat the question?
Voice 2: What? You think this is some kind of joke? You don’t think I’ll come down there myself and ...
Voice 1: Please, son, I am ... this is important, it is essential that I understand what these gentlemen have to say for themselves, and I am sure that they want me to understand what happened. Am I correct, Luke?
Luke: Oh, yeah. Um, well, I can’t recall exactly, it was sort of a long time ago, and you know, being mayor and all, I have a lot of ...
Voice 1: Stop now, Luke. You remember when I told you I needed the truth?
Luke: Yes, your hon ... I mean, yes, sir. Sir, I remember, sir. I mean, I don’t remember about that stuff you said they said, but I certainly remember that you ...
Voice 1: Until you lie to me, Luke, we might be able to work together to resolve our problems. (sternly:) But if you lie to me, Luke, especially as I sit here with my family, my associates . . . surely you understand how that would change things between us.
Luke: I do?
Voice 1: If you tell me you do not remember, when you do remember, that would be a lie. As I told you, Luke, focus: Did you, or did you not, assure our associates that you had the situation under control, that the votes were certain, that they should not speak with members of council?
Luke: Sir, I ... I ... I ... (stops as muffled sound emerges from burlap sack)
Voice 1: Mr. Lazowski seems to recall quite vividly what was said. Would you like me to invite him to join our conversation, Luke? Maybe then we could get to the bottom of this.
Yarone: What Luke is saying, sir, is that we will do whatever we can, whatever you think is best, to try to ...
Voice 1: To what?
Yarone: To try to ...
Voice 1: To what?
Yarone: To try to ...
Voice 2: Hey, you freakin’ moron, don’t you get it? We ain't interested in ...
Voice 1: I will handle this, son. Gentlemen, we are no longer interesting in your “trying” to do anything. You should not be interested in “try.” You should longer even use the term. You must do. Not try. Do. You must deliver. You must conclude the transaction as agreed. That is all I ask, but I am insistent on this point.
Yarone: Well, strictly speaking, sir, we never agreed ... I mean, we never guaranteed ... I mean, I understand that you might ...
Voice 1: No, young man, I am confident that you do not understand. I do not hold you entirely responsible for what has occurred. It is for that reason that Mr. Lazowski and Mr. Verbanac have joined you this evening.
Luke and Yarone: (silence, as they observe both burlap sacks wriggling slightly)
Voice 1: But at this moment you must focus on yourselves, gentlemen, your personal responsibility. Because you will be most assuredly be held responsible for what occurs next . . . . finally responsible, gentlemen. Now do you understand?
Luke and Yarone: (silence, still staring at burlap bags, noticing wet, dark stains)
Voice 2: Hey, he asked you a question! Do you understand?
Luke and Yarone: (silence)
Voice 4: I think that’s dipshit for “yeah, they finally get it.”
Luke (voice quivering): Well, um, what is it we can ... what do you want us to do? I mean, how can we ... what should we ...
Voice 3: What do you think this is, scemo, you think you're back in class, Taking Care of Business 101?
Voice 2: We ain't here to tell you anything other than “get it done.” How it gets done, that's your problem.
Voice 1: The important thing, gentlemen, for us and for you, is the result. That is the message for today. Now, I think you should take some time to ...
Voice 2: Count your blessings, you pieces of ...
Voice 1 (sternly): As I was saying, you should take this time to confer with Mr. Lazowski and Mr. Verbanac, and focus very clearly on the task at hand ...
Yarone: You want, uh, should we get them out of those ...
Voice 2: No, pazzo, we want you to just freakin’ sit there and wait for them to chew through those knots with their teeth ... oh wait, they’re gagged ... or maybe just sit there while they untie themselves with the hands they got bound behind their freakin’ backs ... (louder) yes, you morons, you should untie them, ‘cause you ain’t got all day, and it’s gonna be pretty freakin’ difficult to have a productive conversation with a couple of guys with freakin’ rags stuffed in their mouths! (quietly:) Pop, please, I beg of you, when it’s time, please, I wanna be the one who gets to ...
Voice 1: This would be a good time to make them more comfortable, and to begin to determine how you are going to make this right. Your driver will be back in one hour to ...
Voice 3: And don’t you let us hear another word about you calling Mike, or anybody else, or trying to make any kinda move on your driver. Not one word. That guy will be your driver until we decide he ain’t. You got that?
Luke: Well, he only works five days, so what about the other ...
Voice 3: If he doesn’t drive, you go nowhere. Not ‘til this is done.
Voice 4 (quietly): Yeah, there goes Luke’s seven-day workweek.
Everyone except Luke and Yarone: (laughter)
Voice 1: OK, that’s enough. The driver will be there in an hour.
Yarone: Sir, uh ... when should we ... what about the deadline? The statute expressly stated that December 31st was ... I mean, I think ...
Voice 1: Again with the trying and the thinking from these two. (sternly:) No trying. No thinking. I will handle the legislature. And the unions. (as a question:) The oversight board?
Voice 7: Already taken care of, sir. It’s like I never left.
Voice 1: Excellent. So the legislature and the oversight are covered. So you need to focus only on getting the transaction done.
Voice 3: And that means a closing ... professional fees, placement agent fees, commissions, and everything else due and payable. I can see your dopey look from here, Luke, so we’ll let Yarone, Mr. Reed Smith there, explain the legalities to you. You just make sure the deal closes and everybody gets paid.
Voice 2: Plus, every one of our people in the deal has to stay in the deal, going forward. Got that?
Yarone: Yes, we understand, but, still, when does this need to get done by?
Voice 1: I am not here to speak of dates or times, or hows or whys. The time for trying, or thinking, is over. I will monitor this situation closely, and I am sure you will do your best, and maintain your focus, and so for now all I ask is that you accomplish our transaction. Now, if necessary, we could have another meeting ...
Voice 2: Trust me, you guys don’t want another meeting ...
Voice 4: Not unless it involves champagne and a bunch of wire transfers ...
Voice 1: Gentlemen, I want to hear from each of you, so we have no more misunderstandings: Do you understand what you must do, and that you must do it soon?
Luke: Yes, sir.
Yarone: Yes, sir.
Voice 1: Fine. I was hoping I could count on you. Now, start to work ... I am sure your friends there in the room with you are as eager as you are to start the discussion.
Voice 2: Knife’s taped under the table, to cut 'em loose. There’s some Band-Aids there, too.
Voice 1: Goodbye, gentlemen. Until our next meeting.
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