Tommy thought they could pull it off. “Plus,” he told Jimmy, “it is a lot of money.”
A few days later, Jimmy went back to Charlie’s office and Charlie slid an accordion folder across his desk. “Count it when you get home; there’s twenty thousand dollars in there.”
Jimmy believed the gig might lead to regular work for Charlie. But he couldn’t shake the feeling he was doing something wrong. Though he told Charlie he would find a hooker, in truth he never looked that hard. And by the fall, Charlie was impatient. “Maybe I should hire a real professional,” Charlie snapped in another conversation.
“Who the fuck are you talking to?” Jimmy replied, slamming down the phone. Later that week, Jimmy hid in the woods along Charlie’s morning jogging route. Jimmy was going to make Charlie pay for his big mouth. Nothing serious, just a little pushing around to send a message. But as luck had it, Charlie didn’t run that morning.
Jimmy saw Charlie at a restaurant a few days later (Charlie denies this). “If you talk to me like that again, I would have to put my hands around your neck,” Jimmy said. Both men laughed nervously.
Around Thanksgiving, Jimmy was back in Charlie’s office. He put the accordion folder on his desk. “Sorry it didn’t work,” he said. (Charlie denies this occurred.) Charlie slid a piece of paper across with a phone number on it.
“When you call her, tell her that you’re a friend of John’s.”
Jimmy didn’t ask any questions. He went home and dialed the digits. A girl with a thick Eastern European accent answered. She gave her name as Suzanna. “Don’t worry,” Jimmy said. “This is a family member, we’re not doing any blackmail.”
“You’re a friend of John’s, I trust you,” the girl said.
Tommy checked into connecting rooms at the Red Bull Inn, along Route 22. He installed a hidden video camera in the digital alarm clock. The same week, Schulder was ordering lunch at a local diner in Bridgewater, New Jersey, when a leggy blonde with a revealing suit pulled up. She said she was in town interviewing for a job and her car had broken down. Schulder gave her a lift back to the motel, declining her invitation but taking her phone number.
The next day snowed heavily. A few hours before Jimmy’s afternoon-to-midnight shift, Tommy called. Billy had come back for a morning rendezvous. Jimmy called Charlie right away.
“My brother says he has it,” Jimmy said.
Silence. “You’re kidding,” Charlie said. “Tell him to bring it up here.”
Charlie and his business partner, Seryl’s brother Richard Stadtmauer, took the tape to a conference room. They covered the glass windows with newspapers and laughed as they watched the girl give Billy a blow job (“I feel like I’m in a movie,” Billy cried out). Charlie instructed Tommy to make copies.
The snow kept falling. That afternoon, Jimmy called the girl to make sure she got back to the city safely.
“Are you okay?” Jimmy asked. “I feel dirty.”
“Yeah,” she said, “I don’t feel good either.”
Three days later, Jimmy went to Charlie’s house to discuss setting up Bob Yontef, the bookkeeper who Charlie believed had been Murray’s mole inside Charlie’s company. Jimmy was startled to see Jared’s mother, Seryl, sitting there, too. “I assume everyone in the room knows about this?” Jimmy said.
“Yes,” Charlie answered.
Yontef rejected a second hooker’s advances several days later.
Months afterward, in early May, the Feds sent target letters to several of Charlie’s top executives. Two days later, Charlie told Tommy to mail Esther the tape and photographs, along with copies to Esther’s adult children. Her son Jacob was celebrating an engagement party in a few days. Jimmy persuaded Charlie not to send the tape to the kids. (Charlie denies they planned to send it to the kids.)
Three days before the engagement party, Esther saw a bulky envelope with no return address in her mailbox. She flipped through the black-and-white photographs. She picked up the phone and called Murray.
“Don’t go home,” she said, “he’ll kill you.”
Murray hired a former cop to be his bodyguard. Lee told friends she was scared to come home—she thought her house would be set on fire.
In early July, Charlie hosted more than 200 guests at his Long Branch, New Jersey, mansion for his youngest daughter Nicole’s wedding. His world was spiraling down. Days before the wedding, Jimmy, cooperating with the FBI, caught Charlie on a wire talking about the setup. A week later, Charlie surrendered to the FBI. Jimmy was on his way to the station when the FBI notified him of Charlie’s surrender. Cops were glued to the TV when he walked in. The media hadn’t yet connected him to the plot. Jimmy got into his squad car and drove to a parking lot down the street. He knew that his life, as he’d known it, was over. He sat there and sobbed.