Book 1 in the Maltese Cat Book Series entitled Escheatment continues with new chapters. Enjoy:
Chapters 1 & 2,
Chapters 3 & 4,
Chapters 5 & 6,
Chapters 7 & 8,
Chapters 9 & 10,
Chapters 12 & 13.
Two Years Earlier
James was finally working full time for his father. It was high time. Steven knew that his son had been spoiled. He also knew that James was not a hard worker. James was clever but he would always try to figure out the quickest way to complete a task, investing the least amount of time. That left him that much more time to play. In school, James’s grades suffered as he gave minimal effort, relying on his wit and charm, which did not always work. He was popular with the girls, Steven had noticed. Thank goodness he had never put a girl in the family way. Steven was thankful for that, for he himself had experienced the type of social climbing female piranhas who tried to advance their lives through forced marriages. Steven needed to intervene on James’s behalf in order to get him admitted to his alma mater, Dartmouth. This was not a great task since Steven had contributed massive amounts of money to the university over the years. It served a dual purpose. One, it was an excellent tax write off. Two, he noticed early that his only child would probably never be able to gain entrance on his own merit. Steven had even assisted James’s friends entering Dartmouth. All of them, except Bo Dimmler.
Steven did not care for Bo. Perhaps that started with his run-in with Bo’s father, Thor Dimmler. Thor was a greedy if not talented stockbroker at a small brokerage firm. He made a good living on a rising stock market during the 1980s, like everyone else, as Steven was struggling with his merger and acquisitions project. Thor, at a media event and in front of friends, made the snide remark to Steven that maybe Steven was in the wrong business. Steven never forgave him for that. Then, in 1987, when the stock market crashed, Thor had lost millions for his clients. Some even brought lawsuits against him. The brokerage firm did not survive the next year and Thor had to struggle. Steven couldn’t help but feel a smug satisfaction of revenge from Thor’s mishap. The next stock market crash of 1989 did not help Thor either, especially while trying to provide for his two-year-old son, Bo. Steven thought it was just. Thor continued to work hard as an independent and rode the next stock market wave in the 1990s to new heights as high-tech and internet companies led the way. Thor speculated strongly to try to make up the past losses. Again, Thor was over-invested and over-extended when the bubble burst in the year 2000. His clients lost fortunes, even in ostensibly solid investments like Enron. They blamed Thor. With mounting lawsuits and unbearable debts, Thor ended up taking his life. Unfortunately, the life insurance did not pay his widow, based on an overlooked suicide clause which their insurance agent neglected to mention. Bo’s life was changed. Without the financial means, he could no longer continue in the private schools and was forced to attend public school when his mother moved to Daly City. He kept in touch with the Boys Club, but upon graduation, without Steven’s help, he ended up attending San Francisco State University while all the others went on to Dartmouth. It didn’t surprise Steven when Bo received his law degree from Golden Gate University. He knew that Bo was smart, but there was something that always was upsetting to Steven about Bo’s personality. He would never trust him and felt that he was a bad influence on James and the others. He would have been doubly convinced of his suspicions had he known that Bo was the one who always secured drugs for the boys, as well as arranging for girls. Because of this, the Boys Club was glad to have Bo, even though he came up short in the money department.
Steven Van Houten never cared for government interference in his business. He hated the IRS even more for, as he called it, ‘confiscating’ a large part of his hard-earned winnings. That is why he now tasked his son, ‘almost’ fresh out of business school, with the responsibility of looking into ‘unclaimed accounts’.
Every financial institution has a number of accounts that go dead after awhile. Some people forget they even have them. Others die without heirs or wills. The banks and money organizations used to have up to 15 years to track down the owners of these accounts, all while using the money for their own gain. Now, many of the state governments had reduced the waiting period down to just three years before the money legally became the property of the state. Steven hated this with a passion. To his reasoning, it was bad enough to have to give the accounts to their rightful owners; it was far worse to have the government usurp the money, never to be seen again. His idea was to let James uncover who the new or old customers were and win them over to continue trading with his firm.
At first, James thought that his father had given him trivial, meaningless work to keep him busy and out of the way. But as James embarked upon his new task, he was amazed at how much money was idle in the company’s accounts. Left to continue to grow, especially now that the stock market had recovered from the 2008 crash, he was looking at millions of dollars in inactive accounts just in branches in the State of California. When he checked on all the company’s branches nationwide, he was agog. He was instantly struck with a plan. What if he, after giving ample efforts to locate the owners and being unsuccessful, then gave notification to the accounts on record that the State of California had laid their legal claim to these accounts? Then he would divert the funds for his own personal needs, instead of turning over the accounts to the State Controller’s office.
Who would know the better? If someone did complain, it would take years to find out that the funds had not been actually forwarded to the state, with all the bureaucracy in the State’s capitol. By then, he would probably be retired! At least, an early retirement. If only one or two accounts were in question, he could easily make good on the claims anyway. He only had to pay back the amount due at the time of the takeover, and he could backdate records. Meanwhile, he would have all that capital to work with. This appeared to be the answer to James’s overwhelming cupidity.
The first decision James made was to identify all the accounts nationwide that were inactive for a period of two years. Then, he had them sent to the company’s headquarters in San Francisco. This way he could control everything. The next decision was to educate himself on how the state went about collecting the money. This he did by arranging for a meeting with a representative of the State Controller’s Office in the Unclaimed Property Division. He got an appointment with Mr. Michael Clary in Sacramento for the following Friday. Then he called a meeting with the Boys Club.