By Chris Joseph
By Chris Joseph
By Allie Conti
By Chuck Strouse
By Chris Joseph
By Chris Joseph
By Allie Conti
By Kyle Swenson
Detectives squinted at the abandoned station wagon they found in a remote patch of the Everglades. It had been shot up from both inside and out. Blood was splattered all over the doors. But there was no body as evidence — not so much as a bone or a dismembered toe. Investigators refused to believe that the vehicle's driver had been killed in a shootout and dragged off by alligators. No way. John Darrell Boyd had obviously faked his own death.
That was October 1980. It took two and a half years to track down the fugitive.
Back then, John Darrell Boyd was one of the most brazen drug traffickers on the East Coast. He and his brother Tracy were proud, long-haired, Irish-American daredevils, known collectively as "The Smith Brothers" because their wiry beards reminded people of the guys on the box of Smith Brothers cough drops. Their blue eyes twinkled mischievously as they moved hundreds of tons of marijuana from the tribal villages of Colombia through the swamps of South Florida and up the East Coast as far as Rhode Island. John Darrell Boyd was a Florida original, an outlaw with flair who made beaucoup bucks by pulling off elegant scores.
Marijuana trafficking? What harm did it do? It was, in Boyd's view, a victimless crime.
Both brothers were caught eventually and served time in prison. Upon his release, John Darrell transformed himself into a seemingly upstanding businessman, operating multiple medical companies between Miami and Delray Beach. His experience as a brash marijuana entrepreneur had apparently prepared him with the skills and chutzpah to become a service provider in the wide-open field of government-funded medical services.
These days, Boyd is pretty easy to find. Now 64, his once-famous beard as white as Kenny Rogers', he spends his days in his middle-class Hollywood home, firing off letters, e-mails, and public records requests to senators, investigators, attorneys general — anyone in power, really, who might have some influence over his latest dilemma.
In the evening, the feisty ex-con chills out beneath the thatched roof of the tiki bar in his backyard. Beside him: his constant companion, a fluffy white dog named after Arnold Schwarzenegger. In his hand: his invention, a tasty frozen concoction called a Mango Fandango, made of ice, fresh fruit, and rum. Lately, Boyd has been teaching Schwartz how to run the blender.
After 25 years without so much as a traffic infraction, Boyd finds himself wanted again. This time, he's accused of defrauding Medicaid, billing the government insurance program for some $400,000 worth of medical services he allegedly never provided. He's not guilty, he insists. But if he's going down, he's going down swinging. In efforts to exonerate himself, Boyd has already exposed — and helped to disbar — one unethical attorney who was stealing funds from his clients. Now, Boyd believes he's uncovered corruption within the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, the arm of the Attorney General's Office that busts white-collar health-care scams to save taxpayer money.
But why would anyone listen to — much less believe — such a stubborn, antagonistic old outlaw? Two things get in the way when Boyd tries to make his case to authorities: his past and his personality.
"Put it this way," he sighs. "If I could show them the shooter on the grassy knoll, they would say, 'Yeah, Boyd, whatever.' Why? Because I'm arrogant, I'm smarter than them, I'm not a pussy, and I don't back down. It's worked both to my detriment and my favor over the years."
Jerry's Kids had no idea what was coming in September 1977.
Comedian Jerry Lewis had brought fundraising to new heights with his Muscular Dystrophy Telethon. His televised money-raising marathon, held every year on Labor Day weekend, was perhaps the world's most recognizable charity effort.
John Darrell and Tracy Boyd owned a fire-extinguisher business based in Pembroke Park. But it was their side job — the drug trade — that made them well-to-do. That September, they decided they'd spread the wealth.
According to Darrell, he and younger brother Tracy went over to the Miami TV station, where an old friend was hosting the local segment of the telethon. The brothers motioned for the host to come to the side of the stage. They handed him a stack of cash — $10,000 — to which they'd attached a note: "To the kids, from the blockade runners." They didn't intend for the host to read it aloud on the air.
The next day, the story about the scandalous donation ran on the front page of the Miami Herald. Overnight, the brothers had become notorious.
Pete Nagurny is a now-retired U.S. marshal who won a prestigious law enforcement award for nabbing both Boyd brothers in 1983. "It was their blatant display of generosity that got them in trouble," Nagurny remembers now. "Had it not been for their donation, they probably would not have been flagged by anybody."
Back in those days, Nagurny explains, Miami's drug trade was overwhelming and often violent. Think Scarface or Miami Vice. "You had the cocaine cowboys, the Jamaican posses, the Colombian rings. The Boyds were more of the good-old-boy, take-care-of-the-family type. They were not the type of drug dealer that we normally looked for. They both were just so personable."
After attending high school in North Miami, both Boyds served in the military — Darrell as a typist in the Air Force (his skills would later come in handy) and Tracy as an Army Green Beret. "That told me a lot about Tracy Boyd," Nagurny says. "I learned in Vietnam to respect [the Special Forces] very much."
Nagurny recalls that Tracy, while evading drug charges, would call to say, "I understand you're looking for me?" He would defend innocent associates, telling Nagurny that certain individuals were being wrongly targeted. "I would come home from work," Nagurny says, "and my wife would be on the phone — 'Hold on, Tracy, he's coming right now.' This is a federal drug fugitive, and she's calling him by his first name!"
According to old news clippings, federal agents alleged that the "Smith Brothers" were running a drug-smuggling network that employed 200 workers in 48 states and three countries, using planes, boats, and trucks to haul tons of Colombian pot. Former Hallandale Beach mayor John Steele was allegedly part of their ring; the duo was even linked to mobster Meyer Lansky.
John Darrell Boyd, now sitting at his tiki bar petting Schwartz (whom he has just bathed and blow-dried), smiles at the memories. He does not want to divulge too much — partly because he is saving the good parts for a book and partly because he does not want to get off the topic of corrupt Medicaid fraud investigators.
But he recalls getting into the drug trade through a firefighter who'd loaned him money to open his business. To work off the debt, the Boyds met boats anchored offshore, unloading the sweet-smelling, green leafy cargo. Once they saw how much money they could make, they decided to become their own bosses. Soon, Tracy was driving a Cadillac. Darrell was wearing alligator boots and sporting a diamond ring on his pinky.
For months at a time, John Darrell set off for Colombia, where he did business with growers from an indigenous tribe, keeping their trust, he says, by paying well and on time. "I walked around with a bandanna on my head, a gun slung across my chest, cutoff Levis, and work boots," he remembers. While Darrell was responsible for loading planes in the middle of the night, Tracy would handle the receiving end of the business. "My brother's more quiet and ornery," Darrell says. "I'm outgoing and friendly. We complement each other."
A Marine Corps sergeant once testified that the Boyds hired him to refit DC-3 planes to transport and drop drugs. Darrell says Eastern Airlines pilots moonlighted for him. Not every mission was successful: A flight done by coked-up pilots once mistakenly landed on Highway 27. Darrell has photos of a Coast Guard officer atop an intercepted boat, bales of pot bobbing in the water.
"We knew we would get caught eventually," Boyd says. But drug laws at the time were weak, and the profit margin was worth it.
In April 1980, after several close calls with the law and overturned convictions, the brothers were charged in connection with smuggling 50,000 pounds of weed that former mayor Steele had stashed on a trawler off the Bahamas. John Darrell allegedly offered two men more than $50,000 to kill three people scheduled to testify against him and was charged with conspiracy to commit murder. Two weeks before his October 1980 trial was to begin, he jumped his $550,000 bond. Last anyone knew, he'd driven off in that station wagon.
Boyd had been gone for years, his trail long cold, when U.S. marshal Nagurny decided to knock on doors in search of fresh leads. Interviews led him to the local office of an offshore bank, where he intercepted a giant check destined for a suspicious account.
Nagurny stared at the check for clues. "It was signed 'Robert Burke,' " he remembers. "I said to my partner, 'Get me John Darrell's folder!' I looked at something he had signed for us in the past, and the B in Boyd and the B in Burke matched identically. I said, 'My God — it's John Darrell!' "
Bank records led authorities to a suburb of Buffalo, New York, where "Robert Burke" had been raising his kids, coaching little league baseball, and ostensibly selling knife sharpeners for a living.
An officer lured him out of his house by calling to say his son was sick and needed to be picked up from school. "They put a roadblock up at the bottom of the hill," Nagurny says, "with another moving roadblock behind him."
Trapped and surrounded by 20 U.S. marshals with their guns drawn, Boyd surrendered. He says he rolled down the window and laughed, "How'd you guys find me?"
The headline of the local newspaper on April 20, 1983, read "Drug Smuggling Suspect Called 'Great Guy' by Fellow Ball Coach." In Buffalo, two good friends of "Robert Burke" — an FBI agent and a former Army intelligence officer — were shocked to learn of his real identity. Nagurny wasn't surprised at Boyd's ability to breeze his way through suburbia. "No one would ever think of him as being anything but a good family man, a loving father, a businessman — and I don't think that's something he was pretending."
Ultimately, though, the two men held positions on opposite sides of the law. The Boyds were drug dealers. "I couldn't change that," Nagurny says. His department recommended that John Darrell be held on a $50 million bond.
Two months later, Tracy was cornered at a home in North Miami Beach. He surrendered peacefully to Nagurny. A story from the Hollywood Sun-Tattler from June 4, 1983, read: "It's U.S. marshals 2, Boyd brothers 0."
The brothers each pleaded guilty and served about five years in prison. Upon release, Tracy ran a vegetarian restaurant in Miami and now spends much of his time in Colorado. John Darrell and wife eventually divorced; his son grew up and had his own troubles with the law, mostly on drug-related charges. The elder Boyd stayed in Florida, where he met a fellow named Jose I. Lopez, who persuaded Boyd to join him in the lucrative medical supply business.
"He was a slimeball, but he was my friend," Boyd says now. "I needed him, and he needed me."
Together, the partners ran several companies that catered to patients with diabetes — a dialysis clinic called National Infusion, a pharmacy, also called National Infusion, and a medical equipment company called Total Patient Supply. All of their payments came from Medicaid, the government-run insurance system for the poor and disabled.
Medicaid always paid well and on time. "If you get a Medicaid provider number, you're set for the rest of your life," Boyd says. "We were living the American dream." He won't specify how much money he made, "but it was ridiculous. It's obscene." Because diabetes patients can be on multiple medications, Boyd says, "They need everything." That made his business "a cash cow."
Both Lopez and Boyd proudly maintain that their companies ran above the board without any problems for about 12 years. Then, their stories diverge.
Boyd claims he was on site most days. "I took care of problems. I fought [Medicaid] anytime there was a war to be fought. Jose took care of the medical and business end."
Lopez, in an interview, disagrees. "Dude, you controlled all the money," he says, as if Boyd were sitting across the table.
When the dialysis clinic shut down due to changing Medicaid regulations, the men shifted to pharmacies.
In 2002, Lopez bought a pharmacy called Safety Drugs with a $77,000 loan from Boyd. Boyd could not be on the books of Safety Drugs; Medicare disallowed felons from participating as providers.
But shortly after Lopez took over, the pharmacy's old owner, Shabbir Motorwala, noticed that Lopez had charged Medicaid $300,000 in just two weeks. That seemed highly unusual — Motorwala says that for years, he did only about $1,000 per week in business to Medicaid patients. Motorwala alerted Medicaid to the suspicious billing, and the pharmacy was shut down. Boyd and Lopez were hit with criminal charges.
Around the same time that Safety Drugs was operating, Boyd helped his girlfriend of 20 years, a former nurse named Donna Gootgeld, open King's Point Community Pharmacy in Delray Beach. Lopez assisted the couple by handling their Medicaid billing.
Boyd lovingly describes Gootgeld as "one of the prettiest girls in South Florida." He keeps pictures of her in his house, but a sign taped to his microwave hints at their eventual discord: It reads, "Better to have loved and lost than to live with psycho the rest of your life."
Boyd claims that Lopez took the Medicaid numbers of patients from their other businesses and billed Medicaid through King's Point Pharmacy — even though those particular patients had never set foot in King's Point.
"Jose was going to run the money through, pay his debt off, and then run it as a legit pharmacy after he scammed the government," Boyd claims. Boyd knew how easy it was to do. "Once you're in the system, you put [claims] in on Monday, and the following Thursday, the money comes in. Direct deposit! There's very little oversight. The government is spending millions, billions, and zillions of dollars, and they don't check up on anybody!"
Whatever the specifics, in July 2002, Gootgeld and Lopez were each charged with organized fraud, grand theft, and Medicaid provider fraud. According to the Attorney General's Office, the two submitted claims for prescriptions written by a doctor who, it turned out, had been dead for two years. Furthermore, the AG alleged, "the drugs presumably dispensed were never ordered or stocked by the pharmacy," and most of the phony prescriptions were for organ transplant drugs — but the patients for whom the drugs were allegedly prescribed never had organ transplants.
Gootgeld and Lopez each pleaded guilty in exchange for probation and restitution.
Lopez is ashamed of what he did. "I lived my whole life by the book in a field that was ridiculously tempting and ridiculously easy to commit fraud, and I didn't do it," he says now. "Then — bad judgment — I did it for eight months. I tormented myself, but I did it anyway. Now I've got a label on me. I'm a convicted felon."
Boyd maintains he never knew of any wrongdoing — "To this day, you could torture me on national television" — until he saw that a check had come in for $325,000 from Medicaid. He was pissed — especially, he says, because Lopez didn't give him a dime of it toward that outstanding $77,000 loan.
Lopez chuckles, claiming that Boyd was always in on the schemes. "Darrell is sitting out there not charged for King's Point. We were the ones that took the hit — just myself and his girlfriend." It wasn't long before Gootgeld moved out of Boyd's house, and Lopez become the prosecution's key witness against him.
Despite their falling out, there is one thing that Boyd and Lopez — and others, including the Florida bar — agree on: a Miami attorney named Eduardo Cantera is one shady dude. Boyd's experience playing Roadrunner to federal drug enforcement agents' Wile E. Coyote never prepared him for dealing with sharky lawyers like Cantera.
When Lopez and Boyd were arrested in relation to Safety Drugs, they sought legal services from Cantera, who had a reputation for defending people accused of Medicaid fraud. "That was the end of my life as I know it," Boyd says.
Former associates describe Cantera as a short, round, talkative man. "A little runt of a guy — a kind of a weasel-looking guy," one attorney says. "If you look at him, you would probably see the devil," one of his old clients says.
"I nicknamed him 'The Penguin,' " Boyd says, caricaturing his tortured relationship with the lawyer. "He'd go, 'Bah-bah-bah-bah.' I tried to strangle him, but he'd run away just so he could keep on talking!"
Cantera (who declined to comment for this article) was known to have close relationships with investigators inside the Attorney General's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU) — the very group that was arresting and prosecuting his clients. At first, these connections seemed like a good thing. "He maneuvered dealings with agents," one former client explains. "He promised that he had contacts who would help me out and make my case disappear."
If anyone doubted Cantera's connections, he need only look to his beautiful daughter Yasmin, who worked in his office. She was dating Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Louis Martinez — the prosecutor working against Boyd and Lopez. Cantera "would brag that a prosecutor was dating his daughter," Cantera's former law partner later testified. "Like he could expect preferential treatment."
"It certainly looked like he pimped her out," another attorney says.
Martinez himself later testified that he once went to Cantera's home office to take Yasmin out to lunch. Who was there at the same time? Boyd. "I wasn't sure if it was set up," Martinez said, but he asked to be taken off the case to avoid a conflict of interest. He later stopped dating Yasmin and left the Attorney General's Office to go into private practice.
Boyd says he had given Cantera an initial $45,000 to start work on his and Lopez's defense, but months passed without so much as a deposition being taken. When Boyd asked for an accounting, he says, Cantera told him only that the money had been spent. Boyd says he then discovered that Cantera was passing confidential information to the MFCU investigators working against him.
"These are the same people that have sworn to put me in jail for the rest of my life that he is giving information to!" Boyd exclaims, calling Cantera "a quisling."
Jose Lopez concedes that initially Boyd had paid the legal fees for both of them. But Lopez eventually raised $120,000 for his own defense. That's when, Lopez says, "Cantera approached me separately and said he'd been able to work out a deal for me. He could arrange for the two of us to be separated. I could arrange a plea on my own." Essentially, Lopez says, Cantera was offering to give up one client in favor of another. It looked, Lopez says, like he would defend whoever could show him the money the quickest.
Both defendants got new attorneys. Lopez's attorney (who asked not to be named) says it was wrong for Cantera to have represented both men in the first place, because "what might be good for one might be bad for the other." In other words, one defendant could get a reduced sentence by pleading guilty and testifying against the other. Despite Lopez's initial reluctance to testify against Boyd, he has become a witness for the prosecution and received a sentence of 15 years' probation — no jail time.
Meanwhile, Boyd fired up his computer and started dashing off letters to the Florida bar. His multipage missives went something like this: "Apparently Cantera missed the Money Laundering 101 class in college. He did, however, pass the one on How to Misuse and Redirect Your Clients Funds for Your Personal Use $45,000."
By the time the Florida bar received Boyd's colorful complaints, it was already investigating several earlier ones by other clients, alleging that Cantera misused funds and failed to account for missing money. On September 1, 2005, Cantera was disbarred (though Boyd never got his $45,000 back). The bar felt compelled to point out: "An attorney shall not engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation."
Cantera's license to practice law may have evaporated — but that didn't make the Medicaid fraud allegations against Boyd go away. He still had a trial coming.
However, a funny thing happened on the way to the courthouse: In the course of gathering records against Cantera, Boyd believes he stumbled across possible wrongdoing in the Attorney General's MFCU.
In response to a records request, Boyd was given sworn statements of two women — Vianca Aguilar and Martha Pino — who had been charged with Medicaid fraud and worked off their legal bills by doing secretarial work for Cantera.
During their time in Cantera's office, the two women swore, they witnessed suspicious behavior. The MFCU consists of law enforcement agents and attorneys who arrest and prosecute individuals suspected of Medicaid fraud. Cantera's job was to defend those same people charged by the MFCU. But according to the secretaries, instead of acting like opponents, Cantera and MFCU agents seemed unusually cozy.
That relationship, Boyd contends, is emblematic of a corrupt system. With defense attorneys cooperating with law enforcement agents, the rights of defendants can be violated. MFCU agents get convictions, Cantera gets his fee, but defendants may be coerced into pleading guilty to charges of which they are innocent, Boyd insists.
The two secretaries claimed that Cantera seemed to know in advance if a person was being targeted by the Medicaid investigators. According to sworn statements, the two women overheard their boss telling one client, "Listen, they are getting close to you, and they are going to go into your family and know you are selling stuff without prescription." He also seemed to have influence with law enforcement. The secretaries said he would sometimes say, " 'The motherfucker don't want to pay me. Let him fuck with me and I will have his ass arrested.' And that happened."
Specifically, the secretaries named two people in the department: an investigator named Luis Albuerne, who was then a lieutenant, and Andrea Anido, then the chief assistant attorney general.
The secretaries said Albuerne would give Cantera lists of people who had just been arrested for Medicaid fraud — people Cantera could then solicit as clients. In return, they said, Cantera would handle a personal matter for Albuerne for free.
"One hand washes the other, and two wash the face," the secretaries heard him say.
Cantera also seemed close with Albuerne's higher-up, Anido. When Anido would call the office, the secretaries said, Cantera put her calls on speakerphone. "He would use that tactic to make people believe he had connections in high places," Aguilar said. The tone between Cantera and the government prosecutor — whose job was to put his clients in jail — was "very friendly, not a professional kind of thing..." One of the secretaries claimed Cantera gave out kickbacks. Aguilar testified that she saw a $5,000 cashier's check made out to Andrea Anido.
Eventually, the secretaries' statements were bounced around among the FBI, the U.S. Attorney, and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. The Inspector General's Office looked into allegations of misconduct by Lt. Albuerne — and found no evidence of wrongdoing. The report found that he paid Cantera for legal services he received and that there was no rule prohibiting him from hiring the lawyer — so long as it wasn't for a Medicaid-related matter.
According to sources, though, Anido was not formally investigated, and during Albuerne's internal investigation, the Inspector General cleared him without interviewing the two secretaries. "Speaking to the person or persons who allege the crime is Investigation 101," said one source.
Neither Albuerne nor Anido would comment directly for this article. Instead, the Attorney General's Office provided a statement saying, "The Attorney General's Office and the OAG Inspector General's review of Boyd's allegations regarding misconduct have not been supported by any credible information or evidence. This case remains open pending trial, and we cannot discuss any information related to an open criminal investigation or case. Additionally, no other law enforcement or government agency has found any reason to pursue Boyd's allegations against Regional Chief Andrea Anido or Capt. Luis Albuerne even though many have been requested to do so and there is no basis for changing that determination now."
One investigation of the agency has stuck, however. A lawsuit filed by two former female investigators, Diane Fernandez and Sandra Lozowicki, alleged that the Miami MFCU office has been plagued with discrimination and cronyism problems for years. It asserted that the office is dominated by white males, many of whom know one another from former positions within the City of Miami homicide department. Many of the male employees, the lawsuit says, socialize through the all-male lodge association, the Mahi Shrine.
The Attorney General's Office settled with the two women, awarding them each attorney's fees and backpay.
Current MFCU investigators in Miami take offense at suggestions of wrongdoing in their department. They point out that Albuerne was promoted to captain of the MFCU and that Andrea Anido was also promoted and is now the agency's regional chief. "If you're suggesting there's any funny business in my office, you're wrong!" barked Medicaid fraud investigator Ronnie Ilhardt while testifying at a Boyd hearing.
Several of Albuerne's peers, in interviews, defended him — vigorously. "He is the most honest guy I can ever hope to emulate," said one, asking that his name be withheld.
Most of the people alleging wrongdoing, an investigator pointed out — like the two secretaries — have criminal backgrounds and should not be trusted.
That includes Boyd. "He's a nut! He's a nut!" the investigator cries. Boyd's M.O., he says, is to dig his heels in and blow smoke to distract from his own guilt. "He's attacked everyone that even remotely had to do with his case. He tells the truth just point-one percent of the time. In fact, if he did decide to take a plea deal and cooperate with the government, I wouldn't even bother debriefing him, the guy's such a documented liar."
If anybody wrote an article and quoted Boyd, he said, "It'll be good fiction, basically."
In court, John Darrell Boyd sat on the witness stand staring down his attacker.
State prosecutor Stephen LeClair is a big, jowly man. When he takes a step, the room seems to thunder.
LeClair greeted Boyd by asking, "Have you ever been treated for mental illness?"
Boyd shot back, "Funny — I'd like to ask you the same thing."
"You don't get to ask the questions," LeClair said brusquely. "I do. Have you ever told a doctor that you suffer from paranoia or delusions?"
"No," Boyd answered, "but we talked about you doing that yesterday."
It was September 20, five long years after Boyd's arrest. The defendant had tried every tactic to get his case tossed out. He had plowed through lawyers; he'd argued that Safety Drugs had been searched illegally; he tried saying that detectives had interfered with his Fourth Amendment rights. Today was a last-ditch hearing on a motion to dismiss.
Judge Dava Tunis, wearing an oversized robe and dainty pearl earrings, listened patiently. She could not have been any sweeter, chirping instructions and peppering her speech with compliments. It seemed as though she might pacify the two feuding bulldogs by pulling juice boxes out of her desk. But after three hours of rambling testimony by a string of witnesses — including Albuerne, who spoke softly and rubbed his temples as though he were exhausted by the whole ordeal — Judge Tunis had to ask, "Where is this going? I mean, legally, where is it going?"
Boyd said on the witness stand, "Lawyers were conspiring with the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit to bury me. I was left out on the ice floe! I'm 64 years old. I don't want to die in jail."
Tunis explained to Boyd that despite all of his research, despite any dirt he may have kicked up defending himself, his guilt or lack thereof would not change and his ability to get a fair trial would not be compromised "even if there was fraud between Cantera and the MFCU." She suggested he try to work out a plea and scheduled another hearing date.
Afterward, back at the tiki bar, Boyd felt dejected. His research seemed to have gone to waste, and at this point, LeClair had little desire to go easy on him. The prosecutor stated that even if he were going to work out some kind of a deal, it would have to include prison time. But, he pointed out, the first step in a plea is for the defendant to stop insisting he's innocent.
Boyd sighed. "I'm still a media star with the law enforcement guys," he said. "I'm a big pork chop! If they could nail me..." If they do, in fact, nail him, don't count on him to stage another spectacular fake death. "If worse comes to worse," he says, "I'll become a jailhouse lawyer and make the State of Florida rue the day they ever heard my name."
These days, just in case he's headed to the big house again, he savors every last sip of every Mango Fandango. He pets Schwartz — "the only guy I can trust. Him and my brother."
In retrospect, he says wistfully, "Believe me, I should have just pled guilty. But I couldn't bring myself to say I was a thief. I'm a whole lot of things, but I'm not a thief."