Ah, it's autumn and the sweet smell of revenge is in the air.
An anonymous tipster exacted his own version of it last week on Howard Patterson, the man who allegedly bilked dozens of people across the country out of more than $5 million.
The tipster alerted Fort Lauderdale police that Patterson was wanted for a 1994 felony charge for allegedly using bogus checks to buy a Corvette, a minivan, and a Yamaha motorcycle. He -- or she -- also told police that Patterson was the subject of a November 5 New Times cover story ("A Real Wheeler-Dealer") that detailed the allegedly fraudulent business practices surrounding Patterson's company, Eurasia Motor Corp., a Fort Lauderdale-based auto importer that never actually imported any autos.
So just before midnight last Monday, Fort Lauderdale police arrested Patterson as he drove away from the fashionable Petaluma restaurant in his sleek silver sports car. The car -- a 1992 Acura NSX -- supposedly had stolen tags registered to another car.
Police also found a fully loaded six-shot revolver nestled in a black holster near the front seat. And the ever-evasive Patterson failed to produce a valid driver's license or proof of insurance, according to the report.
In the process the cops unraveled one nagging mystery about the elusive businessman -- his name.
Despite Patterson's insistence, for at least two years now, that his legal name is Howard Patterson, business associates speculated it might be Howard Michael Weiner. Or Michael Howard Weiner.
But according to the police report, Patterson's legal name is Howard Neal Weiner. And, despite the snitch's successful retaliation, his name is still mud with certain victims in the American automobile industry.
Max Caulfield has also been grinding his ax for more than a decade, hoping to someday make the federal Witness Protection Program bleed. In a few weeks, he'll get a chance at what he hopes will be a damaging swing -- with the help of the Washington Post.
Caulfield, profiled in the August 8 New Times cover story, "Stepping From the Shadows," is a Fort Lauderdale private investigator who in the early '80s joined forces with the FBI and helped send some Chicago mobsters to prison.
After a couple hellish years in the witness program -- with so many I.D. and location changes that he often didn't know who or where he was -- the feds booted him out, ostensibly for violating security measures.
He now keeps documents on the program in a black binder that he's titled "Vendetta."
Veteran Washington Post reporter Peter Carlson said he read the New Times article on a national database and decided he needed to talk to Max. Unfortunately for Caulfield, however, Carlson's story, which will run December 6 in the Post's Sunday magazine, isn't so much a searing expose as a humorous yarn: "There's been plenty of fuckups... but basically I found a lot of comedy," Carlson says.
Caulfield's part in it won't be too funny, though. "Max is kind of bitter about his experience," says Carlson.
Yeah, and MacArthur was kind of peeved with the Chinese.
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