Copyright© 2020 by Graybyrd
Reams of Evidence; Hours of Testimony
Adams was moved to a safe house for his protection. The attack and thwarted bomb attempt convinced the county authorities to approve an emergency supplement to Sheriff Johnson’s budget. They also approved overtime for a rotating shift of deputies to guard Adams and the house against further attack attempts.
“He’s a true believer now,” Justin told Abner, Graydon and Mike. “He knows that his best chance to stay alive lies with us. He’s hoping that he’ll get a deal from the prosecuting attorney for turning state’s evidence, but whether or not that happens, he’ll testify. We’ve discussed it with him. His only hope for being free of the threat is to do all that he can to get convictions and long prison sentences for the Alpine-Colorado conspirators.”
“What about that gang lord who sent the killers?” Graydon asked.
“That wasn’t arranged through Adams. He gave them the targets to kidnap, and where to find them, but he didn’t have the juice to arrange for them. Apparently that was Atwood who had the gang connection. We’ll have to find some way to link them up. That might be a federal action, through their organized crime statutes.
“That would be the FBI? And a federal prosecutor?” Abner asked.
“Most likely. Truth told, my ... our county relationship with the Seattle FBI office isn’t too good at the moment. So I guess it depends on what we’re able to develop in evidence and how hungry the Feds are for an organized crime score.
“Wouldn’t that be of more interest to the Denver FBI office?”
“That’s my hope. I, and our county prosecutor agrees ... we have no intention of going anywhere near the Seattle people. After that fiasco with Agent Dougherty, the less contact we have with them, the better.
The IRS tax auction to dispose of the seized Brightman ranch opened at 10 a.m. Monday morning in the Spokane Federal Building. Alpine-Colorado executives Augustus Atwood and Jason Embridge were present, together with their corporate attorney. If there were other prospective bidders, they weren’t apparent in the small group waiting for the auction to proceed.
Abner Goode, Graydon Williams, Michael Peterson, James and Violet Brightman, and Sheriff Justin Johnson with two of his uniformed deputies were present.
The Sheriff and his deputies did not go unnoticed. The federal bailiff eyed them curiously. He noted their sidearms but said nothing. Atwood and Embridge took notice but after a short exchange of comments with their attorney, decided to ignore them.
“Good morning, good lady, gentlemen,” The Federal Marshall assigned to conduct the auction greeted everyone promptly at 10 a.m. as he stepped into the small conference room. “I trust you are all here in the matter listed on the docket as a tax sale concerning...” and he read from the official notice, droning on for several moments. He then issued instructions concerning bid procedures, acceptable payment methods, deeds, satisfaction of liens, and a host of other details.
When he finished, he looked at the small group assembled in seats before him. Just as he seemed ready to proceed with the auction, Sheriff Johnson stood with Attorney Abner Goode and spoke for the Marshall’s attention.
“Before this sale proceeds, Marshall, I believe we have two matters that require your immediate attention.”
“Are you intending to interrupt the proceedings, Sheriff? For what reason?”
“That will be self-evident the moment you see these motions and warrants, sir.”
Abner Goode stepped forward and presented the injunction forbidding Alpine-Colorado and its officers from bidding on the property. The Marshall studied the document closely, glancing at Atwood and Embridge as he read the order.
“One moment, Sheriff. This auction is a federal matter. Your injunction is issued by a county judge. I’m not sure you have jurisdiction here.”
“That has been determined, Marshall. It has been reviewed by the Washington State Attorney General. Since it involves real property situated within Okanogan County, in the State of Washington, owned in fee simple by county residents, the Order of a Superior Court judge prevails. You may have a federal review of the matter but that would require a hold on the auction.”
“I see. Is there anything else before I order a recess in the proceedings to seek counsel?”
“Most certainly, Marshall. I hold arrest warrants for Augustus Atwood and Jason Embridge, both residents of Denver, Colorado, who are present here in this room. Accordingly, Mr. Atwood, Mr. Embridge, you are under arrest for conspiracy to commit murder, for ordering the abduction and kidnapping of Madeline and Marilee Jacobs, for ordering the assault and destruction of Okanogan County facilities and the attempted murder of Okanogan County law enforcement personnel, and various other frauds and felonies. Deputies, take those men into custody.”
The Marshall stared, open-mouthed, as Johnson’s deputies seized the men, pulled their arms behind them and snapped handcuffs in place. The astonished silence of the room was broken only by the protests of the Alpine-Colorado attorney. He was quickly silenced when Sheriff Johnson handed him copies of the arrest warrants.
“This is ... unusual,” the Marshall said. “The matter of the injunction prohibiting these men from bidding seems moot at this point. However,” he turned to the Alpine-Colorado attorney, “are you intending to bid on their behalf?”
The attorney glanced at Atwood and Embridge. Hearing only angry, loud shouts of protests from them as they were led from the room, he shrugged his shoulders in reply. “I think not, sir,” he replied.
“Very well. We’ll proceed as if nothing stands to delay or prevent this sale. Do we have any authorized bidders remaining and present?”
“Yes, sir!” Abner Goode stepped forward and presented his bidder’s certificate, registered and accepted by the IRS.
“Any others?” the Marshall asked. No one answered.
“I don’t feel at all comfortable with this,” the Marshall grumbled, “but I’m not aware that an auction cannot proceed with only one bidder.