The Case of Zap Cell Batteries and the DiMattia Crime Organization
This case, our latest run at the notorious DiMattia crime family, began with the disappearance of Dr. A. Smith, Ph.D., a stream ecology research scientist employed by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in the state in question. On an early morning in September 2009, Dr. Smith went on a 2-day field trip to Greenfield State Park to collect water samples along a tributary of the Tooling River. He filed the appropriate paperwork with the DNR, and when he did not return by the time indicated on the paperwork, some of his coworkers went looking for him. They discovered his camp in the woods at a site he had typically preferred, but Dr. Smith was nowhere to be found. The state police were called in. We combed the site for evidence and found nothing that suggested a crime had been committed. Dr. Smith's campsite was dismantled and his belonging collected by the DNR workers. A missing person report was filed for Dr. Smith.
A week later, a young couple hiking through the state park in the same area discovered a body off a trail some distance from a stream. Again, the state police were called in. Someone at the DNR office had heard the call on the radio and had gone out to the spot. That DNR employee was able to identify the body as that of Dr. A. Smith. He had been shot 3 times in the chest and abdomen and once in the head. The case was no longer one of a missing person; it was now a murder case.
Everyone was puzzled and asked the same question: who would want to murder Dr. A. Smith? He was normal guy. He had a wife and two children. He was a committed environmentalist but not a radical or even outstandingly active in green politics. He was a long-time state employee with a solid work record. He had no criminal record and seemed to have not connections or dealings with criminal types.
There were no witnesses and nothing of relevance where the body was found. It appeared that Dr. Smith's body was moved to the site of discovery after having been killed somewhere else.
Meanwhile, Smith's closest colleagues at the DNR office had been going through the items left at his campsite for clues about his disappearance. They examined his field notes and his samples. They discovered some fish going to rot in a collection bag. Smith's notes indicated that he had found the fish among a flotilla of others, all dead and belly up in an eddy in an elbow of the stream. Dr. Smith expressed a suspicion of a chemical cause behind the fish kill. The DNR scientists conducted autopsies of the fish their friend had collected as well as chemical analyses of the water samples they found among his things. They were able to detect a chemical toxin at high levels in both the water and the fish. They brought this information to our office and also shared it was the Greenfield Watershed Commission, a citizen commission that focuses on environmental issues impacting the region.
We consulted with the commission to learn what they knew about this toxin that had killed the fish. We suspected that it had, in some way, led to the killing of Dr. A. Smith as well. The commission had been monitoring the activities of the businesses and industries in the region for a long time and had a large body of information and knowledge on these topics. The commission officials noted that the toxin in question is a byproduct of several industrial chemical processes, including the production of batteries. They had been monitoring Zap Cell Battery Company, a battery manufacturer, in the region for some time. The company had a poor environmental record but in the recent past had seemed to clean up its act. We decided to look into Zap Cell's activities ourselves.
We examined the news archives for articles about the company. Zap Cell was an old company trying to stay competitive in a highly challenge, dynamic market. The technological revolution in microcomputers and telecommunications had threatened to leave Zap Cell in the dust of its fast-paced advancement. Batteries were changing and advancing as well, and the new batteries could be produced more cheaply in countries with lower labor costs and less environmental regulations. To their credit, the leaders of Zap Cell were trying very hard to stay in the market and to keep producing batteries on American soil. Unfortunately, this goal prompted the company to cut corners and to get involved with some very shady characters.
Our examination of the news archives revealed that the company had been charged with a series of regulatory violations, mainly for improper storage and disposal of industrial wastes. Fines were steep, but somehow the company met its obligations. Recently there had been no reports of such violations. Moreover, the records of the regulatory agency responsible for the region showed no recent findings of note. Still, the toxins in Dr. Smith's stream were a red flag.
We decided to conduct surveillance of the Zap Cell property. Nearby was a highway overpass. Below it was a homeless camp. One of our lucky junior officers was assigned to go undercover as a homeless man and observe the comings and goings of vehicles at the Zap Cell industrial site. This officer paid particular attention to the waste disposal truck traffic. He was able to find some cover among the vegetation growing near the homeless camp and used it to take photos of the trucks. Those trucks, we found, were from the Greenfield Waste Disposal Company. That company belonged to the DiMattia crime family.
We decided to follow a truck as it leaving the Zap Cell site. We anticipated that it would lead us to a local near where the body of Dr. Smith was discovered. Instead, the truck went to another remote area several miles away from the first location. We observed the drivers of the truck dumping the contents of the truck into a small stream. Once we discovered the new location of the waste dumping, we set up surveillance of that site. Because we knew the regular schedule of the waste disposal from earlier surveillance of the company's property, we could use our manpower more efficiently and deploy our surveillance team at optimum times. In this way we recorded two instances of illegal waste dumping at the site. We did this in order to ensure that we could establish the grounds for the violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act of 1970 (RICO). While the second dumping was underway, our officers apprehended the two men operating the vehicle on the charge of violating the Clean Water Act of 1972.
On the evidence of those arrests, we were able to launch an investigation of Zap Cell corporate records and those of Greenfield Waste Disposal. Toxic waste dumping is a highly regulated enterprise with a detail paper trail. Our investigate was able to show a discrepancy between the company's reported output of the pollutant compared to the estimated output in regards to the company's actual production of battery units. Also, and examination of the company's reported flow of waste into the official, regulated dump site did not match up with the amount of waste generated by the rate of industrial production nor the frequency of waste pick-up.
The drivers we arrested were released on bail. We suspected that the DiMattia organization would try to secret them out of our jurisdiction in violation of the terms of bail, so we put them both under surveillance. We were able to apprehend one of the truckers, Mr. C. Brown, as he and another man attempted to cross into a bordering state. Thus we were able to hold him on violation of the terms of bail and to interrogate him. We impressed upon him the seriousness of the charges against him, which included not only the illegal dumping but also the murder of Dr. A. Smith, an employee of the state. He would face a long sentence if convicted. Mr. Brown proved to be a tough nut to crack and a staunch cog in the DiMattia crime machine.
At the same time, we have approached the president of Zap Cell Batteries, Mr. B. Jones. Upon seeing the evidence we have collected concerning his company's Clean Water Act violations, its suspected link to the murder of Dr. A. Smith, and the likelihood of being a defendant in a RICO prosecution, Mr. Jones's initial tough stance weakens. Working through our attorney in charge, we get permission to offer Mr. Jones a deal in exchange for his testimony as provided by the Organized Crime Control Act of 1970. Mr. Jones provides us with a wealth of information and evidence that firmly implicates the DiMattia crime organization in the illegal dumping of toxic wastes into government protected…