Monday, February 09, 2015

The Wages Of Sin Is A Suspended Sentence

Where can an experienced playwright/actor go to make a few bob when the acting jobs dry up and the plays aren't getting produced? Sure a man could go tend bar or take orders at some restaurant, but what if that same man was not interested in anything quite so full time?

For James Gantley, the answer came in the form of an acting gig. Acting, after a fashion. A crminal enterprise hired him because he was good at doing different voices and they needed a man with a good, clear speaking voice who could maybe talk like someone from Leitrim or The Liberties to throw off the authorities. A good disguise is often critical to a successful crime when it comes to getting away with it.
James Gantley
Mr. Gantley was promised some portion of the proceeds of an extortion operation, and all he had to do was make the phone calls to arrange payment for the return of stolen goods. The goods, as it turned out, were legal documents that the criminals threatened to burn if they didn't get the ransom as demanded.

The bags were prices at one thousand euro each, for a grand total of €100,000, a very nice haul. Mr. Gantley was in charge of ringing up the transit van company after the thieves had stolen one of their vans, using his talent as an actor to demand payment and his ability to write fiction to create an entire scenario of deadly menace. All those documents going up in flames! Important data never to be seen again!

The manager of the transit van company was not fooled by the mellifluous tones of James Gantley. He asked for proof that Mr. Gantley and his associates even had the bags of documents. The thieves sent him three bags, and then Mr. Gantley was back on the phone to haggle the price down a bit since the manager didn't seem to be budging.

All that time on the phone allowed the gardai to trace the call back to James Gantley, who got himself arrested and never did get paid for the acting gig, or the play he wrote and performed on the telephone. The bags of documents were eventually recovered and nothing came of the caper beyond arrests and trials.

The judge suspended the sentence he imposed on Mr. Gantley, in large part because the idea of making money by stealing legal documents seemed like the most stupid of crimes. It isn't as if copies of those same documents don't exist in computer files, scanned for all time and readily reproducible.

Even though Mr. Gantley has a rather checkered past, with previous convictions for robbery, he was sent home to take care of his infirm spouse. A man in poor health himself, he also will not be burdening the jail system with the cost of his medical care.

In the end, he earned nothing from his little caper, and will somehow have to find the money to pay his legal fees.

But he should have the nugget of a plot after everything he endured, and if he could turn that into a clever little comedy, he just might have gotten something worthwhile out of an act of remarkable stupidity.

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