“Yes. Well, to be precise, Evan made it up and I went along with it.”
“What do you mean? Why? What’s going on? Did you plan this?”
“No, we didn’t plan anything. I didn’t think you’d find the withdrawals and neither did he.”
“Paul, why would you make up such a horrible story? I was so upset that he got a girl pregnant, that he aborted the child, our grandchild.”
“I just told you, I didn’t make up the story. He did, on the spot.” Paul sighed. “He’s a teenager. He was making it up as he went along. The good news is he’s not that good a liar.”
“Not as good as his father.”
“No, not at all.”
Mindy didn’t like the way he was acting, almost comatose. She began to feel a tingle of fear. Something was terribly wrong with him. “Paul, tell me what’s going on.”
“You need to sit down.”
“Don’t tell me what to do, just tell me what you did.”
“Mindy, this is bad. This is as bad as it gets. I suggest you sit down.” Paul’s unfocused gaze met hers, and something told Mindy to follow his advice. It wasn’t a power struggle anymore, because Paul was acting absolutely powerless.
“What is it?” Mindy asked, sitting opposite him on the chair.
“I was trying not to tell you because I thought I had it handled. I thought it would blow over, but that’s not happening. You’re going to find out sooner or later because I’m going to be indicted next week. So there you have it.”
“Indicted?” Mindy gasped.
“Yes, I’ve been the target of a federal investigation for the past six months, from the IRS and the FBI. Not one, but two federal agencies. Two.” Paul held up two fingers like a victory sign.
“What are you talking about?” Mindy felt like she was in a bad dream. This didn’t make any sense. It couldn’t be possible. He could still be lying. She didn’t know who he was anymore. Her husband, the stranger.
“I’m about to be indicted for Medicaid fraud, money laundering, and income-tax evasion.”
Mindy felt the blood rush to her head, as if she would faint. She leaned on the soft arm of the chair.
“Would you like a drink? I know you drink.” Paul held out his tumbler of Scotch, smiling crookedly.
“No.” Mindy found her voice, choked. “Is this really true?”
“Yes. Next week, I’m going to be indicted.” Paul didn’t bat an eye. He stayed preternaturally calm, almost mechanical. “I took the money out of Evan’s account. He didn’t even know about it. I needed a criminal lawyer who specialized in white-collar crime. They wanted a retainer. I couldn’t write them a check because I knew you would see it, and our assets are about to be frozen when the indictment is filed.”
“Paul, no.” Mindy reeled. It was too much to take in all at once. Part of her still wasn’t sure it was true. She felt gaslighted. “Are you lying again? Is this real?”
“Mindy, my dear, this is as real as it gets. They’ve been making my life a living hell every day since they sent me the target letter, you don’t even know. That’s where I’ve been, all these times I’ve told you I’m working late. I’ve been meeting with my lawyers and the IRS and FBI, trying to hammer out a deal.”
“What did you do? Did you do these things?” Mindy struggled to process the information, all at once. If he was telling the truth now, he wasn’t having an affair. He was doing something much worse, but all he felt was self-pity.
“Yes, I did these things.”
“What, exactly? How?” Mindy couldn’t wrap her mind around what she was hearing. Paul was a selfish jerk, but he never did anything illegal, that she knew of. And they had plenty of money to pay taxes with.
“I’ll simplify it, because my lawyers aren’t here to cite chapter and verse. I don’t have to worry about your testifying against me at trial, even if you divorce me, because we’re not going to trial. And you’re in the clear, though you did sign our returns.”
Mindy felt stunned. The words made no sense. In the clear. Trial. Testify. Her life was coming apart at the seams. She was too stricken to speak so she let him continue.
“Long story short, we’ve been charging for tests we don’t perform and surgeries we don’t perform, and we put the claims in and we keep the money. Of course we have to hide the money, which at this point is almost $7.2 million, and we’ve been dividing it equally among the three of us.”
“Seven million dollars?” Mindy began to get her bearings, hearing the number. The money made it real. It was real. “Where’s it all going?”
“Our share is over 2 million, and we’ve been spending it on this very couch, our club membership, Evan’s BMW, and the Caymans’ vacation, which really was fun, I have to tell you.”
Mindy had no idea why he would do such a thing. Money had never been a problem, so she didn’t know why he would take such a risk.
“Mike, my beloved pal, told his lovely wife, Linda, and Linda made him tell the feds, who offered him a very sweet deal. In return for that, he became what’s known as a CI, or a confidential informant. He’s been wearing a wire under his lab coat for the past six months.”
“Mike, your partner?” Mindy had always liked him and Linda. They’d been friends since Mike joined the group.
“Yes. They’ve also been tapping my cell phone and my office phone, and by the way, Carole was in on it too. We needed her cooperation to fake the billing. That’s why we hired her and that’s why I bought her the jewelry. To keep her happy and quiet. I know it’s not her birthday.” Paul sipped his Scotch, then made a clicking sound with his teeth, knocking it back. “Mike gave them the whole case. We would’ve gotten away with it—we were getting away with it—but he handed it to the feds on the proverbial silver platter. Which also happened to hold my head.”
“Paul, did you really do these things?” Mindy asked in disbelief.
“Yes, I did.”
“Money, primarily. The money is just too good. And frankly, I’m angry.”
“You’re angry about what?” Mindy shook her head, dumbfounded. “You have everything. We have everything.”