By Chuck Strouse
By Scott Fishman
By Terrence McCoy
By Ryan Yousefi
By Ciara LaVelle, Kat Bein, Carolina Del Busto, and Liz Tracy
By Pepe Billete
By Ryan Yousefi
By Kyle Swenson
"It would be very easy to write me off as some TV-crazed psychopath," Martin-Trigona says with cool detachment, "but there is much more to me than that." Articulate and disciplined. A researcher, not a voyeur, more nerd than night stalker. A sincere bearer of gifts and praise. A thinker whose monologues are peppered with footnotes and webs of complex theory, often colored by historical attributions and military allusions.
"I am one of the most battle-tested men on the planet. I have fought the Communists in Vietnam, the drug smugglers in Key West, the rebels in Nicaragua." This is a pronouncement he makes, unabashedly, all the time. "I am not bragging," he says. "I am just stating a matter of fact. That is what I was trying to tell Wilson at the press conference." And short of corroboration from the secretary of defense, it mostly seems to check out.
Before September 10, Steve Wilson had never set eyes on the 43-year-old Martin-Trigona, but he knew him from several eerie phone conversations over the past few weeks. At least one of those phone conversations was filled with Wilson's anger. During another, Martin-Trigona offered to invest money in one of Wilson's video projects. In yet another, Channel 7 news reporter Jane Akre figured prominently. The voice on the phone seemed to know everything about Wilson's life, including his on-again, off-again personal relationship with Akre.
Ellis Rubin's press conference was about to begin, and the reporter cordially begged off chatting with Martin-Trigona to attend to other duties. Then suddenly a woman's voice rang out sharply. "Leave me alone! Get away from me!" Jane Akre meant business, and she meant it right at George Martin-Trigona, who was holding out the package he had been carrying.
"Jane...Jane...Wait a minute. Hear me out," Martin-Trigona stammered.
Wilson bolted up, finger pointing: "I told you to leave Jane alone. Don't take another step towards her or your next step will be to the police station!"
"Wilson, do you know who you're talking to? No you don't, do you? Do you really know who you are talking to?" Martin-Trigona launched his tirade, inquisitor turned intimidator. Perhaps it was the manic smile that never left Martin-Trigona's face that influenced Wilson to back off and disappear into the throng of reporters. "He really didn't know what he was up against," Martin-Trigona observes in retrospect. "I've been in so many combat situations that my reactions are spontaneous. I can act without even having time to think. I could have grabbed his wrists and cracked them both in an instant."
No one who witnessed the incident knew exactly what was going on. Akre had stood calmly behind the men, as if nothing were happening, her camera face transfixed on the blurry cue-card distance. A radio reporter approached Martin-Trigona and asked him what was in the package. "It's a gift for the greatest female television reporter in the world," he said, loudly enough for Akre to overhear. No reaction. "It's a copy of Ellis Rubin's book, Get Me Ellis Rubin."
The front door opened. Rubin, his sons Guy and Mark, and another attorney walked side by side to the microphones. Ellis Rubin did the only talking, denying that anyone in his office had attempted to sell information. He accused Wilson of extortion. Then, without answering any questions, Rubin and company abruptly turned en masse and walked back inside.
The sharks had not been satisfied. Rubin had only given them a toe when they wanted a whole leg. A chant arose: "We want Wil-son. We want Wil-son." All eyes and microphones turned toward the Inside Edition star, and he played the role of reluctant interviewee. He told the story he would put on the national airwaves one week later: The secret tape starring Doug Danziger. The $100,000 "package." Sixty thou for half. The list of John Does. Kathy in the buff. Guy Rubin trying to ice the deal.
Akre stayed to the back of the pack. She already knew all of this because Channel 7 had put together its own package with Wilson and Inside Edition. Akre (pronounced eigh-kree) had been in on the story since the weekend, when Wilson arrived at the house the two of them jointly own in an exclusive subdivision of west Broward's Weston development. She strolled up to a policeman and inquired, in a voice that turned more than one head in the vicinity: "Sir, can I have a police escort to my car?" The cop seemed amused. If any part of Miami was well-lighted right then, the environs of Rubin's street was it.
"Where's your car?" he asked.
She pointed to it. "I have reason to believe there is someone out there who might try to hurt me."
"You know why she said that?" Martin-Trigona would later say. "She wasn't scared. She wanted to hurt me. It was as if she was saying, `Here I am, George, so close to you but you can't have me.'"
But George Martin-Trigona knew where Jane Akre would be the next day -- right in the thick of the electricity and chaos and sleaze of the Willets hearing, where, thanks in no small part to her reporting, prosecutors would withdraw a plea bargain that would have given Kathy probation and her husband some weekend furlough time.