By David Villano
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"My feeling is he's going to run with whatever money is left," Glass continued. "That's my gut feeling."
As the conversation continued, Glass reminisced for a moment. "It's funny, Simon, that I always wind up in a situation where I have to tell you something to protect you," Glass mused. "Remember when I was in the Keys A"
"Yeah, I remember," Steckel interrupted. "That funny thing that happened down in the Keys."
"And I always will, I always will," Glass said. "I would never hurt a brother attorney."
That, however, was one credo to which Steckel did not adhere. While Glass was apparently trying to help him, Steckel was secretly recording all his conversations with Glass and then turning over the tapes to the State Attorney's Office. Though the State Attorney's Office has the power to authorize a private citizen to secretly tape-record telephone conversations, it is rare. Rarer still to grant broad authority, as in Steckel's case -- unsupervised and from any location.
The State Attorney's interest in Glass's comments, however, may be the least of the defense attorney's concerns. Those tapes could end up in the hands of the Florida Bar, which has investigated Glass four times since July 1991, according to Bar records: twice for neglecting client interests, once in a fee dispute, and once for allegedly "interfering with justice." All complaints were dismissed due to insufficient evidence. This time, however, Bar officials might take a dimmer view of Glass's expressed interest in protecting his friend at the expense of his clients.
"Those girls will never leave the jail until all of the jewelry, documents, everything is in your hands," Steckel threatened at one point.
"That's fine, that's fine," Glass replied. "I don't have any problem with that."
By the afternoon of Tuesday, December 29, both men seemed to be growing weary of A.V.'s recalcitrance. "The longer this goes on, the more complicated it's going to be," Steckel chided.
"Yeah," Glass agreed. "If they don't do this quickly, I'm going to withdraw from representation. I don't like the position they're putting me in. Plus they haven't paid me anything."
"Well, I want to get my shit back from them," Steckel said. "With each day I get more and more angry at these people."
"Well, I got a suggestion," Glass offered. "This is a little strange suggestion and it has nothing to do with the criminal case at all. A promise of no prosecution does not include a promise of no civil liability. You could always sue them."
"Oh, come on," Steckel moaned.
"My point is, I'm not going to ask for any release of liability for them from civil liability," Glass confided. "And from what I'm told, this girl has money in a trust fund or something like that. You could get a judgment against her."
But Steckel's interest in his missing files remained constant, and he pressed Glass to find out what he could about the black briefcase, which contained them. Late that night Steckel received the bad news. "The bag's gone," Glass reported.
"The bag's gone?" Steckel asked.
"The bag's gone."
"They will give you the location of where everything was dumped," said Glass, "but you are not going to like where it was dumped, because it was a watery grave."
The term "watery grave" didn't make an impression on Steckel. "I want to know tonight where the grave is," the attorney demanded, "because I'm afraid the shit is going to be blown away."
Glass told Steckel he needn't worry about the wind. "It's in the water," he explained.
"In the water?" Steckel groaned.
"They put it in a canal," answered Glass.
"I got to get this bag!" Steckel huffed.
As Steckel reiterated his demand, the tape he used to record the conversation ran out. By the time he popped a new cassette into his recorder, Glass was telling him that A.V. was afraid Steckel was going to have him killed. "I said, 'I hope he does. I hope he does kill you,'" Glass bragged to Steckel. "And I said, 'But that isn't part of the deal. The deal isn't that he promises not to kill you. The deal is he promises not to prosecute you criminally.'"
Glass again emphasized the beauty of the agreement. By deliberately failing to protect his clients from a civil lawsuit, Glass was leaving an opening for Steckel to sue them.
"But I can break his neck," Steckel said half-joking.
"You can do that and you can probably nail them civilly, too," Glass reminded. "Please don't let them know I told you that."
"No, no, no," Steckel assured him.
"I'm doing that as a favor to you so you can recover," Glass said.
But Steckel seemed unconvinced Glass was doing him a favor and said it would be futile to sue any of the defendants because none of them had anything aside from what they had stolen.
"Not true," Glass shot back. "I'm finding out that your little blondie Melissa has plenty."
"Well, let me tell you something," Steckel replied. "I've heard that, but I don't know if that's real, either. If it's real, great. But if it's not real, you know."