The robbed that smiles steals something from the thief. -William Shakespeare
ROBBING BANKS with a Bic Pen started out with a girlfriend who worked in a bank. A routine banking transaction turned out to be a simple technical sleight of hand right under their nose. She would get all dolled up have me wheel her around wealthy neighborhoods, usually Uptown New Orleans around Audubon Park with her head swiveling like she was looking for a missing child and suddenly say stop! Get out of the car and pull herself together while looking around this wealthy neighborhood like it was her was playground. She would disappear for a few minutes and come right back and say,
"Let's go."Calm and quiet. She would busy herself with stolen checks and the Yellow Pages to pick what bank she wanted to go to first. Usually the one furthest away, we would head there, and by the time we get there, she would be ready. Red hair and green eyes trained under Vidal Sassoon in San Francisco as a top hairdresser had a salon in her house but robbed banks on the side...
WE HAD our getaway planned where I would park several businesses away so if anything happened we could get away without them knowing what automobile we were in. Never had any problem, not even a close call. I never saw her come out of a bank with less than a thousand dollars in cash. Eighteen-hundred dollars was her number though. She would come out of the bank and give me half, seven or eight hundred dollars for probably ten or twelve times and one day we went and got a new account like always, she makes out the checks, we get to the bank, and she say's,
"It's your turn...."
I WISH I COULD tell you she had to talk me into it or twist my arm but I was chomping at that the bit to do it. As scared as I was, and trust me I was probably as scared as anything I ever did, then when I walked in the door of this little satellite office of a prominent bank in New Orleans, she forgot to mention the New Orleans Police Department off-duty cop doing double duty as bank security. New Orleans, Louisiana is one of the few American cities where city police officers are permitted to provide private security for business and people in uniform. You see them in all the busy bars and tourist traps in the French Quarter. Usually standing around with a Dixie cup like a paying customer or just hanging around getting drunk in uniform. It's a very, very strange place and you will never hear me encourage anyone to go there. It's a perilous place. I get in line like everyone else. Just two lines, five or six people that moving quickly. I didn't know this at the time, but I later learned that the success or failure of this criminal offense occurred the very instant I made contact with the Teller. The problem is you do not know which teller you have until you're standing in line and that particular clerk became available. That initial eye contact when I step up to her window (I have had plenty of male tellers, didn't seem to matter), she makes an internal decision about me by how I'm dressed, my haircut, jewelry, skin color and finally and soothing, warm smile right to her soul and she settles into handing out hundred dollar bills like she, like a lot of women, was born to count money...
JUST LIKE she told me. The teller took the check, turned around and went to large green ledgers right under the windows looking out to the drive-thru, came right back and said,
"How do you want it?"
WHEN I WALKED out of that little bank in Metairie, alongside the service road to Interstate 10, with all the brand new hundred dollar bills, it was lunch time when their busiest and my favorite time to hit 'em with my brand new religion, "The Split Deposit." The thing that made this so beautiful is the little known but obvious fact that you don't need identification to put money into your bank account. Four or five checks from different banks, which we got the same way we got the checks: Right off people's doorsteps in the afternoon after the mailman already comes. Where ever there were lots and lots of apartments, like around universities, etc., I could find a box of blank checks any day of the week. Same with a good account. Rich neighborhoods where the mailbox is right next to their front door. I'd spot three or four people paying their bills, Yellow was for the phone company, green was the water bill, gray the cable bill, etc. They send you the envelopes to send back with your check in them. I'd sometimes see all their bills paid at once, I just needed one. Name, address, account number, bank name and best of all, their signature. The bank tellers ain't handwriting experts. I'd practice their signature with the check taped to the TV on white noise and just trace it a half of dozen times, and wala, I got it. When they go to look it up, which I request if they insist on ID, as long as the first letters of your name is right, you got it....Couldn't have been easier. As long as there were no alerts on the account, everything in order, looking like a million bucks and smelling like money, they were throwing it at us.....
THE LORD will create a new thing on earth - a woman will surround a man. -Jeremiah 31:22
Split Deposit where the customer presenting an endorsed check receives part of the amount being deposited in cash. Split deposits are a major source of teller errors and potential fraud in customer statements. -ABA
EXT. BANK PARKING LOT
From a normal mid-afternoon workday we focus on the drive up teller area, then a particular car, we see Mark in a luxury automobile with expensive suit and tie, haircut, stuffing 5 to 7 checks into the teller tube and close the lid after throwing the pen in with it. We hear the bank automated vacuum carrier as Mark close the window, adjust the radio and the air conditioner then sits back and as the classical music plays awhile and then SWOOSH…..stop! Mark is seen rolling down the window, he removes the container turning the lid and dumping the 10 one hundred dollar bills into a leather folder on the passenger seat which contains about ten times as much cash. As he is returning the containers, we hear:
“Thank you Mr. Zanolli, have a nice day.”
You wanna blow me later?
I said I gotta go, I will see ya later...
EXT. BANK PARKING LOT. DAY
We see Mark pulling out of the drive-thru at a high rate of speed with the top coming down and the stereo blasting tunes, into traffic, burns rubber and halls ass out of sight.
I HAD BEEN with this woman who showed me the Split Deposit scam since her husband, who was my best friend, went Hunt Correctional Facility for busting scripts, See Busting Script's ____ and when he got out, they wanted to try and make a go of it again. We picked him up together, and after we got back to New Orleans and we spent some time together, I went away to California to practice my new religion of defrauding banks with the split deposit shuffle. They lasted until I seen them again a month or so later. Like everybody else I suspect, they just got tired of each other.... And then after much begging and pleading, Bruce begged me to show him the New Shuffle. I was surprised he didn't know. She never showed him, she showed me. I, of course, was getting tired running in and out of banks, even the drive up teller's I began doing once I knew I had a GOOD account.
ONE OF THE very first accounts I swiped off an old money house in Gulfport, Mississippi out on the beach, I took it straight too Hancock Bank and Trust company in downtown Gulfport in the tallest building on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. As soon as she slid them ten brand new Benjamin's at me (A grand was my number. It just had a solid ring to it, easy to count, no fuss no muss. The Indictment said I defrauded seventy-five banks out of two and a half million dollars, which I may tell you about later), I ask the teller,
"Could you tell me our balance."I think it was a Mr. and Mrs. Deal. They never tell you, they write it on a small piece of scratch paper and slide it over to you. I always loved that part and would never look at it because if you have to ask you can't afford it, right? I think I kinda forgot about it and drove down the beach to a Denny's and was sitting down when I opened my small red ledger I always kept with me to slide the money in too. Seventy-six thousand dollars in a checking account. It's a little high. Wow. I had work to do. Time to bring in my boy Bruce to help with the heavy lifting. I met Bruce in jail in Franklin, Louisiana or the Parish Prison for St. Mary Parish, Morgan City, Louisiana. Oilfield and shrimping town I was sitting out a thirty-day auto theft, and he was busted for forging prescriptions. That's why he was in Hunt, for that and a string of the same all the way back to New Orleans. He had attempted suicide while drunk and the whole top of his left eye and forehead was slightly disfigured. He could put some fresh white gauze, and medical tape on it and pharmacist was throwing pain pills at him until they weren't. He's the one showed me how to write them:
INT. HOTEL ROOM. NIGHT.
Large, expansive hotel on the ground floor facing the back of a bank and direct view into the drive-thru bank tellers. Mark is seen coming out of the shower as the room service arrives, he instructs them to place items on the table and signs the clipboard and drops it on the bed and turns away picking up a five dollar bill from the desktop and gives it to the person who leaves. Most of the food is eaten, beds a wreck, bottle of pain pills on the counter between the large double beds. One bed remains untouched. Mark is seen looking thru the curtains at the teller window across the way. In underwear and t-shirt he is seen getting up on the counter in the bathroom and gently removing the corner of a drop ceiling tile and reaches up and brings down a clean brown paper bag, replaces the tile and drops back down on the floor and dumps its contents out onto the messed up bed and jumps in the bed cross legs to examine the items.
Mark is seen jumping out of bed after putting a joint in the ashtray and begins straitening up all his things which look like someone who knows how to travel. Organizes his shoes, items on the counter, jump up the check his hair in the mirror, does a little shadow boxing and jumps back in the bed, cross-legged he begins looking at the items anew.
Bobby Blue Bland, I Just Got to Know soundtrack playing.
We see our protagonist cross-legged in the bed he empties a smaller paper bag (no fingerprints) onto the bed reveals a ½ inch of 20 dollar bills in a single rubber band. The next envelope contains fine brand new checkbooks, multi-colored, all smelling of money. A third bag contains a small bag of pot and rolling paper. Mark opens his leather case, and five checks fall onto the bed. Mark grabs one and jumps up and turns the volume down and the TV to a station with snow and is seen taping the check to the screen and then takes a blank piece of white copy paper over the check and is seen copying the signature projected thru the TV screen. In his underwear smoking a joint with his headphones on, a large portable air cleaner at both ends of the room. At intervals we see Mark jumping around watching TV on his the own television, several different sporting events, and girls wrestling, with Mark practicing each of the signatures and making out numerous checks which are all divided into the phone books at the page of that bank. Five stacks of five checks each in five different banks. Mark is seen practicing his greeting the bank tellers in the bathroom mirror with a big open smile. Practicing how the ledger looks with different suits on, different sunglasses.
INT. HOTEL ROOM.NIGHT.
The room is immaculate, looks like he just checked in with his clothes neatly organized, bath towel’s at the ready, only the bathroom light on with the door slightly cracked provides little light as Mark is seen reaching for the phone.
4 am Wake up please.19 right.
Right. Thank you
In the large bed that had never been disturbed, we see are principle up close with a slight smile on his face.
EXT. HOTEL ROOM .AM.
We see Mark dressed to the Nines, sitting at the table by the door, everything’s in the car outside the door idling, his feet up on the other chair, his shirt out to keep it perfectly crisp, he sits reading Gideon’s Bible at Psalms 19 with the door open with housekeeping cart and the interstate nearby.
EXT. DOWNTOWN JACKSON, MS. DAY.
We see Mark pull into an underground parking garage which turns out to be an another bank drive-thru. We witness the entire transaction until Mark is seen pulling out of the underground garage into the mid-morning traffic where we see banks on every corner.
INT. BANK LOBBY. DAY.
Mark is seen at the teller window with a stern middle aged, gray haired women.
Isn’t there something you can check?
Alright, hold on.
The teller is seen looking at the computer and then goes into a back room and comes right back out without making eye contact. She returns to Mark and is seen counting out the money and then walks over to the computer on the back counter and begins fanning the keyboard with the money.
Is there something wrong?
No. The computer is hot; it will be just a minute.
Mark is seen looking around concerned.
Yeah, just deposit that, I got to go.
It’ll be just a second.....
EXT. BANK .DAY.
Mark is seen leaving the bank quickly but not urgent. We follow Mark thru the parking lot, into the next business parking lot, cuts thru parking lot into the next street over we begin to hear police sirens in the background as Mark disappears around the corner and is seen removing clothing items.
EXT. MID-CITY-NEW ORLEANS.DAY.
From a distance, we see a young man without a shirt, black shorts and black running shoes and headphones. Looking like many in the upscale neighborhood. As the jogger appears we see it is Mark with sunglasses, smiling he runs right past us. Hot and sweaty we notice for the first time how seriously rock hard he, we feel him go by but noticeably absent of draft. Light sweat, breathing thru his nose we follow him a half a block where he quickly stops, and without looking around, we see him bend down and pick up a set of keys next to the tree in the plants. The tree-lined street is lined with upscale cars as we approach we can’t see thru the tinted windows, we hear the car purr to life and quietly disappear into traffic.
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