That first part about the FBI keeping information about the investigation into the racketeering scheme secret is worth paying attention to. His story from April of that year has some fascinating information that Solomon seems to have missed. Last year, after initially considering arresting Mr. Either that, or he knew that including that little tidbit could blow a pretty big hole in the story he wanted to tell.
But it gets even better. Mikerin, according to court documents, supervised the sale and shipment of Russian uranium to the U.
Much of that uranium was extracted from decommissioned nuclear warheads under a program designed to keep nuclear devices out of the hands of terrorists or rogue states. The program, which started in expired in , removed thousands of nuclear weapons from poorly secured military installations spread across the former Soviet Union and gave Russia a much-needed infusion of cash. Department of Energy data.
Public documents and interviews with people familiar with the matter show that investigators suspected Mr. Mikerin of participating in a broader scheme to conceal kickbacks paid to Rosatom officials by routing them through shell companies and secret accounts in Cyprus, Latvia and Switzerland. In other words, the only thing the Uranium One story and the FBI investigation have in common is that they both involve Russia and uranium.
Otherwise, there is zero connection. Rexwood Garst, renter of a converted carriage house in Georgetown, filled in for me on the national housing beat. Garst knew he'd soon rise beyond his beat in Prince George's County. If Garst dug up too much at the Department of Housing and Urban Development while I was away, I might have to share my muck with him in the future. The Telegram was that kind of a place--a whole newspaper remade to reflect Mac's ambitions for himself and the rest of us. Mac had been born sixty-three years ago, the only son of a Scot and a Jew, and he'd put himself through Columbia University while reporting murders for the New York Daily News.
He had graduated summa cum laude; he had gone on to awe the dons of Oxford. In his thirties, after his days as a Herald Tribune prodigy and time in Washington with two secretive spy agencies, he had made a fortune as a bond and currency trader, outsmarting the Brahmins of Wall Street and beyond.
Mac's econo-Versailles on the fringes of Maryland hunt country dwarfed his publisher's Victorian mansion on the Chesapeake Bay. No one could fathom why Mac had returned to newspapering as a flunky rather than doing the genteel thing and buying Knopf or The New Yorker. He might still be alive today if enough people had gotten curious and saved him from himself.
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When McWilliams blew up at an underling, he might take a catcher's mitt from his battered wooden desk and smack a baseball against it. The object of his temper would inevitably recoil, as if convinced McWilliams was about to bean him. Mac didn't use the mitt that often but kept it on a shelf behind him, so that you might as well be a horse looking at a whip.
The Rolex, too, had inspired a few stories. McWilliams had bought it just a few years out of Columbia, an ever-ticking, ever-gleaming assurance that he had left Brooklyn behind. His parents, a warehouseman and a nurse, were long dead, but his sister, crippled from polio, still lived in the old neighborhood. As divulged by a six-thousand-word profile in the Sunday magazine of the New York Times , she could barely support herself as a seamstress doing piecework--relentlessly paced by a dime-store watch.
Mac's ambitions and quirks were fodder for the diligent ladies at The Elephant, the big-eared gossip column of a rival paper, which mailed its victims quarter-pound bags of Virginia peanuts. The Elephant sounded off enough about McWilliams for him to amass enough bags to feed half the denizens of the Washington zoo.
Driving home, I could see my obsessions all around me. Up and down Connecticut Avenue, the buildings of Seymour Solomon and associates loomed--each standing two hundred feet high, Washington's commercial limit, each grabbing every dollar of space in the sky, each looking as if a giant George Babbitt had been at work with Scotch tape and an Erector Set.
Bureaucrats occupied Solomon's buildings, along with stockbrokers, trade associations, and other staples of the local rental market. Every now and then rumors wafted about. A policeman strutted near the fountain there, his walkie-talkie squawking in some mysterious mix of cop lingo and Citizens Bandese.
I remembered Dupont when it had been the territory of beats and hippies and junkies: an Allen Ginsberg poem writ in life on Connecticut Avenue. In recent years, however, it had become too expensive to be degenerate close to the Circle. Sy Solomon's crowd had bulldozed away many of the cheaper rooming houses in the area, and they had priced the new apartments for the upper-level civil servants and lobbyists who worked in his office buildings.
Washington was a veritable white-collar factory town run for management. My own apartment building was a jumble of sooty red brick, a semislum named Cambridge Towers. I wondered how many years would creak by before Solomon's crowd tore it down in favor of their kind of ugliness. I tried to envision myself a competent white-collar criminal.
The closest I normally came to Dynamic Executivehood, the local robber barons' most common guise, was when I donned my suit from Garfinckel's to infiltrate the stockholders' meetings of the companies I exposed in my articles.
Never could I have passed for Solomon himself, and not simply because he was older by several decades. We were both tall, but I was reporter-thin, as I liked to style myself, and he was businessman-heavy. He had wide shoulders and thick limbs and looked as if, by sheer bulk, he could bully the rest of the world. I remembered the huge hands I'd seen in newspaper photographs. Both physically and financially, Solomon struck me as a born grabber. You know about Solomon's fucking dime, don't you?
Solomon had quarreled with Fenton's construction local over paying the men a dime more an hour. The upshot was a federal case, going up to the Supreme Court and inspiring editorial-page apologia for Sy along the way. He's just as cheap with his materials as he is with us. The floors--Vulture's Point.
But I spoke not a word back to Fenton. More than once in my days as a reporter, I'd heard false alarms, whether about impending earthquakes likely to topple the Washington Monument, or anthrax in the mashed potatoes at the Kingswood Elementary School cafeteria.
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It's the difference between a building that'll stay up and one that'll fall. And the difference of a million bucks to put the mother up. And that's just one thing--the concrete, the girders, you name it, mister, he cut it cheap all the way around.
The interest rates went up just before the loan, and he had to cut it real close. Buried in the middle of the trial records. All I know is that there's cracks on the seventh floor, and a lot of fat-assed bureaucrats are gonna fall on their behinds. One of our guys knows someone in maintenance. At GSA. It had doled out so many leases to Solomon that I suspected President Bullard of being his silent partner. Not far from Vulture's Point, in Fairfax County, the next county over, the center section of a huge condo building had caved in after the collapse of the twenty-fourth floor and a domino-like effect below.
Many blamed the weight of a construction crane. Whatever the case, the official story was that a subcontractor had removed the concrete's shoring too early. Manslaughter charges hadn't stuck against the manager who had overseen the shoring at Skyline Plaza. Crimped by the oddities of Virginia law, the victims and their families could not even successfully sue the main contractor. I remembered a line from one of my favorite public-radio programs: "Welcome to Lake Wobegon, where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average.
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Skyline had killed fourteen workers and injured thirty-four. But could another collapse happen, in the adjacent county and the same decade? When it came to bad luck on such matters, northern Virginia had already exceeded its quota. A little reinforcement, pour more concrete, and plop down a carpet.
Problem gone, and your upstairs storage area looks prettier. Just a little routine maintenance. A different animal altogether.
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Like father, like son? I wondered what either would have done as a company man in Sloansville.