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Chapter 124: Confirmation

May 18, 1906
Sterling State Bank
Sterling, Illinois

As Frank went back to his desk, he thought about contacting some of the other merchants whose receipts appeared doctored; again, he glanced at the clock on the wall. There wasn’t much time. All Frank needed was proof from just one merchant that there was creative bookkeeping going on — that would help explain the deficit of over $1000 in less than four months of the firm’s existence.

Frank was a longtime, trusted employee of Nick Van Sant’s. Obituary for Frank Heflebower, from the Sterling Daily Standard, 1940

Neither Frank nor Nick had expected the business to be exceedingly profitable during the first year, but not with a large deficit as Frank had discovered late last week, as he’d toiled away at the books. Also, there should have been very few expenses, as the business was completely bankrolled by Nick — 

At this point, minimally, the business should be recording a modest profit, given the contacts that Nick Van Sant had in Whiteside County and beyond.  Young Wilson had won several cases for the firm’s clients already; one of which was in Morrison, and involved a large sum of money, according to the books. But the money didn’t show up in the firm’s bank account for several days after Emmett had returned from Morrison. 

Frank went back and looked carefully at the law firm’s income and expenses in the ledge, then at the bank’s deposit record for the firm.  There was the $250 deposit  — 

— Frank then spread out the receipts for March on his desk. There. He saw the changes on the expense receipts, which added up to $250.

“Damnation,” Frank muttered quietly.

The phone rang on Frank’s desk.

“Frank? It’s Ryan. You were right. Something is wrong with the receipts you gave me. The original records here show the original purchases were much less than what’s on these expense receipts. It wasn’t the wait staff, though, because different staff members worked different days. I checked the restaurant schedules just to be sure. But — get this — it is the same customer’s receipts.”

Frank nodded, and picked up a pen to jot down notes as Ryan spoke. 

“Would you confirm the customer’s name for me, please?” Frank said, as he wrote quickly.

“Sure. It’s Van Sant & Wilson. But Nick’s never used that account here. Only Emmett Wilson.”  

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