Recap / Law And Order S 19 E 15 Bailout

Two women are shopping for clothes, and one encourages the other to buy a particularly fancy dress. She also notices that the other woman is wearing expensive earrings, and the other woman says that she found them under her pillow. She has the other person, an aide, buy the clothes and send them to her apartment. She goes to leave the store, but first removes all her jewelry.

Lupo and Bernard are led by a uniformed cop to a street, where the woman lies, dead. Some teenagers in the area are being held on a nearby stoop, and even though they deny seeing anything, Bernard orders that they not be allowed to leave. Lupo searches the body and finds no ID, no jewelry, but an expensive manicure and clothes. Bernard observes that people wearing those sorts of clothes don't often go into the seedy neighborhood that they're in.

The kids say that they didn't see anything. They crack jokes, but Bernard insists that they get serious. Finally, one of the kids, named Carlos, says that he saw a truck hit the lady. Lupo asks if he saw a license plate, and another kid jokes about it.

"Yeah. I got a webcam in my eye."

Lupo threatens to arrest the kids for violating curfew, and Carlos says that he saw newspapers in the back of the truck, which was open.

At the New York Ledger, Lupo and Bernard confront a driver, Silvio Mangiafico. He claims innocence, but Lupo says that they already saw the dents and blood on the front fender of his truck. Lupo shows him the picture of the body, and says that it's either homicide or an accident. Mangiafico cracks and admits that he hit her. He blames the teenagers, saying that one tried to grab her and she ran right into his truck. He got scared and split. He says he feels terrible about it, and he identifies Carlos as the one that tried to grab her. The cops arrest Mangiafico.

The cops bring in Carlos, who complains that he already said he didn't do anything. Bernard says they just need to know if he spoke to the victim, so that they might be able to identify her. They get him to admit that he did talk to her, but he maintains that she didn't tell them anything. He says he and his friends went outside when they heard Tiny, a neighborhood dog, barking. They thought that the lady looked scared, her clothes were messed up, and she had no shoes. Carlos asked if she was alright, and she fled into the path of the truck. Bernard asks if they touched her at all, and he asks why he would chase someone into traffic and then hang around and wait for the cops.

"Because you think the police are stupid?"
—Cyrus Lupo

The cops leave, and Bernard says that the district attorney will decide whether or not to prosecute. In the vestibule, Van Buren says that Carlos has a long rap sheet, but nothing violent. She asks about Rodger's report, which says that the woman also was bruised. Van Buren adds that the woman had glass in her clothes, which Bernard says was from a window pane. Van Buren says she wants to know what she was doing in the neighborhood.

Walking the street where the woman was killed, the cops see a barking dog and conclude that it's Tiny. Lupo jokes and asks the dog if he saw anything. Bernard sees a broken window on the top floor of a nearby building. They find the rental agent, who says the building has been vacant for a year — the economy is terrible and no one's renting. Lupo sees that some of the windows are papered up with recent newspapers, and the agent says that no one's been in the building (that she knows of) for months. Bernard finds a bag in a cabinet, which contains an ID (Blair Carlson) and all her jewelry. Lupo finds a room with a new lock, and enters to see the broken window, a cot, food, and water.

At Carlson's penthouse, the doorman says he hadn't seen Blair since the morning before she died. When asked how she afforded the place, he says that Pete Gardner was her boyfriend. When Lupo says he doesn't know who that is, the doorman says that he's the CEO of an investment bank. Bernard exposits that the investment bank recently almost went bankrupt. The two find real estate listings for the neighborhood that she was found in. They also see an IM from Gardner, saying that she scared him and asking her to call him immediately.

Gardner tells the police that he got a ransom request. The robbers asked for $200,000, and Gardner said he'd play ball, but he'd need a day to get the money. The robbers said they were fine with that. He didn't call the police because his wife would have found out he was seeing Carlson.He says he doesn't know anyone in Harlam besides Bill Clinton, and that no one knew about his relation with Carlson. When asked about threats, he directs them to his security company and then asks them to leave since his wife will be home very soon. Lupo shows him a photo so they can ID the body.

"She shoulda stayed put. I'd have paid the damn money."
—Pete Gardner

The cops interview Davey Burke, who wrote Gardner a threatening letter. Burke says that he used to work for Gardner, but most of his compensation was in stocks and he had seven million dollars before the company crashed. His father committed suicide; he also invested heavily with the company. Burke rants about Gardner ruining thousands of lives and getting to keep his huge bonus, and having a good image for giving heavily to charity while not actually helping his workers, but Lupo cuts him off. Bernard finds a book showing Carlos and Gardner shaking hands at a charity party.

Carlos says that he was part of a program called Fresh Horizons; Gardner donated to them. The cops say that Carlson was Gardner's girlfriend. Carlos says he doesn't know anything, even when Lupo says they found his prints on a water bottle in the hostage room. Carlos thinks they're lying to get him to confess. They ask for his alibi. He says he was at Fresh Horizons until 4, then went to look at boats on the docks for a few hours, and then went to hang out with his friends. The cops laugh at this alibi.

"That is a sorry-ass alibi."
—Cyrus Lupo

Lupo says that most people at least get someone to vouch for them, but Carlos says he doesn't have a girlfriend and his mother's in jail. He maintains his innocence. Later, Bernard wonders how Carlos knew about Carlson. Lupo says that Gardner may not have been that discrete, and says that $200,000 is about what a kid for ask for. Bernard disagrees, saying a kid would ask for the moon. Lupo says that Silvio will be happy; all he'll be charged with is leaving the scene. Bernard says someone who can drive would have had to help Carlos instigate the ransom scheme, and they decide to go to Fresh Horizons to see if anyone there knows who Carlos's friends are.

At Fresh Horizons, the program director Ronny Aldridge vouches for Carlos's innocence. The center has a variety of equipment, including exercise machines and computers. Aldridge says that Carlos is independent and wouldn't be swayed into crime. He shows them Carlos's locker, then hits the cops up for donations of old equipment. Bernard finds some painting tape that matches some found at the scene. Aldridge says that one Fresh Horizons graduate works as a painter.

The graduate, Perez says that he donated the tape; Aldridge kept hitting him up for donations. When they ask about Carlson he tries to leave, but Bernard says that Perez owes it to Ronny to help them learn if Carlos is abusing his trust. Perez says that Ronny had just found a rich donor — Carlson. Perez repainted a gym in her place, and the lady said that she was donating a Stairmaster to Fresh Horizons. Ronny was going to come by with a van and a friend to pick it up.

The doorman says that Ronny came to pick up the Stairmaster, and his companion stayed in the car. Ronny and Carlson were discussing Harlam real estate. The doorman goes to take a call, and Lupo says that Aldridge might have lured Carlson to the Harlem building.

Lupo and Bernard go to the Department for Juvenile Justice to check on Aldridge's history. The lady there is very complimentary of Aldridge, saying he lives in a back room at the Fresh Horizons building and has virtually no personal possessions. Everything he owns went to the boys in Fresh Horizons. At the last audit, every penny was accounted for. Bernard asks if there's any reason that Aldridge would have suddenly needed money. He asks about gambling debts, and the lady recalls that someone called asking for Aldridge, saying that he owned a horse farm.

Dale Thornhill shows the detectives his old farm, a house and a few acres of property just off the highway. Aldridge had wanted to buy it, and Thornhill couldn't afford it anymore. Aldridge had wanted to bring a bunch of his Fresh Horizons kids to live there, even though Thornhill had warned him that the house was basically unlivable — there was only one stove for heating and the house was falling apart. Aldridge had been unconcerned, claiming to have already bought parkas. The house would have cost him $200,000. He had until this week to get the money.

Carlos maintains his innocence, even when the cops say they think he did it for a good reasno — to get money to buy the farm for Ronny. He admits to knowing about the farm, but says that it was supposed to be next to a ballfield and was supposed to be nice. The cops offer him some mitigating reasons, saying maybe Ronny threatened him, but Carlos maintains his innocence. Bernard says that he should be a man and admit what he did, but Carlos just yells that he is a man and is innocent.

Bernard and Lupo tell Aldridge that things are looking bad for Carlos. They tell him about finding his prints in the apartment. They say that Carlos was trying to get the money for the farm. Lupo says that they just found a strand of Carlson's hair the van. Aldridge says that it probably came from the Stairmaster, but Lupo just says that they'll tell Carlos's lawyer. When they go to leave, Aldridge admits to telling Carlos to put the water in the van. Then he says he wants a lawyer and is led out.

"It's okay, guys, I'll be back soon!"
—Ronny Aldridge

Gardner tells Cutter and Rubirosa that, out of the twenty charities his company supported, Aldridge was the most into fundraising. He never stopped asking for money. Gardner admits that Aldridge figured out that Carlson was his girlfriend. They ask why Gardner was targeted; and Gardner says that he originally promised half a million for the farm, but the firm went bankrupt and he reneged. Aldridge kept asking for less and less money, but Gardner says that he couldn't afford it, even as a personal donation.

"I told him he wasn't considering my situation."
—Pete Gardner

Cutter tells Gardner to leave his expensive watch at home when he testifies. Gardner leave, and Rubirosa remarks that she doesn't like him.

"Where's a newspaper truck when you need one?"
—Connie Rubirosa

Cutter fills out an indictment form, charging Aldridge and Carlos with murder and kidnapping. Cutter says that, if Aldridge wants to clear Carlos with a confession, he's welcome to do so.

In court, Aldridge and Carlos are pled not guilty. Rubirosa asks for half a million in bail each. Carlos's lawyer argues that Aldridge already exculpated Carlos, but when asked if Aldridge confessed, Aldridge's lawyer, Mr. Dibbens, says that Aldridge only discussed a few logistical issues that would clear Carlos. Dibbens adds that Aldridge has an alibi; the entire group of Fresh Horizons students is ready to testify that Aldridge was with them all day. Several of the students stand up and say that Aldridge is innocent. Judge Stephen Legrande agrees with Rubirosa's bail request.

Rubirosa talks to Van Buren, complaining that the students have Aldridge doing half a dozen things at once.

"The busiest afternoon of Ronny Aldridge's life."
—Anita Van Buren

The kids are talking about the farm, which they think of as a big, idyllic place with a lake, barn, ball field, and other amenities. Van Buren complains that the kids were being set up for a huge letdown. She asks what they'll do about the witnesses, and Rubirosa says that they can break them on cross-examination, but Van Buren doesn't want to see Cutter going after the kids.

A van takes all the kids up to the site of the farm. The kids get to see it for the first time, and learn that it's a trash-strewn wasteland. There's no lake, ball field, or barn, and the interior of the house is empty. There's no electricity or running water, and only one stove for heat. Van Buren tells them that Ronny lied to them, and she and Lupo encourage the kids to tell the truth.

"We're sorry. We're really very sorry."
—Anita Van Buren

Rubirosa says that all of the alibi witnesses recanted as to Aldridge's whereabouts, and Carlos confirmed that Aldridge was gone with the van during the time of the crime. Aldridge says that Carlos won't testify against him, but Rubirosa says that he already agreed to do so in return for dropping all charges. Rubirosa offers 15 to life on murder 2, with the kidnapping charge running concurrant. When Dibbens objects, Cutter says they can roll the dice with a jury.

"You know, that's exactly what I'm gonna do."

Gardner refuses to testify, saying that anything he says on the stand could be used against him in the class-action suit against him. He tries to leave, but McCoy blocks the door and orders Gardner to sit. Cutter pulls out a chair, and Gardner does so. McCoy threatens a contempt citation if Gardner doesn't talk. Gardner threatens to take the 5th, but McCoy says that he has a bunch of broke lawyers who would love to nail Gardner. Gardner asks what's in it for him.

"Have you ever done something for nothing? Here's your chance."
—Jack McCoy

Gardner testifies about receiving the ransom text message. On cross, Dibbens confirms that Gardner turned down the request for a personal donation due to being unable to provide the funds, then asks about Gardner's forty million dollar bonus the year before. Cutter objects, and Judge Rochelle Desmond tells Dibbens to move on. Dibbens then asks about a multi-billion dollar company bailout. Gardner first tries to say that it wasn't much money, but when Dibbens go after him he is again told to move on. Dibbens asks if he saw Carlson the weekend before she vanished, and gets Gardner to say he was out of town on business. He has to admit that he was in Sedona, a resort town. He asks what the retreat cost, but Desmond overrules the objection.

"I wanna hear his answer!"
—Judge Rochelle Desmond

Dibbens says that Gardner spent a quarter-billion dollars on a party and refused to give a few hundred thousand dollars to Aldridge for charity. He keeps going despite Cutter's objections, and Desmond shuts down the cross.

Outside, Cutter grumbles that Dibbens is going for jury nullification, trying to make the jury tink that Gardner deserved the ransom attempt. Rubirosa points out that the jury might be sympathetic. She asks what Cutter will do.

"Object like Hell."
—Michael Cutter

Cutter has Carlos testify that Aldridge kept putting off the move to the farm. Aldridge kept saying that he wouldn't let the boys down, and joked about robbing a bank if he had to. Dibbens gets Carlos to admit that he's only testifying to get out of going to jail, and has him say that he likes Aldridge.

"Ronny's like a father to me. If it wasn't for him, I'd probably be in jail. Or I, I'd be on the block slinging dope."

He testifies about how much Aldridge has helped them.

"He gave me hope."

Cutter, on the redirect, brings up other promises that Aldridge made and broke — a laptop for everyone, a visit from Derek Jeter. He asks if a father breaks their promises, then withdraws the question before Dibbens can object.

Outside, Rubirosa says that Cutter's attacks on Aldridge went over poorly with the jury. She gets a message — Aldridge is testifying in his own defense.

Aldridge testifies that Carlson wanted to buy some real estate in Harlam to help the community, but Gardner wouldn't give her the money to do it. He says that he told her about the farm, and she said that Mrs. Gardner spent more than $300,000 on clothes. She suggested a plan, he says — she would pretend to be kidnapped, and they'd get the money to buy the farm from ransoming her. Rubirosa and Cutter can only smile at Aldridge's sheer audacity. Aldridge says that he went along with it to avoid letting the boys down. He claims that he picked her up, and they agreed to make it look real, so he locked Carlson in a room with water and food. The plan was that, after getting the money, Aldridge would tell Gardner where to find Carlson to free her. Dibbens asked why Carlson tried to escape, and Aldridge says he doesn't know but theorizes that rats in the building scared her. The courtroom is silent after he finishes the explanation.

"I just wanted Mr. Gardner to live up to his commitment. I'm sorry."
—Ronny Aldridge

Cutter asks for a recess so they can figure out how to deal with the testimony.

McCoy asks if there's any chance that Aldridge was telling the truth. Cutter says there's not, but Rubirosa says that she could see Carlson wanting to play a trick on Gardner. McCoy says that the story could help the jury acquit based on their feelings by giving them some doubt, however unreasonable.

Back in court, Cutter argues to Aldridge that Carlson seemed terrified, which doesn't make sense if she was just frightened by rats. Aldridge says that Carlos may have exaggerated. Cutter asks why Carlson was barefoot; he can't. He asks about the bruises; and Aldridge says Gardner might have made them. Cutter points out that Gardner was in Arizona. Aldridge just says he didn't bruise Carlson.

"You think Mr. Gardner should take the blame for everything!"
—Michael Cutter

Aldridge insists that he was going to come through for his boys, but Cutter says that Aldridge broke his other promises. He asks if Aldridge was worried that his students would stop believing in him. He points that Fresh Horizons was all his family, and without it, he'd have nothing.

"Fresh Horizons is all the family I need."
—Ronny Aldridge

Cutter says that Fresh Horizons has out of date equipment and is losing kids; he doesn't have the funds to support all the people he used to be able to handle. Cutter accuses Aldridge of making Fresh Horizons all about himself, but Aldridge denies it.

For his closing, Dibbens argues that Aldridge was trying to save his charges from a life on the street. He continues to criticize Gardner, and he passes out pictures of Gardner's massive house. Cutter objects, and Desmond confiscates the photos and orders Dibbens to move on. Dibbens doesn't.

"There is one fact that is undisputed... Blair Carlson would be alive today if Peter Gardner had had the decency to honor his commitment."
—Mr. Dibbens

Cutter again objects, and Desmond shuts down Dibbens's closing argument. Dibbens sighs and sits down. Cutter gets up and says that Carlson would be alive if Aldridge hadn't kidnapped her and terrorized her into running into a truck. He sympathizes with the desire of the jury to nail Gardner, but says it has nothing to do with this case. He says that Gardner destroyed lives by ignoring his responsibilities, and they can't stop him by ignoring theirs.

Later, Aldridge is found not guilty of both murder and kidnapping. His boys, still in the courtroom, cheer and hug him. Aldridge shakes Carlos's hand and squeezes his shoulder, but Carlos leaves the celebration before the rest of them.

Rubirosa tries to comfort Cutter, saying that he did everything right. McCoy comments that this isn't quite true.

"Except win."
—Jack McCoy

Cutter says he wants to file a complaint against Dibbens, but McCoy says there's no point. Cutter says that, with the ruined economy, there'll be more crime. Rubirosa says they can hope for the best, and McCoy recommends that they hire more prosecutors. Both leave Cutter alone in his office.