Recap / Law And Order S 5 E 9 Scoundrels

A lawyer, Jeffrey Wiggins, and his secretary Bella approach Wiggins's law firm at the start of the day. Bella wants a raise, but Wiggins says he can't afford it. Bella objects that the other lawyer who shares the office, Arthur Kopinsky, said he'd give her a raise if Wiggins did too. Wiggins is unconvinced.

"He's so flush, why do I have to match?"
—Jeffrey Wiggins

Bella continues to complain, saying that she hasn't had a raise since she began working for Kopinsky and Wiggins. They finally get into the office, and Wiggins goes to see Kopinsky to complain about him offering Bella a raise while Bella makes coffee.

"Hey Mr. Rockefeller. You're spoiling the help."
—Jeffrey Wiggins

Then Wiggins yells for Bella to call the police — Kopinsky had been killed in his chair.

A uniformed officer tells Briscoe that there were no signs of struggle. Briscoe points out that Kopinsky being shot is struggle enough. A medical technician says that Kopinsky died the previous afternoon or night. Briscoe goes over to Logan.

"Gee, who'd want to kill a lawyer?"
—Michael Logan

Wiggins comes into the room to prevent Logan from looking at any of Kopinsky's files, since the information therein is privileged. He says that he was Kopinsky's office roommate and his lawyer. Briscoe finds Kopinsky's date book, and notes that Kopinsky's last appointment was with a Mr. Tanaka. Wiggins never saw Tanaka, but Bella saw him. She says that, when she left for the night, Tanaka was still there. She seems choked up, so Logan asks if she's all right. She reveals that she isn't upset about Kopinsky himself.

"Mr. Kopinsky was going to give me a raise."

Briscoe remarks on this as he and Logan leave.

"When we find the shooter, she can have the other lawyer sue him."
—Lennie Briscoe

Tanaka, at his coffee cart, says that he hired Kopinsky to prevent the city from relocating his cart to a place with less foot traffic. Kopinsky's ad said that he'd only bill his clients if he won the case, so he seemed like a good bet to Tanaka. He says that their first meeting was the previous day, so there was no progress on the case. He also says that a man entered Kopinsky's office just as he was leaving, and gives a brief description. He recalls that the man shouted at Kopinsky as Tanaka was leaving the office.

The cops enter Kopinsky's home, which is a nice house. A man hurries down the stairs and demands to know who the police are. Once Logan identifies himself, the man says that he's Frank Rosebrock, Kopinsky's roommate. He says he just heard about the shooting. When asked, he says that he lived with Kopinsky for nineteen years in the house.

"You can't know. Arthur is a — Arthur was a wonderful man."
—Frank Rosebrock

He asks what happened, but Logan ignores the question. Rosebrock says that he was in Phoenix the previous day. When asked if anyone was mad at Kopinsky, he says that there was one client who called repeatedly to threaten the lawyer, as well as Rosebrock himself. Rosebrock adds that Kopinsky was working on his case constantly, but the man didn't seem to care. He names the man as Carl Piselli.

Piselli, who matches Tanaka's description of Kopinsky's last client, is in a disorganized lab. He shows the detectives two magnets. One is of a pig wearing a suit, the other is a pig wallowing in filth. He says that they were dishwasher magnets; they could be used to signal whether the dishes were clean or dirty. This would prevent someone from accidentally shelving dishes that looked clean but hadn't been washed yet. His dog begins barking loudly as he talks, until he quiets it by petting it. He says that he submitted the product to Empire Gifts, a large sales representative firm. They rejected his application, put a dress on the clean pig instead of a suit, and began selling it themselves, without paying him. He retained Kopinsky to sue them. Brsicoe asks why Piselli was mad at Kopinsky, and Piselli says that Kopinsky took his retainer, then did nothing. When asked for his alibi, he says he was at a free concert in Central Park.

"Free concert. The only show in town that doesn't rip you off."
—Carl Piselli

The CEO of Empire Gifts, Alice Huntley, says that Piselli is a serial crank who has sued Empire Gifts repeatedly for 'stealing' his ideas. She denies all wrongdoing. Logan is unimpressed by the company.

"You know, all this stuff... ceramic kittens... Flatulence: The Game... this is a business?"
—Michael Logan

The CEO says that her business does well, and that his claims are groundless.

"If Marcone and Tesla could independently invent the radio, is it so hard to believe that two people thought of putting magnets on dishwashers?"
—Alice Huntley

She says Piselli threatened her, and Kopinsky too.

Van Buren says that the American Dream isn't becoming President any more, it's becoming rich by inventing a trinket. Logan says that Piselli matches the description of Kopinsky's last client and is angry. Van Buren continues, talking about a man who goes to her husband's auto parts store to buy parts for a device that will automatically lower toilet seats. It's to be used for men who forget to lower it themselves and have wives who want it lowered. Briscoe comes in, saying that Tanaka looked at Piselli's picture but wasn't sure he was the man. Logan wants to bring in Piselli anyway, but Van Buren says they should check his alibi first. She's unmoved by the detectives complaining that there were thousands of people at that concert, and sends them out.

A policeman who worked security at the park doesn't want to look at the picture of Piselli, but when he does, he remembers seeing Piselli. The inventor got in a fight with the ushers, who didn't want him to come in with his loud dog. He put a muzzle on the dog, then went into the concert. The detectives realize that his alibi holds up. As they leave, Logan gets a page from Kincaid.

At the office of Wiggins and Kopinsky, Wiggins rages that the detectives can't look at Kopinsky's files — it would violate attorney-client privilege. Briscoe says that he thought Kopinsky did civil cases, and Wiggins says that Kopinsky did both. Kincaid snaps that their search warrant specifies that they can't use any of the material they find there in any case except the murder of Kopinsky. Wiggins examines the warrant and reluctantly admits that it seems to be in order. He doesn't know what Kopinsky was working on.

As they go through the files, Kincaid notes that he settled a malpractice claim for $15,000 and charged $5,000.

"I never realized the law was such an exciting profession."
"I get to work with you guys."
—Lennie Briscoe and Claire Kincaid

She finds the Piselli case, and Briscoe says that they've been down that road already. Then Logan finds a file about Willard Tappan, a Savings and Loan CEO who swindled millions from his clients with junk bonds. His business eventually collapsed and he was sent to prison for a few years. Logan reads a letter in the file, which was written to one of Tappan's victims and says that Kopinsky may be able to collect on the debts he owed them. Another such letter says that Kopinsky had a lead on Tappan's hidden assets, and can find it, for $3,000 in research fees. He finds over fifty such letters. Briscoe notes that Tappan would have had motive to kill Kopinsky if Kopinsky really did find his hidden money.

Van Buren tells the detectives that Tappan ruined lives. She thinks that Tappan would kill to protect his money. Briscoe adds that Tappan just moved to a halfway house nearby. Van Buren tells him she'd be thrilled if they could nail Tappan for murder.

As he winds up a hose, Tappan muses about his old life.

"Kopinsky? You know, I had a racehorse named Prince Corrinsky once. The government took him along with everything else. I suppose Chelsea's riding him now..."
—Willard Tappan

He says he's never heard of Kopinsky, and that he has no hidden money. When Briscoe says that he doesn't believe him, Tappan points out that a lot of people looked for that money.

"You know, that's what the United States Government thought. That's what my creditor's attorneys thought. They scoured the world searching for my buried treasure. They found nothing."
—Willard Tappan

He cites a case where a lawyer recently went to jail for telling people that he'd found Tappan's money, getting a retainer fee from the victims, and then doing nothing. He then leaves to do maintenance work in Central Park, as part of his work-release program.

Fred Dillon, another lawyer, says that he represented the major creditors in the Tappan crash. They seized Tappan's lodge, plane, and apartments, but it was all mortgaged elsewhere. The cops ask if any of Dillon's clients heard from Kopinsky, but Dillon says they were too large. Losing a few million in Tappan's scam wasn't as big a deal for them; he says they should focus on the small investors who lost everything they owned. Logan points out that bank accounts are supposed to be insured, but Dillon says that a lot of the victims bought bonds instead of CDs, and the bonds were uninsured.

A woman tells the cops how she lost all her money in Tappan's scam. Her husband had saved $60 a week, but lost it all. Her husband died suddenly after the crash. She says that Kopinsky said he'd recover her money for her in exchange for $3000. She paid him $600, all she could spare, but he never found the money. She sighs that she's a fool.

In the park, Logan comments that Tappan took almost everything from the victims, and then Kopinsky took what was left.

"So what, you wanna be reassigned to a squad who tracks down murderers you don't sympathize with?"
—Lennie Briscoe

Logan sighs that Dillon's lawyers got their money back, and Dillon collected a nice fee. Briscoe comments that he keeps his money split up in five different accounts so he can't lose it all. Logan wonders if this is financial advice or marriage counseling. Briscoe laughs, and they go to see the other victims of Tappan's scam.

At the Glen Ivy retirement home, the cops speak to Jane and John Curren. John is Jane's son, both lost a lot of money to Tappan, and John matches the description Tanaka gave the police. John says that Kopinsky was trying to recover their money. Jane adds that they lost almost $850,000. After her husband died, she lived in a big house, within walking distance of Madison Avenue. Now, she lives in a retirement home with a roommate. She glares at the roommate, Mrs. Greenfield, who goes back to reading her book. John asks if Kopinsky was killed because of the Tappan case. Logan says they don't know and wonders if the Currens gave him money; John says that he gave Kopinsky $1000. Jane adds that she sent him money just the other day. John adds that he hadn't seen Kopinsky recently.

Briscoe and Logan tell Van Buren that Kopinsky collected tens of thousands of dollars, but not only did he turn up nothing, but half the people they talked to still believed that he could find their money.

"What a guy. Swindling people who had already been swindled."
"You gotta hand it to him. They all had proven track records as victims."
—Anita Van Buren and Lennie Briscoe

Van Buren gets a phone call.

"One of you have a girlfriend in a nursing home?"
"That would be Lennie."
—Anita Van Buren and Michael Logan

Greenfield tells the cops that the Currens lied to them, and that she hates liars. She vents that Jane thinks that she's better than everyone else because she used to live on the East Side. Logan asks what the lie was. Greenfield says that John saw Jane the night before Koinsky died, and Jane told him that she'd just sent Kopinsky the last of her money so that he'd get her money back. John became livid and said that he'd get the money back no matter what.

Van Buren asks Briscoe what he thinks.

"I think she enjoyed double-dating with us a lot more than some nursing-home attendant."
—Lennie Briscoe

He adds that Greenfield clearly hates Jane. Logan believes Greenfield. He is reading Kopinsky's phone logs, and says that John called Kopinsky three times the day Kopinsky was shot.

At John's apartment, his wife shoes the kids out of the room. His wife, Harriet Curren, asks if Kopinsky was a liar. John comforts his wife, but then Logan says that they think John already knew this. When confronted, John says that he suspected Kopinsky was being lazy, but didn't want to worry anyone. The cops continue to call him on his lies, citing the calls (which he excuses by saying he wanted to see how things were going now that his mother was involved). He agrees to go to the station to be identified. While there, Tanaka picks him out of a lineup. Once Tanaka leaves, Van Buren notes that Curren didn't want a lawyer.

"I guess after Kopinsky, he had his fill."
—Michael Logan

Van Buren says it's enough for a search warrant.

Harriet frets about the search, but Briscoe says that her husband is just answering a few questions. She denies that he owns a gun. He finds a shoebox full of clippings about Tappan. Then he finds a crumpled check in his jacket pocket. It's the check Jane Curren wrote to Kopinsky.

In interrogation, Logan points out that John lied about seeing Kopinsky, and says that they found the check. He asks how John got it. John eventually asks to call his wife, but Logan wants to confirm the story first. John says that Kopinsky just gave him the check back when he went to see Kopinsky. Logan says that he didn't think Kopinsky was so nice, but John repeats that Kopinsky just returned the money. He then asks for a lawyer. Kincaid checks that Van Buren doesn't believe him, then asks them to arrest him.

In court, Curren's attorney Sally Bell pleads him not guilty. Kincaid says that they want high bail, since Curren's crime was violent and he lied to the police to cover his tracks. Judge Ian Feist realizes that he knew the victim, Kopinsky. Bell asks him to recuse himself, but Feist clarifies that he hated the man. Kincaid protests that they need high bail due to the heavy charge, and Feist sets bail at $100,000.

Bell tells McCoy and Kincaid that she'll get a quick dismissal before the case goes to trial. She's going to argue that John had no lawyer. Kincaid points out that he was offered one and refused, so she says she'll argue that they coerced him to say that.

"Get off your soap box, Sally, you're blocking the view."
—Jack McCoy

He isn't interested in making any deals. Bell says that a jury will feel sorry for John, who was swindled by Tappan and then Kopinsky.

"Kopinsky needed to be disbarred, not shot in the head."
—Jack McCoy

Bell leaves.

Greenfield testifies that John flew into a rage at hearing that his mother paid her. Bell has her admit that John became angry at other times, at the director at the nursing home. She has Greenfield say that John, despite his anger, didn't kill the director. Bella testifies next, about John's phone calls. Bella testifies about John venting at her and Kopinsky over the phone, then asking directions to the office. Bell, though, asks if other clients delivered angry calls, and she has to admit that he got around a dozen angry phone calls every week.

Huntley is called by Bell. She testifies that Empire Gifts was being sued by Kopinsky. She asks if the police had a suspect when they came to question her. McCoy objects on grounds of relevance, but Bell says she's trying to establish an alternate theory of the crime. McCoy says that, if Bell wants to know what the police thought at various points, she can call the police to the stand. Bell responds by saying that the police have already circled their wagons and decided that John must be the killer, so their testimony can't be trusted. Judge Pamela Jensen overrules the objection, saying that McCoy can bring on the police for rebuttal, and then Huntley testifies that the police thought Piselli did it. Huntley further testifies that Piselli threatened Kopinsky often, and that he smashed things in her store. McCoy's cross-examination is just that Huntley doesn't know anything that would exonerate Curren or implicate Piselli. Jensen adjourns for the day. Bell then gives McCoy an addition to her witness list.

Anne Maney, an assistant manager at a bank, testifies that John came in to stop Jane's check. McCoy looks unhappy. Bell produces the check, and Maney verifies that the check was worthless and couldn't be cashed — and that John knew it, since he waited while Maney took care of the paperwork. McCoy has her testify that John was upset about Kopinsky, but when he asks what John said, Maney just responds that John said Kopinsky ought to be arrested.

Later, Schiff remarks that the defense case is rather strong. Kincaid says that a smart lawyer can always find holes in a theory, but Schiff says that this is a very large problem. There's no murder weapon, witness, or a motive anymore. McCoy says that John still had a grudge against Kopinsky, but Schiff says that lots of people did. He asks if they're sure they have the right man, and neither Kincaid nor McCoy can respond.

"Get a continuance and start at square one. Either prove you have the right man or prove you don't. Have a nice day."
—Adam Schiff

Kincaid comes in with take-out, showing McCoy where she put all the files. He looks at the file on Piselli and Empire Gifts. He notes how thick the file is. The lawyers observe that Piselli had complained that Kopinsky wasn't doing anything, but Rosebrock said that Kopinsky was working on the case night and day. McCoy finds several legal papers, and notes that Kopinsky was examining the company's assets before even going to trial, let alone collecting a judgement. He also notes that Kopinsky hired a Private Investigator to track Alice Huntley. The investigator, according to the files, followed her to Tappan's halfway house.

Roy Leonard, the private investigator, tells Kincaid that Kopinsky never told him why he wanted him to follow Huntley, but that he saw Huntley having secret meetings with Tappan. He says he saw Tappan sneak Huntley upstairs to his room in the halfway house.

"I didn't think he was gonna show her his stamp collection."
—Roy Leonard

Leonard found that Huntley used to work for Tappan in his PR department.

The lawyers bring in Huntley, and McCoy tells her that her company makes $300,00 a year, but she has five million dollars in the bank. The money is from a loan, and she's never made so much as a single payment. The lawyers tell her that they think the money is Tappan's secret stash. Huntley tries to deny even knowing Tappan, but cracks when McCoy threatens to charge her with being Tappan's accomplice in Kopinsky's murder. She admits that Tappan stored his money with her, and that Kopinsky found out. Kopinsky began to blackmail Tappan, taking $150,000 from him in exchange for not ratting him out to his clients. She insists that Tappan wouldn't shoot someone.

In McCoy's office, Tappan protests the new accusations.

"If I had a secret bank account, don't you think I'd use the Cayman Islands? The laws are so much more favorable there."
—Willard Tappan

Edward St. John, Tappan's lawyer, says that Tappan turned over his money. When McCoy says that Huntley has a different story, Tappan says that she's a spurned lover, jealous that he fell in love with another woman. St. John brings up John's arrest, but McCoy says they have a continuance. He then asks if Tappan has an alibi. Tappan says he forgot where he was when Kopinsky died, but the halfway house would have a record.

As St. John and Tappan leave, Kincaid approaches McCoy. Tappan was at a life skills class while Kopinsky was being murdered. The alibi is ironclad. McCoy complains that they have John, with opportunity and no motive, and Tappan, with motive and no opportunity. Kincaid says she found a call from a pay phone by John's office to the halfway house. Maybe, she concludes, they worked together.

The receptionist at the halfway house looks for the phone records. He takes a while, and becomes embarrassed.

"This isn't my usual line of work. I'm a surgeon. Medicaid fraud."

The caller was angry, and didn't give a name, but the receptionist put the call through anyway. He also didn't eavesdrop on the call, so he can't tell Kincaid what was said.

McCoy tells Schiff that, accounting for travel time, the call was made just before John would have had to leave to kill Kopinsky. McCoy wonders if John called Tappan just to vent, or beg for his money back, and then guesses that Tappan might have told John what was going on — that Kopinsky had found the money, but wasn't helping his clients. McCoy wants to have Tappan testify about this. Schiff points out that this testimony would earn Tappan another fraud charge and a new jail term.

At Central Park, Tappan tells a coworker Julio to take a break as the lawyers show up. He muses about people privatizing the park. McCoy cuts him off, but then Tappan returns the favor.

"We're here because—"
"You're here because you have a problem. I'm talking to you because I have a problem."
—Jack McCoy and Willard Tappan

McCoy threatens to expose Tappan's hidden money. Tappan responds by saying that John's about to go free.

"If you hadn't stolen that money, the murder would never have taken place."
"I concede your point. If things were different, they wouldn't be the same."
—Jack McCoy and Willard Tappan

He says that he might not be able to recall the conversation he had with John Curren. Kincaid points out that Tappan told the original commission investigating his bank that he couldn't answer more than two hundred questions.

"My memory is terrible. Especially when I'm worried about the future."
—Willard Tappan

He wants immunity from a fraud charge. McCoy says they'll take the money, but he says they'll take it anyway. He then says that he might have amused himself by claiming that Kopinsky was his attorney. He says that Kopinsky had been a thorn in his side and that he hoped he would 'enjoy' meeting John.

"You hoped Curren would kill him. To end the blackmail."
"Heavens to Betsy. What a dreadful idea."
—Jack McCoy and Willard Tappan

He walks off. Kincaid and McCoy talk about the case, and McCoy says that he wants to charge Tappan with murder. Kincaid says that there's no legal case.

"You can't arrest him."
"I'm the DA. I can arrest anybody."
—Claire Kincaid and Jack McCoy

Schiff complains about the arrest, saying they have no case. McCoy says that five people killed themselves after Tappan's bank collapsed. He and Kincaid say that they'll claim that Tappan sent John Curren at Koinsky, which shows a depraved indifference towards human life. Schiff sighs, and asks if they can prove it.

"I'd sure like to try."
—Jack McCoy

In jail, John clarifies that he's being asked to testify against Tappan for Kopinsky's murder. McCoy says they arrested Tappan for murder, and Bell asks when John can go home. McCoy says that John will be allowed to plea to manslaughter, getting between 8 and 25 years. He threatens to let Tappan testify against John if John doesn't testify against Tappan; in that case, John would be charged with murder while Tappan would get the deal. When Bell criticizes this as blackmail, McCoy says that Bell should know him by now. John agrees to the deal.

"I'll do it. To get Tappan."
—John Curren

Leaving, Kincaid asks what the 'don't you know me by now' was all about. McCoy eventually admits that Bell was his assistant. Kincaid smiles; she knows that McCoy has had sexual relationships with all of his other female assistants (see: Second Opinion (episode)).

In court, John testifies that he called Tappan, who said that Kopinsky had found Tappan's money but wasn't going to give any of it back to the victims. Tappan then apologized, saying that he understood what it was like to have his life savings stolen. John finishes by saying that Tappan promised to refund his money if he killed Kopinsky.

"What did you do?"
"I did it. I went downtown and I shot him."
—Jack McCoy and John Curren

St. John has John admit to hating Tappan, and accuses him of making up the testimony to get off easy for his murder while destroying his enemy Tappan. John vents about Tappan stealing all his money; he wanted to have a nice, big house in a suburb somewhere, but can't because Tappan stole his money.

"For him, I guess it was just another zero on a list of numbers."
—John Curren

Kopinsky testifies that John ranted at him, but denies paying or asking John to kill Kopinsky. He states that John just blames him for ruining his life. St. John asks what Tappan said to John, if it wasn't an assassination request.

"His family had lost under a million dollars. I lost over a hundred million. I told him to grow up."
—Willard Tappan

On cross-examination, McCoy asks how many people Tappan swindled. He says none. McCoy then asks how many people Tappan was convicted of swindling, and Tappan has to put that number at about 14,000. The jury looks stunned. McCoy says that Tappan lied to all those people when they put money into his bank. St. John objects, but is overruled by Judge Herman Mooney. McCoy asks why anyone should believe Tappan now. Tappan maintains that he lied to no one. The people who lost money bought bonds, and bonds carry risk. He says that no one complained when he was making them money.

"John Curren lost his life savings!"
"Because the real estate market collapsed, Mr. McCoy. That was beyond my control."
—Jack McCoy and Willard Tappan

Later, Schiff notes that Tappan never flinched. McCoy says that doesn't matter. Schiff points out that Mooney will remind the jury that they can't consider any of Tappan's previous crimes.

"Adam, you haven't been in a courtroom in a long time."
"The Hell is that supposed to mean?"
—Jack McCoy and Adam Schiff

McCoy says the jury was moved and won't be able to discount what they heard about Tappan. Schiff is doubtful.

In court, Mooney cautions the jury not to consider any of Tappan's past crimes or activities. Nevertheless, Tappan is convicted of murder.

Later, Kincaid complains to McCoy that he made it sound like Tappan explicitly hired John, when instead he just provoked him. She asks who McCoy believes between John and Tappan, and he can't answer. She notes that Curren's story, of being hired by Tappan instead of just provoked, was very convenient. McCoy says that Tappan would still be guilty. Kincaid wonders if McCoy emphasized Curren's (possibly fraudulent) story deliberately to make Tappan look worse, even though he knew it might not be true.

"Heavens to Betsy, Claire. What a dreadful idea."
—Jack McCoy