Wednesday, February 10, 2010


In which we see Ms. Bradstreet indulge in some investigating

The Maria Chronicles, # 39

Maria gives in to the itch she's been longing to scratch: she looks up Jack Casey on Google. She'd been resisting for weeks. There was the date they went on, then her unfounded
conviction that he'd slept with Jen Abruzzi (who's now dating a college counselor at Collegiate), and then Dani Bernstein's jarring mention of him as a crook when Maria had her performance review with Dani last week. Through it all she had rejected the persistent idea that she investigate who the guy really is. Besides a feeling that it was somehow underhanded (though, really, anything she found would be a matter of public record), doing so would give her interest in Jack a level of reality she didn't want to acknowledge. Partly this was because she feared Dani was right, and Maria hated the thought she had succumbed to the charm of a sleazy man. But her resistance preceded knowing this possibility, and it confuses her.

But two glasses of wine in bed with your laptop on a lonely Friday night will weaken your resolve. Maria had considered calling her friend Janice, but rejected that idea because she knew she'd end up talking about Jack, and Janice would express incredulous exasperation at Maria's scruples. "Maria, what the hell is wrong with you?" she can hear Janice saying. "Of course you should Google him! You think I would get involved with a guy without googling him?" It's as if Janice is speaking through Maria's cell phone right now.

So Maria goes ahead. She makes the mistake of simply typing in "Jack Casey," which of course spits back about six million results. Then she types in "Jack Casey Bear Stearns," which is better, because, as it turns out, there are only two. One is apparently in Human Resources. But the other is her quarry. She sees his picture on one entry.

Jack appears to have had a high-level job. Executive VP for credit derivatives marketing. She sees mentions of him at professional conferences, interviews in trade publications, his presence at charity events. Seems a world away from the "Cuff Man" she had taken to calling him when she'd see him in the hallways or the cafeteria at school. The quotes she reads has his inflections. But it doesn't quite seem real that he's the same person.

It's only on the third page of results that she finds what she guesses she was looking for, a story in a financial blog: "Bear Stearns Execs Cashed Out Before Stock Cratered." The story mentioned Jack among a number of people at the firm who by selling a large block of shares at $170, just before the the financial tsunami hit, had netted at least $13 million more than they otherwise would have had they done so six weeks later, when the price was a mere fraction of that value. While the tone was one of raised eyebrows, the writer of the piece reported that there was no evidence that they had done anything illegal.

Another piece, however, suggested otherwise. In a piece entitled "Unindicted Co-Conspirators Worked with Cioffi," Maria came across the following:

"Prosecutors in Manhattan did not identify the co-conspirators. But people familiar with the investigation confirmed that they included John ("Jack") Casey and Thomas "Mack" McDonaugh, senior managers in the firm's derivatives division, as among those investigated. McDonaugh denied any involvement with Cioffi; Casey declined through his attorney to have any comment."

Mack McDonaugh: He was the guy who accosted Jack and Maria when they'd had dinner at the Mexican restaurant. No wonder Jack was uncomfortable. "Jesus," she says out loud.

Maria finishes her glass of wine and puts it on her bedside table. She opens a new tab on her browser and goes to her email. She writes:

Jack, How long were you going to wait before you told me about your questionable financial dealings with Bear Stearns? Did you really think I wouldn't find out you were an unindicted co-conspirator? I'm disappointed by your lack of candor, and your estimation of me.

Maria stops, unsure what to say next. She stares at the screen for a moment even after her cell phone rings.

"Hi Mom!"

"Hello Felicia. How are you, sweetheart?"

Felicia is fine. And as Maria settles into the familiar rhythms of talking with her daughter, she sees how foolish she is to remonstrate with Jack. A few conversations and a dinner with a man hardly requires him to disclose the inner working of his business, much less his mind. This is Maria's problem: her standards are too rigid. Just let it go, she thinks. So the guy isn't who he appears to be. Big deal. Just let him get on with his life, as you get on with yours. Maria pours herself another glass as she listens to Felicia explain her plans for a trip to Paris. Tomorrow she'll tweak her syllabi for the new spring electives she's teaching.