After the Carpellos and their neighbors had retired for the night, the entire block awoke to the ominous sounds of multiple vehicles screeching to a halt, squad car lights flashing, the smell of smoke in the air, and the escalating blare of sirens from the direction of the local firehouse. Angie, JJ, Luigi, and Caterina rushed out of bed and to the front door. Stepping outside onto the stoop, they saw most of their neighbors standing outside in their bedclothes and robes, watching flames shoot out of the windows of Chichi’s kitchen. A blockade of unmarked cars and traffic officers re-directed traffic at the corner.
As the first fire engines pulled up, adding more color and pressurized streams of water to the already flashy scene, a handful of plainclothes detectives led by their sergeant, Detective Daniel Scarpelli, arrived and surveyed the grounds surrounding the restaurant. Scarpelli, taking care first to put protective gloves on his hands, turned, unnoticed, toward the kitchen side door and entered the smoldering ruins.
Not a single soul suspected that Scarpelli also worked on Molinari's side and knew all about the numbers racket run out of Chichi’s, including the bookies' names associated with the operation. Those details getting into the wrong hands would collapse his main source of moonlighting income, so he was not about to let anyone else discover them amid the chaos of the fire and water or the inevitable scouring search for evidence of the fire’s origin.
Moving quickly once inside the kitchen—firefighters and other officials had not yet declared the building safe to enter—Scarpelli grabbed every betting-numbers sheet and list of names he could find, those that were not entirely burnt. What remained he stuffed into his pockets before slipping back outside to the topsy-turvy scene—a decidedly successful, undetected reconnaissance run! His inside knowledge guaranteed complete success at removing all lists and numbers while escaping any suspicion of complicity or guilt. Because of his police force status and position on the Mafia payroll, he thought I have all the cover I need.
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