Inside the Case Files Of 'Cheating Season'
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
Ah, Valentine's Day, memorable
for heart-shaped chocolates and rose bouquets arriving at the door -- memories that can take a painful twist when they're recorded by a private eye's spy camera, bugging device or telephoto lens.
It's the day most cheaters dread and the day many cheaters get caught. The spouse and the side dish both want attention, and, during the juggling act, the two-timer slips, right in front of a private eye's camera lens.
Most private investigators are booked solid today. They probably worked all day yesterday and will be catching up on work tomorrow. It's the time of year most of their cases begin or end.
Take the Georgetown wife. She was as cool as the February day that brought her to the Progressive Security Consultants detective agency. Attractive, confident and calculating, the lady had the goods on her cheating husband.
"I know he's meeting her here. On Valentine's Day," she told the private investigators, handing them a slip of paper with the address of a swanky District restaurant. "He has reservations for two that night. And they're not with me."
It was exactly the kind of case that investigators Joe McCann and Dwayne Stanton like: tidy, neat like Scotch. The romance was gone; the drama, minimal. The lady was sharp and detached, and she knew her husband had been seeing this other woman for a while. All she needed now was proof for the divorce. She wanted to keep the Georgetown townhouse, after all.
The junior investigators who work for Stanton and McCann all wanted the day off to keep their relationships from going the way of the affairs they document. So the former D.C. homicide detectives who usually take bigger cases -- slain intern Chandra Levy's disappearance, white-collar bank crimes, security for the stars walking the red carpet -- took the Valentine's Day case themselves.
This was their story.
McCann went first. He has most buildings on that block wired, so someone on the inside let him onto the roof across the street from the restaurant. "It gives me the best view, and nobody sees me. I've got the telephoto," he said. He shrugged into his cashmere overcoat, pulled up the collar and took his position.
The cheating husband was there, right on time. The woman was there, too, just as classy as the Washington mistress of a high-powered lawyer should look. They kissed. Click. Click. Click. It was on film, and McCann's work was done.
After dinner, Mr. Unfaithful dropped off the mistress, but he didn't go home. He took some wild turns left and right, with Stanton behind him trying to keep up, then pulled up in front of an apartment building in Mount Pleasant. A much younger woman dressed in a funky, sexy bar-hopping tank and low-rider jeans came outside and slipped into the car. They went to a crowded bar nearby. With the live music blaring and the shots lined up on the bar, the lawyer had his second assignation of the night. Neither the wife nor the classy mistress knew about that one.