Washington and Lee University School of Law

Washington and Lee University School of Law

Thursday, July 02, 2009

On the Trail of a Multi-million Dollar Scam

James Collins is a rising 3L. He is interning with with the Antitrust Section at the Ohio Attorney General's office.


 

I was staring out a window from the 23rd floor, admiring the highway as it cut through the Columbus suburbs, when a stack of papers hit my desk.  It was the complaint for what had become Ohio’s largest antitrust case ever. Today was the first day on the job, but the office needed everyone up to speed as soon as possible. Flipping through the first few pages, I uncapped a pen and began to make notations—trusting that I'd find my footing sooner rather than later.
 
The same highway is peeling away now as we head south to Cincinnati. A few weeks in the section and things had gone from possibilities to deadlines. We were piecing together a story of avarice and deceit culled from terabytes of documents, and the trail had taken us to the Ohio-Kentucky border. We were working against time; our office was feeling the pinch of the dragging economy as much as any other.
 
I like to think of life in a dramatic light as the dusk settles in; the long shadows of the skyline make everything more exaggerated. The people I'm investigating remind me of Robert Redford in The Sting, palling around in an attempt to pull the scam of the century. But the drama helps me keep in perspective that this isn't a casebook, it's the theft of millions of dollars from businesses, universities, and the cities that we live in. It's highway robbery in a time when people are shuffling down the streets of my hometown without jobs, shuffling past the shuttered windows and doors of honest businesses.
 
I love what I'm doing. I feel that with every word typed, I'm closer to uncovering the conspiracy. I'm just one intern, but in the antitrust department, I know I can make a difference.

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