It's not as if I'm unfamiliar with crime. I'm 18, I hang out with some pot smokers, a friend of mine is an compulsive shoplifter. But I still am dazed by large-scale crime, the big stuff. The idea of smuggling kilos of cocaine or stealing millions of dollars is too much for a suburban wuss like me. It's something of Hollywood, like The Usual Suspects or a The Godfather. I found myself blown away the other day when a friend of mine told me that a wealthy family we know pretty well, had, in fact, built virtually all its wealth by defrauding government health plans, poor people, and insurance companies.

The following story is almost totally true. Names and places have been changed to protect my sorry bum. Their family name is not Dahlquist.

In the Twin Cities there was a young, successful doctor who built his own practice. His name was Colin Dahlquist. It flourished into a prosperous medical firm, serving lower- and middle-income families. Colin, however, was dissatisfied with the amount of money he was pulling down, some hundreds of thousands of dollars for his growing family. The money couldn't satiate Mr. Dahlquist. He wanted the world! Not in a Dr. Evil way, though. He was just straight-up greedy.

And so began his long criminal career. He began to see literally hundreds of patients a day, spending only a few minutes with each. He invented illnesses for them to "have," and billed the government for it. He pocketed the money and diverted much of it to secret trust funds. His plan succeeded wonderfully. Many, many more thousands, then millions, of dollars, flowed into Dahlquist's hands, straight out of the hands of honest, hard-working taxpayers.

One day, he hit a bump in the road, quite literally, as it happened. While taking in the sights near his new Kenwood home (the posh neighborhood of the Dayton family) on a spankin' new motorcycle, Colin was broadsided by a sedan and skidded to a halt near Lake of the Isles without his helmet.

Colin suffered intense brain damage. He would still be able to walk, however, he could never drive again, and his personality changed for the worse. He struggled on with his practice, in any case. And he made a variety of purchases, including a mansion in the Carribbean, a summer cabin, and such.

Eventually, after a series of absent-minded slip-ups, the Minnesota Attorney General caught up with Colin. The state took him to court. By this time, it was evident that Colin had lost a good proportion of his marbles. The prosecution let him plea-bargain all the way down to a cool quarter-million in restitution and some psychiatric help. Naturally, he lost his medical license.

Colin and his eldest daughter decided to move into the real estate business. Colin, made nearly a simpleton by his accident, seems to have just overseen the setting up of this new front, while his daughter handles all the details and real business.

Dahlquist Properties started around 1992, and bought up a bunch of apartment buildings and miscellaneous properties in Minneapolis. Colin exploited the dearth of affordable housing in the area. He put to work his son and friends, maintaining the derelict buildings. One employee, Jake, 17, a trusted friend of mine, tells me he is paid $10/hour, tax-free, for difficult and dirty work. The kicker is that his paychecks come not from Dahlquist Properties, but the trust fund of his young boys! Pretty clearly, the whole thing is a money laundering scheme. Additionally, Jake tells me that a variety of tax shelters such as a never-used "business vehicle," the buildings themselves, the Carribbean house, etc. There are more sinister elements at play, possibly. Though Jake supposedly has all the keys, there are certain rooms he is forbidden to enter. The Dahlquists exploit local college students who try to rent properties, double-renting their parking spaces and renting substandard apartments. Many of the apartments are so run-down that the Dahlquist son (mostly oblivious to what's going on) referred to them as 'tenements' right in front of the residents.

The question is: what should I do? If I saw an old woman getting mugged, or someone stealing a car, I'd call the cops*. But I wouldn't want to put Jake out of a job, and throw a family that's already had a ton of trouble (and has to deal with a deteriorating father) into total chaos. In any case, I sure as hell aren't going to swim in the Dahlquist pool 'cause it'd only make me feel dirty.

* OTOH I stand silent for pot smokers. See the war on some drugs etc. This story is a vast distortion of the truth. It is embellished and warped where not fabricated. Yes.

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