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  The Banker's Trust

A Novel


Also by the Author

Copyright © 2002 by I. Weiss

All rights reserved.
Distributed by
Israel Book Shop
501 Prospect Street
Lakewood. NJ 08701

Tel: (732)901-3009
Email: [email protected]

Printed in Israel

Everyone knows David Weinfeld.
Executive vice president of the
New York Fed; a respected member
of the Brooklyn Jewish community;
a committed husband and father.

Millions of dollars pass through
David's hands every day. Over the
years, he has earned the trust of his
colleagues. Yet even more important
to David is the respect of his family
and his community, who know him to
be the epitome of honesty.

Now he is about to lose it all. His
job. His prestige. His reputation. And
the future of his family.

David knows he is innocent. Yet
as the evidence mounts against him,

he realizes that it is up to him - and
no one else - to find the real culprit:

From the streets of Brooklyn to
the boardrooms of Manhattan to the
crime-ridden depths of Miami, David
is determined to uncover the truth
behind the plot against him.

And he must do it alone.

There is no one whom he can
entrust with his incriminating secret.
Someone has betrayed ... the banker's


The Banker's Trust

The phone rang in the silent office. Sandy Boyer
lifted the receiver and listened for a moment.
"Sorry," she said, for the tenth time that morning.
"Mr. Weinfeld cannot be disturbed."

As she returned the phone to her desk, Sandy glanced
over at Mr. Weinfeld's closed office door. She had been his
receptionist for over ten years—and in all that time, she
had never seen her boss look so concerned. The office was
like a morgue this morning.

Hunched over his desk, David Weinfeld heard footsteps
in the corridor. He knew who it was before the door
opened. Sandy wouldn't have let anyone else in today,
after his strict instructions. Still, he waited a few minutes
before looking up from his computer.

Albert Silverstein stood in the doorway, displaying his
usual engaging smile. "Ready for lunch, David?" he asked
cheerfully. Then, catching sight of David's furrowed brow

and slumped posture, he inched back uncertainly.
"Anything wrong?"

"Wrong?" David echoed.

What was wrong? Everything was wrong. David didn't
even know where to start. It was tempting to ask Albert's
advice, but David knew that this was something he had to
handle himself.

"No, nothing's wrong," he finally said.

Albert looked at him dubiously.

"Did you say something about lunch?" David said, in an
effort to play it cool. "Sounds good. Let's grab something
to eat."

Albert glanced at his friend as the two of them made
their way out of David's office at the Federal Reserve Bank
of New York. The two men had started out years before at
the New York Fed, and they had taken business courses
together at C.U.N.Y. Eventually, David had become execu-
tive vice president of the bank's financial services
department, while Albert headed the business develop-
ment section under David's supervision.

Albert thought back to his first encounter with David,
twenty years beforehand.

"Hi. I'm Albert Silverstein."

"Nice to meet you. I'm David Weinfeld."

"Would you like to join me for lunch at Tommy's Dive?"

Pointing to his black yarmulke, David explained that as
an Orthodox Jew, he couldn't eat in a non-kosher

"Do you mean to say that in this day and age, intelligent
people still keep those antiquated rituals? We'll see how
long that fad lasts."

"It's not a fad, and I intend to keep the mitzvos as long
as I live," the somewhat ruffled David replied.

"No harm meant," Albert demurred. "There's a kosher
spot on Wall Street—Haim Issen's. Is that the way you
pronounce it?"

"You mean Heimesche Essen," David replied with a

"Is that okay with you?"

From that time on, the two spent every one of their
lunch breaks at Heimesche Essen. Over steaming plates
of vegetable soup and knaidlach, the two became good
friends, even though their world views were so disparate.

Every now and then, David would try to influence Albert
to come to a shiur after work or to spend Shabbos with
him. But Albert would invariably reply, "No thanks."

Albert also tried to refute David's beliefs, but soon
learned that David was staunch as a rock in his faith.

During those lunch breaks, the two would reminisce
about their childhood experiences. Albert would describe
his high school and college years, while David would tell
him about yeshiva life. He also told him about his good
friends, Aaron Baumgarten and Yitzchok Feld, who had
been his chaumsos in yeshiva.

"When people study Gemara together, they become very
close," David said. "I wish I were back in yeshiva."

"And where are those friends now?" Albert asked with a
twinge of jealousy.

"I don't know. I haven't seen them in years."

Today, as David followed Albert down the bustling
midtown street toward Heimische Essen, he found
himself longing for those days in yeshiva, when his
biggest worry had been getting to mini/cm on time. The two
sat down at a table and ordered lunch. David tried to
pretend that nothing was wrong, but his thoughts kept on
wandering and he found it difficult to swallow his food.

"Something's up, Dave. Why don't you tell me about it?"
Albert urged him. But David just silently shook his head
and stood up, signaling that the lunch break was over. On
the way back to the bank, David didn't say a word to his

They arrived at the reception room and entered their
separate offices, which were right next to each other.
David shut his door. Lifting his phone, he told Sandy,
"Don't let anyone in." Then he turned back to his
computer screen.

After two hours of intense work, David finally looked up,
rubbing his eyes. "I can't understand it," he muttered to
himself. "I just can't get to the bottom of the problem. It's
a huge, tangled mess."

By the time five o'clock rolled around, David had come
to the conclusion that he couldn't solve the problem on
his own. He was reaching for the phone to inform the
chairman of the board of the situation when his hand

suddenly froze. He stared, startled, at his computer
screen. The information the computer had just coughed
up was astonishing, to say the least.

David spent a few minutes tapping furiously on his key-
board. Screen after screen displayed the same impossible

"Enough for today," he finally decided. He flicked the
switch to turn off the machine just as Sandy knocked on
the door.

"It's closing time, Mr. Weinfeld," she reminded him.

David looked at her in a daze.

"It's after five," she repeated.

"I understand," he mumbled. "You can go. I'll lock up
when I leave."

Sandy left the office, closing the door behind her.
David's gaze returned to his computer screen—black and
quiet, for the first time today. Yet those impossible figures
lurked just beneath the surface.

David thought about the strange calls he had been
receiving during the past few months. Someone was
trying to warn him about the situation. At first he hadn't
paid much attention to those warnings. Yes, he had taken
the time to do a cursory check on the information, but he
hadn't noticed anything peculiar.

And then just last night, the caller had pleaded with
him. "Do something before it's too late," he had
whispered. 'The problem is getting worse."

But I checked out everything," David insisted, "and
nothing seems wrong."

"You must have done a superficial examination," the
man argued. "Had you done a thorough job, you would
have seen that what I told you is true, and that the
problem is becoming more complicated every day."

David didn't sleep that night. The caller had sounded so
convincing. He knew he would have to spend the next day
searching for the truth.

David came back to himself with a start. It was five-
thirty. Sandy had gone home, and he had to leave as soon
as possible, because in twenty minutes the building's
doors would be locked for the night. Putting on his hat
and coat, he rushed out of his office.

As David passed the picture of his wife and daughters,
he felt a sharp pain in his chest. They would be the ones
to suffer the most from all this. Why hadn't he taken those
warnings more seriously?

The elevator was empty, except for the guard, who nod-
ded to him respectfully-

Once outside, David quickly walked to the parking lot
opposite the bank and jumped into his car. On his way
home, he began to plan his next steps.

He knew that he had to get to the root of the problem on
his own. He knew that he had to get his wife and children
to safety.
And he knew that his entire life was about to change.

The small shul was dimly lit. Maariv services had
ended a while ago, and only two people remained
behind, seated beside a small table.

David Weinfeld, the older of the two, looked upset. For
the umpteenth time, he pleaded with his friend, "Aaron,
think it over again."

"David, if I could change my plans I would. I'm just as
upset by this good-bye as you are," Aaron Baumgarten
replied in a broken voice. "But I have no mazel here.
Maybe I'll do better somewhere else."

"But why Chicago? Aren't there closer places? Is its
grass any greener than New York's?"

"Yitzchok Feld lives there, and he's told me about a few
interesting opportunities. Business is also better in

"What opportunities? Tell me about them," David coun-

Aaron ignored that request. "David, I've chewed this over
very carefully, and believe me, I have no choice. Boruch
you're happily married and have a good job in
the bank. I'm already twenty-seven, and I'm still a
bachelor. I feel out of place in yeshiva, since all of the
bochw-im are at least four years younger than I am. If you
were in my shoes, you would understand me better."

David didn't answer. He sensed Aaron's bitter tone, and
knew that Aaron felt that he hadn't done enough for him.
But what more could he have done? He offered Aaron
scores of shidduchim, yet he turned all of them down. He
found him a job in the bank, but Aaron quit after just a

David sadly reflected on how his intelligent and talented
friend had, over the years, become such a washout. Aaron
was much brighter than David and had always been
considered the more successful of the two.

Both of them had grown up in poor homes. David was
the son of a soldier who had been drafted into the
American army during the Korean War. When he
returned home after the war, he had found it difficult to
support his family. The family had lived on a small
military allowance, plus his mother's meager salary as a
secretary. Aaron's father was sickly, and could only work
at poorly paying jobs.

Aaron and David had become pals in Talmud Torah.
Both of them had celebrated their bar-mitzvas at nearly
the same time, and then went on to study in the Torah
v'Chochma yeshiva. Their friendship grew stronger in

yeshiva, where they became like brothers.

Although Aaron was a better student than David, David
was never jealous of him, and enjoyed telling people about
his good friend's talents.

The first rupture in their friendship occurred after
David's marriage. When David told Aaron that he would
have to cancel of few of their joint study sessions because
he was taking a job at the bank, Aaron was very offended.
Aaron knew that David wasn't happy about working; that
he had to do so in order to support his family. He himself
had actually advised David to accept the position. Still,
Aaron was upset, unable to rid himself of his bitter
feelings toward his friend.

David, sensing this bitterness, did his best to ignore it.
He understood Aaron's feelings, and knew that Aaron was
very frustrated by the fact that he was still single.

The two continued to study be'chavrusa. Attending
those joint study sessions wasn't easy for David, who
worked hard all day, and was forced to take courses in
economics and business administration at City College at
night. But those few hours in yeshiva were the highlight of
his day.

During the day, Aaron studied with Yitzchok Feld, who
was their age and also single. David, who thought the
world of Yitzchak, was happy that Aaron was studying
with him. David also hoped that the fact that "itzchok
was still single would make Aaron feel better. In order to
encourage the friendship between the two, David
suggested that Yitzchak study along with him and Aaron

in the evenings, and thus they became a threesome.

Two years after David's wedding, Aaron notified him that
he had also decided to leave yeshiva, claiming that he
didn't feel comfortable there any more.

At first, David tried to dissuade him from taking such a
step, but when he saw that Aaron's mind couldn't be
changed, he gave up.

"What are your plans?" David asked Aaron.

"What do you think?" Aaron winked at him. 'To ask my
good friend David Weinfeld to find me a job in the Federal
Reserve Bank."

"I'll do my best, Aaron," David assured him.

But finding Aaron a job wasn't easy. At that time, the
recession in the United States was at its peak, and there
were at least twenty applicants per job, while those who
had jobs held on to them with tooth and nail.

Aaron, who was growing impatient with waiting, subtly
accused David of not trying hard enough. David's prom-
ises that he was trying his best were of no avail. "What
more can I do?" he would ask Aaron. "No one wants to
give up a job during an economic slump."

Two months after Aaron had asked David to find him a
job, David learned that there was an opening in the bank.
Seizing the opportunity, David asked the bank's director
to save the job for Aaron.

The director, who thought very highly of David, prom-
ised that Aaron would be first on line for the job. Two
weeks later, David was able to inform Aaron that he had

been accepted as a clerk in the Federal Reserve Bank.

During his first days at work, Aaron seemed happy, and
his overall mood improved. But he didn't like the fact that
Albert Silverstein joined him and David at lunch. He
wanted to be alone with David during those times.

Albert was also annoyed by Aaron's presence at these
lunch recesses. He considered breaking up the friendship
between the two chaurusas, but he knew better than to
issue an ultimatum to David—because he would be the
one to lose out. And so the threesome continued their
uneasy meetings, with David remaining oblivious to the
tension rising between his two different friends.

Aaron began work at the bank on the right foot, and his
superiors were very pleased with him. He and David also
became closer than ever before, continuing their evening
study sessions. During that period, David offered Aaron a

number of shidduchim, but Aaron managed to find
something wrong with each prospect.
David was concerned several months later when Aaron

seemed to be backsliding. He was missing their daily
learning session more often than not, and was even
coming late to work. Should he speak to Aaron about it.
or let it take its course? David couldn't decide, so he
asked Yitzchok Feld what he thought.
"No!" Yitzchak said, with a wave of his hand. "He just

has the blues. I felt the same way myself a while ago, but
I pulled through. The best thing to do is to leave him
alone. It'll pass,"

'I guess you're right," David rejoined, a bit disappointed.

Nothing improved over the next few days. And then, a
week after David had spoken to Yitzchok, he found out
that Yitzchok was engaged to a girl from Denver. David
surmised that Aaron had become aware of the possible
shidduch, and that this prospect of losing a fellow bache-
lor had caused his depression.

Aaron didn't come to work that morning. David called
him and asked if he felt well.

"I'm quitting," Aaron gulped.

"I don't believe it! What happened?"

"Nothing. The job's just not up my alley."

"What do you mean by that? You loved it at the begin-

"Yeah, but times have changed," Aaron briefly answered.

"What does the boss say about that?" David asked.

"I haven't told him yet. I'll call him during the day."

"Aaron, don't call him yet," David said quickly. "Let's
discuss this first."

It took David quite a while to convince Aaron to
postpone his talk with the boss. That evening Aaron came
to the shiur, and David mustered all of his persuasive
powers to try to convince Aaron to change his mind. But
Aaron insisted that the job at the bank wasn't for him.

"So what are you planning to do?" David finally asked.
"You know that the unemployment rate in America is very

"I have a number of offers which I'm checking out. Don't
worry. I'll be fine."

During the ensuing year, David and Aaron met every
now and then, but they didn't resume their shinr,
Sometimes Aaron spent Shabbos at David's home, and
from time to time they met on Sundays, But Aaron always
managed to evade the question of what he was doing since
leaving the bank.

David was very worried. He wished he could speak to
Yitzchok, who in some ways knew Aaron even better than
he did. But Yitzchak wasn't around. Shortly before his
wedding, he had broken his engagement, and he had
disappeared from the scene right afterwards. Most people
surmised that he had left New York, hoping to make a
new start. So David did his best on his own, but after a
few months, he finally despaired of trying to help Aaron.

Thus, when Aaron called him and asked to meet him in
the shul where they had once studied, David was
surprised. He hoped that Aaron wanted to resume their
steady shiur. In his grimmest fantasies, he never
imagined that Aaron would say that he was leaving New

Aaron's announcement hit David like a thunderbolt. But
what could he do? With a sinking feeling, David wished
Aaron success. Then the two went their separate ways.


"Good morning, Mr. Weinfeld."

"Hi, Sandy. Hold my calls again today, please."

David walked into his office and closed the
door firmly behind him. He lingered for a moment by his
desk, looking sadly at the picture of his family. He knew
that he might never see them again.

It had taken him a long time to convince Devora of the
need to take herself and the children out of New York for a

"Whatever for?" she had asked in bewilderment.

"Something terrible has happened."

"What sort of thing? Is someone hurt? Sick? What?"

"No, nothing like that. It's a problem at the bank. I can't
tell you the details now."

Devora was astonished. "Do you mean that there's a
problem with money? No one can possibly suspect you!"

David took a deep breath. "At this point, I can't tell you
more about it. But you and the kids have to leave New
York as soon as possible, without telling anyone where
you're going. If you stay here, you'll only make things
worse. I'll have to spend my time worrying about your
safety, instead of trying to find a way out of this mess."

"What mess?" she asked in tears.

Instead of replying, he lowered his eyes in despair.

"Will I be able to call my parents while I'm away?"

David thought for a moment. He knew how close she
was with her parents, especially since she was an only
child. Not a day passed during which her parents, Rav
Yosef Roth, a well-known talmid chacham, and his wife,
Goldie, didn't call or visit her.

He knew that Devora's parents would be very upset at
not being able to talk with her, but what could he do? The
steps he was about to take were going to spell trouble for
someone, and a lot of money was at stake. He wouldn't be
surprised if the criminals responsible for his predicament
would try to pressure him to give in by threatening his
family. When they learned that the family had disap-
peared, they would probably tap his father-in-law's phone
to discover their whereabouts.

"I'm sorry, but you won't be able to call your parents.
It's dangerous," he said in a hushed tone.

Devora burst out crying. "How can I do that to them? My
father has a weak heart. He won't be able to take it."

"Devora, your father is a strong and sensible man. He
knows that my primary concern is my family's safety. He
will understand that I had to do this and will even
encourage you to listen to me."

Devora wiped her eyes, and tried to suppress her sobs.
"What should I tell my father? How can I explain
something I myself don't understand?"

'Tell him what I told you. Something terrible happened
to me. Certain people laid a trap for me. In order to get out
of this mess, I have to take a number of risky steps. I'm
afraid that when the criminals learn that I am about to
expose them, they will try to take you hostage in order to
pressure me. To prevent that, you have to disappear with-
out leaving any tracks."

Devora sighed, surrendering to the necessity. "When do
you want us to go?" she asked.

"Before lunch tomorrow. Start packing tonight. I've
reserved a flight for you on American Airlines, and a room
at the Spring Hotel in Miami. Don't send the girls to
school in the morning. Take them to the airport about
half an hour after I leave for work.

"But please, don't delay! I have to work fast. The prob-
lem grows worse from moment to moment, and I can't do
anything while you're here. The moment I take my first
step, your lives will be in danger."

And now he was in his office, about to take that first
step. Devora and the children should be on their way to

safety. He was ready to begin.

Once again, the numbers danced before him on the
computer screen. The sheer size of the withdrawals made
him blink. How could billions of dollars have slipped
through the system so easily? Who had access to the spe-
cial codes and passwords that were in place to prevent
this from happening? What about the alarms that were
programmed to trigger when such vast sums were trans-
ferred without a plausible reason? And—most important
of all—where was the money now?

Something about this whole scenario did not make
sense. As a Federal Reserve Bank, the money transferred
from this institution could only be released to another
bank—not to a private account. That meant that if
something crooked was going on, there had to be another
bank involved. The problem was rapidly becoming more
complicated, as David continued to search for the thread
that would untangle it.

"Someone inside the bank has to be involved," David
grimly concluded.

The computer had the information. He could easily trace
the source of the money transfers. There was just one

Every single transfer was authorized by one
identification number: that of David Weinfeld, executive
vice president of the bank.

His position gave David the right to transfer unlimited
amounts of money from account to account. Part of his

job was to transfer vast sums from one bank to another,
and as a result he had a special code which prevented the
alarm from going off when such large sums were

Someone had his code number. Someone was making
transfers in his name. Someone was making sure that if
David called the chairman of the board, he would be the
one to end up in big trouble.

The way things stood now, David knew that he had no
way to prove his innocence. He had to get to the bottom of
it first, before bringing in the law. But what did he know
about finding criminals and bringing them to justice? The
thought filled him with despair.

David tried to get a grip on himself. He might not know
much about detective work, but he did know the banking
system. He had already taken the first step the day before,
by blocking access to the money-transfer site until ten
o'clock this morning, when he knew he would be sitting in
front of his computer. That was when his second trick
would come into play. He had programmed the computer
so every activity entered under his code would
immediately appear on his screen. Now he had to sit and
wait for something to happen.

At eleven o'clock, the screen began to flicker. The
monitor went blank, then displayed the words, "Enter
your secret code."

David watched intently. The flickering words
disappeared, to be replaced by a line of stars which

represented the secret code number. Then more stars
appeared on the screen. David's pulse quickened.
"Someone's inserting my code from my personal file. My
decoy is working," he told himself with satisfaction.

The stars disappeared, too, and on the screen, a new
line appeared: "The code which you have entered has
been checked. Wait for approval."

David trembled. Whoever was tampering with his code
had already passed all of the computer's hurdles. That
meant that in addition to the code, he had inserted
David's electronic card—otherwise the computer would
have said that the code didn't match the card. The
magnetic card was a disc which had to be inserted into
the computer before feeding in his code.

But his card was kept in his locked briefcase. How could
anyone else have it? A quick search through his briefcase
showed that the card was still there. Was there a
duplicate somehow?

Yes, David suddenly remembered. There was a
duplicate, kept in a locked drawer of his desk. Without
taking his eyes off the screen, he opened his drawer and
searched for the disc.

It was missing. David frowned at the screen in thought.
Someone knew the disc was in his drawer, had somehow
managed to penetrate his guarded office, and had even
taken it out of the department—which should have been
impossible, since the magnetic indicator was supposed to
activate the bank's alarm the moment it passed through

the glass door of the department.

In less than a moment, the word "approved" appeared
on the screen, and his personal number, which included
the number of the Federal Reserve Bank, also appeared.
The person tampering with the computer could, at that
moment, do whatever he pleased with the account, which
contained billions of dollars.

David watched, disbelieving, as an unknown hand gave
the order to transfer seven hundred thousand dollars to
the Dollar Savings Bank in Princeton, New Jersey.

At the end of the computer activity, the computer asked
the operator to insert the code again, in order to confirm
the order. On the screen, the series of stars appeared, and
then the words, "David Weinfeld, your directions have
been executed. A sum of seven hundred thousand dollars
was transferred at 11:23:56 to the Dollar Savings Bank on
Chasent Street, Princeton, NJ."

The sheer audacity of the theft stiffened David's resolve.
With renewed vigor, he began to plan his next steps. The
first thing he had to do was drive down to Princeton. What
was going on at that bank? Had the money been
requested, and if not, what would happen to it? It was up
to the bank to transfer the money to an account. If he
could trace it at that end, he might be able to find the trail
of the criminals. They had undoubtedly tried to cover
their steps, but he was determined to do his best.

David thought for a moment before picking up the
phone. He wanted to make sure his wife and children

were out of danger before he began. The computer codes,
missing disc, mysterious transfers—all pointed to a
culprit deep inside the highest echelons of the bank. He
knew he had to be careful. That person would have access
to the same information he did, and would probably know
just what David was up to. There would be no hiding his

The telephone in his home rang a number of times, but
only the answering machine replied. David hung up and
heaved a sigh of relief. At least one worry had cleared.
Now he felt free to act as he pleased.

At twelve o'clock, Albert entered the office and asked
David if he was ready for lunch.

"I have a lot of work today, Albert," David said
apologetically. "I've decided to remain in the office until
I'm finished."

David knew that Albert didn't want to go to lunch alone,
and felt bad about letting him down. Albert left the office
with pursed lips. David understood that he was insulted,
but he didn't know what to say. He simply couldn't let
anyone in on the situation yet, at least until he knew who
was behind the embezzlement.

Five minutes after Albert left the office, David got up and
headed to the door. Placing his hand on the mezuza, he
prayed that Hashem should help him.

Sandy looked up in astonishment as he passed. "I
thought you weren't going out to lunch today," she
exclaimed. David didn't reply.

When he reached the door, he turned around and told
her, "If anyone wants me, tell them I've gone out on urgent
business. I'll be back tomorrow."


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