The Strangest Courtesy Call

An agency that gives us a fair amount of business called me up the other day, and asked if I would take over some entered judgments that just need enforcement. No problem, I readily agreed, with some caveats. Who is the creditor? Who is the attorney? Why do you need me? (Not that I am complaining, but these are threshold questions.)

The agency advised me that the cases vary, but the prior attorney, whom I shall refer to as “Andy Dufresne”,  is no longer practicing law.  I took the cases, and began my investigations. My staff ascertained that Andy was actually disbarred, and is now a guest of the Federal government. Good reason for the client to need new counsel. Apparently, Andy owned a collection agency, as well as the entity that served process.

As we continued our investigations, we discovered one particular case, on behalf of an office furniture company, whom I shall refer to as “Shawshank Furniture Supply”. This claim was for well over $500,000, against a debtor whom I shall refer to as “Red Redding Industries”., Red Redding was out of business, and had been for several years. But Mr. Redding was still around, and there was a rock-solid personal guarantee. We ascertained that his permanent address was listed as a high-income penthouse in Manhattan.

We noted that service, despite being performed by Andy’s “company”, was actually in-person, in-hand service, and was accompanied by a photo of Mr. Redding.

So, we performed an internet search on Mr. Redding, and in fact, we found pictures of him, that match the photo taken by the process server. However, Google also revealed a mug shot. Apparently, Redding had been arrested for seventeen counts of corporate fraud.

At the surprise of no one, the apartment was in foreclosure, Redding had no assets to be attached, and a comprehensive internet search showed that Redding had engaged in a series of fraudulent transfers, and was indicted for countless felonies. When I reported it to the agency, they agreed to close the file as uncollectible.

But about a month later, I get a call, out of the blue, from a distant, cold female voice.

“Would you accept a collect call from a Federal facility?”
Not sure if this was related to James Bond (see last issue’s Tale from the Front), I respond, “Yes, sure.”
“I’ll put you through.”
I hear a whirr and click, and say “Hello? This is Timothy Wan. Can I help you?”
“Hello, my name is Red Redding. Is this the lawyer representing Shawshank?”
“Yes, I am.”
“I wanted to give you a courtesy call. Out of everyone I have ever taken advantage of, this was actually one that I feel bad about. They had some nice people come and help me custom design my office, and they gave me a good deal. When I get out in forty years, I will do everything I can to make it up to them. I just wanted to let you know.”
I thanked Mr. Redding, knowing full well, that it would be a long time before my client would get redeemed.

Timothy Wan is a partner in the firm Smith Carroad Levy & Wan, in Commack, New York, and can be reached at and fully acknowledges that that was a long way to go for a punchline.