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Chapter 1 - Morning April Fools Day 2003 - Episode 3

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Interview of Donna Langhorne by Detective Cohen (continued)


Q:   When was the last time you saw the deceased alive?

A:   When I left the office last night. His office door was closed but I could hear him talking on the phone.

Q:   When was that?

A:   About six.

Q:   Were there other people in the office besides you and the deceased when you left?

A:   There must have been about fifty people. This is a startup, not a nine-to-five company. The receptionist was gone, but most of the technical staff were here. Most programmers come in late and work late. Other people stay late.

Q:   Can you name some of the people who were here when you left?

A:   I’m sure I can.

Q:   May I please have some names?

A:   Uh ... Dom Montain, he’s our CTO.

Q:   What’s a CTO?

A:   Chief Technical Officer.

Q:   He was here when you left last night?

A:   I’m sure he was.  He always works late.

Q:   Did you actually see him when you were leaving?

A:   I’m not sure. Maybe. I think so. I think I said good night to him.

Q:   Who else?

A:   Irma Sukander. She was in the lady’s room when I went in just before leaving.

Q:   What is her job?

A:   Programmer.

Q:   Anyone else?

A:   There were lots of other people, but I don’t remember specifically who.

Q:   Did anyone see you leave?

A:   Irma saw me prepare to leave.

Q:   Did anyone see you actually leave?

A:   Any number of people MIGHT have seen me leave. I... wait! Kevin Wong walked down the steps with me.

Q:   What’s his job?

A:   He’s another programmer.

Q:   I thought you said programmers work late. Why was he leaving at six?

A:   I think he was making a pizza run. Programmers live on pizza and caffeinated soft-drinks. There were a lot of pizza boxes stacked in the trash this morning.

Q:   Where did you go after you left the office?

A:   Home.

Q:   How did you get there?

A:   Subway.

Q:   Do you always take the subway?

A:   Usually, why?

Q:   Isn’t that unusual? I think of executives using a car service, not the subway.

A:   Not if they want to get anywhere in a hurry — not in New York.

Q:   When did you get home?

A:   Sometime before seven. I saw the beginning of the national news.

Q:   Was your husband home?

A:   No.

Q:   Did he come home later?

A:   No.

Q:   Is he on a business trip?

A:   He’s away from home.

Q:   Is he often away from home?

A:   Does it matter? Does it matter to this investigation? Can we get this done?

Q:   I can never tell what matters until I ask the question; I’m sorry but that’s the way it is. Was anyone else with you at any time last night?

A:   No.

Q:   Did anyone see you come home or leave in the morning? A doorman?

A:   I told you, we live in a brownstone; we don’t have a doorman. As far as I know, no one saw me come or go.

Q:   Did anyone call you at home last night?

A:   Yes. Thanks for helping me with my alibi; I can tell you’ve done this before. I did get several calls from friends and business contacts. Some were on my cell phone so I guess that doesn’t count but some were on my landline as well. And I made some calls and did some e-mail.

Q:   I’ll want a list of the names and the times of calls as best you can remember them. Can you think of any reason why the deceased would have taken his own life?

A:   No. He was depressed about the low stock price and worried about more hostiles but he was a tough—

Q:   Hostiles? Hostile what?

A:   Hostile takeover attempts. About a year ago a major competitor — antihack — made an attempt to take over hackoff. That sometimes happens when your stock price is low. Larry was worried that there’d be more attempts since the stock price still sucks.

Q:   I assume guns aren’t used in hostile takeover attempts. Can you think of any reason why anyone would want to kill the deceased?

A:   There are lots of people who don’t like Larry; he’s not always ... he wasn’t always very nice. He put people down when he thought they were stupid or were wasting his time.  He played rough.

Q:   Played rough? Could you elaborate?

A:   He got a lot tougher when he was in jail. He liked to face people down; he liked to see them back down.

Q:   Who did he “face down”?

A:   The CEO of antihack, for one. They met at a benefit dinner while the hostile — the hostile takeover attempt — was going on. Wrobly put his arm around Larry like they were old friends. Larry told him, “Get that off me or I’ll  break it off at your shoulder, you fucking piece of shit.”

Q:   You witnessed this encounter?

A:   Yes. So did everyone at our table at the dinner.

Q:   Your table...

A:   Larry bought a table and filled it with whoever he pleased. That’s the way these charity things are done.

Q:   Who else did Larry “face down?”

A:   A lot of people, including Dom Montain whenever he had a chance. But this is a waste of time. Larry killed himself.  Maybe there are people who would’ve wanted to kill him and maybe there aren’t; but he killed himself.

Q:   How do you know that?

A:   One, because your cop told me about the powder burns. Two, it just makes sense. I mean, no one was in Larry’s office when I found him. No one had been in Larry’s office since 5:30 the night before.

Q:   How do you know that?

A:   I checked the security logs. See these cards we wear? these are RFIDs.

Q:   What’s an RFID?

A:   Radio Frequency Identifier Device. Everyone on staff wears them. Every time we enter or leave a room, a receiver gets the tag ID and knows who went in or who went out. It’s all logged.

Q:   What if someone comes in who isn’t wearing a tag?

A:   Then a big, loud alarm goes off and that incident is logged. That didn’t happen last night but it sometimes does.

Q:   So you checked these logs yourself?

A:   Of course.

Q:   Why didn’t you tell me about this earlier?

A:   You didn’t ask. Look, detective, I can’t seriously believe that you think Larry’s death was murder. I know you have to ask questions and establish alibis, but I’ve got to do my Board meeting and get my press release out or the SEC will really fry my ass.

Q:   Why do you have such an elaborate security system? Do you keep money or drugs here?

A:   (laughs) Detective, we keep something much more valuable than money or drugs here: the source code — the computer instructions — that are hackoff’s crown jewels. Our stuff is patented but it can still be stolen. More importantly, half the hackers in the world spend all their time and the rest spend half their time trying to hack into our customers’ websites. If they knew how hackoff’s software worked, they might be able to defeat it. Our intellectual property is priceless, and we guard it that way.

Q:   Who knows the most about this security system?

A:   Our security officer, Marlene Chou.

Q:   Is she here?

A:   Yes.

Q:   If you would be so kind as to send her in, I think I can let you go for now. I’ll need a list of people you talked to on the phone last night. Sometime today, please. If you think of anything else relevant to the investigation — even POTENTIALLY relevant to the investigation — please call me.  Thank you for your cooperation, Ms. Langhorne.

A:   You’re entirely welcome.




hackoff.com INC.
DATED:  April 1, 2003

A telephonic meeting of the Board of Directors of hackoff.com Inc. (the “Corporation”) was held on April 1 at 9:00 AM Eastern time. 

Present were members Joseph Windaw, Joanne Ankers, Franklin Adams, and Donna Langhorne.  In addition, Aaron Smyth, Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary of the Board, was present and kept minutes.

Mr. Windaw chaired the meeting in the absence of the Chairman, Larry Lazard.  All participants in the call could hear, and could be heard by, all other participants.


The following matters were covered:


  1. Ms. Langhorne informed the Board of the death of Chairman and CEO, Larry Lazard. Ms. Langhorne related that she, herself, found the body at 7:00 AM this morning. A police investigation is underway. Although there has been no official determination of cause of death, indications point to suicide.  In addition to the New York City Police Department, NASDAQ and the SEC have also been informed, and NASDAQ has advised that trading in the company’s stock will be temporarily suspended pending dissemination of an announcement.
  2. The Board decided that the positions of Chairman and CEO should be split in the future as is allowed by the Company’s bylaws.
  3. The Board elected Joseph Windaw as non-executive Chairman. The vote was unanimous with the exception of Mr. Windaw, who abstained.
  4. After a discussion from which Ms. Langhorne recused herself, the Board elected Ms. Langhorne as CEO.
  5. The Board authorized Ms. Langhorne to engage an executive search firm to find a candidate to fill the Board position left vacant by Mr. Lazard’s death.
  6. Ms. Langhorne recommended to the Board that it appoint Lew Marigold as acting CFO.  Ms. Langhorne advised the Board that she would like to take some time to determine if he is the right candidate to fill the position permanently.  The Board unanimously approved these recommendations.


There being no further business, the meeting was thereupon adjourned.


                                                                                                            Respectfully submitted,

                                                                                                            Aaron Smyth, Esq.





E-mail, April 1, 2003

From:     Joseph Windaw [mailto:jwindaw@windawwallar.com]

Sent:     Tuesday, April 1, 2003  9:45 AM

To:       Joanne Ankers

Subject:  Board Meeting


Do you think she really would’ve quit if we’d made her acting CEO?




From:     Joanne Ankers [mailto:joanne.ankers@bigrouter.com]

Sent:     Tuesday, April 1, 2003  9:55 AM

To:       Joseph Windaw

Subject:  RE: Board Meeting


We’ll never know. She plays her cards close to her very big chest:-}




From:     Donna Langhorne

Sent:     Tuesday, April 1, 2003  10:57 AM

To:       Ahmed Qali

Subject:  Contract Work


I want to assure you that there is no change in the status of your group as critical vendors to hackoff.com. Ongoing projects should be continued and outstanding invoices will be paid on a timely basis.


I want to thank you in advance for your cooperation in these difficult times.


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» Blook to Watch: Hackoff.com from Build A Better Blog
Recently I learned about a novel blog being used to publish the serialized contents of a book, or blook, as the author calls it. Hackoff.com merits study as a successful way to create the content for your book using your [Read More]


I'm enjoying the story, but can we get a cop that has turned on the TV in the last 25 years? maybe picked up a magazine other than Playboy? Nevermine even Playboy would increase the chances that he knows what RFID tags, IPOs, CTOs, etc are. Asking about a table? The tech eliteness is a little heavy so far.

This is an interesting way to present a story. Creative.


...or you may have a cop who is playing stupid.... anyway, you need this device to bring out the importance of the security system, etc.

David - one thing to remember that the setting of the story is currently at an earlier stage in the 'bubble' period so a lot of things that seem ubiquitous now were common knowledge to only the techies of the time... I've had to explain what a CTO is to people several times...

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