Trailers Are for Travelers 

What were million-dollar Irish scam artists doing living in this trailer park?

Page 3 of 8

But then Davenport and Hay did exactly what would bring them under local police jurisdiction: They headed for the San Leandro Home Depot. The two security officers tailed them to the store where, for reasons no one has yet figured out, Hay and Davenport conducted a totally legitimate transaction, returning three of the cheaper faucets for what they originally paid for them. Davenport even bought some lumber. But by this point, the Home Depot investigators felt they had collected enough evidence to justify an arrest. It was finally time to make a move.

The problem was, who would do the arresting? As it turned out, Pickard and her partner, Sgt. Greg Lemmon, were out collaring somebody else at that moment. The only other option was a citizen's arrest. "I'm on the phone with Pickard, basically saying, 'What do I do at this point?'" Odell remembers. "Just as they were getting into the car, she said, 'Take 'em.'"

Odell and two other investigators made their move. Although they didn't have guns, they did have handcuffs, so they announced who they were and informed Davenport and Hay that they were under arrest. "They were a little startled about it, but it was very calm, peaceful," Odell remembers.

According to a subsequent police report, as the Home Depot crew arrested the two men in the parking lot, Hay tried to shed some of the bar codes he was carrying with him. Otherwise, Odell says, the two seemed surprised to be confronted, especially since they hadn't done anything illegal that day. "I don't think that at that point Hay and Davenport knew what we actually knew," Odell muses. "We didn't tell them. We didn't say 'We've been following you all over the country, we know what's going on.' We didn't really say a heck of a lot." Two hours of awkward silence must have ensued, because Davenport invoked his Miranda rights and it took Pickard and Lemmon a couple of hours to show up and take custody of the men.

Leaving Odell behind to fill out paperwork, the San Leandro police officers headed back to Trailer Haven, where Pickard spotted Broderick, the third member of the group, getting into a van. Its engine was running, and it was packed floor to ceiling with the trio's belongings. The group owned three small pet dogs, all of which were in cages on the front seat. To Pickard, the whole thing looked like an escape in process, and she put an immediate stop to it. "I thought, because of the circumstances surrounding the whole deal that they probably had a plan in place like, 'If we're not back in two hours, pack up and leave,'" she says.

Perhaps because they didn't realize the extent of the investigation in process, Hay and Davenport gave the cops permission to search their vehicles. "I took everything out of the van," Pickard says. "If it was a piece of paper, I took it. I figured as soon as they figured out we got them, they're going to take back their consent." Her search gave the police their first insight into exactly how lucrative the scam had been and how well-organized the group was. "We found three separate CDs for $100,000," Pickard says. "The FBI found more later. They had five Wells Fargo accounts, three Bank of America accounts, three CDs with Affinity Bank, a Bank of Ireland account, a Royal Bank of Canada account."

The police also found sheaves of preprinted bar codes, a small handheld scanner, a laptop computer, and hundreds of Home Depot receipts dating back to October, 2001. They found a briefcase containing credit cards and drivers' licenses for several states in each person's name, as well as under aliases for both Davenport and Broderick. Once the police analyzed the computer's hard drive, they found that the group had been using the Internet to download documents for multiple Irish passports. Davenport and Broderick apparently often used aliases; Hay always used his own name.

"The bells start ringing; I'm thinking this is a big deal," Pickard says. "I couldn't figure out why these people were living in a trailer. They had over a million dollars in assets that we could find, and they were sending money back to Ireland, where they don't live. The only thing I could figure is they were sending money back for a bigger cause. ... In my cop mind I'm thinking I need to get a hold of someone: Interpol, or Scotland Yard, or Homeland Defense."

The little case that nobody wanted to take had suddenly gotten a lot bigger.

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