Crazy White Mother
You didn't just walk up to Jeremiah Simmons and start talking business. You had to go through someone he trusted--that's how he survived. So when one of his associates asked him to meet a white high school kid with money to spend, Simmons was willing but wary.
"He wants to talk to you about buying some guns," Randy Castelon told Simmons one spring day in 2000. "He wants five Berettas." Then Castelon added an odd warning: "He's a crazy white motherfucker, man."
Simmons just laughed. He'd been dealing cocaine, crack and marijuana since he was 15. Now 18, he'd avoided shakedowns by dope-desperate customers, stayed out of the penitentiary as his peers went down, even survived an armed robbery in which he was shot in the face, an attack that should have killed him.
Though just shy of 6 feet and 160 pounds, Simmons gave off a carefully cultivated aroma of tough that he could turn on and off at will, switching from his normal voice, soft-spoken and full of amusement, to a menace-inflected sneer in an instant. The act was strictly for effect, like the professional business cards he handed out listing his name and cell number. But it worked. His reputation as a dangerous man had protected him both from those he considered his own kind--the low-income blacks who populated his drug-infested neighborhood around Abrams and Fair Oaks streets--and the white and Hispanic users who peeled off a few hundreds for that night's recreation.
He took no chances, though. Simmons always carried a gun. And he wasn't afraid of no 17-year-old white boy.
A few nights later, Simmons knocked on the door of an apartment in Garland. Loud music blared from inside, and when the door swung open he saw 15 to 20 people in various stages of undress writhing around on the couch and chairs of the living room, touching and kissing and sucking on each other. Some of the teen-agers--friends of Castelon--were openly having sex.
"Damn," Simmons thought. "This is crazy."
He'd arrived in the middle of an Ecstasy party. It was the first time he'd ever been to a party with rich white kids--and the first time he'd ever been immersed in what looked to him like an old-fashioned "orgy." Though he'd hung around lots of dope fiends, the out-and-out decadence made him uneasy. In his culture, this sort of public sexual display showed a lack of self-respect.
Castelon--which isn't his real name--introduced Simmons to Doug Havard. Though one was Hispanic and one white, Castelon and Havard were alike in many ways. Both attended private schools; both had wealthy parents. They were the North Dallas version of the boys next door. Ignoring the funk around them, Simmons and Havard sat down at the kitchen table, with the veteran drug dealer sizing up his customer. Even though he stood 6-foot-4 and weighed over 200 pounds, Havard had the innocent baby-fat mug of a junior high kid and sported a typical preppy-boy haircut--brown hair parted on the side. Like Simmons, Havard wasn't under the influence of Ecstasy or any other drug. They were strictly business.
Simmons shoved a handgun across the table. He had the rest of Havard's merchandise--five 9-millimeter Beretta handguns, purchased through a local gunsmith--in a bag. Simmons had studied salesmanship books for ideas on how to encourage repeat customers. So he'd made Havard a deal: six guns for the price of five. At $200 a gun, Havard owed him $1,000. Though he'd later find out Havard was peddling the weapons to other prep-school students, Simmons didn't ask why he needed them. That violated the etiquette of the transaction. As protection against getting robbed, Simmons didn't include clips or ammunition; the buyer had to purchase that somewhere else. Havard agreed and handed over the cash.
They kicked it for a while, Havard boasting a bit about how he robbed another white kid of his drugs and money by simply walking up to his door with a gun. He didn't bother with a mask. He knew the guy would never report it to police; his parents would freak.
Simmons just smiled. He didn't believe it for a minute. Nobody--especially not this soft, spoiled rich kid--would do something that outrageous.
Then Havard made Simmons another business proposition. He had a customer base: private high school kids with money to burn. Simmons had the product. What if he moved some "X" for Simmons, as Castelon was doing?
He didn't let on, but until just a few months before, Simmons had been clueless about the drug. When Castelon, who sold powder cocaine for him, asked if he could get some of the popular club drug for his college clients, Simmons' reaction was, "What's Ecstasy?"
Simmons only had to pop one tablet to understand. It made you feel incredibly happy, not to mention horny. He found a Vietnamese supplier with connections across the ocean, and Castelon started helping him sell the stuff. Ecstasy and the world of white clubgoers were revelations to Simmons: A whole new realm had opened up, not just culturally, but also financially.
Simmons had always avoided methamphetamines and heroin because the clients were too volatile. He didn't like crack, either. Crackheads were likely either to turn on you or try to rob you. But his cocaine clients never gave him problems. They had jobs. Ecstasy expanded that trouble-free cash zone. When Simmons gave someone free Ecstasy, they always came back with money for more. He quickly built a whole new clientele, high school and college students willing to pay as much as $25 for a single pill that cost him $7. For one lot--5,000 pills--he could make a profit of $50,000 in a couple of weeks. Virtually no risk, and too much cash even to count.
Thinking he could use some help, Simmons agreed to take on Havard. Moving about 100 pills a week to North Dallas teen-agers, Havard started clearing some $6,000 a month, Simmons says. He admired the kid's business savvy. Sometimes he'd sell a pill for as much as $60. It was Economics 101: supply and demand.
Within a few months, the black street dealer and the white preppy started hanging out together, Havard laughing at Simmons' jokes and fast repartee. Simmons, a smooth-talking ladies' man, gave the shy Havard tips on picking up girls. And the college-bound Havard encouraged Simmons to pursue his rapping dream, even while lapping up every nuance of his gangsta life.
"Being around you," Havard told Simmons, "is like being in a movie."
Still, Simmons knew Havard hid things from him, as he did from Havard. The white teen-ager carried around more money than Simmons knew he was earning from Ecstasy. But he didn't pry. If he had, Simmons would have discovered that Havard was running his own crime ring of dissolute rich kids. As Havard studied Simmons' every move, soaking up the street attitude, he transformed himself from a pampered private-school juvenile delinquent into a genuine gun-wielding thug.
He'd end up taking both of them down.
These days, Simmons is serving six years in prison for a crime he says he committed with Havard. His one-time buddy may join him some day. Arrested last February in his dorm room at SMU and now facing charges of counterfeiting, armed robbery and selling GHB, another club drug, Havard, 20, posted bail and ran.
Simmons has had a lot of time to consider the paradox of his unlikely partner in crime. Since he's in the pen, and Havard isn't, there's an obvious question: Did his friend betray him? But he knows there's a deeper mystery, one he'll never understand. Why would a rich white boy who had all he needed and most of what he wanted throw away the easy life for a pocket full of blood money?
Douglas Cade Havard is sipping a cerveza on a beach in the Cayman Islands, hanging out near the banks where he's stashed upwards of a million dollars. No, he's in Brazil, cranking out phony passports. Are you crazy? Havard's still in the U.S.A., hanging out in Austin with a new face courtesy of plastic surgery. He's slowly hunting down the kids who could testify against him.
The Doug Havard legends are everywhere--they've accumulated like a snowball tumbling down Mount Everest since he was 16. His friends from high school and SMU trade Havard stories. Didja hear about Havard hijacking the 18-wheeler? He and a buddy breaking into a car owned by an FBI agent and stealing bulletproof vests? Hiring someone for $25,000 to beat up a kid at Lake Highlands High School?
The rumors will, no doubt, keep multiplying, because there are enough real, verifiable stories of Havard's exploits to make the wildest ones seem plausible. Havard possessed an extraordinary ability to rope other kids into his schemes, where they got a glimpse of his world that made them fascinated and frightened at the same time: The guns. The money. The thrilling feeling of being outside the law instead of the pampered progeny of parents who hired others to clean their houses and mow their lawns.
Havard nurtured that outlaw persona, unafraid to do what other teen-agers merely fantasized about. Bryan Flood, the Dallas assistant district attorney who is prosecuting the counterfeiting charges against Havard, says he's seen an increasing number of kids like Havard committing crimes. "I call it the Ulysses complex," Flood says. "It's someone who wants to be a thief and a rogue. If you don't boast, nobody knows of your exploits, so how can you become famous? Havard is at the top of the chart." Flood blames pop culture. "The kids want that pop culture image--money, fame, girls--even though that's not real," he says. "The things they do to make it real are often very illegal. On TV, nobody gets charged with a crime."
Though authorities are searching for him--he's been featured on the "Wanted" page of The Dallas Morning News--Havard has not been convicted of a crime. His attorney, Kevin Clancy, declined to comment on the charges against his client. His parents did not return phone calls. The Dallas Observer pieced together Havard's story from transcripts of court hearings and documents filed by police officers to obtain search and arrest warrants, as well as exclusive interviews with Simmons and another Havard associate who granted an interview under the condition that he not be identified.
Havard's story begins in an unlikely place--The Winston School on Royal Lane, where the motto is "bright students who learn differently." Winston is an oasis for two kinds of kids: those with learning disabilities such as dyslexia and ADD, and troubled teen-agers who have been kicked out of every other private school in Dallas. The K-12 school boasts small classes--the teacher-student ratio is 1:8--with only 30 to 40 graduating seniors a year. Tuition is high, about $16,000, including meals. Though some students come from a middle-class background with parents scraping together every dime to cover tuition, others are children of Dallas' wealthiest families.
Havard was the latter. As a freshman, he seemed like the quintessential pudgy nerd, not especially popular but a straight-A student despite whatever learning difficulty landed him at Winston. "He was this easygoing guy," says one neighbor. "He seemed calm, unhurried, unambitious."
Four years later, Havard had reinvented himself. Captain of the football team, salutatorian and student council president, Havard had shed 30 or 40 pounds and had become the center of social activity. His extracurricular pursuits couldn't have been more shockingly different. Havard quickly blossomed into a street entrepreneur with a genius for sucking others into illegal moneymaking schemes.
"He ran the school," says one former student--we'll call him Weldon. "He was a one-man operation." Though suspected by teachers of pulling all sorts of mischief, Havard was never caught in the act. "In the end, it was like Doug's mafia," Weldon says. "If you were cool, you were in Doug's mafia." Some in Havard's mafia at Winston School are now terrified of him.
Born on September 18, 1982, Douglas Cade Havard grew into the physical and entrepreneurial image of his father, L. Cade Havard. Gregarious and a natural salesman, Cade, 51, stands 6-foot-5 and weighs 280 pounds. He's described by one insurance executive as a "genius" who buys companies, builds them up and resells them to make millions. In 1995, he founded Ecom PPO.com Inc., a highly successful firm based in Dallas that handles computerized processing of medical insurance claims.
For four years, the Havards lived in a nice but unpretentious home on Glendora Avenue in the heart of North Dallas. Neighbors never saw the father. He worked all the time. "Cade is a very ruthless businessman," says the insurance executive. "Money is everything to him. He keeps score with money. I think with his children he sent the message that money is king."
After Ecom PPO.com's success, the Havards bought a bigger, showier house on Stefani Drive, valued at $1.6 million. Cade and his son purchased a $175,000 yacht named "Encore." "That was a big thing to him," says the insurance exec. "Cade lives very ostentatiously."
Doug's own entrepreneurial skills had emerged by his freshman year at Winston. Havard found a supplier of trinkets such as fake Rolex watches, negotiated to buy them in bulk for a few dollars each, then brought them to school and sold them for $20. He had a knack for picking up on the hot craze. He'd buy laser pointers for $2 and sell them for $15. By the time the market was saturated, he was on to something else.
His father encouraged his son's business activities, hiring him to work at one of his companies. Sources who know both father and son say that the elder Havard was paying Doug $60,000 to $80,000 a year to do computer work. For a high school student, he was fabulously wealthy. It's hard to know when Havard decided that making money legitimately was too slow. It's also hard to know when he slept. His moneymaking schemes were complex and ever-evolving.
An early and ongoing scam was the sale of jewelry and other items stolen from the homes of his wealthy friends in North Dallas. "He was stealing expensive watches, nothing under $25,000, through maid services," Weldon says. Havard was careful to pawn the watch before the family could discover the theft and file a police report. And he refrained from getting too greedy, telling his collaborator to take only a few expensive items to decrease the likelihood that the owner would notice.
"He would take a $30,000 watch into a jewelry store and get $5,000 for it," Weldon says. Havard rarely made the sale himself. "He had four or five people at Winston School who would do this for him. He'd come to school, say, 'Who's got a fake drivers license? Who wants to make 15 percent of $5,000?' He did this with at least 20 watches. It could have been 10, it could have been 50." For some of the poorer students, surrounded by the wealthy, a $750 payoff for a half-hour's work was irresistible.
Havard seized on the advantages of subcontracting. He saw an opportunity, researched it thoroughly, tried it himself a few times and then drew in others to do the dirty work. "He's real good at staying on the outside of it," Weldon says.
Take the bar code scam, which allegedly began during Havard's sophomore year at Winston. Havard bought a special printer and high-gloss paper precut in the shape of price stickers, with adhesive on one side. The equipment and materials were specialized, but not exotic; he could buy all he needed at an office supply store.
Havard went to Target and purchased, say, a box of Legos for $17. He duplicated the bar code on the Legos and then went back to the store. As he browsed through the toy department, he'd slap a bar code sticker reading $17 onto a box of MindStorm Legos that sell for $200 a box.
At the checkout, Havard paid $17 for the Legos. He later returned the Legos to the store, getting a cash refund or store credit for $200. Profit: $183. He'd then go back and buy two more expensive boxes for $17 each. Profit: $366. Investment: $17, plus the printer and sticky paper.
Havard's research revealed that Target wouldn't investigate until the sixth return, so he would do the con a total of five times in his own name, then use a fake drivers license and do it five times in another name. He then pulled in other people to repeat his performance five times each in various names, also using fake identities. After calculating how many Target stores were in the Dallas-Fort Worth region, he sent out his minions with handfuls of forged bar code stickers.
"He had 30 people working for him," Weldon claims. "He would have tens of thousands of dollars' worth of store credit." Havard would use the credit to purchase other high-dollar items, such as televisions, video cameras, video game systems and computer games. He sold these items to kids at Winston and other schools out of the trunk of his car. Kids snapped up $200 game systems for $100, receipt included. There were always willing buyers.
"The people he sold to knew it came from illegal sources," Weldon says. "They didn't care. For a couple of months, he [Havard] was bringing in $10,000 to $15,000 a day."
Havard rationalized his crimes: No one was really getting hurt except insurance companies and big corporations. The bar code scam lasted about four months. A couple of people in the ring got sloppy and were arrested; Havard was investigated but never charged with a crime, Weldon says. "Doug's always good at squeaking out at the last minute."
While he schemed, Havard was making straight A's and playing sports. His goal was getting into an Ivy League school to study business. Havard boasted about his various scams but led others to believe he got his fat roll of cash from playing the stock market. "I think that's where his father thought he was making money," Weldon says. "He was smart but not a computer whiz or a hacker. He never tried selling grades.
"Havard was good at knowing what would be useful to people in the future," Weldon adds. "If he had stayed straight, he'd have been a billionaire in 15 years."
But some of his rip-offs got too close to home. Havard and one friend, a student from a very wealthy family, collaborated in stealing about $170,000 in jewelry and other goods from the buddy's $3 million home while his parents were out of town. The parents discovered the loss, apparently after Havard offered an unusual collectible watch to a dealer, who recognized it and knew the owner. The matter was settled privately, with neither boy facing charges.
During his junior year at Winston School, Havard nearly got busted. While working as a clerk at a retail store at NorthPark, he began stealing credit cards from customers. "He had four or five credit-card scams," Weldon says. "He's a businessman diversifying his portfolio." An investigation cost Havard his job at the store, though he was never charged with a crime. There was always another scam to take its place. He and a buddy started cruising the parking lots at NorthPark, looking for expensive SUVs loaded with fancy accessories like front grilles. They'd write down the license plate numbers, drive home and look up the addresses of the owners on the Internet. Late at night, they'd drive by the houses, steal the grilles and sell them on eBay.
"Really, I don't think he ever slept more than four hours a night," Weldon says. "He was always working. He'd be on the telephone 12 hours a day. He'd complain about his $4,000 cell phone bill."
Though Havard was worth several hundred thousand dollars by the time he was a junior in high school, by Weldon's estimation, money almost seemed beside the point.
"It was the lifestyle, the power, the control," he says. "He wasn't born into a mobster family, and he wanted to be one."
When Havard met Jeremiah Simmons, he found someone who could teach him the ropes.
Behind the glass screen, 21-year-old Jeremiah Simmons seems almost delicate, his hair close-cropped, moon-shaped eyebrows over expressive brown eyes. It's a freezing day in October, and Simmons clutches the olive jacket issued to him by the penitentiary in West Texas like a blanket. His long fingers end in nails that appear to be carefully manicured. When he laughs, his teeth flash whiter than his bleached prison uniform. The only tough showing now is the huge tattoo on his chest, peeking out beneath his V-neck: TAKTIK, his rap name, courtesy of a prison skin artist.
Havard's fascination with crime drew him to the life Simmons was born into. Members of his family have struggled with drugs and tangled with law enforcement for generations.
Though both his parents now live in the Dallas area, Simmons grew up in Cleveland. His father was in the Air Force, but by the time Jeremiah entered grade school, his parents had ended their tumultuous marriage. Jeremiah and his half-brother, five years older, lived with his grandmother and aunt in West Point, Georgia.
Though Simmons was a good student when he attended, he dropped out at age 15. "It wasn't like anyone was telling me to go to school," Simmons says. "I was raising myself."
Though the soft-spoken teen-ager was "day and night" from his hustler brother, Simmons idolized him and his $5,000 gold chain, his $6,000 roll of cash and his love of dice games. He followed his brother's lead, selling coke, crack and weed. As Simmons says, "It was fast money."
Simmons touches a crease near a dimple. When he was 15 years old, his brother was dealing coke out of their home one night when three masked men with guns, tipped off by one of Simmons' best friends, burst into the house and stole his money and drugs. Before they left, one put a pistol to Simmons' face and fired.
The brothers attributed the attack to jealousy by rival dealers. The bullet shattered his jaw and lodged in Simmons' neck. He ate through a straw for 11 months, and the jaw was swollen for two years. He still has nerve damage in his face.
Simmons' mother flew from Dallas to be at his side in the hospital. His father didn't bother. When Simmons recovered, she brought him back to live with her in an apartment at Abrams and Northwest Highway. Jeremiah enrolled as a sophomore at Hillcrest High School, where he met his girlfriend, Aunika Leal, now the mother of his two children. He soon dropped out again. He worked a few legit jobs, but he couldn't resist the lure of the easy money. In late 1998, starting from scratch, he built up a small but thriving crack and weed business.
His occasional pledges to go straight were usually prompted by a brush with police. One night while walking to the store, a police car rolled up on him. Simmons had pockets full of dope, but the cop didn't search him. "I was like, 'I'm not doing this anymore,'" Simmons says. Just as he'd once idolized his brother, young boys in the neighborhood now idolized him. His brother had gone to prison. Simmons didn't want to follow.
At 17, he went to Dallas Can Academy, earning his GED. He worked at Tom Thumb, Eckerd and Grandy's for a year and a half, giving the money he earned to his mother and his girlfriend. "I liked it," Simmons says, "but I had a clientele." And they didn't want him leaving the dope business.
By the time he was 18, Simmons' illegal operation had expanded to cocaine and guns. "The customers I had weren't black," Simmons says. "They were white, Mexican, high-class people who could spend $1,000 or better at a time. I always got to know them."
His client base extended from Garland to Richardson to Arlington. Like the businessmen in books he read at the library, Simmons diversified his product line. "When one was slow," Simmons says, "then I'd do the other." Police never tagged Simmons for anything serious. "Like all criminals," Simmons says, "I felt I couldn't be touched."
When he began dealing Ecstasy with Castelon and Havard, it was like "the floodgates opened," Simmons says. He phased out the crack and weed to concentrate on cocaine and Ecstasy, which were easier to sell.
As they did business, the teen-agers got to know each other well. At first, Havard acted like he had something to prove, like he was "down." Especially around Castelon, Havard often bragged about how he'd robbed or shot at someone. "I know dudes that would eat you for breakfast," Simmons thought. "That's not something you go around talking about."
He felt Havard was trying to impress him. "He'd heard about my reputation," Simmons says, "so maybe he was putting on a front."
They hung out at Simmons' apartment. Havard never talked about school. He was interested in Simmons' methods, as well as the crooked cops and shady lawyers that Simmons sometimes tapped to help him out of a jam or to get information. Simmons talked about the burdens of leadership, complaining to Havard, "I gotta make sure even the lowest guy is doing their thing right." But mostly they talked about money and girls. Havard would clam up around women. "What's wrong with you?" Simmons would say. "You gotta talk to them."
They didn't hang around each other's friends, and Simmons never visited Havard at his home in North Dallas. "He'd invite me to parties. I'd never go," Simmons says. "It was business: Ecstasy or guns." Havard explained that his parents "wouldn't approve" of him hanging around someone like him. Simmons understood. Once, Simmons asked Havard why he sold drugs. The teen-ager would only say, "I need the money, man." Simmons thought that was a lame excuse.
Simmons liked that Havard didn't do drugs or drink. With Havard, Simmons felt he could relax, not fearing that he'd turn on him with a gun. "I knew if I messed with my own kind, they'd get me," Simmons says. "I had to be thugged out with them." He wrote a poem about that. Always a quick wit, Simmons had been writing and performing rap songs for several years. By 2000, he was performing at a club three times a week as "Microphone Messiah."
Havard came to hear him one night. "You have talent," he told Simmons. "You gotta do something with it."
When they were flush, they'd joke about being so rich they could go to China for some egg foo yong. "When you're making money like that, you get greedy," Simmons says. As far as he was concerned, Havard was his friend. But he knew from experience that the people to look out for are the ones you trust the most.
Going to Las Vegas had seemed like a good idea, until Havard and Simmons got there and discovered they were too young to gamble in the casinos. It was the late summer or early fall of 2000. Havard would turn 18 in September; Simmons had turned 19 in July.
It was supposed to be a celebration of a major transaction. But instead of gambling with their profits, the two teen-agers had to settle for ogling the lights along the Las Vegas strip and clowning around, the bulky white kid towering over the wiry black youth. Simmons liked to mimic Havard, picking up on his North Dallas dude-speak and flipping it back at him. Havard sometimes turned the tables, coming back with Simmons' street jive. But mostly he listened and laughed at Simmons' ongoing stand-up routine.
"Man," Havard said, "you're going to be big."
Simmons enjoyed Havard's company, but his friend soured the trip a bit when he proposed they hire some hookers. "That's weak-minded, disrespecting yourself," Simmons says. He entertained himself for an hour while Havard took advantage of Nevada's legalized prostitution, and they flew back home.
Their next trip together, however, was an unqualified success. In October, Havard, now a senior at Winston, skipped school for a week while the two of them went to Cleveland, where Simmons grew up. Simmons showed Havard around The Flats, the city's historic warehouse district with its clubs and restaurants, and they rented a hotel room with two big beds.
"We were just chilling, messing with chicks," Simmons says, laughing at the memory. "I'd do all the talking. I'd hook him up." When Havard asked him what to say, Simmons would feed him a line.
At one club, Simmons chatted up two good-looking white girls. "This is Doug," Simmons said, introducing them to Havard. "He's my brother."
"You're black and he's white," one girl pointed out.
"No, really, he's my brother," Simmons insisted. Soon they were laughing. The two girls ended up in their hotel room for the night.
After the trip, Simmons and Havard were tight. Simmons was raking in more money than ever, selling not to dope fiends but to his handful of suppliers. And he was also spending more than ever, sending his mama on a cruise and giving extra money to his girlfriend. He liked being able to take care of his own.
Though he never talked about it with Simmons, at school Havard had become the big dog on campus. Co-captain of the football team. Junior National Honor Society. President of the student council, elected with the help of the free Egg McMuffins he handed out to students during the election.
His success now extended to the ladies. Havard brought two girls in prep-school uniforms to Simmons' apartment one evening. "Doug, Doug," Simmons crowed. "You got some cuties."
The more successful he was, the more brazen Havard became. He showed friends $40,000 worth of military-style guns he claimed he was holding for a hit man. He boasted that one of the weapons could take out a small building. That a hit man would entrust his guns to a kid didn't seem preposterous at all, at least when the kid was Doug Havard.
In February 2001, about seven months after they'd started doing business together, Simmons got a call from Havard that let him know the story he'd told about robbing some "dude" at gunpoint might be more than talk.
It was the middle of Havard's senior year at Winston. Havard and his fellow students were making plans to attend the senior prom and graduation, getting return envelopes from colleges. With an SAT score some say was close to 1,500, the teen-ager talked of going to Harvard.
But his arrogance was growing along with the academic success. Havard was about to cross the line from rich-boy scammer to violent thug.
Simmons, on the other hand, was getting tired of the criminal life even as his partnership with Havard flourished. He signed up to take a test to get into Richland Community College and enrolled in acting school. Then in January, a black drug dealer everybody called Peewee sold them some fake Ecstasy, stinging Simmons, Havard and Castelon each for more than $10,000.
On February 1, during a shopping trip, Simmons and Havard talked about what they should do. Havard insisted they confront the guy and get their money back. Though he was hotheaded, Simmons didn't like taking unnecessary chances. Peewee was known to have a fondness for assault rifles.
Havard, as always, researched the matter, finding out Peewee lived in a condo on Custer Road in Richardson. The next morning, Simmons had to make a court appearance. As he rode the train home, Havard called. Overnight, Havard had worked himself into a froth about the rip-off. "We gotta go get our money back," he told Simmons. "It's a matter of respect."
Havard seemed to be doing his best imitation of a Sopranos character; the white kid's gangsta fantasy was in full flower now. But Simmons knew the difference between talking a dangerous game and staying alive. He preferred to negotiate his way out of such problems.
Havard somehow persuaded him that they had no alternative, Simmons says. Or maybe he thought it was time to thug out or lose respect himself.
Shortly afterward, Simmons says, Havard picked him up, and they drove to a McDonald's in Richardson, where a white teen-ager Simmons didn't know pulled up in a black Mercedes and climbed into the car. He'd invested money with Havard on the drug deal and wanted it back.
From a black bag in the backseat, Havard pulled out two handguns and handed them to Simmons. For himself, Havard grabbed a 9 mm Beretta--the kind he'd bought when he first met Simmons--and another for his friend in the backseat. The two white teen-agers pulled on bulletproof vests marked FBI. "These guys are serious," thought Simmons, who says he'd left his own gun at home.
An account of what happened next can be pieced together from court testimony and interviews with Simmons. About 9:30 a.m., after loading the guns, the three men drove to Peewee's condo. Havard's friend broke a front window, reached in and unlocked the door. Havard motioned Simmons to lead, and the three entered.
Simmons was about to commit the dumbest move of his criminal career. It was daylight, and they weren't even wearing masks. He was in the lead, though the other two were wearing the body armor. They inched their way upstairs, Havard whispering orders to Simmons. Simmons opened a door and saw a man in bed with covers pulled over his head. As the three piled into the room, Simmons said, "Rise and shine."
"Please don't kill me!" Peewee pleaded. Grabbing an assault rifle in the corner, Simmons made him turn over, then put the pillow over his face. "I'm not gonna kill you," Simmons said. "I just want my money."
Peewee told them to check his pants. Simmons found no money. Feeling he was being played, Simmons flashed hot. He slugged Peewee in the head with the butt of a gun, hitting him four or five times before Havard grabbed his arm.
"We can't get our money if you kill him," Havard said calmly. He ordered Simmons from the room. "Go get the duct tape in my car," Havard said. "We're going to torture him until he gives us the money."
Torture? Was this a Quentin Tarantino movie? At Havard's order, Simmons grabbed the rifle and several other guns from another room, stuffed them in a duffel bag and walked outside. As he popped the trunk of Havard's car, he glanced to the left and saw a Richardson police car parked down the block.
Simmons put the guns in the trunk, slid into the front seat and leaned it back as far as it would go. In the backseat, he saw more guns, clips and a silencer in plain view. Another police car cruised by. Heart pounding, Simmons turned the ignition and slowly drove away.
"I'm not Superman," Simmons says today. "I'm not going to run up and save them." In his rear-view mirror, he saw the policemen get out, weapons drawn, and approach the condo. Peewee's half-brother, locked in another bedroom, had heard the angry voices and called police. In moments, Havard and his friend were arrested and charged with aggravated robbery.
At home, Simmons gathered up all the guns--14 in all--and sold or gave them away. Simmons visited Castelon. "Just make sure your boys don't rat me out," Simmons told him, peeling off a few hundred dollars.
The next day, Havard called. His friend was talking, he said, but he didn't know Simmons' name.
"I won't tell them nothing," Havard promised. "Don't worry."
Later that day, Havard pulled up to Simmons' apartment in a Mercedes. "It's good to see you," Simmons said, eyeing Havard warily. "How'd you get out so fast?"
"I made bond," Havard said. Trying to draw Simmons into a discussion of what went wrong, Havard seemed entirely too cool. Simmons was sure he was wearing a wire, so he said little.
Havard asked Simmons what had happened to his car, the one Simmons drove away. Simmons explained that he'd parked it on Forest Lane. "I'm going to check," Havard said. "If it ain't there, I'll be back."
Mutual suspicion had set in. Simmons, in fact, had parked the car behind his apartment complex. After Havard left, he cleaned it thoroughly, took it to a used car lot, busted the back window and left it there.
Simmons never heard from Havard again. But about two weeks later, as he was leaving home to meet with a counselor at Richland College, Simmons heard a cop yell, "Freeze!"
While Simmons ate bologna sandwiches in Collin County jail, unable to make bail, Havard continued his life in the drive-through fast lane. Few at Winston School even heard about the aggravated robbery charge. In May 2001, Havard graduated with honors as salutatorian of Winston School. He'd slimmed down, "handsomed" up and seemed on top of the world.
In his high school annual, Havard acknowledged his parents: "Thanks for encouraging me to play sports, take the hardest classes, learn to live with life's consequences, and [for pushing] me not to settle for anything less than I was capable of doing." As one of his senior "bequests," Havard bestowed on one friend "my ability to always get my way."
The comments seem almost surreal--here was a kid with an aggravated robbery charge hanging over his head, and he'd evidently learned nothing. To prove it, by summer he'd embarked on what would be the biggest and most profitable operation he'd ever undertaken: making and selling phony drivers licenses to college students itching to drink. In early September, when he moved into Room 205 in ivy-covered Perkins Hall at SMU, he'd become skilled enough to start selling them.
As always, Havard had researched his product thoroughly. He obtained templates for California and Texas drivers licenses--available on the Internet--and acquired counterfeit holograms, the shiny strips embedded in the cards supposedly to thwart counterfeiters. Havard later purchased an expensive hologram printer from a source in Europe with the aim of making his own.
Just like in high school, Havard recruited male and female SMU students to take the digital pictures, do the computer work and sand and laminate the licenses. He found plenty of willing workers. A core group formed at Perkins but stretched across the campus and into the Park Cities. "He was the kid next door," says one law enforcement source. "And there were another 60 to 70 kids next door involved with him."
The pictures were shot in Havard's room, other dorm rooms and at the Ramada Inn across from SMU. Much of the laminating and printing was done at the apartment of a former Winston student in North Dallas. Havard's average price was $180, but he might charge as much as $300. "His advertisement was you could get yours done free if you could bring him five customers," Weldon says.
Within weeks, demand outstripped supply. Doug kept an off-campus mailbox for orders and equipment. Police would later estimate Havard had sold "at least" 400 fake IDs, for a profit of $50,000. Weldon scoffs at that. "He was making 50 to 60 licenses a day," he says. "He made well over half a million dollars in a short period of time. He was putting money in Cayman accounts as fast as he could. At $9,000 in cash a day, he couldn't get it out of the country as fast as it was coming in."
But even that wasn't enough. Havard, allegedly still dealing Ecstasy, cocaine, acid and mushrooms, added GHB, a club drug often used in date rapes, to his inventory. It would prove his undoing.
Why Havard was involved in such a frenzy of illegal activity is a mystery. Perhaps he'd made the decision to disappear as early as the summer of 2001 and knew he'd need as much cash as possible.
In mid-January 2002, Havard violated Simmons' No. 1 rule by selling 140 grams of GHB to a man he didn't know. Though GHB can be purchased on the Internet or made using industrial solvents, Havard was apparently obtaining it in liquid form through a major supplier in Dallas. A week later, Havard sold the same customer one gallon of GHB--hundreds of doses.
The customer was an undercover officer with the Carrollton Police Department. Carrollton police contacted SMU police and brought in a Drug Enforcement Administration task force. While conducting surveillance of Havard's activities, they realized he was involved in far more than selling drugs.
On February 5, a year and three days after the robbery debacle, Havard was arrested at the corner of Spring Valley and Central Expressway minutes after delivering 10 gallons of GHB to an undercover cop. As soon as Havard was taken into custody, police executed a search warrant of his dorm room at Perkins. They found digital cameras, scanners, computers, several fake drivers licenses and $27,800 in cash.
In his chief associate's room, according to a police affidavit, officers found numerous fake drivers licenses in various stages of production, a blue cloth backdrop for picture production and credit-card applications in the names of other people, later discovered by a police officer to have been used to order property illegally from Circuit City. In rooms occupied by other members of Havard's crew, police found more backdrops, digital cameras, large sums of cash and electronic items stolen from Circuit City.
Havard now faced five separate charges: aggravated robbery, two charges of delivering GHB, engaging in organized criminal activity and counterfeiting.
The most serious by far are the GHB allegations; each charge carries a penalty of 25 to 99 years in prison. Though no GHB was found in Havard's room, according to a police affidavit, one of the female students he recruited to do computer work got personally involved with him and later accused him of sexual assault.
"He was selling it and using it," says one law enforcement source. "Some of the ladies that the GHB was used on were part of his group."
Havard has not been charged with sexual assault.
Over the summer, police officers armed with arrest warrants discovered that he was no longer living at the addresses he'd given authorities. On November 11, when Havard failed to show up for a court date in Collin County, authorities issued a "failure to appear" warrant. Sheriff's deputies in two counties--as well as two bail-bond companies--are now looking for him.
Maybe someone will get a trip to Brazil out of it.
Simmons knows Havard had to be the one who got the police on his tail. But he didn't know until recently that his former friend had been charged with selling GHB and running a counterfeiting ring. Simmons shakes his head.
"I thought he was smarter than that," Simmons says. "He should have learned from me. I know his mentality. He was feeling invincible."
A year ago, Simmons pleaded guilty to aggravated robbery, even though his court-appointed attorney, Andrew Farkas, was convinced he'd be acquitted for lack of evidence. But Simmons, who fired Farkas and hired a lawyer, had grown tired of the way he was living. He'd started using his own product; his girlfriend had moved out because of his temper.
"I had a guilty conscience," he says. "I hit the guy. It was the first time I'd ever really hurt someone. I felt I deserved to be punished."
Simmons will be out of the penitentiary in a few years. The man who studied his every move, however, is facing decades in prison if he's convicted, and his legend continues to grow. From behind the glass screen, Simmons laughs, remembering how he and his former "student" joked about going to China for some egg foo yong. "He messed up for real," Simmons says. "He just wanted to be somebody he wasn't."
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Observer's biggest stories.
- Dallas Mayor Discovers S&M for First Time, Very Turned Off, For Now
Sat., Feb. 13, 9:00pm
University of North Texas Mean Green Mens Basketball vs. Florida International University Golden PanthersThu., Feb. 18, 7:00pm
Fri., Feb. 19, 7:00pm
Fri., Feb. 19, 7:00pm
- These DFW-Area Down-Ballot Elections Shouldn't Be Trumped by the Focus on the...
- DART Cop Arrests Barking Dog Avi Adelman for Taking Photos at Rosa Parks Plaza