Willow Rosenberg grinned as she hacked into the accounts of Sunnydale's branch of Chase Bank. She privately considered herself to be one of the best hackers in the country.
Unlike many of them out there, I have a private code of ethics that I live by. All right, strictly speaking stealing a quarter dollar from the accounts of everybody in Sunnydale and the neighboring region was theft, and quite possibly grand theft at that. But I didn't spend the money on my princess or myself; I used it to bail out the Summers family when they faced foreclosure through no fault of their own when Joyce divorced her husband.
She didn't do it on a whim; she did it because he was hitting her. That makes it the right thing to do in my view. And then he legged it rather then pay his share of the mortgage. She and her family would have been homeless if I had not done what I did. I was very careful, I didn't bankrupt the bank, and none of the thousands of people that I robbed knew anything about it. And given that the Summers family have always treated me so well and took me in when my own family rejected me for being a lesbian, I owed it to them.
Hacking into the school system was also a crime, but all I did was change Tara's marks from a B to an A+. I didn't lower anybody's marks, not even those who I deeply disliked, nor did I raise my own marks. With this country heading into a recession, Tara needs a great grade to have a chance of getting to do the job she wants to do. That's one of the few things that I've kept a secret from Tara, I know she would not approve one bit.
Of course there are some places that I just don't go to, especially after 9/11. I have no wish to rot in Gitmo Bay for the rest of my life after all. Hey, what's this?
As she probed further she realized that a large amount of the money in the bank was being funneled through a front company, and the more she looked the more worried she got.
This is more then a simple scam or a way to avoid taxes, this is funding terrorism and terrorist cells within the United States. I should tip off the police about it, but how can I do so without facing some serious criminal charges myself? I feel like a burglar who has come across a murder plot. Maybe I should just let it be, but then innocent people might die as a result. I'll wait until Tara comes home.
It was a few hours before Tara came in and grinned at Willow. "Hi Princess."
"Hi Honey." Willow began massaging Tara's back in the way that she loved, and planted a soft kiss on the back of her neck. "How was your day?"
"As crazy as ever, but then it always is in the casualty ward. Some stupid kid let off an illegal M80 firecracker; this always tends to happen around this time of year. It blew several of his fingers off and I had to help sew them back on. Apart from that there were the usual drunks who were injured in bar fights, someone whose leg was broken in a car crash, and a very itchy person with poison ivy who had scratched lots of her skin off. Not nice, but it's good to know I am doing my bit to help."
"And it brings in the money too." Willow laughed. She did have a job fixing people's computers when viruses or other causes damaged them, but it was Tara's job as a skilled surgeon that brought in most of the money. "I need to ask you something very important..."
There was a knock on the door and Willow opened it to find two policemen who held up their badges. "Willow Rosenberg?"
"Yes, that's me."
"We'd like you to come down to the station for a few questions. We would prefer not to arrest you but we will if we have to." Willow nodded, and inwardly shuddered.
I must have tripped an alert switch and they've found out about my hacking. When they go through the hard drive, and they will, they'll find out about everything I've done. I might go to prison for many years, and Tara...she could lose her job because I increased her grades. Don't panic...
Trying not to show her fear Willow went down to the station and it was not long before a detective came to see her. "I'm Detective Andrew of Sunnydale's cyber-crime unit. You tripped an alarm when you illegally hacked into the Sunnydale branch of Chase Bank. When we investigated we found an illegal money trail that we doubt you had anything to do with. Now because of a few legal decisions at Supreme Court level, we can only prosecute the people responsible if you agree to testify to a grand jury and then again in open court. If you agree to do so, the district attorney says he won't prosecute you for any of your crimes-they will be left on file however in case you ever offend again.
"If you refuse to do so, we will go through your hard drive and prosecute you for anything illegal we find on there that we can prove, and you could end up doing years of hard time in a very unpleasant prison, and have any illegally gained assets seized by the courts and sold."
I don't have a choice. It's not just several years of my life at stake, but also that of Tara who could lose her job because of me, and the Summers family who could lose their home.
"I'll testify. I'll tell you everything you want to know."
"Then I'll drive you to the grand jury room, through a side door to avoid the press."
After hearing Willow's testimony and the testimony of the police the grand jury indicted one Warren Meers, but he remained free after paying a million dollars in bail money and surrendering his passport. That evening he asked his lawyer, who worked for the law firm of Wolfram and Hart, what the chances were of escaping conviction.
"It's rather complicated to explain to somebody who is not a lawyer, but when the police stumbled on what they did they did not have a warrant to search your accounts. There was a similar case about a decade ago, which went all the way through the US court system. To cut an exceedingly long and complicated tale short, to make the charges stick Willow Rosenberg must testify. Were she to change her mind, or if something was to stop her testifying, the case would fall apart. It's very unlikely that we could get the money back, but you could avoid conviction and a very heavy sentence."
"How long a sentence are we talking here?"
"A hundred years in San Quentin State Prison, with a chance of parole after fifty." The lawyer silently handed Warren a confidential file from his case, which contained a photo of Willow and other information such as her home address.
"I'd like you to go and ask a few friends of ours to meet with me," Warren told his lawyer. "No need to use the phone. We would not want the risk of the message being heard by the wrong people if the phone is tapped."