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The truth gets lost in translation

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© St. Petersburg Times, published February 16, 2001

The Aisenberg Tapes

As translated by the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office

(Original tape in bold)

(Sheriff's translation in normal type)

* * *

January 12, 1998

STEVE AISENBERG: Let's watch television rather than talk about what did or didn't happen.


VOICE IN BACKGROUND: I'd like to buy a vowel, Pat.

* * *

STEVE: At this point in our conversation, I would like to declare that my name is Steve Aisenberg, that's A-I-S-E-N-B-E-R-G, and I am confessing to everything. I am very guilty.

MARLENE: I am acknowledging what you are saying, Steve, and in a clear, unmistakable voice, I would like to join you in an audible statement of guilt.

STEVE: Let us cover up our guilt by hiring a lawyer. Furthermore, let us conspire to deceive the investigators by making false statements to them.

MARLENE: In a clear, unambiguous voice that anyone can understand, in the event our words are being recorded, I am agreeing with you.

February 17, 1998

MARLENE: I notice we're out of corn flakes.

STEVE: Okay. I'll put cereal on the list, in addition to paper towels, toilet paper and dishwashing detergent.

MARLENE: I can't decide whether it would be better to go to Target for those other things. Sometimes the prices are better for household products.

STEVE: Whatever you say.

* * *

MARLENE: I hate you, Steve! I hate you for what you did to our daughter! I am saying this in a clear voice, to make sure there is no doubt in case a judge is being asked to extend our wiretap!

STEVE: I admit it all. I did it. I am not sure how I could be any more clear about it. Our guilt knows no bounds.

MARLENE: You and I also have made false statements to the investigators. With these words we clearly admit violating Title 18, U.S. Code, Sections 1001 and 1002.

March 1, 1998

STEVE: (Unintelligible remark that may or may not be incriminating.)

MARLENE: (Unintelligible reply.)

STEVE: (Muffled comment.)

MARLENE: (Unintelligible.)

* * *

STEVE: The jig is up. They are onto us. They have discovered our guilt, which we are now freely discussing in the privacy of our own home.

MARLENE: Then we must conspire further to cover up our despicable crime. We will rely more than ever on our attorney. He will become part of our conspiracy by asserting the fact that we are not guilty.

STEVE: But Marlene, you are forgetting the Rules of Federal Criminal Procedure, which say that if a lawyer defends his clients' interests, he is part of the conspiracy, and should be removed from the case!

MARLENE: That is a risk we must take. We are guilty. We have no choice.

* * *

POSTSCRIPT BY DETECTIVES: At this point, uh, the tape ran out, but you can take our word for it, they confessed, like, a zillion more times and everything, and they also said, "If anybody is listening in via a bug, we just want you to know, that is hunky-dory by us, and you don't need to mess with getting a warrant or any of that."

Look, WE know they're guilty, and YOU know they're guilty, so why sweat the small stuff?

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