SAN FRANCISCO — The same government investigator who failed to uncover the massive Ponzi scheme perpetrated by convicted Wall Street scammer Bernard Madoff, also neglected to notice the backyard sex prison operated by paroled rapist Phillip Garrido.
Halgern Zarrington, Jr. expressed his regret at the “missed opportunities” to bring both men to justice, but insisted he exercised professional diligence in each investigation.
“There was not much to go on with Madoff,” he said. “He never wanted to meet at his office, always at some fancy restaurant. He’d pick up the tab and insist I order anything I wanted, regardless of price. When the bill came, he’d offer the waiter a choice of a hefty tip or 5000 shares of IBM. He was generous in that way, and I had no reason to second guess him.”
Zarrington admitted, “In retrospect, I should have asked Bernie to show me some paperwork or something.”
After being transferred to the California Department of Corrections in early 2003, Zarrington paid several visits to sex-offender Garrido’s home. “He was very polite, always made me hot tea and asked about my young daughter,” said Zarrington. “I questioned him, point blank, if he had been violating the terms of his parole or if there was anyone on his property held against their will. He told me, ‘No.’ I made him swear to it.”
Zarrington brushed aside his critics. “Hindsight is twenty-twenty,” he lamented. “Had I known then what I know now, I might have asked the naked woman tied spread-eagle to the post stakes if she had seen or heard anything suspicious.”
Originally intending to go to med school and become a neuroseurgeon, Zarrington’s pedigree destined him to be an investigator, like his father. Amongst his many exploits, the senior Zarrington had been in charge of securing Dealy Plaza in Dallas the day President Kennedy was assassinated.
“Dad was proud of the work he did that day for the president,” said Zarrigan, “but he always said that if he ‘had to do it all over again,’ he would’ve asked the guy with the rifle crouching by the opened window of the book depository to keep his eyes open for anything out of the ordinary.”
Zarrington insists his own proudest accomplishment was pronouncing Iraq free of weapons of mass destruction. “I was the only Westerner ever allowed inside the secretive, underground nuclear facility near Baghdad,” he claimed. “I considered briefing the Bush adminstration it, but the Iranian scientists who gave me the tour assured me the entire operation was for research purposes only.”
“Besides,” he said, “they asked me not to tell anyone.”