After ten years in the Coast Guard, graduation from the Academy, and receiving his MBA, Joe Traynor takes his first real job at a small nonprofit agency in Albany, New York, working to help impoverished youth. But when he discovers a national rip-off and money-laundering scheme, Joe fears that he might have bitten off more than he can chew, and he’s not sure if his education, training, and experience in the Coast Guard—the only other job he’s ever had—have fully prepared him for what’s now happening. As the bodies begin to pile up, Joe can only hope that he and his friends can stop the gang responsible before any more people are killed…

TAYLOR JONES SAYS; In Death but No Taxes by Daniel J. Barrett, Joe Traynor is out of the Coast Guard and working for a foundation in New York. The book is a prequel to the series with Joe in the Coast Guard. Now he is trying to save his foundation from those who would use it for personal gain. The story has a solid plot with lots of twists and turns that keep and hold your interest.

I enjoyed the book immensely. It was nice to see where it all started, and meet the early characters I’d heard about in the other books. A good read.

REGAN MURPHY SAYS: Death but No Taxes by Daniel J. Barrett is a prequel to his Joe Traynor series. The story takes place in new York before Joe starts working for the US Coast Guard as a special investigator. Actually, he’s between stints in the service, working for a non-profit organization helping New York’s underprivileged youth. But things are not what they seem, and Joe is forced to protect the organization from people who want to use it for illegal purposes.

The story is fast-paced and exciting with the extra appeal of seeing familiar characters before the regular series take place. I liked getting to know Joe when he was young and idealistic. An excellent addition to this intriguing series.

Chapter 1

It was Wednesday, the day after New Year’s, and only a handful of staff members were in the building working. There were no classes for another week, with a new class of thirty youth coming in for job training next week. It was snowing. They expected several more inches to add on to what they had already gotten over the holidays.

It was extremely cold. They were in the heart of winter in upstate New York and there were only seventy-eight days until spring, and only seventy-five days to Saint Patrick’s Day, but who was counting?

Joe Traynor saw Ted go down the hall and into Luis’s office. Joe wondered what he wanted with him. Ted had been very nervous the last couple of weeks. As president of the Albany Coalition for Families, Ted was always very concerned for the organization he’d started almost thirty years ago. He was less directly involved than he used to be, but he was still very much in charge.

Ted waved to Joe and then went into Luis’s office. Joe could hear every word with the door still open. “Luis,” Ted asked, “can I meet with you alone for a few minutes, in my office?”

“I’ll be right with you,” Luis said. As he walked into Ted’s office, he raised an eyebrow. “Ted, what can I do for you?”

“Luis, I would like to fully review where we are with our new grants and where we are going.”

Luis frowned. “What’s the problem?”

“No problem, Luis. Let’s talk about the George Johnson and the Block Foundation grants that we just received,” he said. “Two million dollars is more than we ever received at one time, and I won’t lie to you, I am very nervous about doing everything we said we would to complete the grants.”

“Ted, I am fully committed to seeing these grants through, even if it takes me past my two year commitment,” Luis said. “I’ve lined up all the vendors and colleges we need to train the students and to have them pass their GED test before they actually secure a job. We’ve already spent two-hundred-fifty thousand dollars in training activities since the George Johnson grant came in, and we’re prepared to do the same thing with the Harold Block Charitable Foundation, which is another million-dollar-a-year grant-funded program. If you don’t trust me, Ted, I don’t know what to tell you. I can always go back to the National Child Welfare Association and start over at a new non-profit somewhere.”

There it was, thought Ted. What you wish for, you may get. He had better pacify Luis. He couldn’t have him walking out now. Ted was between a rock and a hard place, and he had put himself in that position. Now, he knew why Joe was so quiet when all this happened. Ted had better talk to Joe and ask him what he thought about all this. He knew he hadn’t been as close to Joe lately as he was before Luis came. Joe was like a son to Ted and one of his own son’s best friends. He didn’t want to lose Joe, either. Luis’s commitment from the national organization was only for two years. Ted had to live with it. He’d brought Luis in to change the organization and Luis certainly did that. But was it for the better? Maybe Ted was nervous about nothing. His board was thrilled and the community seemed charged up. At this point, he guessed the best thing to do about it was nothing, and that’s what he had better do, absolutely nothing.

“No of course not, Luis, no problem. We’re well aware of how hard you work, and, as a matter of fact, we knew you haven’t even taken one day of vacation since you started in August. We’re very pleased with our progress. It’s the best in our history,” Ted replied. “How about letting us show you our appreciation by giving you a bonus week of vacation and a few thousand dollars in addition, for all you have done. We will even pay the taxes on your bonus so you don’t have a problem.”

“Okay,” Luis said. “Thank you, Ted.”

God, that was easy, Luis thought. He would plan a vacation right after the Ettinger grant submission, coming up shortly. Receiving two one-million-dollar grants in a row might have been too much too soon. The family needed the money. He had to see Frank Ramone, anyway. Maybe he would meet him in New York City, and they could discuss how Luis’s father felt about this. He also needed to meet with the Hudson Foundation, now that Alicia Torres was fully established there. Then he had to go to Hartford, Connecticut, to see Dave Perez at the Hartford Career Center. Luis was in charge of the entire east coast for his father. He knew he had done a great job of setting up the Albany Coalition for Families to run all the drug trade in Albany as well as loot the organization as soon as the grant money started rolling in. No one there had a clue what was going on. It was like they ran a business in the 1970s instead of 2013. Luis had to make sure that the other non-profits, that he was in charge of, ran as smoothly. If they were not, he would not be very patient and there would be dire consequences for failure.

Dave Perez was not doing well over in Hartford. He might have had the brains for an MBA but he certainly wasn’t street smart. He didn’t command respect like Luis did. That was his downfall. They handed him the George Johnson Foundation grant proposal to apply for, knowing it was already wired on the inside, and Luis gave him the blueprint. The grant was approved, but for less than half of what they asked for and Dave left a half a million dollars on the table, the idiot. The inside person, selected by those above him, was upset. She was judged on the money passed from her foundation to the non-profit. There were no excuses for failure.

Luis’s own vendors were selected and Dave couldn’t even sell it to his board or the president of the center in Hartford. What the hell is his problem? Maybe he needs to be replaced by the next graduate out of the Hispanic Management Outreach program we set up.

Now, Luis had to do something with Ted Simmons. He’d started to get in the way. We’re going to win the next two grants, he thought, because both are already wired. We don’t need any more questions on how it will affect the organization. Luis really didn’t care. This was about cash going to his father, the main general of the Mexican Mafia. His father, in jail for life for murder, ran a better organization in prison, than any of the non-profits they selected to infiltrate. For Christ sake, the grants were already wired and promised to their own vendors. They had to move the cash back to the families to pay their bills. His father and the other gang officers were counting on Luis to continue supporting their families. He and the other twenty-nine members had been groomed for this since the day they entered high school. All thirty had clean records and were protected from the streets. They had to be squeaky clean or none of this would have happened. Thirty high school students at the Los Angeles High School were selected for an advanced education, all sons and daughters of the Mexican Mafia members, who were still in jail. They would carry on their work as well-educated second generation highly qualified individuals.

They would run the nation’s charities and funders through a complex scheme thought of and carried out in partnership with well-respected professionals throughout the country. Morality was in the eyes of the beholder. Family came first. Their blueprint came directly from the Italian Costa Nostra, the Italian Mafia. The Mexican Mafia was geared up for the twenty-first century. The Italian Mafia was now into legitimate businesses bought and paid for over the years through previous crimes and laundered funds.

Clean cash emerged and became the capital for second and third generations of the same families. They now paid taxes, were community leaders, and served tirelessly on boards for the betterment of their communities. The Mexican Mafia expanded the blueprint and went beyond, becoming members on the inside, who made investment decisions, and were also successful, well-educated, and experienced business people.

© 2017 by Daniel J. Barrett