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Inside the Case Files Of 'Cheating Season' - page 4


A day or so later, Owen tailed the man after he left his country club. "He took us on a crazy, 70-miles-per-hour trip around the Beltway," Owen remembered. After an exit and some turns, he slowed and pulled in front of a small single-family home. He opened the garage door and pulled in. A much younger woman greeted him inside. They kissed. Owen raced back to the office to run the property records on the house, wondering who this younger woman was, figuring he was close to nailing the case. But the house was in the man's name. After more digging, he finally found out who the younger woman was: his wife. "Turns out, the older woman who hired us was the mistress. Boy, she was mad when she found all that out," Owen said. Most investigators spend Valentine's Day hunkered in their cars, chasing their targets at lunch hours and after work, ducking, laying low. But Robert Hoffman and Kathleen Robinson, investigators at Checkmate Inc. in Maryland, have a different shtick. Working as a pair, they don't stand out among the canoodling couples in fancy restaurants and hotel lobbies, the way their trench-coated counterparts do. They dress up, don the starry-eyed gazes of lovers and head out on the town to catch their prey, up close. Last Valentine's Day, Hoffman and Robinson were ready to head somewhere chic. Their target was a lawyer with money. His mistress was a high-powered career woman who was also known as a big spender. Robinson knows how to dress for these nights. For years, she worked as the decoy for private eyes who staged setups, the tantalizing, short-skirted bait laid in a cheating trap. So when the fancy restaurant is booked solid on these big nights, Robinson the private eye turns on that old charm to try to get a table. That night, the dark Mercedes Benz SL pulled out of the lawyer's building and went to the woman's office. The mistress slipped into the car, and they pulled off. Robinson checked her makeup. The private eyes wondered whether they'd be eating steak or lobster that night. They tailed them for just a few blocks until the Benz unexpectedly pulled into a dark parking lot behind a nondescript building. The engine was cut, and the luxury German car began to shake. Click. Click. Click. The photos were done, the case closed. No appetizers, no cocktails. "We were thinking, maybe a romantic, nice dinner. Maybe a nice hotel," Robinson said. "It was cold that night. And it was just a parking lot. The cheapness of it all, that got me. next >>

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