Well-known television producer Dick Wolf, creator of the long-running TV drama "Law & Order", has been indicted on numerous felony charges, among them 26 counts of conspiracy to commit murder.
Wolf, who has been making the show "Law & Order" for well over a decade, has himself been a target or law enforcement for nearly as long. Not until Chicago detective Donaldo "Dennis" Farina infiltrated Wolf's organization, however, were authorities able to obtain the evidence they needed to pursue an indictment.
Murders have been committed on the television show from the very beginning, but nearly all of the perpetrators see justice before the end of the episode, so, under the rules of double jeopardy, law enforcement is usually unable to pursue legal action outside of television.
What concerned law enforcement officials, however, was not the fate of the actual murderers on television, or even their television accomplices. The FBI, working in conjunction with the FCC, noticed a clear and unending pattern which could only have indicated, they say, that Wolf himself was in a continual state of planning murders and helping to perpetrate them. "There was a murder on almost every show," said an anonymous FBI source. "Wolf had to be planning them".
Attempts to work with the district attorney's office failed. "We think he may have been employing some of them" said the FBI source, pointing to Jack McCoy as an example of an unhelpful person in the office.
FBI agents, in conjunction with prosecutors, worked hard to try and prove Wolf guilty of conspiracy to commit murder, but not a single episode indicated a concrete connection between the murderer and Wolf, except for the appearance of Wolf's name at the end of all of them, something that was not sufficient by itself to secure an indictment.
Authorities panicked, however, when Wolf began expanding his operation. "Law & Order" produced "Law & Order: SVU" and "Law & Order: Trial by Jury". Convinced that Wolf was moving into new territory in which he might perpetrate even more crimes, the Bureau decided to act.
The FBI contacted Dennis Farina, an actor and former Chicago detective. He agreed to their plan, and infiltrated Wolf's organization.
It was Farina's testimony which secured the indictment from a grand jury last Monday. Wolf seemed distressed at finally being on the other side of a judicial proceeding, but was confident that his long experience would win the day.
It is not yet clear just what defense Wolf's team will use, but they have admitted that the film evidence is real. "Yes, Mr. Wolf did produce those shows, and did intend that those murders should happen" said his attorney. Many speculate that Wolf will defend himself by claiming that fictional murders do not belong in a non-fictional court of law. It remains to be seen how this will play out at his trial.