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Suspiciously, the first man to visit Mack in jail was named "Amir" — the same first name a jailhouse informant gave Poole for Smalls' alleged killer.
In July 2005, Internal Affairs seized all information pertaining to Mack — which, at that point, was directly related to the Smalls investigation — for its own sealed-off, top-secret investigation into the corrupt cop.
Furious, Judge Florence-Marie Cooper concluded that the seizure showed LAPD was scrambling to conceal evidence relating to the Biggie Smalls murder. Cooper declared a mistrial in Voletta Wallace's civil suit against LAPD and fired a stern warning shot at the department, awarding Voletta Wallace more than $1 million in legal fees. Had Los Angeles lost the suit, the city's liability could, by some reckoning, have risen to $500 million, the estimate of Biggie Smalls' lost earnings.
With that crushing figure hanging over the city, almost simultaneously, Voletta Wallace filed a second lawsuit in the summer of 2006, and the order came down under then-Chief Bratton: Find Biggie Smalls' true killer.
Three years later, listening to the confessions fingering Sean Combs and Suge Knight, Kading felt he could almost see the finish line.
Under FBI policy, Swann's interview couldn't be recorded on tape, Kading says. However, Kading and Daryn Dupree, an LAPD gang detective on the team, copied Swann's words in police journals.
Just as investigators had done with Keffe D, they tracked Swann (again, not her real name) until they had gathered enough evidence against her to put her away for other crimes — to motivate her to talk.
But unlike Keffe D, who accused Combs but had no lingering ties to him, Swann was historically loyal to Knight, her child's father. So detectives took a different approach. Like a tense scene from L.A. Law, they prepared a fake confession from Wardell "Poochie" Fouse, a close associate of Suge Knight's, then asked Swann to confirm it — a creative tactic used by LAPD's elite Robbery-Homicide Division.
By the time Kading had Swann in the hot seat, two other sources had pointed to Poochie (Fouse) as Smalls' probable killer. But Swann's reaction meant everything, especially because, in Poochie's staged false confession, Swann herself was named as a conspirator in Smalls' murder.
Seated at the head of a long conference table in the DEA's chilly downtown L.A. offices on May 28, 2009, Swann stared at the false confession "as if [Detective Dupree] had pulled out a rattlesnake and placed it on the table," writes Kading.
Once she had finished reading it, Kading says, Swann whispered, "That's right. What Poochie says, that's what happened."
Swann broke down in tears and gave detectives the story in her own words: Knight, reeling from Shakur's death, ended up giving her $13,000 to pay Poochie for a revenge hit on Smalls, according to LAPD documents reviewed by L.A. Weekly.
"She was just a train wreck," Detective Kading tells the Weekly. He says he kept handing her tissues to sop up the mascara streaming down her face as she begged cops not to tell Suge Knight they had spoken with her.
In Kading's Murder Rap, he paraphrases Swann as explaining why she believes the Death Row honcho ordered the kill: "He was really mad about [Shakur's murder]. Like I never saw him before. He told me where Biggie would be ... you know, that party at the car museum. He told me to tell Poochie to get over there and take care of it, you know what I mean?"
Yet this is when the investigation was inexplicably derailed. Two months after Swann's 2009 confession that she was the paymaster in Biggie Smalls' killing, Kading was taken off the case because Internal Affairs had to probe his role in the Torres prosecution — in which he was ultimately cleared.
Kading recalls in Murder Rap that his direct supervisor, Cmdr. Pat Gannon, called him into his office and told him, "Allegations were made in the Torres case. We know they're baseless, Greg, totally without foundation. But there's a perception out there and we're concerned that it might work against you in the Biggie case. This is for the best. Believe me."
Kading isn't certain what the remaining members of the task force did during the next year, from the time he was sidelined until the team was quietly dismantled by Robbery-Homicide Division boss Kevin McClure, with a nod from Chief Beck, in the spring of 2010.
However, Kading says the cop who replaced him as lead investigator into Combs and Knight was a bizarre choice by LAPD brass. Either Beck or Beck's underlings decided to replace Kading — one of Southern California's top-notch investigators — with a detective lacking a strong background in narcotics or informants, Kading says. Kading feels that the task force, as reconstituted under Beck, jeopardized the cooperation promised to the LAPD by Keffe D — by turning over Keffe D's confession to Las Vegas police. He believes LAPD lost its grip on Swann by ditching Kading's idea to wiretap her conversations with Knight so they could use her as an informant. Gradually, Kading says, all leads dead-ended.