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   Par.

  

   Par thought Rosen had lost his marbles.

  

   `No. We can win this case if you plead guilty,' Rosen assured him.

  

   Par sat dumbfounded at the other end of the phone.

  

   `Trust me,' the lawyer said.

  

   The meticulous Richard Rosen had found a devastating weapon.

  

   On 23 December 1991, Par pleaded guilty to two charges in Monterey

   County Juvenile Court. He admitted everything. The whole nine yards.

   Yes, I am The Parmaster. Yes, I broke into computers. Yes, I took

   thousands of credit card details from a Citibank machine. Yes, yes,

   yes.

  

   In some way, the experience was cathartic, but only because Par knew

   Rosen had a brilliant ace up his sleeve.

  

   Rosen had rushed the case to be sure it would be heard in juvenile

   court, where Par would get a more lenient sentence. But just because

   Rosen was in a hurry didn't mean he was sloppy. When he went through

   Par's file with a fine-toothed comb he discovered the official papers

   declared Par's birthday to be 15 January 1971. In fact, Par's birthday

   was some days earlier, but the DA's office didn't know that.

  

   Under California law, a juvenile court has jurisdiction over citizens

   under the age of 21. You can only be tried and sentenced in a juvenile

   court if you committed the crimes in question while under the age of

   eighteen and you are still under the age of 21 when you plead and are

   sentenced.

  

   Par was due to be sentenced on 13 January but on 8 January Rosen

   applied for the case to be thrown out. When Deputy DA David Schott

   asked why, Rosen dropped his bomb.

  

   Par had already turned 21 and the juvenile court had no authority to

   pass sentence over him. Further, in California, a case cannot be moved

   into an adult court if the defendant has already entered a plea in a

   juvenile one. Because Par had already done that, his case couldn't be

   moved. The matter was considered `dealt with' in the eyes of the law.

  

   The Deputy DA was flabbergasted. He spluttered and spewed. The DA's

   office had dropped the original charges from a felony to a

   misdemeanour. They had come to the table. How could this happen? Par

   was a fugitive. He had been on the run for more than two years from

   the frigging Secret Service, for Christ's sake. There was no way--NO

   WAY--he was going to walk out of that courtroom scot-free.

  

   The court asked Par to prove his birthday. A quick driver's licence

   search at the department of motor vehicles showed Par and his lawyer

   were telling the truth. So Par walked free.

  

   When he stepped outside the courthouse, Par turned his face toward the

   sun. After almost two months in three different jails on two sides of

   the continent, the sun felt magnificent. Walking around felt

   wonderful. Just wandering down the street made him happy.