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In Vino Veritas
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Season 13
Number 13
Writer Rick Eid
Director Louis Milito
Original Airdate February 6, 2013
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Previous Episode: Double Fault
Next Episode: Exile

In Vino Veritas is the thirteenth episode in season thirteen of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. It's the first part of the crossover between CSI:Crime Scene Investigation and CSI:NY. This episode is continued in the CSI:NY episode Seth and Apep.

Synopsis

When CSI Mac Taylor decides to surprise his girlfriend in Vegas, he discovers she’s missing and asks his friend D.B. Russell for help. Meanwhile, the CSIs investigate the loss of a local wine collector.

Plot

Victim: Jack Davari (deceased)

On the case: Greg Sanders, Morgan Brody, Sara Sidle, Jim Brass

Jonah Drake and his girlfriend, Samantha Wilson, attend a black-tie event at a fancy mansion. While Samantha is occupied, Jonah speaks privately with two other well-clad gentlemen, Albert Vogel and Jack Davari. They lead Jonah down to a wine cellar and show him something that takes breath away; he offers to pay whatever he has to for the item.

Later on, Greg and Sara are called to a crime scene. Two teenagers were shooting a barrel with a rifle when they noticed blood oozing from it. The CSIs immediately smell decomp and find a body inside the barrel; the victim is wearing a tuxedo. In the lab, Hodges and David Phillips pry the victim from the barrel and onto an examination table. Before taking the barrel to Trace, Hodges notes that the inside of it smells like wine.

No identification is found on the victim, so Doc Robbins labels him a John Doe. A pair of monogrammed cufflinks with the initials "J.D." are found on the victim, and the doc guesses he was in the barrel for at least a few days. The victim has a badly disfigured face to go along with a gunshot wound to the cheek. Doc Robbins pulls a medium-caliber bullet from the wound and labels the cause of death as massive damage to the brain and brain stem, which was caused by the bullet. Greg notices another wound on the victim's right hand that's similar to a gunshot. However, x-rays show that whatever made the wound entered the hand at a speed slower than a bullet. The object driven through the hand has some sort of head on it, such as a nail, but the doc says they're looking for something much bigger.

Morgan notices charring on the inside of the barrel, and Hodges tells her that a toasted barrel enhances the flavor of the wine. The barrel is made of white oak from France, which is extremely rare; because of this, it shouldn't be too hard to find the manufacturer. Meanwhile, Sara tells Russell that the victim's stomach contents contain whale sushi. As it turns out, the LVPD recently arrested a chef named Vince Corrado, who had been serving his patrons whale meat. Vince was serving at a mansion last night; the mansion is owned by Albert Vogel.

At his mansion, Albert tells Sara and Brass that he's an auctioneer who auctions rare vintages of wine. He doesn't recognize the victim from his autopsy photo, but says the "J.D." cufflinks belong to Jack Davari, a client of his. Jack is one of the premier wine collectors in the world and a frequent guest at the auctions. Albert recalls Jack having a tiff with Marc Ratelle, a winemaker from France. Marc wanted to buy back a case of his own wine from Jack, but offered him way less than it would sell for at auction. The case was eventually sold to an anonymous bidder, and Albert has no idea why Marc wanted to buy it back so badly.

Marc, who has a Paris address, came to Vegas three days ago to attend the auction. He checked into a suite at the Tangiers for a week, but checked out earlier than that. Sara gets a text from Brass alerting her that someone broke into Albert's wine cellar. That someone is Marc, who is smashing bottles of wine on the cellar floor. Marc eventually surrenders to the police after he smashes all the bottles he intended to.

A bottle of 1936 Château Ratelle worth $82,000 is found in the back of Mark's car. Hodges uses his keen sense of smell to determine that the bottles Marc was smashing in the cellar are fake, despite them being labeled as 1936 vintages. To Morgan's shock, Hodges uncorks the $82,000 bottle of wine and the two sample it with a meat and cheese spread. He determines the $82,000 bottle is the real deal; however, the GCMS results say the wine from the smashed bottles contains the presence of radioactive isotopes, suggesting the bottles are more recent than 1936. Marc was clearly smashing the bottles because he knew they were counterfeit. But why would he try to buy back a case for $200,000 if he knew this?

In interrogation, Marc says that he tried to buy back the counterfeit bottles in order to preserve his family's honor. He knew Jack was passing off counterfeit bottles; however, calling the police would ruin the reputation of the vintage forever. "There's only one thing more delicate than a wine...it's reputation," he tells Brass. Marc offered Jack the money to keep things hush-hush, keep the phony wine off the market and preserve the integrity of the Ratelle name. Despite all this, Marc claims that he's no murderer.

Marc's alibi checks out, as he was still in his hotel room when the murder occurred. Auction records show that the anonymous bidder who paid $1 million for a counterfeit case of Ratelle was Jonah Drake. Jonah admits to "casually" knowing Jack, but Brass notes the timeline of the evening's events - two hours after puchasing the wine, Jonah called Jack. An hour after that, Jack was dead. Brass tells Jonah that the case of wine he purchased is counterfeit, which would give him motive to kill Jack. Much to Brass' surprise, Jonah says he called Jack in order to buy even more wine.

It's discovered that four of the rare white oak barrels were shipped to a warehouse registered to Jack. Greg and Sara search the warehouse, finding that it's a massive counterfeit winemaking operation. Every detail of the wine is counterfeit, including the labels and the bottling process. Greg finds a piece of skin on a corking machine and guesses it's where the hole in Jack's hand came from. Someone wiped down the machine, but left a bloody fingerprint underneath it. Sara also finds high-velocity blood spatter from a gunshot on some corks, as well as a gravitational blood drop nearby. The bloody fingerprint comes back to Tom Scola, who Sara met earlier outside of Albert's mansion.

Tom's prints are found all over the warehouse. He tells Sara that he and Jack were friends and admits that the two of them had been counterfeiting for three years. Albert wasn't in on the con, as he thought Jack was rich guy from Los Angeles. Sara accuses Tom of killing Jack out of jealously, for Jack was the one attending the fancy parties and meeting the beautiful women, while Tom was basically an errand boy. Tom provides an alibi for the time of the murder, telling Sara that he was at a strip club.

Henry tells Greg that there were two blood contributors in the warehouse - Jack and Tom. However, surveillance photos from the strip club verify Tom's alibi. Tom's blood at the scene was actually comingled with Jack's, and the blood contained high levels of estrogen. Increased estrogen levels in a man occur when he's undergoing treatment for prostate cancer. Greg theorizes that maybe Tom wasn't the one with the cancer, and he gets a warrant for Tom's medical records.

The medical records show that Tom is a bone marrow donor. When a patient receives a bone marrow transplant, the sick bone marrow cells are destroyed and replaced by the healthy bone marrow cells of the donor. Since bone marrow produces blood cells in the body, the transplant recipient begins producing blood cells with DNA identical to the donor. Tom's medical records show that he donated blood to his sister - Samantha Wilson.

Samantha, whose real last name is Scola, is interrogated by Greg and Sara. It's revealed that blood and trace from the wine barrel were found in the back of her car. Samantha admits that she was in on the con, but she wanted out because she fell in love with Jonah. She confronted Jack and told him to find another mark, as Jonah was going to pony up more money for the counterfeit wine. When Jack refused her request and insulted her, she punctured his hand with the corking machine and shot him in the face. Greg tells her that Jonah loved two things in life - Samantha and Château Ratelle, both of which turned out to be fake.

Victim: Christine Whitney (missing)

On the case: D.B. Russell, Julie Finlay, Nick Stokes, Mac Taylor

On the way to his lab, Hodges runs into someone looking for Russell - Mac Taylor, head of the New York City Crime Lab. Mac is in town because his girlfriend, Christine, is attending a restauranteurs convention. He and Russell reminisce about a past forensics convention before making dinner plans for later in the night.

Mac is unable to get in touch with Christine over the phone, and he and Russell go to her hotel room. While Mac knocks on the door and gets no answer, Russell notices blood on the door handle. Mac busts in and finds the room a mess with broken glass and overturned furniture everywhere; there's also a bottle of wine and two wine glasses on the floor.

Russell calls on Finn and Nick to process the scene. Finn finds a bloody paperweight she figures was used so smash a glass table; the blood looks like it's transfer from a hand. There's no tissue or any other blood around, so it's not the murder weapon. Based on the blood on the door handle, Nick guesses that whoever came into the room already had blood on their hands. He finds a bloody men's dress shirt under the bed. Because all of the blood is on the outside of the shirt, the CSIs conclude that whoever was wearing the shirt wasn't the one who was bleeding. Blood from the shirt, door handle and paperweight are all consistent with a single donor, an unknown female.

Nick pieces together the shards of broken glass and finds a fingerprint; however, there's no match for the print in AFIS. He also finds a diamond amongst the mess. The diamond has a serial number laser-inscribed on it that leads the CSIs to a jewelry store. Finn, Nick and some uniformed officers get to the store; it's closed, but the front door is ajar. The place looks like it's been robbed; the safe in the back room is open and emptied. Store owner Ronald Sadat has been shot twice and killed, and a blood trail leads out the back door. A cell phone is lying on the ground next to Ronald's body - it belongs to Christine.

Ronald was investigated for money laundering three years ago, but the case was dropped due to lack of evidence. The current crime appears to be a robbery gone bad, as Ronald fired his gun and hit the robber once. Blood from the robber is a match to the blood found in the hotel room. Russell tries to put Mac at ease by mentioning that they don't have and exemplar from Christine yet, so they can't confirm the blood is hers.

A fingerprint on the safe belongs to James "Jimmy" Boyd, who has a Queens address. Mac recognizes Jimmy and says that he manages Christine's restaurant. Jimmy, however, is bad news, and Christine was going to fire him. Christine's cell phone tells a different story, though; several text messages between her, Jimmy and Ronald mentioned her wanting to open up a new restaurant in Vegas with Ronald investing in it. Mac finds this hard to believe, as she's too busy with her restaurant in New York to even think about opening another one. Furthermore, text messages show that Christine was the one who set up the meeting at the jewelry store, and messages between her and Jimmy were rather flirtatious. Because of this, Mac knows that Christine isn't the one sending the texts. The focus must now shift to Jimmy - where did he go after the jewelry store and is Christine with him?

Ronald's car is eventually found in a parking garage; the driver's door is open and there's a lot of blood in the front passenger's seat. When the trunk is opened, Russell and Mac find the body of a blonde female. To the CSIs' relief, the body is not Christine's. The victim is identified as Kim Hasset, and she has two drug priors. Her address is also in Queens, so Mac figures she's Jimmy's girlfriend. The coroner's report indicates that she died around 24 hours ago, which fits the timeline of the jewelry store robbery. It seems likely the unknown female from the hotel room and the jewelry store is Kim. Knowing Jimmy couldn't drive the stolen car around looking like this, the CSIs figure he switched cars. Gold paint transfer from the passenger's side is collected and brought to the lab for analysis.

The paint transfer comes back to a stolen car, which is found just east of the Utah state line. Jimmy was found driving the car and was arrested; however, there was nobody else with him. Under interrogation, Jimmy admits that Christine is still in New York and was never in Vegas. He also says that if he doesn't go back to New York, she'll die.

Jimmy confesses that he owes a loan shark a large amount of money and that he needed Christine's help to pay him off. Ronald had entered Christine's restaurant a few months back and showed interest in building one in Vegas and investing in it. Jimmy knew that Christine was coming to Vegas, and since his girlfriend, Kim, looked like her, he decided to use her to rip Ronald off. He made the plane and hotel reservations under Christine's name and even took her phone. However, things went sideways, and both Ronald and Kim got killed. Jimmy tells Mac that Christine is with his brother in New York. However, the loan shark got nervous and took both of them to an unknown location. Jimmy says that if he doesn't bring the diamonds back to New York by tomorrow night, both Christine and his brother are dead.

Mac vows to bring Jimmy and the stolen diamonds back to New York in order to save Christine's life. Russell tells him that if he's going to do so, he'll need some help - he's going to New York, as well.

Cast

Main Cast

Guest Cast

  • Larry Mitchell as Officer Mitchell
  • Gary Sinise as Mac Taylor
  • Damian O’Hare as Jonah Drake
  • Nicole Steinwedell as Samantha Wilson
  • Edward Herrmann as Albert Vogel
  • Jeff Branson as Jack Davari
  • C.S. Lee as Vincent Carrado
  • Nic Bishop as Tom Scola
  • Christopher Heyerdahl as Marc Ratelle
  • Kirk Acevedo as James Boyd
  • Donnell Turner as Bouncer

See Also

CSI:Las Vegas Season 13
Karma to BurnCode Blue Plate SpecialWild FlowersIt Was a Very Good YearPlay DeadPick and RollFallen AngelsCSI on FireStrip MaulRisky Business ClassDead AirDouble FaultIn Vino VeritasExileForget Me NotLast Woman StandingDead of the ClassShelteredBackfireFearlessGhosts of the PastSkin in the Game
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