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Elliott Light

Goodreads Author

The United States


Member Since
March 2017

Light grew up outside Washington, D.C. in McLean, Virginia before the beltway encircled the capital city, before farms were turned into housing developments, and before open fields became mega-malls.

Light attended the University of Virginia, receiving degrees in Electrical Engineering and Law. He has several patents to his name.

After stints as an environmental lawyer and a high tech in-house counsel, he practiced patent law in a private law firm.

Now retired, he resides in Naples, FL with his wife, Sonya. Throwaways is his fourth published novel.

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Elliott Light The Target Letter

The abyss. Freedom versus imprisonment. A man of high moral character or a felon, deprived of the right to vote, the ability to pract…more
The Target Letter

The abyss. Freedom versus imprisonment. A man of high moral character or a felon, deprived of the right to vote, the ability to practice law, a man permanently labeled a criminal.

The target letter arrived from the Justice Department while I was on vacation. I didn’t know what a target letter was, but I quickly learned that it was a ticket into the dark side of the legal system.

I had been assigned as the lead attorney on a project I didn’t want and was not suited for. The details would cure insomnia, but the gist of the task was to capture large amounts of money that would otherwise have to be reimbursed to the government. I was introduced to the project by the CFO with the following instruction: “If you value your job, you will get all the effing money.”

The company wanted the money. The government wanted the money. To make things worse, the media was chasing contractor fraud and cost overruns. A powerful Congressman wanted someone to be punished, preferably a lawyer.

The rules that govern government contractors are a byzantine maze of FARS and DARS and other brain numbing acronyms. This is the turf of experts. I did the only thing I could. I asked those in the company who knew the regulations how the DoD handled disputes over money. I found a way to keep a small amount of the money, but warned that keeping all the money was not possible. And then I took a new job and left the company.

A leaked memo, a newspaper column, and the witch hunt began.
With the target letter in hand, I hired an attorney. We discussed the prospect of a 75 year prison term, but that a plea bargain would probably reduce that to 5 years, with time off for good behavior. If indicted, I had a 95% chance of being convicted.

Before getting to fictionalizing this experience, I need to add a few more details. First, the company experts I spoke with either denied having conversations with me about the project or denied giving me advice. To add a little intrigue (this sounds like fiction but isn’t) the attorney assigned to prosecute the fraud allegations allegedly had been censored a number of times for falsifying evidence.

I used elements of this experience in the Shep Harrington SmallTown® Mystery series. Shep, my protagonist, went to prison for a crime he didn’t commit, but was released three years later. (You can read more about Shep in my blog entry of March1, 2017.)

The various plot lines almost jump out at you –
• Why is a trusting, somewhat naïve attorney chosen over more skilled lawyers?
• Why does the company agree to cooperate with the government in prosecuting the attorney? Is he being sacrificed to avoid a deeper investigation into its financial practices?
• What compels all of the attorney’s colleagues to betray him?
• Does the prosecutor play fair?
• Does the attorney strike back?
• Will a colleague come forward with information, only to die mysteriously?

The target letter changed my life. It opened my eyes to a justice system that does not always seek the truth. Once trust is lost, it is very difficult to recapture.
Elliott Light Writer's block (or white page syndrome, AKA WPS) is a broad term, covering a number of maladies (like sinusitis or frozen shoulder). When the cursor b…moreWriter's block (or white page syndrome, AKA WPS) is a broad term, covering a number of maladies (like sinusitis or frozen shoulder). When the cursor blinks in anticipation of words that are never coming, it's time to have an honest chat with myself. Most of the time, the reason for the blockage is my failure to accept that I'm forcing something - either the characters are rebelling or the situation is contrived or the plot has just collapsed on itself. My solution is to step away, pet the cat, take a breath and wait for the right moment to close my eyes and see the story visually - like a movie. Sometimes the collapse of the plot is permanent, a house of cards that just wasn't meant to be. Writing can be brutal. Most of the time, a character will say something to redirect the narrative and put it back on the right track.(less)
Average rating: 4.06 · 70 ratings · 39 reviews · 4 distinct worksSimilar authors
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I spent much of the summer in the mountains of Colorado surrounded by trees. At nine thousand feet, the air is thin but crisp (most of the time) and time seems to move more slowly (or was that just me navigating life without oxygen?). The trees tower 80 feet or more and peaks touch the sky at over 11,000 feet, dwarfing the human perspective.

Woodlands have managed to survive for ions without assist

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Published on September 17, 2021 11:20
Lonesome Song Chain Thinking: A Shep Harr... The Gene Police: A Shep Har...
(3 books)
3.92 avg rating — 49 ratings

Elliott’s Recent Updates

Throwaways by Elliott  Light
"A good mystery and thought provoking page turner

Set in the Florida Keys Jake Savage finds himself trying to unravel a mysterious death of a young woman he discovers while diving. The story is well done and the sleuthing well thought out. The pacing i" Read more of this review »
Throwaways by Elliott  Light
"So I'll preface this by saying that I LOVE a good murder mystery. I like heroes with quirks, heroines with a tough streak and supporting characters that make you like them as much (if not more) than the main characters.

Enter "Throwaways". The main ch" Read more of this review »
Elliott Light and 12 other people liked Tahera's review of Throwaways:
Throwaways by Elliott  Light
"Jake Savage a research volunteer for ClearSeas  is photographing lion fish population in the Gulf waters off Key West when he finds a dead body of a young girl floating face down above him. The girl appears to be around 13-14 years old and scantily d" Read more of this review »
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