CHAPEL HILL -- On Wednesday, following the culmination of a months-long racketeering investigation, agents from the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation arrested Santa "Knicky" Claus on a charge of conspiracy to commit murder.
In the middle of the Christmas shopping rush, Claus was led away in handcuffs from the center of University Mall, where just moments earlier he had been taking Christmas gift requests from a long line of small children. SBI spokesperson Alicia Malencort said the arrest was the result of a lengthy investigation, coordinated with the FBI, into a plot to commit murder by the Claus organization.
Using wiretaps authorized under the Rico statutes which target organized crime activities, the SBI had determined that Claus, who heads the Claus family syndicate, had taken out a contract, said to be well in excess of one million dollars, on the life of the Baby Jesus.
Also arrested at the same time were Claus family associates, elves as they are called on the street, Bernard "Shorty" Kiskowitz, Elmo "Slinky" Kruger and an individual known as DJ 2Pop4Shure.
The Claus family, noted the SBI, gets a substantial part of its income from kickbacks from retailers based on holiday sales. As a result, they had become very concerned about the efforts that Jesus and his associates had been mounting to reduce the emphasis on the gift-giving and gift-getting aspect of the holiday, and their plans to make it a smaller celebration focused on friends, neighbors, families, and, ultimately, Jesus.
Discussions of the planned hit were caught on tape from a wire that investigators had put on one of Santa's closest associates, Gregor Grimbalski, an elf known to insiders as Grimy. On one part of a transcript obtained by CBS investigative reporter Karolina Borkesson, Claus is reported to have said "that little Jesus has gotta go," then adding, "You's gotta rub him to a smudge. That'll take the Christ outta Christmas."
Some observers had seen an escalation in the simmering conflict coming as the turf wars between the Claus and Jesus families became increasingly acrimonious following Claus and company moves into arenas that were traditionally Jesus' exclusive venue. Especially contentious were public Christmas displays, now frequently termed Winter Holiday displays, where rotund Santa figures as well as sleighs with multiple reindeer had hidden, or even replaced, the Baby Jesus and his attending angels.
The planned hit was to be disguised as part of a faux reality TV series "Survivor: The Mall." The episode entitled "Christmas Story Redux" was to re-enact the biblical story of the early years of Jesus' life. The scheme had the hit man dressed as one of King Herod's henchmen -- only this time they would get to the child before he was shuttled across the border to a foreign land.
The daylight assassination was slated to take place in Washington, D.C. A living crèche, or manager scene, was to be set up on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court, and just as the justices of the court came out to remove it, the hit man, dressed in a long black robe, would strike.
A special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Graham Dunn, said he never seen a plot this intricate or bold, noting that the entire event was to be captured live on film by the culprits. FBI analyst Eugene Poole speculates that the recording of the hit would have later been sold to a major network for broadcast, presumably to enormous ratings.
According to sources at INTERPOL, the international criminal police coordinating organization, Claus, who also goes by Nick Santorum, has been implicated but never charged in the operation of a large multinational smuggling ring in which Chinese toys were distributed around the world outside normal taxes and tariffs thus abrogating the GATT world trade framework.
Daniel Baruch, an attorney representing the estranged Mrs. Claus, née Kristina Kringle, said of his client, "Kris had no part in any alleged plot to kill the Baby Jesus or any other child for that matter. I can’t speak for Mr. Santorum."
News of the Claus arrest sent the New York Stock Exchange into tailspin as analysts revised earnings estimates for a host of retailers downward. Especially hard hit were Toys-R-Us, Best Buy and Hickory Farms, each of which lost more than 30 percent of value in just hours.
Gary D. Gaddy stopped believing in Santa Claus at about age five.
A version of this article was published in the Chapel Hill Herald on Thursday December 20, 2007.
Copyright 2007 Gary D. Gaddy