Three months after Governor Jared Polis vetoed a bill designed to continue the licensing regime for Colorado private investigators, effectively killing off licensing, the state government is still asking PIs to renew their licenses.
According to a document released by the Department of Regulator Agencies (DORA), PIs who didn’t renew their licenses at the appropriate time in May – before the governor issued his veto – are required to renew their licenses now.
“A private investigator who let his or her license lapse during the last renewal period is required to apply for reinstatement if they wish to continue practicing as a private investigator,” says DORA’s “FAQ” document about the windup of the regime.
The mixed messages are a result of the fact the governor’s veto didn’t immediately end PI licensing, which will potentially remain in place for another 11 months.
The FAQ says if a new license applicant meets all requirements, a reinstatement will run through May 31, 2021 but potentially could be extended by the division through the expiration of the windup period on August 31, 2021.
It is unclear if a private investigator who only entered the industry in recent months is now supposed to apply for a license, or not.
The delay in ending the licensing regime means Colorado PIs need to maintain their licenses, continue to possess surety bonds and potentially face disciplinary action for breaching licensing regulations under the old licensing rules.
“Complaints (against PIs) will continue to be accepted and processed through the end of the windup period on August 31, 2021,” says the FAQ. “Private investigators are still a regulated entity through that date.
The questions and answers provided by DORA are listed below:
Why will Private Investigators licensing no longer be under the regulatory authority of the Division of Professions and Occupations?
On July 11, 2020, Governor Jared Polis vetoed House Bill 20-1207: Concerning the Continuation of the Regulation of Private Investigators. In his veto letter, he cited the Colorado Office of Policy Research and Regulatory Reform (COPRRR) Sunset Review of this regulatory program and other factors leading to his action. The effect of the veto is that - after a one-year windup period extending through August 31, 2021 - private investigators will no longer be under the regulatory authority of the Division of Professions and Occupations and the Colorado Office of Private Investigator Licensure.
What is a Sunset review?
The Colorado General Assembly sets specific dates that a particular agency, board, or function of government will terminate unless the legislature passes new legislation to continue and the governor signs the legislation into law. So, the “sun sets” on the regulatory program if it is not reauthorized. In Colorado, a sunset review generally questions the need for regulation to protect the public. If regulation is determined to be necessary, the sunset review will look to maintain or establish the least restrictive level of regulation consistent with the public interest.
How long are licenses currently valid?
Licenses currently are valid through May 31, 2021, but could be extended in the future to reflect the expiration of the one-year windup period on August 31, 2021. More information will be sent to licensees closer to the May 31, 2021 expiration date on whether or not licenses will be extended throughout the entirety of the windup period.
Are all licenses invalid effective September 1, 2020?
No, licenses currently are valid through May 31, 2021 but may be extended in the future to reflect the expiration of the windup period. In order to practice, all private investigators must maintain an active license through the one-year wind up period, or up until August 31, 2021.
Will refunds be offered for partial licensure?
Licensure refunds may be issued on a prorated case-by-case basis. More information on how to request a licensure refund will be sent to licensees in the near future.
How long do private investigators need to carry surety bonds?
Surety bonds are required through the entirety of the windup period, or until August 31, 2021.
Will DPO still process new applications for private investigators, and if so, for how long?
Applications are still being accepted and processed through the conclusion of the windup period. Normal application fees will apply, and a person must possess a private investigator license if they wish to practice through the remainder of the wind-up period.
What if I didn’t renew my license in May 2020 but need to reinstate my license?
A private investigator who lets his or her license lapse during the last renewal period is required to apply for reinstatement if they wish to continue practicing as a private investigator. If the applicant meets all requirements, a reinstatement, will run through May 31, 2021 but potentially could be extended by the Division through the expiration of the windup period on August 31, 2021.
How will complaints be handled now that the profession is under a windup period?
Complaints will continue to be accepted and processed through the end of the windup period on August 31, 2021. Private investigators are still a regulated entity through that date.
Can I still be disciplined as a private investigator licensee during the windup period?
Yes, since the program is still in operation until August 31, 2021, the Division has jurisdiction and authority to regulate and discipline licensees.
What happens if I didn’t renew my license?
Private Investigators who did not renew their licenses cannot legally practice as a private investigator in Colorado without a valid license. Private investigators who did not renew during the May renewal period may apply to reinstate their license, and if the application is approved, may practice until May 31, 2021, unless extended due to the windup period.
Who should I contact if I have questions about my license?
Please send an email to DORA_DPO_Licensing@state.co.us for any specific questions you may have regarding your private investigator license.
More and more of our personal information is now readily available online, a vulnerability that has been a boon for the investigations business, says a September 28, 2020, story in the New Yorker by Patrick Radden Keefe. As discreet subcontractors, detectives may be largely invisible in our contemporary landscape, but they have become “indispensable,” Keefe says, quoting Tyler Maroney, cofounder of the private investigations firm Quest Research & Investigations, who also worked at Kroll Associates and the Mintz Group. “We are everywhere.” In an epic piece, Keefe argues that PIs have been touted as an antidote to corruption and a force for transparency. But they’ve also become another weapon in the hands of corporate interests. Read all about it by clicking here.
That’s just one of the stories about our industry that have appeared on the web in recent days. Here are a few more:
San Francisco's Swashbuckling, Anti-authority PIs . . . .
Alta has a great story about PIs in San Francisco. On September 29, Phil Bronstein writes that for nearly 50 years, a tight-knit group of San Francisco private eyes—intellectual, swashbuckling, anti-authority lefties—practiced their craft in the pursuit of truth and, hopefully, justice. In a gritty piece of writing, Bronstein goes onto profile local PIs including David “Fechh” Fechheimer, who passed away last year, Sandra Sutherland, Tim Schmolder, Josiah “Tink” Thompson, Jack Palladino, Pierre Merkl and Zach Fechheimer. Get the whole story by clicking right here.
How To Know Your Partner Is Cheating . . .
No collection of private eye-related yarns would be complete without something on infidelity. John Quinn, from online publication, Best Life, on September 28, does the subject justice with a piece titled “The Biggest Tell-Tale Sign Your Partner Is Cheating.” Quinn goes on to quote experts saying to take notice if your spouse changes up their usual pattern: longer hours at work, unusual business trips, a new commitment to the gym, radically altered personal style. Now that’s got you thinking, hasn’t it! Scare your pants off – on maybe back on – by reading the story right here.
Earlier this year, Pam Zubeck, a senior reporter for the Colorado Springs Independent, broke a story revealing Teller County Sheriff Jason Mikesell was operating a lucrative private investigation and security business, iXero LLC, separate from his duties as a local law enforcer. Zubeck wrote that Sheriff Mikesell employed officers, from both the Colorado Springs Police Department and the El Paso County Sheriff's Office, to work as private investigators in their spare time. A number of those officers were disciplined by their law enforcement agencies for using public resources, such as phones, computers and cameras, while working for iXero. El Paso Sheriff Bill Elder subsequently banned his officers from moonlighting for Sheriff Mikesell. Sheriff Mikesell says the discipline handed down to the officers is their problem and there’s nothing wrong with running a side hustle. However, many questions about potential conflicts of interest and Sheriff Mikesell’s priorities remain unanswered. Simon Crittle put these six questions to Sheriff Mikesell and is waiting for a reply.
1. You occupy a position that demands a high degree of public trust. But at the same time you operate a side business that has employed law enforcement officers who have been disciplined for using law enforcement resources while they worked for you. Are you concerned that public trust in your official duties might have been compromised? Beside giving your word, how can you restore the public’s trust and assure local people you are discharging your duties as Sheriff of Teller County in the proper manner?
2. It has been reported that you let Teller County commissioners know about your side business dealings. It has also been reported that you claim to have been given clearance to run your business by the Teller County attorney. (He disputes this.) Did any of those interactions involve you providing written assurance or documentation about your business dealings? Did you comply with any formal mechanism – either at the county or state level – that involved you disclosing details about your business? If so, what did you do in that regard? If not, do you think it would be prudent to disclose documents and/or more details about your business to the public?
3. Can you assure the public you don’t use county resources to run your business? Do you use your county-issued car, phone, computer, office or anything else to do work for iXero. Do you carry two phones? One for each job? Do you take iXero-related phone calls when you’re in uniform? Do you use a personal car to, say, go and meet a iXero client or drive to the airport for a iXero-related trip? Do you have a separate email account for iXero-related work? Do you read and write iXero email on county computers or phones?
4. Because you occupy a public office and, at the same time, work privately for clients, it is possible you could find yourself in a conflicted or compromised position? Who are your clients? Do any of your clients live or work in Teller County? If so, what would you do if you discovered a local client was suspected of a crime? Would you or your deputies question or arrest them? Would you recuse yourself or distance yourself from any criminal investigation? How can a sheriff of a county distance themselves from a criminal investigation in their jurisdiction? If your clients all reside or work outside of Teller County, what would you do if you discovered they were suspected of, or committed a crime, elsewhere? Would you alert authorities in that jurisdiction? Where does your first loyalty reside? With your clients or with the judicial process?
5. Even if no actual conflict of interest exists, are you concerned about the potential for a future conflict or the perception that a conflict might occur? How can you mitigate potential or perceived conflicts?
6. Being a sheriff requires a lot of hard work. Sheriff Elder, of El Paso, told Pam Zubeck he was “never not the sheriff” when asked if he thought it was ok to run a side business. How do you manage to balance working as the sheriff of Teller County and, at the same time, run a business that reportedly turns over hundreds of thousands of dollars each year? Does your job as sheriff ever suffer because you are busy working on your business venture? Are you concerned there might be a perception your attention isn’t always on the job of being sheriff? How can you assure the public you have their best interests at heart and are carrying out your law enforcement job as expected?
Colorado’s private eye association is holding an online conference next month.
The Professional Private Investigator Association of Colorado (PPIAC) says the Rocky Mountain Investigator Conference promises education, vendors, networking and a “virtual cocktail hour” when it takes place on Zoom on October 2 and 3.
The conference costs $99 for PPIAC members and $129 for guests.
Edward Ajaeb, of Nighthawk Strategies, who will talk about online and social media investigations.
John Hodo, of All Things Investigative, who will say why being a great investigator doesn’t guarantee success.
Matt Spairer, of Satellite Investigators, who will give up 10 tips of how to take great accident site photos.
Lt. Sam McGhee, of Aurora Police Department, who will explain how to prepare for active shooters in the workplace.
Jennifer Brown, of J. Brown Legal Investigators, who will talk about new innovations regarding genealogy have helped investigators.
James Nanos and Nicole Cusanelli, of PI Magazine and PI Gear, will demonstrate the latest gear to make investigations more effective.
JP Moore, assistant regulation counsel for the Colorado Supreme Court, will talk about ethics and go through complaints about private eyes.
To sign up for the conference go to, https://ppiac.org
A Colorado private investigator has tracked down the man who shot him nearly 50 years ago.
Daril Cinquanta was working as a Denver police officer in 1971 when he noticed a suspicious car on Mariposa Way. As he confronted the driver the man pulled a gun.
“So, I hit him in the temple,” Cinquanta told CBS4. “I knocked his glasses and hat off, and reached across his body for his gun, but I couldn’t restrain him, so he shot me.”
As Cinquanta crawled back to his car the man fled. Cinquanta later learned the man was one Luis Archuleta, also known as Lawrence Pusateri, who had just escaped from prison in California.
“The reason he was in Denver, he was an escapee from Soledad prison in California, and he had come here to hide.”
Archuleta was later arrested, sentenced for the shooting, and imprisoned in Colorado. However, he escaped three years later after faking an illness and being sent to a state hospital.
“It was an escape from a Hollywood script,” Cinquanta said. “Took a hostage, a getaway car, an accomplice with guns.”
Cinquanta has been chasing him ever since.
“I can’t even tell you how many people I talked to,” Cinquanta said. “I visited the homes of criminals, people who were involved in this case.”
Then on June 24, this year, Cinquanta says a source called him to tell him Archuleta was hiding in New Mexico.
“It sounded too good to be true, so I went to work and I verified and corroborated all of his information,” Cinquanta explained.
Archuleta, now 77 years old, was using an alias. But Cinquanta used his investigative skills to verify it was the shooter he’s been looking for.
He then contacted local police and the FBI, who sent in SWAT to capture him.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Cinquanta said. “I’ve been chasing the guy all of this time, and dead end after dead end after dead end.”
Archuleta is now back Colorado, serving time at the Denver Reception and Diagnostic Center, and will be eligible for parole in 2024.
Private investigators in Colorado must continue to carry their licenses for another year despite the fact Governor Jared Polis recently vetoed a bill, effectively killing off licensing for PIs. Jill Sarmo, a Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) spokeswoman, responded to Simon Crittle's questions below.
1) Are licenses valid through to next June? Or should PIs discard them now?
Licenses are valid through Aug. 31, 2021, when the one-year windup period expires.
2) If they are no longer valid, will DORA be offering refunds?
Private investigator 1 and 2 licenses are currently set to expire on May 31, 2021. While no policy is presently set on potential refunds, the possibility exists that the expiration date will be extended through the end of the windup period. Consistent with fee setting authority the division will utilize existing funding to administer the program through the wind up date, and does not anticipate additional fees, although the expiration date may necessarily be extended as part of the wind up process.
3) Do PIs have to maintain surety bonds through September? Next June?
Surety bonds are required through the entirety of licensure, which currently would end on Aug. 31, 2021.
4) Is DORA pleased the governor vetoed the bill given DORA opposed it?
Governor Polis cited COPRRR’s (Colorado Office of Policy, Research & Regulatory Reform) Sunset review of this program in his letter vetoing House Bill 1207. Neither the office nor the department will comment further.
5) What do you say to critics such as the Profession Private Investigators Association of Colorado who say consumers should “beware” as they are no longer protected by unscrupulous PIs?
Sunset is a statutorily mandated, data driven process. The data verify that while prior to licensing there may have been a thought that the public could be financially harmed by not regulating PIs, the research by COPRRR did not find that harm occurs. The data illustrate that while the number of licenses issued to PIs has increased from zero to nearly 900 during the time licensing has existed, disciplinary actions against licensed individuals are virtually nonexistent. When discipline has been taken, the infractions have not been directly associated with the harming of a consumer. This verifies the conclusions of five sunrise reviews that found the likelihood that a consumer would be harmed by a PI was minimal, and does not meet the threshold required for an occupational licensure program in a state where we endeavor to maintain only data and consumer protection-driven regulatory programs.
At the same time as licensing for private investigators (PI) in Colorado is being abolished, Colorado Springs police officers have faced disciplinary actions, in part, for conducting off-duty investigations without have PI licenses.
Nine Colorado Springs police officers took part in off-duty operations that included placing trackers on vehicles, mounting a secret camera to monitor a house in El Paso County, digging through trash and following people.
The disciplinary action, first revealed publicly by the Colorado Springs Independent, came after officers were found to be working for iXero LLC, a private security business owned by Teller County Sheriff Jason Mikesell.
Five of the nine officers were reassigned to patrol duties. They also faced suspensions. The most severe, 60 hours (about $3,000) in lost pay, was against one officer who recruited other officers for the private investigative work.
The officers are alleged to have used Colorado Springs Police Department phones, computers and cameras, and some carried their department-issued weapons and badges.
One officer is even alleged to tried to goad a “target” into ranting disparaging remarks about President Donald Trump.
The activities were a violation of CSPD policies, including a ban on use of police equipment for private purposes and a mandate that officers receive permission in advance for outside work.
Deputies from the El Paso Contry Sheriff’s Office are also alleged to have done off-duty work for iXero.
Internal affairs investigators suggested some actions by the law enforcement officers might have violated state laws against trespassing and conducting investigations without a private investigator’s license.
However, last month, Governor Jared Polis decided to veto a bill, which would have continued the requirement that private investigators in Colorado be licensed.
The governor’s veto ends Colorado’s 9-year-old PI licensing regime as his signature was needed to extend existing regulations for another five years.
In vetoing the bill, Governor Polis, who last year vetoed three other unrelated licensing bills, said “licensing is often not superior to other forms of consumer protection.”
Jason Mikesell said: “My private business has no relationship to the Teller County Sheriff’s Office.”
He also said he takes no responsibility for the jeopardy in which officers found themselves by working for him, and that no laws were broken.
iXero, which is based in Woodland Park, describes itself as the “world's premiere security provider” and “brings together the best and most experienced security professionals from the military, law enforcement, and cyber security fields to design unparalleled security solutions for any applications.”
The founder and chief executive of Trustify, the online platform connecting clients to a network of private investigators, has been charged with fraudulently offering and selling more than $18.5 million in securities to 90 corporate and individual investors.
Daniel Boice misrepresented Trustify as a fast-growing startup with thousands of investigators and robust revenues to corporate clients, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which announced parallel actions against Boice and the company recently.
The SEC said the Arlington, Virginia-based company falsely inflated its financial performance and the number of investigators it had on its roster, and then shut its doors when it was unable to pay its employees and vendors.
“As alleged in our complaint, Boice and Trustify lied to investors about their failing business to give the appearance of a thriving technology startup, while misappropriating investor funds to support an extravagant lifestyle,” said Kelly L. Gibson, Director of the SEC’s Philadelphia Regional Office.
“The scheme resulted in millions of dollars in investors losses, and the SEC will do all it can to hold the defendants accountable.”
The charges follow the news Trustify went bankrupt last year. Just two years prior the company moved into a plush new office and was heralded by the Virginia governor’s office for its plan to create 184 new jobs in Arlington.
The SEC seeks permanent injunctive relief, disgorgement with prejudgment interest, and civil penalties from Boice. A former Trustify executive, Jennifer Mellon, Boice's wife, has also been charged by the SEC for receiving fraudulent funds.
One New York investment firm invested twice in Trustify. In 2017, it invested $4.75 million after receiving allegedly fraudulent financial statements. In 2018, it invested an additional $2 million in a “Series B” fundraising round after receiving emails that purported to confirm investments made by other banks. The confirmation email was actually sent by Boice, who used a fraudulent email handle to mimic another’s account, the Justice Department found.
Instead, the authorities said, Boice used about $8 million of funds support his and his then-wife’s own extravagant lifestyle. The money was allegedly used for private jet charters, vacations, a luxury car, jewelry, and mortgage payments. Another $500,000 also allegedly went to his own consulting company, GoLean DC.
Founded in 2015, Trustify, Inc. described itself the first technology platform to connect clients across the United States to the only nationwide network of highly trained, vetted private investigators. In 2016, Washington Business Journal named the company one of its Startups of the Week, and Trustify got a lot of attention for its forward-thinking business model.
But then the company stopped paying its bills and quickly disintegrated.
Virginia-based Private Investigator John Morse of Morse Investigation Services explained, “They had little to no desire to get in compliance, and they imploded from corporate culture that they bred. It’s as much about delivering client expectations as the final product, and I don't think they were successful at either.”
Private investigators overwhelmingly think PIs should be licensed, but some don’t know of any complaints against individual PIs.
Following a recent decision by Colorado Governor Jared Polis which effectively killed off licensing (see previous stories on this blog) in the state, Ross Investigators surveyed PIs across the country to learn their thoughts on licensing.
Licensing laws exist in all the states where PIs who responded to the survey conduct business. Most also said they thought PIs should be required to be licensed.
None knew of any moves in their states to follow Colorado’s lead and repeal licensing laws.
“Licensing protects the consumer and ensures that only licensed, insured, bonded and experience private investigators provide investigative services,” said one survey respondent.
“Licensing in and of itself does not guarantee competence,” said another respondent. “Proper licensing such as California has requiring 6,000 hours of compensated investigative experience to qualify for licensing (which) certainly goes a long way.”
Another said licenses maintain the professionalism and trustworthiness of the industry by ensuring all license holders have clean records and meet minimum experience requirements.
“However, the Colorado PI law was an absolute joke and there will be little difference without licensing.”
The survey asked PIs what they thought of Governor Polis’ statement that licenses rarely protect the public from harm and instead serve as a barrier for people trying to enter the industry to the benefit of incumbent license-holders.
Of the 22 PIs who responded, 12 said they “strongly disagreed” with the statement, five said they “disagreed,” two said they neither “agreed nor disagreed” and three said they “strongly agreed.”
The survey also asked PIs what they thought of the statement by the Professional Private Investigator Association of Colorado which said that without licenses consumers should beware because “background checks, surety bonds and demonstrating a knowledge of the laws" were no longer in place to protect them from unscrupulous private investigators.
Of the 22 PIs who responded, 16 said they “strongly agreed” with the statement, three said they “agreed,” one said they “disagreed” and two said they “strongly disagreed.”
Asked if they knew of any formal complaints against individual PIs in their states, 14 survey respondents said they did and six said they didn’t.
“One was a convicted arsonist who applied,” said one PI about a PI they knew of who’d been the subject of a complaint.
Another said: “(A) PI was illegally buying law enforcement information and selling it. Convicted and jailed.”
And another said: “Complaints in Arizona vary from PIs working outside of their scope to working security under the PI license.”
Jim Carrey (aka Ace Ventura) isn’t part of this story, but it does, ah, involve a famous pet detective.
Self-described “missing pet expert” Karin Tarqwyn is hot on the trail of Alexandra, a beloved support dog to a young woman in Iowa whose mother recently died.
Alexandra disappeared from her home in Sioux City just after noon on July 10, soon after being startled by a loud noise.
The adorable pet has been an emotional support for her owner, Josey Carroll, whose relatives say has been going through a tough time.
"Her father died in 2012. She had just turned 11-years-old. He had an aggressive lung cancer,” said Jamiee Beaubien, Josey's Aunt.
“And in April of this year, sadly her mom passed away. She's suffered so many losses now, she needs her dog home."
So the family has turned to Tarqwyn, who says she’s the most recognized pet expert in North America, to help locate Alexandra.
“Since 2005, she has worked full time assisting pet owners in the location and recovery of their missing pets,” says Tarqwyn’s website.
“Working with a team of pet detectives, Tarqwyn's focus is on missing and lost dogs and cats with a particular interest in the process and techniques necessary for the recovery of missing dogs that maybe shy, timid, aloof, reserved or skittish.”
On Wednesday, Tarqwyn and Alexandra’s family spent the entire day tracking the missing dog's scent in the Morningside area.
"It takes a village, especially for a situation like Alexandra,” Tarqwyn told Siouxland News.
“She is acting very feral right now, so she is not going to allow someone she does not know to approach, she may not even let her owners approach.
"Basically, it's gonna be someone saying 'I saw this dog,' we are either gonna get there with the family and hope that she will come to them. And sometimes, in recovery efforts, it requires trapping."
Tarqwyn says she'll continue to help the family until Alexandra is found.
As an expert on missing pets, Tarqwyn has appeared on CNN, Animal Planet, the Today Show, People, PBS and Dog Fancy.
In Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Jim Carrey is tasked with finding the abducted dolphin mascot of the Miami Dolphins football team.
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