Today’s world is complicated: companies are becoming more powerful than nations, the lines between public and corporate institutions grow murkier, and the internet is shredding our privacy. To combat these onslaughts, people everywhere — rich and not so rich, in business and in their personal lives — are turning away from traditional police, lawyers, and government regulators toward a new champion: the private investigator.
So says renowned PI, Tyler Maroney, in a new book “The Modern Detective: How Corporate Intelligence is Shaping the World.” Maroney, cofounder of the private investigation firm Quest Research & Investigations, who has worked at Kroll Associates and Mintz Group, says in his book PIs are more than ever being called upon to catch corrupt politicians, track down international embezzlers, and mine reams of data to reveal which CEOs are lying.
“The tools (I) and other private investigators use are a mix of the traditional and the cutting edge, from old phone records to computer forensics to solid street-level investigative work,” says Moroney whose investigations have been featured in documentaries on HBO and Amazon Prime Video and have been profiled in Esquire, Rolling Stone, and Fast Company. “The most useful assets private investigators have . . . are their resourcefulness and their creativity.”
Each of the investigations Maroney explores in the book highlights an individual case and the people involved, and in each episode he explains how the transgressors were caught and what lessons can be learned. Whether the clients is a Middle Eastern billionaire whose employees stole millions from him or the director of a private equity firm wanting a background check on a potential hire who happens to be felon, in each case PIs were hired PIs to solve problems the authorities wouldn't touch..
In a complete change of pace, another new PI book worth a read is a novel by one-time investigator Elizabeth Breck called “Anonymous: A Madison Kelly Mystery.” The book was inspired by Breck’s personal experience of following the story of the Golden State Killer, which she tweeted regularly about, wondering aloud who the perpetrator might be. Then one night, lying in bed, the thought flashed through her head that the killer might not appreciate her musings.
“I jumped out of bed and deleted all my tweets,” said Breck. Her mind still racing, she wondered what would happen if a killer tracked down an investigator who was closing in. Fortunately for Breck, the real-life killer, Joseph James DeAngelo, was caught in 2018 and plead guilty to 13 murders. In the meantime, she had the inspiration for her first book.
The novel, centering on fictional PI Madison Kelly, was released this month. In the first few pages, Kelly comes home to find an unsigned note that reads, “Stop investigating me or I will hunt you down and kill you.” Problem is, Kelly is not investigating anyone. “In order to find out who sent the note, she has to do what the note tells her not to do,” Breck said.
The book gets its authenticity from Breck’s experience as a PI. “I put in the book actual things that have happened in the line of my work. Every time I had Madison do something, it’s what I would have done. She gets information by pretending to be someone else, which I do all the time. I’ve read about 10,000 mysteries, and it always frustrates me when the PI does something they would never actually do.” She also wanted the book to reflect her experiences as a female PI. “I’ve been told my whole career, ‘You don’t look like a PI,’ and I always reply, ‘Isn’t that the point?’
The pandemic has been tough on process servers. Socially distancing when serving process is almost impossible. It has meant the industry has shed a lot of servers and new safety precautions might be here to stay. But Steven Glenn, head of the Colorado Process Servers Association, says things will heat up fast once the pandemic ends. He has urged law firms and private investigation businesses to prepare for the coming onslaught. Simon Crittle asked him these five questions.
1) The pandemic has been ongoing for much of 2020. Has it had much of an effect on the business of serving process? Has it slowed down? Were people forced out as worked dried up?
We closed our business the day Governor Polis announce the stay at home order. We re-opened May 26, 2020. Our volume was enough we did not want to lose clients, but not enough to pay all of our employees. Most of my employees stayed on unemployment. Currently our volume is at a stable 70 percent with much of that volume coming from new clients. My thoughts are most have lost their process servers while others are receiving poor service, i.e. work ethic and communication.
2) What advice have you given to servers at a time when we’ve been in lockdowns and told not get within six feet of people?
I advocated for following the changes and for staying at home. The courts shutdown except for cases regarding physical injury, along with some criminal cases. When the stay at home order was initiated many debt collectors pushed their servers out to effect service of process, because they knew the people would be home. Most served with no personal protect equipment, because it was not available, because the priority was for first responders to receive all personal protective equipment (PPE.) I, through our association held webinars, initial for our members, then hosting as close to 1,000 attendees, where we discussed being exempt to work, yet there was no exemption for us to pass on or contract the virus. Stimulus. Payroll protection. SBA loan forgiveness. EDIL loans. Personal finances. Protecting our businesses, our staff and servers. Social distancing. Hand sanitisers in the field and in the office.
3) When the pandemic first broke-out some process servers were cautious about serving people, particularly older folks. Is serving people still a concern and how are servers approaching the job now?
When the pandemic first broke out, servers should have been cautious about serving anyone, regardless of age and for their personal safety and that of their family and friends. Most servers are observing social distancing only because PPE was unavailable. PPE is required in all office building and should be worn when attempting service at a residence.
4) Do you think the pandemic will have a long-term effect on the industry? If so, how? Or do you think it will return to normal once the virus finally goes away?
Yes, long term effects are clearly evident and what was normal will never be normal again. Even now, many servers have left the profession due to safety issues, most will never come back. Many law firms are dumping their current process servers due to lack of effort or lack of communication or both. Law firms are using this time to, for the lack of a better word, to audition new process servers. Our office will continue to require those walking into our office to subject to a temperature check. Should they fail or refuse, they will be asked to leave the office. After the temperature check they are directed to the hand sanitizer. I understand we can reduce sick days by using these tactics into the future and do not understand why we never thought of it before.
On another note, although there is a moratorium on evictions, many are not saving the money to catch up there rent payments, so unless the stimulus addresses this issue, there will be a ton of eviction in the near future. Court cases have been placed on hold and a ton of lawsuit will follow the pandemic, companies suing companies, companies suing individuals, individuals suing companies and individuals suing individuals.
The time is now for process servers/companies to prepare, upgrade, basically reassess their businesses for the onslaught of work coming our way. Many use the word pivot. We need to replace that word for preparation. Prepare to be better, more efficient in serving papers, procedures to communicate with client and staff. Those leaving this professional will regret it, as will those whom, did not take this down time to become a better version of themselves.
As we approach a second year with COVID-19, online education for private investigators is becoming ubiquitous. Webinars are now the method of choice for sharing information about emerging investigative techniques within the industry. Simon Crittle found four webinars which are well worth watching.
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.”
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