|Private investigator shares wisdom on stupid crimes|
|Written by PETER KUEBECK Sentinel Staff Writer|
|Wednesday, 02 January 2013 10:12|
PERRYSBURG - When crime is the topic, private investigator Todd Slaman has a few words of wisdom.
"Never underestimate stupid" when it comes to criminals, he said recently in a presentation before the Perrysburg Chamber of Commerce.
Slaman, of TMS Investigations and Analysis, has more than 28 years of law enforcement experience as a police officer, detective, and liaison investigator with the FBI Fugitive Task Force.
He noted that most people have a common misconception of private investigators: that they usually earn their living by tracking straying wives and husbands, following them and taking pictures of their activities for suspicious spouses.
"That's the image that P.I.s have," he said, noting that such work is "messy and nasty," though "it pays good."
"That's not what I do."
Slaman, who is a special investigator licensed through the Department of Homeland Security, works with attorneys and the courts - often investigating defendants' actions on behalf of their lawyers to see if they might, in fact, be innocent.
He said that 95 percent of the time, the accusations made against a defendant by law enforcement are correct.
"But sometimes, law enforcement is wrong," and mistakes are made.
Slaman recalled one such case he worked on involving two men at a party who argued over an ex-girlfriend. A third man who was not engaged in the argument struck one of the arguers; the other arguer, and not the actual man who did the hitting, was blamed for the assault and arrested.
Slaman worked on the case and went about interviewing the attendees, uncovered the discrepancy, "and he got a total dismissal. He really didn't do it." The actual assailant - a friend of the accused - later fessed up.
"That is the cases that you get," he explained, adding later that "you build a case by getting the evidence."
"You never know how abstract the evidence is going to be," Slaman said.
But what about those "stupid" criminals? Slaman recounted one case during his police days, in which a man in Toledo followed an exotic dancer home from a gentleman's club where she worked, and entered her residence, but then quickly ran out when he was discovered; the woman accused him of a number of charges, including assault.
That man later went back to the club, posing as a police detective in order to get more information about the woman's accusations, and was caught by police.
His mistake? Not only pretending to be an officer, but also asking about information in the case that would not have been available to anyone other than police - and the culprit.
"He pleads to 16 years in jail, for the assault," Slaman said.
On another case, Slaman was asked to investigate a workman's compensation claim. He went to a golf course where he located the man in question - who had claimed an injury that had kept him from working for two years.
His mistake? Playing a very good game of golf.
"He shot, apparently, a birdie," said Slaman, and "jumps up and down, celebrating."
On another case, a nurse working at a small plastic surgery practice was caught siphoning more than $211,000 from the business over a three-year period.
Her mistake? In those three years she'd never taken a day off - and had been able to hide her theft. But the one time she did take a personal day, the owners of the practice discovered that the books didn't add up, and she confessed when interviewed.
"When you're doing a lot of business and your profits and money flow isn't there, take the next step and look into it," Slaman advised.
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