Tag Archives: investigation

Mr. Blog, P.I.

28 Feb

February 28, 2021

Longtime readers of this blog who have not yet unsubscribed know that Mr. Blog has at various times been employed as a teacher, part-time pickle salesman, agent of a Company I Am not allowed to name, and now as a private investigator.

I handle insurance cases for corporate clients, mostly, but also do work for New York City and State. In my years as a PI I have read autopsy reports, submitted Freedom of Information Requests, and watched surveillance footage of a mechanic getting mooned. (It was even funnier than you think.)

Confidentiality requires that I do not name names or keep personal video, or trust me, that mooned mechanic would have been all over the internet.  

About a year and a half ago I handled a construction claim where the claimant alleged injury while hauling debris down a ramp. Typical construction WC claim (Workers Compensation). As DoF (Director of Field Operations for my company) I had my investigators interview the insured owner, take witness statements, obtain photos and measurements of the ramp and equipment in question, obtain surveillance footage of the accident (in this case, no video cameras were on site) and get all pertinent documents- leases, COI (certificate of insurance), accident reports, etc.

It sounds simple and it should be, but factor in lack of cooperation since no company owner ever seems to think they need to speak to us despite our being there to defend them, and this can drag on for months. This case was completed in about 6 weeks. I filed two reports and it was over, on my end. On the insurance company’s end, cases like this drag on for (on average) two to six years. If the claimant has no identification or documentation, or the insured company has kept no records, both being common in construction, it can go on and on.

So that was 2019. Last week, I was forwarded an anonymous tip in this matter. It alleged (I will use generalities, no specifics) that the injured party in that old accident case was a major drug dealer who flew on a certain airline to certain cities to get drugs and bring them to New York. The email listed specific cities and months of travel and detailed the way this person funneled money though various accounts to buy the drugs. The anonymous tipster said that the claimant was lying about getting hurt and had faked injuries before to get money to buy “huge” amounts of drugs. It suggested that we subpoena his travel records and bank accounts.

OK.

(FYI, I cannot subpoena anything. Common misconceptions are that a PI can subpoena anything- we can serve subpoenas and write them on behalf of others, but not for ourselves- and that we can obtain ambulance records, 911 calls and medical records. We cannot. Those require HIPPA authorizations from the patient.)

I spoke with the insurance carrier who asked me if I could verify the facts of the email. I told her no, not the specifics, but we would delve into his background and see what we can find. (Background searches are fairly common in accident cases, but we had not done one in this case as it wasn’t necessary.)

It took awhile to pinpoint the correct person since it isn’t as easy as searching a name. You need pedigree info and we had very little but once we found the correct individual, here’s what we found:

The subject was the subject of a Federal sting operation and he was caught bringing very, very large amounts of cocaine to New York from other states. He had a long record of violent drug offenses and spent a lot of time in prison. He was also very litigious, suing the NYPD and the Police Commissioner for false arrest. One news article quoted him as complaining about the food in prison. So no, I reported, we can’t verify the specific facts of the email but generally, yes, this was (and I quote from my verbal report) “one bad dude.”

After careful consideration, the lawyer I consulted with from the insurance company asked me if I could set up a fake drug buy.

No, I replied. No

I wrote up my report and billed it out, as any good private investigator would.

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P.I. Work Isn’t All Glamour

20 Nov

November 20, 2017

As my fictional detective Hollywood Russell would be the first to tell you, being an investigator is not as glamorous or dramatic as the movies make it out to be. There is a lot of drudge work and a lot of striking out and getting no results. But like any other job, there are silly, funny things that happen when you least expect it. Take this story, which actually happened to me last week.

My partner and I were in Queens checking out a witness. We were interviewing a hotel manager who was called by the police to provide the video from the hotel security cameras. There was an accidental (it seems) death and it may have been recorded. For the insurance company, we needed a statement. It was provided and we wrapped it up. Cut and dry.

My partner wanted to grab a snack. He’s been on the job for over two decades and it seems that one perk of longevity on this job is knowing every place to eat in the city. So we went to a small diner he knew on Roosevelt Ave and 111th street. I may be a rookie at this game but when it comes to eating out, my instincts have him beat.

The first thing I noticed, aside from the fact that it was dark and dingy, was that the Department of Health rating was “Grade Pending.” Now while I would not normally go into a place without an A rating that wasn’t a deal-breaker for my partner. Hey, it wasn’t shut down, right? That must mean no one has died from their food. (Recently.)

I’m not saying this is the place we went to but yeah, this is the place we went to. Notice that they USED TO HAVE an A rating.

So I wasn’t going to order any food and I figured the best way to stay out of the hospital was to just order a can of soda. It arrived and with it was a glass and a straw. No ice in the glass, just a plastic glass. So what was the point? I picked it up and I didn’t need to hold it up to the light to see that it was dirty. OK, I’m going to drink this straight out of the can. And I’m not going to use the straw either. The waitress did that thing where your straw has already been unwrapped and only the top inch is still on. Why do places do that? Is it classy? I don’t know but this place clearly did not care about class. Class to me is giving a clean glass. And since the straw was unwrapped and touching the dirty plastic that was no longer an option. I wiped the top of the can and drank it that way. But this was simple compared to my partner’s order.

ME: Just a can of Coke.
PARTNER: I’ll have a cup of tea with lemon and a toasted bagel with butter.
WAITRESS: OK, that’s a can of Coca-Cola and a toasted bagel and butter.
PARTNER: Don’t forget my drink.
WAITRESS: Do you want a can of Coca-Cola too?
PARTNER: I asked for a tea with lemon.
WAITRESS: No Coca-Cola?

A couple of minutes later the waitress came back and told him they had no lemon and no regular tea, just green tea or ginger. He took green. That came not in a dirty tea cup but in a paper takeout container so he was probably safe as long as nothing was floating on top.

Right after the tea came she brought over his bagel with butter. It had a big hunk of sausage on it. And not like a breakfast sausage or patty, it looked like a half of a bratwurst stuck between the slices. He looked at me and I looked at him. I had no sympathy. I never would walked into this place to begin with.

My partner called over the waitress (“Hey! Hey!”) and told her he didn’t order any meat on his sandwich. This confused her.

WAITRESS: You don’t want?
PARTNER: Meat. You put meat on it. I didn’t want meat.
WAITRESS: You don’t want?
PARTNER: No, you put meat on it.

I don’t want to give the impression that my partner is not a good communicator but he was definitely not getting his point across.

ME: All he wants is a bagel and butter. Nothing else on it. Bagel. Butter. That’s it.
WAITRESS: Ah.

She took away the plate and after a lot longer than it should have taken (which was another warning sign) she came back with his bagel, toasted, with butter and bacon.

My mouth slowly dropped open. I wasn’t surprised, not really. I was amazed at how stupid the situation was, not to mention the waitress. I looked at my partner who looked stunned and give him a look that asked “OK Champ. Now what? Dare you send it back?” (My facial expressions can be incredibly loquacious.)

“If I send this back who knows what it’ll have on it next. Liverwurst?” So he shrugged and ate it. And how was the bacon? “Crispy and tasty.”

So we left and as we walked back to the car he pointed out another dinky little place and told me that last year he had a whole chicken dinner there.

Next time I choose the restaurant.

 

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