Colin: Could someone actually steal $1 million from a company and get away with it? What it would be like to stare directly in the eyes of Charles Manson? What does it feel like to stand in the exact same spot where Kennedy was killed? You can find all of that information out today, and so much more, with Thomas Martin on The Daily Grind.
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Hey, everybody, and welcome back to the podcast. On today’s episode, we are sitting down with Thomas Martin. As a supervisory federal agent, Thomas Martin represented the U.S. Department of Justice in over 50 foreign countries and throughout the United States. He received numerous domestic and foreign awards during this service, including two U.S. Department of Justice special achievement awards. Mr. Martin has been involved in many high profile cases you’re gonna hear on today’s episode, with national exposure, including many unsolved crimes and cold cases.
After retiring as federal agent, Martin formed Martin Investigative Services in Newport Beach, California. He now oversees 22 male and female private investigators who are also former federal agents of the DEA, FBI, IRS, and Secret Service. As always, everyone, be sure you have a pen, piece of paper, sit back, and really dive deep into today’s interview with Mr. Thomas Martin. Enjoy. All right. Well, Tom Martin, welcome to The Daily Grind. How are you?
Tom: Great, Colin. Thanks for inviting me. I really appreciate it.
Colin: Of course, Tom. How are things these days? These are crazy, unprecedent times. How are things on your end?
Tom: Well, we’re doing – crazy and not the norm is certainly a good way to put it. I have most of our people at their houses, which is
[00:03:01] norm for private investigators. But we’re struggling like everybody else, but we’ll get through it and hopefully come out the other end a little stronger and healthy as we move along.
Colin: No doubt. All right, Tom, people are being first introduced to you on the podcast. Let’s build a little context here for people who are – don’t know who you are, maybe know a little bit about what you do. Let people know who you are and what it is that you do.
Tom: Sure. I started out trying to figure out what college I was gonna go to, and I ended up in the seminary to become a diocese and Catholic priest. And
about four years until I decided the seminary’s probably the worst place to learn how to become a priest. So, I went to visit my cousin, who was a priest in New Jersey, and it was quite an eye-opening experience for a fairly naïve 20-year-old at that time who didn’t know his ear from his elbow when it came to drugs, or drinking, or smoking, or any of that kind of stuff.
So, I ended up doing stuff in Harlem and teaching at Patterson High School, and really got inundated in the drug scene, and that led me to apply to become an agent with the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangers Drugs, and was luckily accepted in September of 1969. And for the next 12 years I was an agent with that agency. But most of your listeners will know it as today the Drug Enforcement Administration.
So, I put down the rosary beads and the Bible and got a gun, credentials, and a badge, and grew my hair long, and motorcycle, and become an undercover agent for a while. And then, I did the other end of the spectrum, where I cleaned my act up and wore a soup and became a moneyman, flashing $1-2 million in Honolulu or in Las Vegas. So, an exciting time. I was on the fast track and that got – ended in 1981. I got hurt and so I had to retire. So, I was a young guy in my mid-30s with two young kids, so what do I do?
Interestingly, the government has to retrain you in something that you try to make the same amount of money that you were making as an agent, which in those days wasn’t very much. So, I waived all the requirements and said, “I’ll just start my own business. I’ll grind it out myself.” Because if you fail, they’ve gotta retrain you. So, I signed a waiver. “I’ll just start a private investigator business.” It’s about all I knew. I was a pretty decent investigator. And so, I started Martin Investigative Services in an executive suite with a phone that didn’t ring and an empty rolodex if people – I don’t know if many of your listeners know what a rolodex is, but I still got one.
And there wasn’t many private investigators out there in 1981, and there was nobody really advertising. And so, I went to the office every day, with a suit and tie on, and pretended I had a lot of business. And just basically worked at it, and worked at it, and worked at it. So, we got lucky with a few cases and 40 years later, somewhat of an overnight success.
Colin: That’s always the case, right? Forty years later, overnight success – I love it. What led you to wanna become an agent?
Tom: Well, I get asked that a lot. It’s a great question. And I sometimes think it – really wasn’t a perception on my part that I said I would like to be a federal agent, or I wanted to go in the FBI, the DEA, the IRS, Secret Service. It was just – I pretty much said I was gonna give my life to the priesthood and help other people out. And then, when I saw the scourge and the drugs that we happening in New Jersey, and in New York, and in Harlem, I said, “Well, maybe I could make a difference.”
Now, never did I think in my wildest dreams that I could become a federal agent. That was so far from my realm of possibilities. In my family, my mom was a waitress and my dad was milkman, and neither one graduated high school. So, my bar wasn’t set too high. It was, “Let’s graduate from high school. Anything after that’s gravy.” So, I explored it after I decided to leave the seminary and said, “Well, this seems possible. Let’s start applying.” I was very, very, very fortunate that President Nixon in those days started a campaign to hire 2,000 new agents.
So, it wasn’t that you had a heartbeat that you got selected, it was – there were 30,000 people that applied in 1969. So, I was a pretty lucky guy.
Colin: I love that. So, when you just start out your private practice, as a private investigator, and you’re getting started, you mentioned there were a couple of cases that you got lucky with that spring boarded you. Can you share any of those details?
Tom: Sure. The very first case I had probably was, to this day, one of the best cases I ever had. It probably got the most press – TV and radio. I was sitting in my office. Another private investigator from the San Fernando Valley in California called me and said, “I’ve got this case. It’s a little over my head. The gentleman has been accused of molesting his stepdaughter and some other very grotesque things.” He was convicted and he was given 25 years. And I said, “Whoa, boy. That sounds like an easy case to start with.” I said, “Why would we wanna do this?”
He said, “Well, the guy’s got some money and I know you don’t have any business.” And so, I said okay. So, it was a little against the grain for me. I mean, I got offered a few cases to help out “dope
[00:09:21] because I might’ve had some inside information and I just couldn’t take it. I mean, the DeLorean case, which was a pretty famous case in the ’80s, was the group that I left. And I was offered a large sum of money, $25,000.00 to work on that case.
Tom: And I just couldn’t make the transition. I mean, $25,000.00 was about half of what I was making as an agent. And that was big money, especially when you’re trying to start a new business. But I just couldn’t do it. So, anyway, I met the gentleman and I read the transcripts. And being the trained investigator that I was, I said, “You’re guilty. I don’t want your money. I don’t want your case.” He goes, “No.” And he convinced me – the short version. He convinced me that he was not guilty, he would’ve never done this.
And so, I did take the case. And I think I took it on for $500.00 total. So, you’ve gotta solve these fast or you’re working for $1.00 an hour. But this is one of those things – when you don’t have a lot going on. So, I think over the three or four weeks I interviewed a number of people. I found the victim’s – supposedly, his stepdaughter that he had molested – I found her diary. And in the diary it said August 22nd, “Greg devirginized me today.”
And so, I went home to my wife and I went, “Is this what I think it means? ‘Greg devirginized me today?'” And she looked at me like, “You’re some investigator. You don’t even know what that means?” And so, if that was true, if Greg had devirginized her on that date, then all of the accusations of her father – of her stepfather would be false. And so, anyway, we were able to prove that and we found her boyfriend, who also confirmed that she made it up with her mother to get the assets in a divorce.
Tom: So, that in itself, Colin, was probably a pretty decent case. This guy was facing 25 years and we were able to get him, hopefully, a new trial. But then, the judge said based on our evidence that they were not gonna try him and he was a free man. So, if you stop there, that’s not too bad. But the story goes on.
And how it goes on is, and which got all the press was that one of the girls that I interviewed – one of her best friends told me – she goes, “Mr. Martin, something’s been bothering me and I wanna tell you that when we were in the District Attorney’s office, the man who was prosecuting your client, he had a picture of his wife on the credenza in back of him.” And I said, “Well, so do I. What’s the big deal?” He goes, “Well, I knew he was married, but he was also fooling around with the victim.” And I –
Tom: – was stunned. I’ve seen a lot of stuff in my life at that point, but I was stunned. I said, “Well, let me ask you – are you telling me that the victim in this case was having sex with the District Attorney?” “Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.” Very calmly and very –
Colin: Oh, wow.
Tom: So, I come from the Department of Justice where they teach you clean your own linen. Give the agents a chance to clean it up, whatever mess they’re in. So, that’s what I did. I took everything, I put it all together, I took statements and under penalty of perjury under the laws of the State of California, and I presented it to the Internal Affairs Division of the District Attorney’s Office, saying, “Here’s a big pile of dog doo. You need to clean it up.” I didn’t hear anything. Nothing. Two weeks, three weeks, four weeks passed.
Tom: So, that bothered me. I mean, that really bothered me as a former agent, right? So,
[00:13:21] decided that I would call a press conference. Now, I must say if I call a press conference today, more than likely people will show up because it’s something – I’ve got something to say and it involves the case. Well, in those days, nobody showed up except one girl from a radio station called KFWB. And I just talked into her – she had a little handheld microphone and I talked into that, and I told my story.
Well, the next day, it was national news. And finally, the District Attorney’s Office did take the case under – and obviously, the attorney was fired. And at the end of the day, I still get Christmas cards from – his first name was Jim – thanking me for basically saving his life. So, that was not a bad start.
Colin: No doubt. Well, fast forward – I also am reading here that you – were you face-to-face with Charles Manson?
Tom: I was twice.
Colin: Wow. In person.
Tom: In person – up close and person, yes. I was – the very first time was in 1971. I was in the jail and I was debriefing an information and one of my contacts there said that Charlie and the girls were
[00:14:44] courtroom. He was able to get me in. And I just sat there and we had a pretty good seat in the front row. And Charlie would always turn around and look at the audience and try to stare you down. And at this point in time, I had looked at a few dope peddlers, and Medellin Cartel guys, and some bad hombres in my life. And I – Charlie wasn’t gonna scare me, I didn’t think.
I would just sit there and I wasn’t gonna talk to him. And so, that one, he just didn’t give me much look. But the second time that I interfaced with him, I was in the front row and it was during a sentencing. And he turned around and, for some reason, he locked eyes. And we locked together. So, mister agent man at that time – you’ve gotta put on your machismo. I’m gonna stare this creep down like nobody’s business. And I should win this pretty easy, right?
Well, about 15 seconds in, Charlie won. I just went, “Oh, my god this” – you could just tell my looking at him. I’d never seen evil like that in my life. It was a blank stare, but also it was characterized by this is a guy that – okay, Charlie, you win. And I don’t wanna engage with you. Even though I had two guns on at the time, and was a pretty big boy, and – it’s just the aura that he had. And he continued that up until he died a couple years ago. So, it was a very interesting, but short, encounter with Charlie.
Colin: Wow. Being around people like that – him being, say, the extreme – is there a sense that you get around certain people, that you get that feeling – intuitive feeling that there’s maybe something wrong with that person or that person is just not right?
Tom: You can, I think. It’s called street smarts – being street smart. There’s a lot of good private investigators that are really top notch, and quality investigators. But some don’t have the ability to – having worked undercover or being on the street. And there’s a lot of people who are not investigators that are street smart, too. And I’ll use the analogy – when I was an agent and we were gonna go arrest what we call a Class I violator, or somebody who was in organized crime, or somebody that was involved in Colombian – in the Medellin Cartel, or they were down in Mexico with the Mexican Mafia, when you went to arrest those people, you really had no worries.
There was not gonna be a shootout. There was not gonna be a fight – no problems. Now, if you’re on the streets and you’re purchasing PCP, or meth, or some of the drugs that might be tainted – like some bad heroin – and you’ve got a guy that we’ll say is not a street person, but somebody who’s just low level, those guys are usually using. And when you go to arrest them, that’s when you have to be careful. That’s when your sixth sense says, “Whoa. This is not good.” I’ve seen situations where those guys are up on meth and they get shot five or six times and they still come at you.
Tom: Yeah, it’s – that’s something that is a learned behavior by most agents. But you can’t teach that in the academy. And that’s something you’ve just got to see for the first time. But once you see it, you never forget it.
Colin: No doubt. Well, I think that everyone at one point in their life has wanted to be a private investigator. I think that – I don’t know if you found that – I think, even myself, I’m like, “What a cool job you have to be able to do what you do.” But what’s the real truth behind it? Say someone wants to get into it, what does a day look like? Walk us through that.
Tom: Okay, well, for your listeners – anybody who even thought about it – and I guess everybody, I’ve been told, has thought about it at one point in their life. It’s a great career. And why is it great? Because I don’t know what I’m gonna do every day that I wake up. Now, today I knew I was gonna have the opportunity and privilege to do your show. But after the show’s over, I’m not sure what I’m gonna do. I don’t know if I’m gonna be on an airplane. I don’t know if I’m gonna be helping guys out in surveillance or taking statements. So, it is a tremendous career and no two days are ever the same.
I will tell you, most people – and maybe some of your listeners – picture a private investigator as a guy peering around the corner with a fedora, and a pipe, and doing a marital surveillance. And that represents – if you think our agency’s one of the tops – not in my words. Other people say that maybe we’re in the top 10, top 20, top five – then the amount of martial surveillances that we do is about 6% of our business. And so, when you’re doing a surveillance, it’s very, very tough and very arduous. You can sit for one hour. You can sit for 10 hours.
You’ve gotta be ready when that man or that woman gets out of their car and goes into the hotel or meets their lover. And so, there’s
[00:20:36] that we have don’t have bathrooms, but they do have Folgers coffee cans. So, although the glamour that you see on TV – you can imagine maybe that’s not so glamorous. And that part of the job is pretty tough. But the opportunities, especially now, is twofold. When the economy goes up, our business goes down. Now –
Tom: – when the economy goes down, our business goes way, way up. And right now – I mean, I’m in the fourth quarter of doing this and I’ve helped a lot of people. Almost every federal agent that comes out of the service, just because we’ve been around so long, will call us and say, “Hey, I want to get my license. I wanna become a PI.” I sometimes say, “Yeah, so do I. I wanna become a PI, too.” And so, we’ve helped a lot of people along the way. But I would say right now the great need in private investigators is for females right now.
There is a very, very – there’s a lack of quality people, and there’s a real lack of females in the industry. I’m not sure why. And the reason for that is simple – the top private investigators, the top federal agents, have one skillset that usurps everything else. And it’s not informant handling, or surveillance, or doing some of the other things. It’s the art of interview and interrogation. It’s what separates the men from the boys, the chalk from the
So, how I got my guys is that all of them have taught, like myself, at the Department of Justice and Treasury, etc. So, it’s a skillset that can be mastered
people in your audience just have to do it for five or 10 years. And that’s important. And why is it for females even better? Well, if I’m gonna interview Colin, me and you might go mano on mano. And if I bring one of my female investigators in, my guess is that you’ll try to impress her and you’ll tell her that – end of the day, that maybe you shot Kennedy. Who knows what you’ll tell her?
Colin: Interesting, yeah.
Tom: So, it’s – and the same with the – when you’re interviewing, let’s say, a female on your staff. If I do it, she might be a little bit hesitant and I might be maybe too macho or too overbearing and she might not like that, where if I had one of my female investigators interview another female, there’s not that tension. There’s not that mirror. So, if you have – and most of my private investigator male friends hate it when I say this, but it happens to be true. So, if you have a male and a female that have the exact same talents, experience, and mindset, and street smarts, and you’re actually going into corporate America to find out who’s stealing time, money, and product, the female’s your best bet.
And that’s why, if anybody’s thinking about becoming a private investigator, the first thing is to get that license in the state that you’re involved and then try to navigate yourself into that world of interview and interrogation because the money is great, the cases are unlimited, and the rewards are great.
Colin: Very informative. I love that. Now, I’m sure through – you’ve been doing this a ton. You probably had a whole bunch of cases. I’m wondering – you don’t have to share this. And if you don’t share it, that’s fine, but give me maybe an example. But what’s one of the scariest cases you’ve worked, one that maybe made your stomach turn a little bit?
Tom: Well, there’s a lot of cases that you work that you question your sanity. I couldn’t work any dope cases for five, or six, or seven years. And then, when they asked us to do those cases – in other words, the defense attorney would call us up and say, “Hey, we’ve got a guy here who just delivered 100 pounds of cocaine.” And I said, “Well, did the DEA do anything wrong?” “No.” Then I’m not taking the case. If they did something wrong, then we’ll go ahead and testify.
But I guess one of the most gut turning cases is when you have a murder case and you’re defending the person that allegedly did the murder. And you, with your ability to interview, and your intuitiveness about people and
[00:25:36], my guess is that if I sat you down with a guy who’s been accused of a 187, or a murder – my guess is that the back of your neck might get a little bristly because you know that this guy might be guilty.
Tom: Now, we have some inside information, right? So, we might be able to make it that it’s – even more so that he’s guilty. We’re pretty sure that he’s guilty. But under the law, everybody deserves a defense. I’ve sat at those tables where we’ve had a gangbanger, or somebody’s accused of murdering their wife, or their spouse, or a neighbor, or whatever. And I’m pretty sure they’re guilty, and then the jury comes back as not guilty. Whoa. I wanna tell you, that’ll take your breath away.
Colin: Oh, no doubt.
Tom: Now, early in my career, I would go, “Oh.” I would come home at night and go, “Oh, my god. I can’t even eat dinner. This is just – this is awful.” But then I got to thinking – a wise attorney once told me – he goes, “Look, I did my job. You did your job. The person prosecuting apparently didn’t do their job. If we get them off, then there’s no crying over that spilled milk. We’ve done our job.” And granted, I’ve had
where I’ve sat at the table and they come back and the hammer slams down and says guilty. Well, you certainly feel bad for the person but maybe not so bad, if truth be told, if you know they are guilty.
There’s a lot of cases where child custody gets involved and you see the – nothing like when I was an agent. I mean, you would see death and destruction of families like you can’t believe. But even in the divorce cases that we do – and we do all the high-end cases in Hollywood, and Los Angeles, and around the country – billionaires, and millionaires, and all that stuff. And many of these people are just crazy by spending a lot of money trying to beat up the other person. And you sit there and go, “Wow.”
But then, the kids are involved and that’s also gut wrenching, to answer your questions specifically, to see the kids go through that. It’s sometimes very heartbreaking. And you have other cases where there’s gratification because you know you’re helping somebody out, and you’re changing their lives. You really are. So…
Colin: That’s super – how many cases would you typically take on in a year?
Tom: Well, we’re full service. And when I started, as I said, I didn’t have any business. I didn’t have anybody working for me. So, I probably took on – in the early days, ’81-’82 – if I had a case a month, I’d probably be lying to you. So – but in ’83 and ’84, when we really started to roll – and it took me that long, to use a term – it took me a daily grind for two or three years to get up there where we had maybe five or six cases coming in a week. And then, in ’85-’86 after we got some press and after we were on radio, and TV, and some of the cases went nationally, we were probably doing 15 surveillances a week and maybe five cases in corporate America.
And we would do cases for the insurance companies, and we’d do attorneys, and then we would do cases for the public. So, at the height I had 48 investigators working in my office.
Colin: Wow. That’s – so, you had mentioned, when the economy’s up your business goes down and when the economy’s down your business goes up. Why is that?
Tom: It’s very simple. People do bad things when the economy is down.
Tom: They steal time, money, and product. And in 1985-2006, every top investigator in the country would tell you the same statistics. If you went to a company that had 100 employees, and you went in there and started interviewing them and finding out who’s stealing, and who’s doing bad things, and who’s having sex in the back room, and who’s bringing in drugs, and who’s doing all these things, you would find that 15% of the employees were doing something bad.
And so, when we walk in with our team, and we tell the HR people – it’s not a question of if we’re gonna fire somebody or give you the evidence so you can fire them. It’s a question of you’re gonna have a nightmare on your hands because you’re gonna have to replace 15 employees. Now, fast forward from 2006 to the present, all of a sudden, when we had the downturn in 2006, ’07, ’08 – all of a sudden, our stats at our office started going up. It was 15%, 20%. And I felt really uncomfortable talking about this in the press, and on TV and radio because it sounded like I’m hyping it up. I’m trying to say, “Oh, this is terrible,” for us to get more business.
Well, we had so much business we could hardly keep up, so it wasn’t that. So, I contacted other guys that I respected in the industry, and I think today, in 2020, it’s been consistent for the last four years. And this – believe me, to your listeners, I’m not hyping it. It’s – this is – you can take this to the bank. If you have 100 employees in a business, today, especially now with the virus, I think if things ever get back to whatever normal is, we have found in the last 10 years or so 75% of the people were stealing time, money, or product.
Tom: Now, most of them are stealing time, which everybody kind of – I’ve got small businesses and I’ve got Fortune 100 clients, and I’ve got CEOs that make $20 million a year. And at the end, they go, “Oh, if they’re just stealing time” – and I try to tell them, “Look, if you’ve got 100 employees that are stealing $100.00 a week
[00:32:22] that for a year, that’s $520,000.00.” That’s a half a million dollars.
Tom: You put it in those terms, and the CFO, and the COO, and all the money guys go, “Holy cow. Wow.” So, then they take a different look at it. So, it’s – and that has held since about 2006. So, for 14 years.
Colin: Wow, that’s amazing. So, I mean, with all the resources that you have – and obviously, the skillset – was there ever a time where you’re – you just wanted to look into something yourself. It wasn’t a case you were taking on. Maybe it was you wanted to look into something like the Kennedy killing. Is there anything you took a personal interest in?
Tom: It’s interesting you say that. I did go to Dallas on a case one time and I met a Secret Service buddy there. And I’ve always been fascinated because I was supposed to have a big party on November 22, 1963, when Mr. Kennedy got shot.
Tom: Yeah. And though I remember the date pretty well. I remember standing in front of a TV that was about as big as a monitor in those days, watching Oswald get shot, etc. So, I actually was fascinated with did Oswald do it. Could he have fired the three shots? So, I had a Secret Service buddy of mine take me to the book depository. And I was actually able to rest my elbows on the window that he shot out of.
Tom: And pretty much was – it was so small, Colin. I figure – I’ve seen it on TV for, at that time, maybe 25-30 years. And when you get there, the building’s really tiny. And you go up to the second floor there and – I think it was the second floor – and the Secret Service guys had contacts and we were able to lift open the window. And then I just pretended that I had the rifle and, having a shot a number of rifles and guns in my life, I was able to recreate can you fire the three shots and actually try to pretend where the car is and as it went down past
[00:34:42] knoll, etc. And for what it’s worth, I came to the decision that it was not only done, but it could be easily done with three shots.
Colin: Oh, really. Interesting.
Tom: Oh, yeah. Yeah. And I think it was the third one that actually was what they call – he called the money hit. He didn’t say it publicly, but that’s the one that killed Mr. Kennedy.
Colin: Wow, that’s incredible.
Tom: [Audio cuts out] it’s an interesting – I was actually hired by the Kennedy family on – one of their sons who was accused of raping somebody on a cruise ship – one of the floating colleges at sea. And so, through a lot of good investigative work, he was arrested in Yugoslavia in a place called Split, and we were able to get him off. So, that was a great case that got a lot of press.
And there is other cases. There was another private investigator, Anthony Pellicano, has actually had probably a lot more cases known to him because he used to talk about who his famous cases were. And we had equally the same amount of famous people, but we never talked about it. And that’s why we ended up going against each other in many cases. Unfortunately, he ended up – just got out of prison after doing 18 years because of – he did some wire taps on some cases. So, there’s been a lot of ups and a lot of downs over the years, but never a dull moment.
Colin: No doubt. So, how many more years you got in you? How many more years you gonna be doing this?
Tom: Well, my – the best answer I have is I don’t golf very well and my wife doesn’t want me at home. And I’ve still got fire in the belly. So, at this stage –
Colin: Love it.
Tom: – I get to pick my cases. It’s like you can pick who you wanna be on your show and do what you want and when you want. And as long as we’re providing a service and we’re able to – in our business, it’s not like golf to – which I know you know a little bit about. It’s not that you are under par, or you’re at par, or – I would love one day to just shoot 10 over par. I’d be thrilled to death, right?
But in our business there’s no gray area. As I’ve often said, you either get the guy off for the murder, you either find the assets, you either locate the person, you either hit the ball out of the park. You just – you can’t do it, “Oh, well, I shot par today.” No. You’ve got to shoot a 64 on a 72 case. And you’re – in our business, although we’ve gotten a ton, and ton, and ton of press, which I’m very appreciative for, you’re only really as good as your last couple cases that you’re known for.
And public, and corporation, and lawyer – they’re pretty demanding on the top guys. But we still hit the ball out of the park. So, we’re still having fun and probably I’ll go another couple years at least. Although my leases – I’ve got offices with three-year leases, so I guess I’m in it for three more years.
Colin: You’re in it for – I love it. All right. We’re gonna move into a little bit of fan questions. So, I reached out about what people wanna know.
Tom: All right.
Colin: So, you mentioned this at the – that you work with different companies or whatnot. But someone’s asking do you work with CEOs. And then, how often do CEOs use private investigators?
Tom: Well, it’s a good question. Our business is divided into four categories, and one is with corporate America. And interestingly enough, the CEOs, or the CFOs, or whatever three letters, they often use us, but we’re not – they’re not our first contact. It’s usually their administrative assistant or somebody in human resources who does a search on the internet and tries to find somebody that can walk and chew gum at the same time. So, once we are asked to go into a company – like ABC Company that might be manufacturing, might be a bottling company – they make a widget, whatever it is.
And the CEO comes to use eventually through his contacts and says – we say, “What’s your problem?” Well, we grossed $114 million in Quarter No. 1, but we didn’t make any money. So, we say, “Who’s the Vice President of Operations,” and we call them in and they say, “What do you think the problem is?” “I don’t know.” Okay. Right. So, you’re making $500,000.00 a year and you don’t know why you just did 114 and you’ve got a zero on your books. Well, obviously – I’ve got a 10-year-old grandson who could figure out maybe somebody’s stealing.
And so, that’s when we go in. So, they’re sometimes very hard to work with, although – they like to take credit for everything. And they’re very demanding. But when they see what we do and the people that tell us what they’ve done – and I will tell you, the ’80s and ’90s were very hard. Now, it’s almost like entitlement. Some of these people, “Yeah, I stole it. So what?” “What’d you do with the money?” “Well, I bet on the Lakers, and I bought some hookers down in Costa Rica, and I got some cocaine.”
And they’re just – what are you gonna do to me? It’s tough to get them prosecuted because the standard in the country – you’ll be shocked. If I was to ask somebody if – and this is what the CEO asked us. “I want him thrown in jail. I want my money back.” And they’re just pounding the table in front of us. Okay. Well, the standard here in the United States for us to put a case together, either with the district attorney – like in a county – or with the United States Attorney if it’s a federal case is about $1,800,000.00.
Colin: Okay. Wow.
Tom: So, if somebody steals $1 million, it’s gonna be tough to get them prosecuted because of the caseload of the district attorneys, of the U.S. attorneys, and the investigators in those offices. So, people often tell me, “Well, are you saying that I could go out and steal $1 million and probably not get prosecuted?” Yeah. That’s what I’m saying.
Colin: No way. That is wild to think about.
Tom: It’s so sad. It’s so sad. We just had one where a guy stole $1.8 million from a trucking company and we had everything to do to get it prosecuted in the county where it took place. $1.8 million – and, Colin, the best part is we had a statement that my guys took under the penalty of perjury – the laws of where it was at. He admitted it all. He admitted it.
Colin: Oh, my gosh.
Tom: And the district attorney’s going, “I don’t know. I don’t know.” You don’t know? Oh, my god. So, it’s –
Colin: That’s wile.
Colin: All right. Next one here. I guess this is all dependent on whether you’ve watched the show before. So, it’s a big talked about show right now. Have you watched The Tiger King?
Tom: I have it on my list. It’s on Netflix. I’ve been told – I haven’t watched it. I haven’t seen it yet. I’ve been – I started to watch it the other night and then I found out Ozark was on so I started to watch the third season of Ozark.
Colin: Fair enough. So, when you watch it, people wanna know will you look into Carole Baskin and whether she killed her husband. That’s the question.
Tom: Well, it’s an interesting question. And just to tell you, we’re a very transparent agency. There’s nobody in – probably in the private investigator world that would want your listeners to know our pricing. It’s all a big secret. I go, “It’s not a secret for me.” You’ve gotta tell people. And so, we get – every two weeks or three weeks at our office, we get about 10 murder cases.
Tom: So, if I was to look at that – I would look at that case, it would have to be is there something I can do for you. Is the forensic evidence, the autopsies, the blood evidence, the interviews – is there something we can turn it around? Is there something I can put on social media? Is it something I can develop? I don’t know in that case. Now, the other thing is that we charge $25,000.00 to start a case. So, that knocks a lot of people out. And you cannot believe – there’s thousands and thousands of unsolved murder cases in this country.
And so, being transparent, as I’m – not to talk a good game, but we charge $300.00 an hour and that’s – $25,000.00, basically you’re looking at about 80 hours of work. And any topnotch investigator in the country will tell you on a cold case involving murder, it will take you 80-160 hours. So, 80-160 hours of work –
Tom: – to get that case done. So, there’s a case on every corner. And that’s just what we’re getting. There’s 100,000 private investigators in the country. Now, I don’t know how many are actually capable of murder cases – probably, I would think, maybe 20-25.
Colin: Wow. All right. And this person wants to know, do you have a hard time trusting people? So, I’m sure this is coming from the fact that you look into so many people and you probably see some crazy things. When you meet someone, do you have a hard time fully putting your trust in them?
Tom: I don’t have any problem with trust. I have been able to develop, after 50 years as an agent and a PI – I’m pretty good at being a truth detector. I can tell within generally 15 or 20 seconds if you’re full of malarkey or if you’re being honest. And that’s helpful with clients because most of the clients that are on the criminal scene, they’ve said, “I didn’t do it. I was framed.” And I go, “Wow, I’ve never heard that one before.”
And so – but I think, too – most people, you’d be surprised. You don’t have to spend 50 years as an investigator to – when the malarkey’s coming down the trail. It’s called – in women, it’s called women’s intuition. It’s one of the most powerful tools I’ve ever seen in my life. And in men it’s called their gut reaction. And I know you’re doing the interview, but if I was to switch gears here I bet I could ask you – when you’re interviewing people, you could tell some of them that are maybe stretching it out a little bit –
Colin: For sure. For sure.
Tom: – or – you know. So, it’s a good thing to have. But I have no trust because I’ve – don’t forget, I’m working with 20 of the top investigators on the planet earth.
Colin: Of course.
Tom: They bring some real skillsets and I trust them. We’ve gone through wars together. So, I can’t put
Colin: I love that. Well, Tom, if people want to reach out, connect, learn more about you, where’s the best place everyone can go?
Tom: Well, the best place to go, it’s real simple. It’s called – our main website – we have six, but the main website is martinpi.com. So, it’s M-A-R-T-I-N-P-I dot com. And what’s great for your listeners there is we don’t collect emails. We don’t want your emails. But we do wanna provide you with some information. So, if you go to that website, you’ll see a red arrow there that says Podcast Listeners Click Here. And then, just – the listeners can click on. They can see my first book online for free. They can see the 20 signs to know your mate is cheating for free.
You can find a website called US-UNITE, which we tell you how to find your friends and relatives for free. A lot of good stuff on there. So, it’s a combination of 40 years of a lot of people’s hard work. And they’re there for the asking. So, martinpi.com.
Colin: Amazing. And for those listening on the podcast, I’ll share all this in the show notes section.
Colin: But that link specifically is martinpi.com/podcast, to be able to go to that podcast listener page, which is absolutely amazing. And, Tom, I wanna thank you so much for coming on the show here, sharing your wisdom, and all the stories. I really did enjoy it, and thank you so much.
Tom: Thank you, sir. Stay safe.
Colin: Of course. You, too. Stay safe. Stay healthy. Everyone, hope you enjoyed today’s episode. If you did, you can hit the subscribe button. Or, more importantly than that, just share this out with a friend you feel like would really enjoy this listen. We’ll be back next week with another episode. Until then, Colin Morgan signing off. And always remember to keep on grinding.
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