Former Officer Finds His Niche as Private Eye

Sometimes it’s nothing more than a gut feeling that something is wrong that prompts a client to come to Kimmons Investigative Services. Often those hunches are correct. “We prepare them for the worst ahead of time,”he said.”We tell them if you don’t want to know, don’t hire us.”

One client could not understand why the man she adored did not have a home phone number to give her. She came to Kimmons’ private investigations firm with a hunch that he was concealing something from her.

Private investigators found out the man not only had a wife but the police had been called to their home a dozen times that year for domestic disputes.

Kimmons had to tell his client her gentle, attentive dream man was both married and abusive.

He tries not to deliver bad news over the phone. Clients may steel themselves to hear peccadilloes such as spending $1,000 a night at a topless club, or that there is another man or woman involved. What they aren’t prepared for is finding their spouse involved in a same-sex relationship.

“It happens quite a bit,”says Kimmons.

Donald & Ivana

One domestic surveillance assignment has put Kimmons at odds with renowned local investigator Clyde A. Wilson, of Clyde A. Wilson Investigations.

Kimmons was hired by Donald Trump to keep an eye on Wilson during Trump’s bitter divorce from his wife Ivana. She had hired Wilson’s private investigations firm to keep tabs on the Donald, who hired Kimmons to figure out what Wilson was up to.

Wilson found out Kimmons was shadowing him when a neighbor phoned Wilson, who had slipped up to New York, to tell him a strange car was parked across the street watching his house.

Wilson considered the stakeout of his home unprofessional and his appraisal of Kimmons is blunt: “I don’t like him.”

For his part, Kimmons said he would not use some of Wilson’s methods. He described Wilson as “of the old school where you do whatever takes,” But Kimmons respects Wilson’s skill as a private investigator.

“(Wilson) is no dummy as an adversary. He knows what he’s doing and you have to be ready for a dogfight,”Kimmons says.

Changing Clientele

When Kimmons started out, 80 percent of his business involved domestic relations. But since the highrollers of the 80?s oil boom crapped out, Kimmons has seen a shift in his clients from suspicious spouses to corporations and worried parents.

“Parents are investigating their children. We didn’t see that five years ago,” said Kimmons. “Parents are trying so hard to figure out what’d going on and they have so few tools, they are at a disadvantage. We can do a surveillance of their kids and find out who their friends are and if they are into gangs or drugs.’

Private investigators have been called the rich man’s police officer. Kimmons disagrees.

“Even a middle class family can afford to hire a private investigator. It’s better to hire us because we are cheaper than an attorney,”he said.

Within a week, private investigators can report whether the individual being probed has ever been married, arrested, sued, headed a business, owned a house, and even what kind of car they drive.

The rapid growth in the amount of information available by computer has changed Kimmons’ business. Private investigators can gather more information, quicker and cheaper than ever. It takes just a week for Kimmons Investigative Services, Inc. to background an individual. A corporation can be profiled in less than two weeks.

The investigations and security agency also surveys security measures at businesses and apartment complexes and recommends improvements.

Wealth of Information

Increasingly, businesses and individuals are finding it pays to be cautious.

The ability to offer fast computer searches at a flat fee rather that an hourly rate has lead to increased use of his private investigations and security agency, he said. Kimmons Investigative Services closed nearly 3,800 cases in 1983.

Revenue has increased 10 percent and 15 percent each of the past five years with projected revenue for fiscal 1994 of $1.2 million.

These days, Kimmons said corporations using private investigators to scrutinize the finances of businesses which are potential merger partners or takeover targets.

With over 350 databases to dig through, Kimmons can tell a corporation if a candidate for an executive slot has the education claimed or was fired from a previous position.

After the giddy ’80?s, it is common for a bank to hire Kimmons Investigative Services, Inc. to check out the creditworthiness of individuals applying for big ticket loans.

Kimmons Investigative Services’s investigators can go online with 13,000 state and national banks to search for assets such as checking and savings accounts and certificates of deposit in any of over 50,000 branch banks. Such an extensive search takes less than two weeks.

About 40 percent of Kimmons Investigative Services’s work is performed for corporate clients. Only 10 percent of the agency’s cases now involve domestic relations.

The other half of Kimmons Investigative Services’s caseload comes from law firms working on personal injury cases.

Attorney Michael O’Brien has hired Kimmons to check on the truthfulness of prospective clients and to investigate airplane crashes in South America. O’Brien said Kimmons has good judgment about what tactics are acceptable.

Death row cases

Kimmons said the narrative format of Kimmons Investigative Services reports is easily understood by clients and documents thresh time charges submitted to the client.

The reports are also useful to investigators who may be called to testify in lawsuits years after they complete investigations.

Kimmons Investigative Services’s work an a charity death row appeal has gained high praise from Vinson& Elkins attorney Scott J. Atlas.

In 1992, the Mexican government asked Atlas to represent Ricardo Aldape Guerra, a Mexican national who had spent a decade on death row for the murder of a Houston police officer. Atlas asked Kimmons’ help in locating witnesses to the crime.

Working at cost, Kimmons Investigative Services spent nearly a year running down witnesses to the 12-year-old crime, many of whom spoke little English and were transient.

Largely because of Kimmons’ work, Guerra has been granted a new trial, said Atlas.

Rewarding Work

Kimmons said he finds being a private investigator very different from his days as a police officer.

“There is a lot more variety. You can take a case from beginning to end. A street cop starts a case and doesn’t know how it’s finished,” said Kimmons. “We get to work closely with our clients and go forward with it.

Kimmons’ employees include former police officers, a former magazine reporter, a former paralegal and a Spanish-speaking investigator.

On complex cases, the private investigators work as a team, with a bullpen session to decide how to tackle the investigation. If there is a need for undercover work, an investigator may land a janitorial job.

In cases involving company employees, the investigator may need as long as six months to gain the trust of fellow workers before determining if theft or drug abuse is taking place.

:It’s a rough business, You have to know how far you can go and what not to do. You are very susceptible to attack by adversaries,”he said.

By Jeanne Lang Jones, Houston Post Staff

Hiring the Wrong Person Can Prove Costly: Background Checks Pay Off

Companies pay a high price for hiring the wrong people. Not only do unscrupulous employees drain corporate coffers with kickback schemes and embezzlement, they also pose a significant liability threat.

An article published last year by the Society for Human Resource Management pointed to a case in Colorado where the state court ordered McDonald’s to pay a $210,000 damage award after a worker sexually assaulted a 3-year-old boy at McDonald’s restaurant.

“The employee had a history of sexually assaulting children, but McDonald’s had failed to check all of the employee’s references,” the article said.

A local seismic firm that almost hired Iron Thundershoe, a paroled rapist who after his release allegedly raped and strangled his wife, has been burned by dishonest employees more than once.

The company hired a young man who later turned out to be a prison escapee. He was hired for a clerk position and worked for the firm for about six months.

One day he just left–with four or five pages out of a company check book. He was never caught and the company never recovered the $30,000 in checks he wrote.

Another recent incident cost the firm about $11,000. An employee that came to the firm from a local temporary agency did such a good job she was asked to stay on permanently.

“We didn’t do background checks,” a manager with the company said. It later turned out the woman was a parole violator who had written bad checks. Before leaving the company, she made several unauthorized purchases.

The seismic company now has Kimmons Services Inc. conduct pre-employment background checks.

The cost averages between $70 to $250 depending on how extensive the investigation is.

“It’s expensive not to run these background checks,”a spokesman for the seismic company said.

Private investigator Edmund J. Pankau, owner of Houston-based Intertect Inc., said there are a number of simple background checks companies can do to protect themselves and their employees. Many of them are contained in a book he’s written, titled Check It Out

-The first place to start, particularly if the applicant will be in a position of dealing with the public, is to find out whether the person has any criminal convictions. “We just did 100 people for a major oil company and found that 17 of them had criminal records,” Pankau said.

-No matter what kind of job the person will be hired for, run background checks on the civil records to see if they have a history of previous workers’ compensation claims or injury suits.

-If the person will be close to money, run a credit report. If the applicant’s personal finances are in shambles, he or she might not be able to resist temptation.

-If the applicant will be driving a company vehicle, run background checks on the person’s driving record.

Do background checks for drug use. “People that test positive for drugs are six times as likely to steal” than a person who tests negative. Pankau said.

Rob Kimmons, a local private investigator and owner of Kimmons Services, Inc., said companies are slowly beginning to realize the benefits of pre-employment screening.

“One thing I think they’re realizing is the cost of training an employee who then doesn’t work out,” he said. “If they’re smart, I think they’ll spend a little money on the front end in hopes they’ll get the right person to begin with.”

Pankau agrees.

“A good person takes what you’ve done and enhances it. A bad person will destroy it,” he said. “So if you’re going to hire someone, have a person who can add to your business.”

By Cynthia Shanley, Houston Post Staff

Kimmons Investigative Services Proves Valuable to Lenders, Attorneys

Two former law enforcement officers have traded in their badges, guns and late night surveillance habits to peruse paper trails left behind among the millions of pieces of information filed in county courthouses across the nation.

The information, while part of the public record, can be difficult to uncover but very valuable to bankers, attorneys and others, says Rob L. Kimmons, president of Kimmons Investigative Services, Inc.

Searches of public records have turned up individuals with 15 to 20 corporate identities they had not revealed and assisted banks and lawyers in locating assets to recover.

One man was about to default on a large loan to a local bank until his banker reminded him of certain assets the man owned that were uncovered by a Kimmons Security Services report.

Instead of signing default papers, the borrower pulled out a checkbook from another institution and paid off his loan, Kimmons said.

Kimmons, a former Houston police officer and now president of AARInvestigations, got into the research business by purchasing the assets of a local firm last year and renaming it Kimmons Investigative Services, Inc.

For a fee, banks, attorneys and others can obtain a rundown of information available from 355 public record sources.

The staff of seven will cull records in Harris County, nearby counties or anywhere in the country to provide information on individuals from bankruptcy courts, civil and criminal court records, federal tax liens, corporate status listings, Uniform Commercial Code filings, tax rolls, and many other public documents.

The service can save time, money and complications, Kimmons claimed. The company offers two reports. A $500 report is suitable for use as a screening tool, Kimmons said, while a $1,500 report can offer comprehensive information on an individual from a two-county area. Searches in additional counties are extra.

Kimmons Investigative Services works with a number of commercial banks that have ordered their reports either before making a large loan, or after a loan has soured, to help track down missing assets which they can recover to pay off the loan.

“When the oil and gas business was booming, so many banks were making loans to beat out other banks,” Kimmons said. “We’re finding that they have very little information on some of their customers. Sometimes just a name.”

The company compiled a pre-loan check for one financial institution and found that the applicant had defaulted on nine previous loans.

Attorneys also find the information valuable to track assets and to help wives in divorce cases. “If an attorney has a judgment, it doesn’t do him any good if he doesn’t know where the assets are,” Kimmons explained.

“Many people still have all the assets they acquired when energy was booming, but they have diversified and moved them to other companies. This leaves a paper trail,” said Michael A. Guidry, a former state trooper who now is executive Vice-President of Kimmons Investigative Services and runs the day-to-day operation. “If you can show where the assets were moved, you have a better chance of recovering them.”

In some divorce cases, wives will have no idea of the assets their husbands have acquired over the years, Guidry noted. The firm’s reports have been used by divorce lawyers in a number of cases. The reports can also be useful to investors who plan to hand over large sums of money to individuals they may not know well.

Kimmons said his two companies, the investigation firm and the research firm, can often handle cases together when both services are needed.

The staff not only has access to records in Harris County, but also subscribes to a number of public documents from the county and the secretary of state’s office.

Although Kimmons spends much of his time on investigations, he finds the research business more interesting than police work:

“It’s more diversified and more challenging, The biggest difference is in dealing with corporations.”

Guidry added that the firm not only researches public records, but also helps “fit the pieces together.”

Kimmons has found the market for the service expanding since he took over the company late last year. He knew bankers and attorneys would pay for his reports, but he has also found credit managers and investors will pay for the service as well since it provides more extensive information than a credit report or a Dun & Bradstreet file.

“Every day we are finding new people,” Kimmons said.

By Eileen O’Grady, Post Business Writer

Proper Review of Information Can Protect Investors

Sometimes the hardest thing in the world is to get someone to use their brains. Take, for example, the European businessman who plunked down about $200,00 in a limited partnership promoted by a Houston “good old boy” who showed him some oil and gas prospects that looked too good to be true. You guessed it , they were.

Or, continuing with instances, the investors who sunk $8 million into an oil and gas drilling deal in Oklahoma and soon began to wonder why they weren’t getting any reports from the company or, more importantly, any money from anyone.

As the lyrics to that famous campfire ditty go, “Same song, second verse; should get better but it’s going to get worse.”

Bob Adams, Vice-President and operations manager of San Felipe Oil & Gas Corp., in Houston, said, “Unfortunately, these swindlers happen and when they do everyone suffers including the honest people in the oil and gas industry. Foreign and American investors get bilked by these schemes and in these two incidents I believe they may very well have saved their money if they had done their due diligence first.”

Information available:

What Adams was referring to was using the services of a Houston based investigations firm called Kimmons Investigative Services, which specializes in providing information about individuals and companies to the business and financial communities through searches of public records.

By utilizing the Freedom of Information Act and the Texas Open Records Act, the company has identified and obtained access to several hundred different sources of information. Included in these sources are such public record documents as: assumed name and corporate affiliations rolls; tax and real property records; real estate transactions; liens and judgment activities; uniform commercial code (UCC) filings; civil and criminal court cases; federal civil, criminal and bankruptcy cases; drivers, marriages and professional license lists; and many more. All of which are assembled in the company’s research department on extensive computer output microfilm and computer microfiche libraries.

The investigations and security company also has a library of published volumes and books containing supplemental information as well as access to other computer terminals and databanks. Through these various resources, the company’s researchers are able to obtain information about literally millions of people and companies.

Various clients:

Rob L. Kimmons, president of Kimmons Investigative Services, Inc. and its sister company, AAR Investigations, said the firm’s clients are a wide variety of companies, attorneys and banks who use the reports for merger and acquisition evaluations, possible conflicts of interest, location of concealed assets, evaluation of potential business partners and other reasons.

It was through Kimmons Investigative Services that Adams learned that the European investors had been “had”. But, by that time it was too late for any recourse, even legal, because of the manner in which the deal had been structured.

Adams says, “Our company is 90% owned by a Swiss investment bank and he is one of the bank’s clients. As a favor, the bank asked me if I could check into the matter. A friend of mine who is a banker and I were talking and I mentioned my problem. He said, ‘Why don’t you contact Kimmons Investigative Services? We use them to locate hidden assets and they do a marvelous job.’ So, I did.”

Moving the Money:

“The report they brought back was incredible. This guy was involved in all kinds of law suits. The Internal Revenue Service was after him. He was in all sorts of corporations, some in his name; some in his wife’s name; in his ex-wife’s name; and under his secretary’s name. He’d be president of some and treasurer of others. It was a maze.

“We found out that the firm in which the European had invested was registered in the Bahamas by the promoter who then took the funds from that company and reinvested them in his Houston company, So, the only way the European could get his money back was to sue in the Bahamas first and then come to the U.S. It was an impossible situation. I know if he had seen the guy’s record first he would have never given him $200,000. No way.”

Kimmons says that it is usually a “tip off” that something unethical will be disclosed when a search reveals a person in a multitude of companies operating under different names and with relatives and friends as the officers but holding different job titles. Usually, these individuals are involved in an uncommon amount of legal actions as well.

“They use these companies to keep their activities murky. Some of the companies will be active and some will be dead or just paper companies,”Kimmons said.

Kinds of Reports:

Kimmons Investigative Services, Inc. investigations and security services offers clients three types of reports, The basic report is designed to cover the principal informational needs. It is an in depth analysis that taps all available resources of the company and usually establishes relationships, assets, and transactions that are otherwise virtually untraceable. This report costs about $1,500.

Another is the index report, which is designed to supplement information normally available to banks and financial institutions. It covers the principal needs of anyone desiring an overall view of a person or company. The cost of this depends upon the amount of information required.

The last is the tailored report, which is designed to a company’s or individual’s specific needs by expanding or modifying an existing report. The cost is dependent upon information required and time expended.

The Vanishing $8 Million:

Kimmons was not involved in the incident involving the $8 million Oklahoma drilling deal. Adams said when the investors finally traced the activities, they discovered the promoters were using the drilling company as a front, and once they got all the money invested they could, they sold the assets, paid off the bank and vanished with the difference.

Kimmons said his investigations and security company could have investigated the drilling company through public records in Oklahoma but it would have taken a little more time than it does in Texas.

“We have private investigators working out of state all the time. We give up some computer speed, but we can produce an excellent report because we know where to look for these records and most people don’t.”

He pointed out that most companies don’t have clerks trained in legal research and can spend weeks at a courthouse without locating as much information as private investigators of Kimmons Investigative Services, Inc. can.

“And,” Adams says, “what’s nice about Kimmons and Associates’ reports, is that they are all admissible in court as legal documents, if need be. You get an idea of the individual’s or company’s general business characteristics before getting involved. Sometimes the best deal you can make is the one you don’t to. That’s using your brains.”

Security Management, July 1985.

Detectives Help Banks in Collecting

A Texas bank was ready to charge off a loan to a borrower who was more than $300,000 in arrears and appeared to have no more assets that could be seized for repayment.

But before giving up on the loan, the bank hired a private investigator. The investigator began looking through public records in city, county, and state agencies. The search unearthed a premium foreign automobile, a private airplane and several hundred acres owned by the borrower unbeknownst to the bank.

Confronted with the public record, the borrower gave no argument. Instead, he pulled out a checkbook and settled the loan.

In this example, the miscreant borrower was sniffed out by Rob Kimmons and Michael Guidry, two ex-lawmen whose Houston-based Kimmons Investigative Services, Inc. now beats the bushes statewide, looking for hidden assets of bank borrowers.

Massive bank failures in recent years, such as First National Bank of Midland and Penn Square Bank in Oklahoma City, as well as a sharp rise in bad loans at all of the major Texas banks, has created a boom in private investigative work for financial institutions.

“The banks have found that their information on their borrowers is, in many cases, very sketchy,” Guidry said. “Sometimes they have little more than the guy’s name.”

Fort Worth investigator James Bennett said that before the energy downturn forced banks to tighten their lending practices, that some confidence men could and did bilk bank lenders for money at will.

“We found a guy who had used false identities to fleece banks of $2 million.” Bennett said.

Besides banks, other businesses increasingly are turning to private eyes for stakeouts and electronic surveillance to detect employee theft and fraud, to investigate the backgrounds of prospective customers, partners or subsidiaries, and even to find if an individual is using an assumed name.

Bennett, like most private investigators in Texas, is a former law officer. He was chief of police in Watauga for six years before becoming a private investigator in Fort Worth two years ago.

Like most private investigators, he disputes the image of the private detective promoted by Tom Selleck’s Magnum P.I. and Simon and Simon on television, as well as movie detectives ranging from Humphrey Bogart’s Sam Spade in The Maltese Falcon to Burt Reynolds’ Mike Murphy in the movie City Heat.

Another Fort Worth private detective, John Ragland, president of Texas Executive Protection Services Inc., said, “I don’t drive a Ferrari. I’m no Magnum. To me, it’s a business.”

Unlike Sam Spade or Mike Murphy, the modern detective is far more likely to work with a file folder in hand rather than a gun.

“What we’re looking for is the paper trail in the public record,”said Guidry, a former Texas state trooper. In his previous job with the state, Guidry saw the more exciting side of police work while serving with the hostage negotiating team. He frequently negotiated with gunmen in hostage situations.

Investigators like Bennett, Guidry and Kimmons spend most of their time in public buildings, researching the trails of paper left by individuals that track purchases of things such as real estate, automobiles, and other assets.

Occasionally, the work is even more basic. Bennett said he has been retained to investigate individual identities.

“People often aren’t who they say they are, he said. “Identity searches are quite common.”

The main reason the real-life private investigative work is less Sam Spade-like is because of Texas laws. For starters, a private investigator in Texas can’t carry a gun.

“That takes a lot of the cops-and-robbers element out of the work,”Bennett said.

Also, investigators must be state-licensed, carry insurance and be bonded, and pass examinations on laws pertaining to investigative work.

There can be some danger, however. Fort Worth detective Lester L. Gutierrez notes that occasionally a private investigator will do a stakeout, generally to detect thefts.

“That can become a little sticky if you’re at risk of being detected,” said Gutierrez.

He said he had gotten work from companies seeking to buy another firm and who want all the information they can get in advance.

“It’s mostly background kind of information,”he said of such investigations. “Companies want to make sure that the information they’re given is accurate.”

Electronic surveillance is becoming increasingly common. This is particularly true for internal sting operations that are set up to detect inside thefts and fraud.

Wiretapping of telephones is legal in Texas if one of the parties in the call knows of the existence of the tap. But investigators report that companies seldom ask for taps, perhaps because of their controversial nature since Watergate.

Ragland, whose firm specializes in executive protection but also does investigations, said the newer lightweight, portable video cameras have made surveillance easier.

“Surveillance with cameras leads to a lot of out-of-court settlements,” said Ragland, adding that such evidence gathered while employees, customers or others are engaged in normal activities is seldom interpreted as entrapment.

Detectives report they get relatively few requests for the seamier kinds of information, such as marital infidelities, drug or alcohol problems or other misdeeds that can derail careers or corporations.

“I turn down that sort of work” said Gutierrez.

Guidry said he was asked by a politician, who had an eye on a statewide race next year, for a report on himself.

“He wanted to know what would turn up on him if somebody else did an investigation,” Guidry said.

By Dan Piller, Star Telegraph Writer

High-Tech Detectives, Armed with Computer Database

Private investigator Rob Kimmons has an unusual partner to solve his capers. Kimmons, a high-tech detective, relies on his computer.

By using a computer database, Kimmons and his staff at Kimmons Investigative Services Inc. can track the assets of companies or find out if someone has been married before.

“Five or six years ago, I didn’t even own a computer, Kimmons said. “Now I don’t know how we can live without it.”

Kimmons, who is the firm’s founder and president, recently opened a branch office of his investigations firm in Galveston.

The new office is temporarily located at 2002 Church St. and employs three people. Kimmons plans to increase the staff to between six and eight people by the end of the year.

The company is a full service investigations and security firm, specializing in background checks, pre-employment checks, personal injury investigations, and research into a company’s assets.

Kimmons was a Houston police officer and a firefighter before he became a private investigator 13 years ago. When he opened his own firm 1 years ago, his office was next door to a public records research company.

“I started using them for my clients, and I learned what was out there and what was available through public records and databases,” he said.

When the company went bankrupt, Kimmons hired several of its workers and added computer databases at his own businesses. The databases are updated monthly.

“It enhances your abilities as a private investigator,” he said. “To some people, it’s scary. But to private investigators, it’s great.”

Kimmons now has offices in Houston, Austin, and Dallas.

Kimmons’ specialty is asset discovery. The firm was hired by ABC’s 20/20 to locate Texas assets tied to Ferdinand Marcos and by Donald Trump during his divorce proceedings.

Kimmons said he decided to open an island office since his firm has been doing a lot of business in the area.

The company has investigated numerous personal injury accidents in the Galveston and Texas City area. It has worked for both personal injury lawyers and insurance companies.

Kimmons also said his staff has gone undercover in corporate workplaces and investigated drug activity and theft.

One of the biggest growth areas for the company involves requests by people to do background checks on their boyfriends and girlfriends, Kimmons said.

“It’s picked up the last few years,” he said. “People are running background checks on their boyfriends and girlfriends before marriage. Sometimes, it’s a smart thing to do.

“The ones who come to us have a reason for being suspicious. Our background checks find out a lot of new information for people who come in.”

For example, a woman came to Kimmons because the charming man she was dating wouldn’t give her his phone number, Kimmons and his staff’s background checks found out the man, who lived in a neighboring county, was married. Police regularly were called to the man’s home for domestic violence disturbances.

Kimmons said women are more likely than men to request background checks on their fiancés. They request everything from criminal history to asset information.

By Janice Simon, The Daily News, May 9,1993

Little Known Industries Shape Texas

A couple suspects their nanny of abusing their child. Private investigator L.E. “Jack” Driscoll says he’ll check it out with hidden cameras. Or maybe a company is having a problem with industrial espionage or a law firm needs debugging. Mr. Driscoll is on the case.

Private investigators, armored cars and other stealth services employ 40,000 Texans four times the number employed in advertising agencies around the state. Businesses such as Mr. Driscoll’s contribute more jobs to the Texas economy than makers of cowboy boots.

These investigations companies come to mind as the thunderous economy of last year is quieting down. Some large industries that undergirded the state in past months are now contributing to it in moderation.

The Asian economic turmoil is reducing orders of high-tech electronics, manufactured goods, computers and related products, as well as petrochemicals. Depressed oil prices have cut profits for the majority of oil-related businesses in the state.

That’s where Mr. Driscoll comes in. His livelihood reminds us that the Texas economy has diversified beyond Big Oil and high-technology. His business is one of thousands on which the economy depends for most of the state’s nearly 9 million jobs and $600 billion in output.

Granted, these ordinary and sometimes offbeat businesses won’t single-handedly save the economy from a bust. They are dwarfed, for example, by the 1.5 million workers in retail and 600,000 in business services.

But private investigators, East Texas loggers, leather crafters, exotic animal farmers and workers in hundreds of other vocations that most residents rarely consider also provide output and employment in a state fixated on microchips and petroleum.

Mr. Driscoll’s connection to big business is that he may be asked to unearth spies in Richardson’s Telecom Corridor or investigate workers seeking oil field employment. For these businesses, information is currency.

Electronic sweeps of offices for bugging devices are a routine part of his M.O. as a P.I., said Mr., Driscoll, branch manager and chief investigator for the Dallas office of Kimmons Investigative Services, Inc. “Industrial sabotage, industrial espionage is a very big thing.”

In addition, “there’s information-gathering, background checks for purposes of employment, finding people who have left in less than good circumstances or left a corporation and took documents,” Mr. Driscoll said.

“Then you get down to your down-to-earth surveillance where a spouse wants another spouse tailed,” he added. “One’s alleging the other is doing or not doing something they’re supposed to be doing.”

Domestic engagements occupy many of Mr. Driscoll’s working hours. He often installs ‘nanny cams,’ or hidden cameras that are surveillance video devices that surreptitiously watch nannies supervising their charges.

Farther away from Dallas, staple operations of the Texas economy lie amid the grassy savannahs and mesquite flats near the Edwards Plateau in southwest Texas. They are ranches, but not the type where longhorns roam.

These ranches are home to exotic Sri Lankan antelope and North African deer, part of a burgeoning $100 million exotic animals industry that supplies venison and other unusual low-cholesterol meats craved by body-conscious Americans.

Of course, cooks can also whip up Texas-style chicken-friend antelope.

“You can grill antelope or bake it or fry it,” said Dan Whiteley, foreman of the Heart of the Lone Star Ranch in Eden. “Our primary purpose is for meat production. We sell to a wholesaler, and he, in turn, distributes it to the restaurants.

“It’s a fairly young industry, but it is on the rise. It’s just an alternative to beef. We’ve been in operation for about six years, and before that it was sheep and goats. It’s just something new and challenging.”

The 2,300-acre ranch raises such livestock as the African eland, the largest of the antelope species, and the scimitar-horned oryx, an endangered species in its native region of northern Africa that is doing just fine in southwest Texas.

Exotic animals can be found in 194 of the state’s 254 counties on 637 ranches with nearly 200,000 gazelles, goats, llamas, sheep, buffalo, zebras, deer and antelope, according to the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.

State researchers point to other unusual businesses — logging operations in East Texas, envelope makers, potato chip plants, mattress factories, plastic bag makers and a budding industry in South Texas in which people make Easter eggs filled with confetti. None of these businesses alone would save the Texas economy from ruin, but taken together, that’s a lot of venison and potato chips to swallow.

“It’s a little bit different,” Mr. Whiteley said of his business. “There’s quite a few people that think that’s all there is in Texas, ranches and cowboys.”

And oil and high-tech, too. But there’s so much more.

Jane Seaberry, The Dallas Morning News, May 18, 1998

Kimmons Announces Former FBI Official to Kimmons Staff

Kimmons Investigative Services, Inc. is pleased to announce the addition of a consultant to our staff to assist with international investigative assignments. Robert “Bob” Cromwell is a retired FBI Agent, currently residing in Florida.

Bob recently retired as Special Agent in Charge of the Jacksonville , Florida , FBI Office. In Bob’s 23 year tenure with the FBI, he held several positions throughout the Bureau which enabled him to build an extensive contact base around the world. While assigned to FBI Headquarters in Washington DC , Mr. Cromwell led units conducting background investigations for the FBI, DOJ, and the White House. Bob also had nationwide responsibility for the recruitment and hiring of Special Agents. We are very fortunate to have Bob on our staff to assist with our international assignments.

Kimmons has been conducting national and international investigations for over twenty years. Our Firm has extensive contacts around the world. The addition of Bob as a consultant to our management staff further strengthens that contact base and enhances our worldwide investigative capabilities. In the past 30 days, Kimmons has completed due diligence investigations in London , Denmark , and Belize ( Central America ).

Kimmons continues to offer corporate investigative services, countermeasures (debugging) services, and total litigation support.

Rob L. Kimmons/President

Houston Firm Examining Asset Claims in Oklahoma

A Houston company has found Oklahoma to be fertile ground for researching the assets of debtors whom creditors suspect have understated their holdings.

Kimmons Investigative Services, Inc. has two Oklahoma city banks as clients and does work for Texas clients owed money by Oklahoma firms and individuals, said Rob Kimmons, the company’s president. The firm has examined the asset claims of Oklahoma companies, most of them in the energy industry, since February.

Kimmons said a recently completed background check of one small company found substantial undisclosed assets and substantial undisclosed lawsuits. The inquiring client was an out-of-state bank owed $80,000 by the oil firm.

Several local companies do portions of the background check work performed by Kimmons Investigative Services but apparently do not compile such exhaustive reports. Berry Mitchell, estate administrator in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Oklahoma City, said Kimmons’ estimate that significant assets are not disclosed in 50 percent of his firm’s cases may be high.

But he said some assets belonging to bankruptcy debtors are not reported or detected.

“The bankruptcy court has limited resources,” Mitchell said. “The trustees are caught between a rock and a hard place.”

“They’re just not in a position to make an inquiry without assistance from someone.”

Kimmons’ firm provides that assistance throughout the country, although he said most of its work is in Oklahoma, Louisiana and Texas, Its seven-member staff includes two licensed real estate brokers, a law school student and an author.

Kimmons, 32, bought the firm in bankruptcy court in Houston last December. He said he paid about $25,000 for the company’s assets, primarily its books and completed research, and spent another $50,000 for equipment and other items to begin operations.

Kimmons said the company did business for 18 months under its original owners and failed because of excessive overhead.

Kimmons Investigative Services gathers facts from more than 350 sources in county, state and federal government. It compiles the information into a report that is presented to the client.

Kimmons said the firm does background checks on real estate mortgages, collateral filings, state incorporation records and more obscure documents to determine the extent of a debtors’ assets. He said most clients are lenders or trade creditors who suspect a debtor has more assets than claimed and thus more ability to pay his obligations than claimed.

Other customers are lenders who investigate a prospective borrower’s ability to pay before negotiating a loan.

Kimmons estimates the firm’s research discovers information unknown to the client about 95 percent of the cases, with substantial assets in about half.

Kimmons began operating the company with the former management’s pricing structure – a flat fee of $1,500 plus expenses. He said he abandoned that for an hourly rate of $35 after the flat fee became a money loser on several extensive searches.

Kimmons, a former policeman who also owns a six-investigator detective service, said monthly billings are about $30,00; monthly overhead about $15,000. Clients can place a ceiling on the amount of money they are willing to pay.

Oklahoma City lawyer Ken Spears is on the 13-member trustee panel in the local bankruptcy court. As trustee, he is appointed by the court to administer debtors’ estates.

Spears said the court is principally dependent on the truthfulness of debtors to disclose assets.

“They sign an affidavit that the assets are true and correct,” he said. “They perjure themselves if we learn otherwise.”

Kimmons said one of his more extraordinary cases involved a lender client owed $3 million by a Texas man who was threatening to enter bankruptcy proceedings. The debtor told the lender to accept an amount smaller than its claim or risk recovering less than that amount in bankruptcy.

“We found over $7 million in assets,” Kimmons said. “The day after we gave them the report, the man wrote the lender a check for the entire $3 million on an account at another bank.”

Spears said creditors often tell the court of assets that the debtor did not list. He said the court can then remove its protection from creditor lawsuits by denying the petitioner discharge of debts or seek control of the assets for the benefit of creditors.

Spears estimates that 10 percent of debtors in bankruptcy do not disclose all assets.

Jan Rider, president of B&B Title in Oklahoma City, said hers and similar companies research real estate records, collateral filings and tax liens, primarily for banks inquiring about a prospective borrower, She said she did not know of any local firms that do a systematic search to determine assets.

Mitchell said work such as that done by Kimmons’ company would be deemed a professional service before the court could approve such work in a bankruptcy case. The court frequently approves accountants, financial examiners and other professionals to help in cases.

Because such fees are paid from the estate, Mitchell said the court would have to estimate whether the potential for additional assets would justify the expense. But he said the local court is seeking to increase the financial expertise of the trustee panel, which has been overwhelmed with oil-related cases during the slump in energy exploration since 1982.

Mitchell said work such as that done by Kimmons Investigative Services could prove helpful in some cases.

“I imagine there’s a market for that,” he said. “I’m sure trustees would be interested.

By Kevin Laval, Sept 15, 1985

Kimmons Investigative Services Private Investigations Has Expanded

Our investigations and security firm has expanded into the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Kimmons Investigative Services, Inc., a licensed investigations and security agency in its fifteen years of operation, is based out of Houston, Texas with a branch office in Dallas, Texas.

6440 N. Central Expressway
Suite 310
Dallas Texas, 75206
Telephone # (214) 696-9881
Fax # (214) 696-9882

Kimmons Investigative Services, Inc. is a full service investigations and security firm. This agency maintains a very professional and experienced staff. Kimmons Investigative Services regularly administers investigations involving asset discovery, personal injury, corporate matters, skip trace/witness locates, statement taking, domestic matters, company and individual profiles, extensive public record research, et cetera.

In addition, Kimmons Investigative Services has trained private investigators in the areas of statement taking, surveillance, fraud investigations, et cetera. Many of our private investigators, are former police officers. The Office Manager and Chief Investigator in the Dallas/Fort Worth office, the former elected Sheriff of Grayson County, Texas, is L.E. “Jack” Driscoll. Thirty-six (36) years experience in Law Enforcement. Sixteen years with the Sherman, Texas, Police Department, and five consecutive terms as the Elected Sheriff of Grayson County, completing the fifth term January 1st 1997. Jack has an Associate of Arts Degree in Criminal Justice and a vast amount of investigations and expert witness expertise.

Certifications : Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education.

MASTER Peace Officer Certification
INSTRUCTORS Peace Officer Certification/License.
FORENSIC HYPNOTIST Certification.
Graduate Texas A&M Polygraph School
Former Chairman, Board of Polygraph Examiners.
Graduate Fingerprint Comparison and Classification School, Texas Department
of Public Safety Academy, Austin, Texas.
Graduate Forensic Art School, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas.
Graduate Law Enforcement Hypnosis Institute, Los Angeles, California.
Advanced Police Spanish, Federal Training Center, Marana, Arizona.
Advanced Accident Investigation and Reconstruction, Northeast Louisiana University, Monroe, La.
Graduate Advanced Kinesic Interviews and Interrogation Techniques, Links and Foster.
Graduate Advanced Statement Analysis School, Avinoam Sapir.
Graduate Reid Advanced Interviewing and Interrogation Techniques School, Chicago.

Memberships:

Life Member, Sheriff’s Association of Texas.
Member, Texas Association of Investigative Hypnotist.
Member, Federal Bureau of Investigation National Academy Graduates (FBINAA).

Please do not hesitate to contact us if Kimmons Investigative Services, Inc. can be of further assistance. In addition, an extensive list of references is available upon request.