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.
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.


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.

Private Investigators’ Rivalry Snares The Donald

The rivalry between a pair of Houston-based private investigators has meant yet another court case for embattled mogul Donald Trump. He’s now facing a lawsuit brought by Kimmons Investigative Services Inc., for $5,394.90 plus attorney fees.

The litigation stems from Mr. Trump’s alleged refusal to pay for the private investigations firm’s services last year during his divorce, The company had been hired to spy on the private investigator hired by Mr. Trump’s estranged wife, Ivana Trump.

“Watching other private investigators is not all that unusual as a part of other work,” Rob Kimmons, president of Kimmons Investigative Services, Inc. “This case was unusual in that this was the focus of our assignment.”

Mr. Kimmons believes his firm was contacted because of its long-standing rivalry with Houston private investigator Clyde Wilson, the man hired by Ms. Trump to gather ammunition on her husband. Mr. Kimmons says Mr, Trump pledged a retainer of $10,000 and continued to insist that the “check is in the mail” through seven weeks of operations last spring.

Kimmons Investigative Services, Inc. did submit a report to Mr. Trump giving him “What I felt was valuable information,” says Mr Kimmons. “It was right after our report that they reached a tentative settlement.

Although unavailable for comment, Mr. Trump’s attorneys have told reporters that Mr. Kimmons’ report was not as valuable as he believes. He says he’s suing only for the time and expenses incurred during employment on the celebrated case.

By Gary Taylor

Company Uses Public Records to Uncover Hidden Assets

CONROE- Rob Kimmons’ company follows clues in public records like a tracker follows bent twigs and footprints. Kimmons runs Kimmons Investigative Services, Inc.; a Houston-based company that checks state and county records for assets of companies and individuals who claim to be broke.

The information can prove useful to lenders, creditors and attorneys who are either reviewing a potential loan, default or divorce case, Kimmons said.

The company’s case load in its first year of business has been varied, he said.

For example, a politician wanted to see what an opponent could uncover about him, and he hired the company to conduct an investigation. A women involved in a divorce case found out in Kimmons’ report that her husband had eighteen different corporations. She had known of only three of them.

Kimmons’ most dramatic story was of a businessman about to default on a mammoth loan. One glance at Kimmons Investigative Services report the lender showed him, and he whipped out the checkbook from another lender and wrote a check on the balance of the loan on the spot.

Houston cases bring Kimmons to Montgomery County about once a week, he said, declining to name his clients here because they prefer to remain anonymous.

Courthouse records here are among the more than 355 sources of public information the company uses to produce a profile. Profiles include both civil and criminal cases, real property transactions, Uniform Commercial Code filings, tax liens, corporate status listings, assumed names and the relationships between those data.

The information is out there for anyone, Kimmons said, but his company has made understanding and organizing this information its business.

Many of the sources are on microfilm in Kimmons’ office, where the company has an estimated $70,000 in research materials at its fingertips. The staff heads to other sources to update the information, as there is a delay between an item being put on the record and the record being out on reels, he said.

Not all clients want a full scale investigation, Kimmons said. The company offers two reports, a preliminary one to be used for screening, and a comprehensive, multi-county one. The company charges $35 an hour. A full report can take a week or two to complete.

Kimmons, a former police officer, had started his own private investigating firm three and a half years ago. His firm, AAR Investigations, occasionally used the public records monitoring services of a now defunct company, much like the currently operating Kimmons Investigative Services, Inc.

When the other company went under, Kimmons said, “I thought it was a great service. I decided to get it going.”

To do so, he purchased some of the records of the other company and hired one of its former employees.

“Business is building every month,” he said. The company, which Kimmons said has turned a profit since the month after it started, has completed 500 reports to date.

“Seventy percent of the time we find assets that the (client) company wasn’t aware of,” he said, adding “There are times a person really is bankrupt.”

Kimmons said plans for the company include opening offices in Austin, where a lot of state records are, and Dallas, where about one third of the cases are.

By Cynthia Lescallete, Business Editor

Company Has Its Private Eye On Businesses

Kimmons Investigative Services, Inc. is proof that a handshake no longer forms a sound enough base for lots of business deals in the Lone Star State.

Witness the case of a Houston bank with an oil man about to default on a $3 million loan. The oil man claimed poverty. The bank suspected otherwise.

Enter Kimmons Investigative Services, Inc., a Houston investigations and security firm.

In slightly more than a week, the firm ha combed public records in Houston and state records in Austin to find numerous companies and real estate holdings belonging to the oil man

In all, it produced a report more than a half-inch thick showing assets of more than $7 million.

Rob Kimmons, a former Houston police sergeant and a private investigator, runs Kimmons Investigative Services, Inc., which has completed 450 investigations and is now taking in $15,000 to $20,000 a month in investigation fees.

Two Austin banks and several Houston banks use the firm to help track hidden assets belonging to bad-loan customers.

Other clients include investors checking out potential business partners, creditors looking into bankruptcy cases, and divorcees looking for their spouses’ secret wealth. The company uses only public records – county and state tax records, business filings, and court records – to track its targets.

The firm charges $1,500 plus expenses for an investigation and $500 for a smaller report called a “pre-client check.”

One Austin investor was considering an offer to become co-owner in an office building here with a Tennessee businessman, each putting up several million dollars into the deal.

The Tennessee man even came up with $20,000 cash as a show of his good faith and financial heft.

But a further check by Kimmons Investigative Services, Inc. showed the Tennessee man had virtually no assets. His business address turned out to be a Nashville parking garage.

Although the company does much of its work around Houston, it sees Austin as an area ripe with opportunity.

“If you’ve got a lot of growth, you’ve got a lot of people coming in.” said Mike Guidry, the company’s executive Vice-President. “A number of them are flimflam people.”

By Kirk Ladendorf, Business Editor