Profile: The North’s Newest White Collar-Crime Hunter

TRAVERSE CITY – FBI agent Daniel Roberts has wiretapped mobsters, spent an entire Olympics scouring terrorist leads and even dug for Jimmy Hoffa.

Now, he's making his expertise available for corporate clients.

Roberts has signed on with Rehmann, a Detroit-based accounting and business consulting firm, to work in the company's Corporate Investigative Services. He'll offer his expertise to businesses and government agencies that want to root out white-collar crime. Rehmann has offices in Traverse City, as well as Saginaw and Detroit.

"Daniel is respected globally and brings a wealth of experience as we're trying to expand our global footprint," says Greg Suhajda, president of Rehmann's Corporate Investigative Services.

Roberts worked for the FBI for 24 years, and became the special agent in charge of the bureau's Detroit field office – which meant he was in charge of all agents in the state – in 2004.

Traverse City clients will benefit from Roberts' experience leading the Michigan FBI offices, says Suhajda.

The federal agency has long had a Traverse City office, which means Roberts has a working relationship with state and local police officials here.

"Also with that, I got to know the crime problems that faced Traverse City and all of the North," Roberts says. "It's nothing unusual. We see a lot of white collar crime and fraud – some involving gambling casinos.

"Fortunately, violent crime and threats of terrorist activity are relatively low."

Another crime he's seen in the North is health care fraud, specifically patients, health professionals, and insurance companies ripping off Medicare and Medicaid. Some have gone so far as to stage automobile accidents.

"Traverse City is as robust as any city its size in corporate fraud," Roberts says.

Roberts' resumé could inspire a novel. He's investigated organized crime, drug dealers and public corruption. When he headed the Detroit office, the city hosted a Super Bowl, a World Series and other large-scale events that, in the post-9/11 world, would now pose major terrorist concerns.

He was also the FBI commander of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, less than six months after the 9/11 attacks. Terrorist leads and suspicions were at an all-time high. Up until the opening ceremony, there were times when the risks seemed overwhelming as the agency and the White House assessed the risks.

"Most people don't know how close those winter Olympics games came to being cancelled because of threats," Roberts says. "Then there were viable threats and leads all the way through the games that we were very concerned about."

There actually was a bombing in a city power substation during the gold-medal hockey game. The suspect was found to be a disgruntled utility employee.

Prior to 9/11, most of the wire-tapping work he performed had to do with organized crime figures. He monitored countless hours of conversations between mobsters, discussing their gambling schemes, loan-sharking operations and prostitution businesses.

"One thing I found was how well organized they can be, and how business-like they can be," he says. "I listened to them conduct inventory."

Instead of taking stock of computers, phones and office supplies, the mobsters were tallying up the worth of their guns, drugs and other tools of the trade.

That helped in bringing a Rackateer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations case against them, since the federal racketeering law allows for the confiscation of a criminal enterprise's property, Roberts says.

One of Roberts' highest profile investigations was in 2006 – digging up a Milford farm looking for the body of Jimmy Hoffa. It did not uncover the body, so one of the 20th century's biggest mysteries remains unsolved.

Though a judge has sealed the records of the dig, Roberts sasy the detective work that justified the search was extensive.

In his work for Rehmann, he'll be more likely to dig into a company's ledgers when an executive notices something doesn't add up.

That's a rapid-growing division of the firm, as companies scrutinize their bottom lines more than ever.

"Our Corporate Investigative Services took off about a year ago," says Suhajda, "and has been expanding exponentially ever since." BN