Todd Slaman, of TMS Investigations and Analysis, makes a point during his presentation to the Perrysburg Chamber of Commerce.
Private investigator Todd Slaman isn't into hiding behind bushes, so don't bother trying to hire him to tail your spouse who you may suspect of adultery.
But if you are being accused of crime or suspect your employees may be up to no good, then he will be glad to try to get to the bottom of it.
"You build a case by gathering the evidence. That's what I do for you," Mr. Slaman told an audience recently at the Carranor Hunt and Polo Club.
The Perrysburg Chamber of Commerce had invited the private investigator and special deputy with the Lucas County Sheriff's Office to its luncheon last week. Mr. Slaman has 28 years in law enforcement and bank security, and he has operated his own business, TMS Investigations, for three years.
Mr. Slaman said people often think of infidelity as the reason why a private investigator would ever be needed, and while he does get requests for those cases, he said he passes on them.
"That's not what I do. ... It's messy and nasty, but it pays good," he said.
Mr. Slaman said his skill set is best applied in criminal cases. He said law enforcement has a whole network of well-resourced investigators and detectives to act on behalf of a prosecutor, but a defendant deserves the same services.
"You have that opportunity through the court system," he said.
A private investigator can be hired by an attorney or appointed by a judge. Mr. Slaman is certified to be engaged by any court or client in Ohio, and he can act on behalf of an attorney anywhere in the country.
Mr. Slaman used the entirely fictitious example of Perrysburg city councilman and chamber president Michael Olmstead as having to defend himself on assault charges after getting drunk at his own party, passing out, and having a guest accuse him of throwing punches.
A private investigator can take the time to interview all of the guests and neighbors, where the police can arrest the suspect based on a complaint, Mr. Slaman said.
"Sometimes law enforcement is wrong. Sometimes law enforcement makes mistakes. Sometimes there's a rush to judgment," he said, especially in a high-profile case.
The private investigator may discover that someone else actually threw the punch while Mr. Olmstead was sleeping off his celebrations.
Mr. Slaman said that very circumstance of mistaken identity was discovered in a Wood County case that involved a group of young men fighting, with the wrong person getting the "snot beat of out him" and another wrong person being accused of cold-cocking an instigator.
"Take the time to find the people," he said.
Amid hearty laughter from chamber members, and cheers when people were awarded with goody bags for correct or creative answers, Mr. Slaman shared other examples from his career as being a detective and a private investigator.
A husband and wife operated a plastic surgery office with just one nurse who served as the office bookkeeper as well. Mr. Slaman said the nurse was an exemplary employee who never took a day off -- because she was transferring the 20-percent deposit directly into her account.
He advised business owners and managers to take the time to examine their own books and thoroughly vet their employees.
"Don't give them carte blanche, don't give them an open gate to everything," he said.
He also advised them not to underestimate just how self-detrimental and self-telling people can be.
Mr. Slaman was investigating a claim of workman's compensation fraud when he was told the suspect regularly golfed. Even he was surprised when he was able to photograph the man swinging away at a local course and jumping up and down in celebration of a birdie.
"Nobody's that stupid? People are stupid," he said.
Mr. Slaman said he was ethically bound to be impartial but noted that he had fewer restrictions than a uniformed detective. All he needs to enter someone's home is an invitation, not a warrant, and he can use various methods to straighten out fact from fiction.
"Usually people want to talk," he said, adding that he can spot deception because the story will change.
"A lie you have to remember. The truth flows," he said.
Contact Rebecca Conklin Kleiboemer at 419-356-8786, firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @RebeccaConklinK.
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