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  • Prosecutor to LEO for Financial Crimes

    Hi All,

    I'm currently a local prosecutor working financial crimes. This is the type of work I have always wanted to do, but lately I'm getting restless behind the desk. I would rather be out in the field solving the case than dealing with the court system after the fact. I've already put in applications for postal (thus the lazy username) and FBI, but from my research it takes forever to get through the process and obviously they are very competitive. I have ruled out some federal agencies such as USMS or USSS based on their mission focus, but I am open to any suggestions.

    The point of this post is to get people's opinions on going the local LEO route. If I want to work financial crimes specifically, how doable is that? In the DA world, nobody wants to work paper cases so you can if you want to - is it the same on the LEO side?

    From what I have been told, you have to do at least 5 years on patrol before you can make detective. Obviously it will vary by agency, but is that generally accurate? I don't think I'm "above" doing patrol work, but if my goal is detective work and I am nearing my mid-30s then I need to get a move on.

    Do you know anyone who made the switch? Did it work out for them? Any other general advice on making the switch, or reasons not to?

    Thanks!





  • #2
    I think you’ll be a good fit for the bureau. If you want to work large scale financial crimes I don’t think any other agency had the reach or the resources to do what it can do. They are hurting for agents right now and you realistically can complete the entire hiring process in about a year.

    Comment


    • PostalWannabe
      PostalWannabe commented
      Editing a comment
      Yeah, their application numbers makes me wish I had applied a year ago. Apparently the numbers are coming back up.

  • #3
    I disagree HSI does extremely large scale financial cases. Look up el dorado task force in New York.

    Comment


    • #4
      HSI, IRS and FBI are going to be your best bet. Really most investigative agencies will get behind agents doing financial work because taking the money is how you truly damage a criminal element. And even if your agency doesn't have money to support you, if you are doing large money investigations, bulk cash smuggling, laundering, etc, there are tons of federal resources through Treasury and other organizations to fund your travel, operations, etc, since they are ultimately the ones that usually take control of the cash you seize it.
      UNITED STATES BORDER PATROL
      "90 years of tradition unhindered by progress!"


      honor first

      Comment


      • #5
        If you don't want to work the road as a police officer/deputy/trooper, another option would be to look at your state's criminal investigative agency. There are some states where the criminal investigative agency is a separate entity from the state police/highway patrol and thus entry level applicants are not required to have prior road experience. North Carolina's SBI comes to mind as one such example. I'd imagine you'd be among the most qualified candidates for an entry level position at one of these agencies given your professional background.


        Comment


        • #6
          Most state governments have financial crimes units (generally within the department of revenue or similar agencies), and I'm sure more than one would welcome an experienced attorney/prosecutor.

          I spent several years as an investigator with my state's department of revenue, primarily focusing on forgery & fraud, but also working organized crime cases, usually in conjunction with IRS, FBI, and other federal agencies. Depending on the scope of the case the resolution might be in state or federal courts.

          Of course, I had about 12 years experience as a street cop and detective before I was appointed to that position. That was also over 35 years ago, and I had no college degree (still have none). Proud to say that I got to write "the book" for the department, and that book is still in general use.

          Other possibilities might include state attorney general offices (financial crimes, consumer protection, etc) or similar positions within local district attorney offices/state prosecutor offices. Just about every federal agency has Inspector General offices with both attorneys and investigators assigned.

          Broaden your search just a bit and you may find other opportunities.
          Last edited by retired1995; 10-09-2019, 07:01 PM. Reason: spelling

          Comment


          • #7
            Thanks for the replies so far. So unfortunately my state (California) doesn't seem to have a lot of good options between local PDs and the feds. Also, the pay is pretty bad at the state level. I didn't get into this job for the money, but a 50% pay cut is painful. By comparison, many local agencies pay pretty well in the high cost of living areas.

            While the state will hire civilians into sworn positions, somehow the various entities never seem to be a good fit. For example, the attorney general occasionally hires special agent trainees. However, that office does a ton of stuff that isn't financial crimes: gaming, environmental enforcement, firearms, etc. The only fraud section I'm aware of is the Medi-Cal fraud section. I don't think there is a major frauds type section. The Department of Consumer Affairs has a ton of investigators, but a lot of their job isn't criminal. They handle investigations into all kinds of licensed personnel, but most of those are administrative.

            Retired1995 mentioned state revenue agencies. Unfortunately, California has like 5 that do different things. Franchise Tax Board is the income tax agency, but their special agents all need to have accounting backgrounds (I don't). The others handle sales taxes, employment taxes, etc, but not really major fraud investigations.

            It's too bad there isn't a main statewide criminal investigative agency in the way rkcm described. You'd think a major chunk would be frauds that span multiple jurisdictions or that local agencies don't have the resources for.

            The DA's offices all have investigators, but every one that I see only hires sworn personnel with experience at a local agency.

            Maybe I just need to look harder...

            Comment


            • #8
              If law enforcement doesn’t work out, all financial institutions have money laundering and fraud investigators.

              Comment


              • #9
                If you’re restless behind a desk I don’t think detectives will be a good fit. Especially white collar crimes. Expect to be a slave to your paperwork.

                Why rule out USSS? Half their mission is financial crimes. I’ve worked cases with them and they’re good.

                4 years in patrol is the minimum to apply to become an investigator here. You could make it in less if you’re good, and have a resume to back it up.

                Station investigators here handle the bulk of financial crimes, on top of everything else we get, and most of us hate these cases. Give me a burglary or robbery, or violent crime any day of the week over a fraud or forgery.

                We also have a Financial Crime Unit, all of which have a financial background. They are handling complex and long term cases or acting in support of other cases which aren’t white collar crimes. For example tracking a violent felony suspect through his bank account for another unit (station, Major crime, narco).

                But like you said, California doesn’t have a full service state agency.
                I make my living on Irish welfare.

                Comment


                • PostalWannabe
                  PostalWannabe commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Maybe I phrased it poorly - It's not that I don't like desk work itself. I love the paper cases and working through the documents. It's just that as the prosecutor I can't do my own investigation. So if I find a lead, I have to beg/cajole someone to follow up.

                  Also, I spend a lot of my time on the lawyer stuff. Sitting at a desk writing a motion is boring. Sitting at a desk trying to trace payments so you can get another warrant to follow the trail further is interesting.

                  My understanding with USSS is that while they do financial stuff, at some point you WILL do protection in some random location for years if not a decade or more.

                • reils49
                  reils49 commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Correct. They will do protection during their career. That said their other mission is financial.

                  I’m not saying it’s a great job. But if you’re into financial stuff, I wouldn’t write them off completely.

              • #10
                I would stay away from USSS, I have met very few happy agents there and protective detail trumps all other missions. With regards to financial crimes, it really depend on what type of financial crimes you are most interested in investigating. If it’s traditional white collar crimes like securities fraud, I think FBI is the best agency for it, the amount of professional and analytical support it has really is unmatched by other agencies. This is not meant as an insult to any other agencies but bureau just has so much more resources stateside. Of course downside is it can be extremely bureaucratic, you won’t know where you get assigned until halfway through the academy, and you might get assigned to a CT squad and not touch white collar for years and years. If you are interested in money laundering crimes tied to other illicit activities, HSI or even DEA could potentially be better options. Downside of course is the same, you could be assigned to other squads and not work the mission you want.

                Comment


                • #11
                  This is the type of work I have always wanted to do, but lately I'm getting restless behind the desk. I would rather be out in the field solving the case than dealing with the court system after the fact
                  .

                  The point of this post is to get people's opinions on going the local LEO route. If I want to work financial crimes specifically, how doable is that?


                  I don't think I'm "above" doing patrol work, but if my goal is detective work and I am nearing my mid-30s then I need to get a move on.
                  Hmmm... I think you are somewhat conflicted about what you want to do with yourself and your career.....

                  You wish to get away from desk work and dealing with the courts (which is totally understandable) but specifically want to work financial crimes? Well, if there is a job in LE with less desk time than financial crime, I don't know about it.....

                  And you are 35 (or about) thinking about going local LE... with the goal of working financial crime as a detective someday? It just doesn't chart that way... you would push a patrol car for a few years, get assigned to a gang squad for a few years, get promoted to Sgt., get assigned to admin services, blah blah blah, then retire.

                  Any other general advice on making the switch, or reasons not to?
                  I would think long and seriously about leaving a job you've spent many years training for and dropping into a world which: 1) may bring the exact same frustrations you currently are challenged by, namely being chained to a desk for 50 hours a week and dealing with the courts, or 2) you become a cop believing you will be a financial crimes detective in five years- but the reality is greater you'll be assigned to the commercial vehicle traffic unit in five years.

                  THAT SAID...if you really want to walk away from tasseled shoes and ABA dues, go HSI, FBI, IRS, or one of the OIGs. Clock is ticking though... on your 37th birthday, you become a toad.




                  “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”

                  Hanlon's razor

                  Comment


                  • PostalWannabe
                    PostalWannabe commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Definitely conflicted. But what better way to resolve important life questions than turning to strangers on the internet!?

                    Yeah, the reality "push a patrol car for a few years, get assigned to a gang squad for a few years, get promoted to Sgt., get assigned to admin services, blah blah blah, then retire." is my biggest concern about making the jump.

                    I think I just need to be patient. I'm still in the process for postal and just applied to FBI a month ago. If those (or other fed agencies) don't pan out then I can start considering other options.

                • #12
                  Originally posted by PostalWannabe View Post
                  I'm currently a local prosecutor working financial crimes. This is the type of work I have always wanted to do
                  As others have suggested, consider HSI. There are many areas within HSI where you can follow the money.


                  Originally posted by PostalWannabe View Post
                  The point of this post is to get people's opinions on going the local LEO route. If I want to work financial crimes specifically, how doable is that?...From what I have been told, you have to do at least 5 years on patrol before you can make detective. Obviously it will vary by agency, but is that generally accurate?
                  Locally it’s possible for you to work financial crimes, but there is less certainty and involves too many factors. Yes, you would have to start in patrol for an indeterminate amount of time. You could become a detective in as few as two years, or it could take more than 5 years. Becoming a detective could also involve favorable views of your work history, the amount of detective positions available, and the police (political) administration. If given the position of detective, there is still no certainty that you would work financial crimes. And your tenure as a detective will involve political considerations, and whether you want to promote or are forced to.

                  Detectives nearly always face the possibility of being returned to patrol if they mess up, make their supervisors mad, or get promoted and go to patrol as a supervisor. However, as an 1811, you wouldn’t have to worry about ever having to wear a uniform again, answer calls for service, or do an accident report.


                  Originally posted by PostalWannabe View Post
                  I don't think I'm "above" doing patrol work, but if my goal is detective work and I am nearing my mid-30s then I need to get a move on.
                  Apply to HSI the next time there is an opening. Although there may be others, HSI is the only 1811 agency I’m aware of that won’t disqualify you if you turn 37 while in the hiring process and are a non-veteran. As long as you are 36 or less when the announcement closes, you can continue in the process and get hired. (Some will argue to the contrary, but I know this for a fact!)

                  ​​​​​​​
                  Originally posted by PostalWannabe View Post
                  Do you know anyone who made the switch? Did it work out for them? Any other general advice on making the switch, or reasons not to?
                  Yes I do know people who left the desk to become special agents. Did it work out? Some constantly complain because being an 1811 isn’t a 9-5 job with all nights and weekends off, and where they can spend all the time they desire with their wife and kids. Unscheduled work and time away from family is normal; it also occurs in some groups more than others. The complaining gets annoying to listen to, and makes one wonder what they thought they were signing up for. Others seem to accept the job and its demands, but it’s obvious they are behind when it comes to conducting investigations. That’s understandable if someone isn’t a former cop with years of experience. Just be willing to learn from the former cops and senior agents.





                  Comment


                  • #13
                    Another thought - most financial institutions have money laundering and fraud investigators. Definitely don’t have to worry about working nights or weekends when you work for a bank.

                    Comment


                    • #14
                      If you’re NOT ready to push a patrol car for 30 years, you’re not ready for LE. What makes you think you are any better than those patrol guys already working..? There are NO guarantees that you will EVER make detective.
                      Now go home and get your shine box!

                      Comment


                      • PostalWannabe
                        PostalWannabe commented
                        Editing a comment
                        I mean, I literally said I don't think I'm too good for patrol work. I was simply asking for feedback on the odds/timeframe of being able to promote to detective to do financial crimes.

                    • #15
                      Originally posted by CCCSD View Post
                      If you’re NOT ready to push a patrol car for 30 years, you’re not ready for LE. What makes you think you are any better than those patrol guys already working..? There are NO guarantees that you will EVER make detective.
                      Speaking very frankly, if I had it all to do over again I would have remained a patrolman on the night shift for my entire career, rather than evolving through a series of (more or less) high-profile positions with political pressures as a constant companion. Just my $0.02 worth.

                      Comment

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