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OPERATION: RESTORE FAITH - FBI Investigation of Law Enforcement Corruption

This investigation commenced in 2003 after information was obtained concerning law enforcement corruption in the 7th Chicago Police District. After the assessment of the information and a determination of its credibility, agents proactively established a strategic plan to obtain evidence of corrupt law enforcement officers. Through the use of both standard and sophisticated investigative techniques, agents were able to collect evidence that linked officers and drug dealers to a criminal enterprise. By analysis of the evidence, agents were able to establish probable cause that specific officers in the 7th District were using cellular phones to advance the criminal enterprise. As the investigation developed, agents were able to prove that officers were protecting drug dealers for monetary gain as well as committing illegal searches and seizures on rival drug dealers.

In 2005 FBI agents arrested five (5) Chicago Police officers and seven (7) drug dealers on Federal Racketeering and Corruption charges. All of the named individuals have been either convicted at trial or plead guilty to these charges in U.S. District Court.

At the time of the arrest in 2005, the case represented the largest number of Chicago Police officers charged in a RICO conspiracy indictment since the early 1990's.

Mr. Peter Cullen will be doing a case study based on his "IBD" process excellence strategy listed below.

  • Investigation by Design (IBD) is a process excellence strategy that was developed by the author while doing research during his MBA program. The purpose of IBD is to focus on achieving results through standardizing the seven critical steps common to all investigations. Investigations come in a variety of forms; there are criminal investigations, civil investigations, and corporate security investigations. These investigations can further be segmented into both reactive and proactive investigations. Some investigations proceed rapidly to resolve a critical incident, such as child abduction while others move cautiously to resolve a long term economic crime. Regardless of the type of crime, it has been this author's experience, albeit with some exception, that investigators do not follow a defined process strategy to resolve cases. Rather the investigative process follows the "trial and error" method with the persistent question of "what do I do next". An investigator will therefore choose one or more investigative methods from myriad techniques to bring resolution to the investigation. The real truth is that most investigators don't know what to look for when they start a new investigation. This is a major dilemma that confronts all investigators and an issue that is confronted by IBD.

  • IBD begins with the understanding and application of three master principles: (1) Evidence Principle - means to follow the evidence, not a theory, as an investigation develops; (2) Trial Principle - means to think trial from inception; (3) Persistence Principle - means to never stop investigating the case. These three master principles are the foundation of IBD.

         The IBD platform consists of seven critical steps (inputs) that are repeated during the investigation. The steps are not rigid but rather provide a framework to accomplish the goal (output) of the investigation. The purpose of the platform is to provide a template for the investigator to utilize during the investigation to ensure excellence. The genius of the platform strategy is its ability to be utilized by any investigation as well as its ability to focus on delivering results. IBD will achieve results by the implementation and monitoring of seven critical steps necessary to resolve the investigation. The seven steps of IBD are: Assessment - to have a clear understanding of the issue or problem; (2) Planning - to provide clear focus and direction on results; (3) Collection - to identify and locate critical pieces of evidence; (4) Analysis - to provide critical thinking to the evidence obtained; (5) Refinement - evaluate and test early finding; (6) Management - to develop a system of accessibility to information; and (7) Reporting - documenting evidence and summarizing results.

         The IBD presentation can be adapted for all audiences by introducing the principles and critical steps of IBD and then applying these principles to an actual case study. Some of the best learning and retention comes through the case study method of instruction. The audience will be given the opportunity to interact during the case study presentation to increase their understanding and application.


Mr. Cullen retired from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in 2010 following a 32 year career. For the first 25 years, he was a Special Agent assigned to Chicago and investigated a variety of White Collar crimes. One of his significant investigations involved the 1977 disappearance of Helen Vorhees Brach, heiress to the Brach Candy fortune. The five year investigation which commenced in 1990 determined that Brach was defrauded and then murdered by a crew of Illinois horseman. The case expanded into an international equine investigation of murder, arson, and insurance fraud which resulted in 35 convictions. The investigation and subsequent prosecution has been aptly documented by national magazines, Cable TV programs and a 1996 book entitled Hot Blood.

In 2003 Mr. Cullen was promoted to the position of Supervisory Special Agent where he directed the Public Corruption Program in Chicago for 5 years. During that time Chicago FBI agents convicted over 100 public/police officials on various federal crimes. In 2008 he was named the Acting Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the White Collar Crime Branch where he directly coordinated the investigation and arrest of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. In 2009 Mr. Cullen was promoted to Special Assistant, where he developed an internal audit platform to monitor investigative protocol and processes subject to Department of Justice compliance.

Mr. Cullen holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Education and a Master of Business Administration degree. He is a member of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners and the FBI Agents Association. He has lectured at the FBI Academy's Behavioral Science Unit, Economic Crimes Unit, FBI National Academy, and the FBI Academy on White Collar Crime topics. Mr. Cullen is currently developing a strategic plan for his consultant business.

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