Retired FBI senior resident agent turned author Greg Stejskal's book, "FBI Case Files Michigan: Tales of a G-Man," just hit the racks. It's a page turner with once top secret intelligence on Jimmy Hoffa, the Unabomber, the Lovin' Spoonful (the local ice cream shop, not the band), and more. Creative Washtenaw's Deb Polich and WEMU's David Fair get the inside scoop on this week's edition of "creative:impact."
Creative industries in Washtenaw County add hundreds of millions of dollars to the local economy. In the weeks and months to come, 89.1 WEMU's David Fair and co-host Deb Polich, the President and CEO of Creative Washtenaw, explore the myriad of contributors that make up the creative sector in Washtenaw County.
David Fair: This is 89 one WEMU and welcome to this week's edition of Creative Impact. I'm David Fair. My content partner's on the other end of the phone line. Her name is Deb Polich and she serves as president and CEO of Creative Washtenaw. And she always finds interesting people to talk with.
Deb Polich: Dave, the FBI is on the line again.
David Fair: I told them I don't know anything.
Deb Polich: Well, you know, there's no reason to be really worried about that. In fact, there's nothing suspect about this court. All we're going to be doing the investigating and putting the questions to our guests, Greg Stejskal. He's a retired senior FBI rather than agent. And his book, FBI Case Files Tales of a Man that's just come out.
David Fair: Well, welcome to Creative Impact. Agent Stejskal.
Greg Stesjkal: Well, thank you.
Deb Polich: So, Greg, you know, the creative impact covers how art and the creative industries intersect across all fields, including public safety and law enforcement. We also talk about how one chance encounter with art, maybe a film, for example, can truly change a person's life. What made you want to become an FBI agent?
Greg Stesjkal: Well, there were a couple of factors. When I was in elementary school, I read a book about the FBI that was part of a landmark series for young readers. And then very soon thereafter, I saw the movie, the FBI story, which starred among other people, Jimmy Stewart. And I was hooked from that time forward. I wanted to be an FBI agent.
David Fair: It's an amazing journey from seeing Jimmy Stewart in a movie to actually becoming an agent, of which you were from 1975 through 2006. Before we get into more detail about your book, I'm curious to whether you were always a natural storyteller or did you have to work to make this transition from writing some dry and factual FBI reports to becoming a narrative writer that will carry a book?
Greg Stesjkal: Well, I did have to make a transition because obviously what we call 53 photos, which are memorandums of interview and and other documents that you have to write, for example, affidavits for search warrants are are very factual, very straightforward. And I don't know if I would say they're dry, but they're certainly not literature. And so I had to make that transition. But I also you have to have the ability to lay out a fact situation. And that, in effect, at least for me, is what I'm doing in the book. I'm basically telling a story. But you're laying out a factual situation, hopefully in a more entertaining fashion than you would necessarily in a legal document.
David Fair: I'm certainly interested to learn more about the process. Creative impact continues on 891 WEMU. Deb Polich is my content partner and co-host, and our guest is retired FBI agent turned author Greg Stejskal, whose book, FBI Case Files Tales of a Man has just come out to Greg.
Deb Polich: You reported to the FBI office in Detroit in 1975 and for the next 30 some years served there. And in the corner office, you could probably write dozens of books, lots of stories. This one offers a view into your career and covers some pretty high profile cases and personalities. Jimmy Hoffa and the Unabomber did drop just a few names. Just a few those. Yeah, right. How did you decide what cases and stories to include in this book?
Greg Stesjkal: Well, you know, I had I had written a few stories before or after I had retired from the FBI. So obviously I wanted to include those. And I basically just chose stories that I felt would be of interest. And they were stories that I could tell because the cases had been adjudicated and it wasn't like I would be telling any secrets, keeping in mind that anything I write has to be approved by the bureau. I'm not allowed to say publish a book without submitting the manuscript to the FBI because, you know, there's techniques and things and we have also confidential informants that the bureau is very conscious about protecting the techniques and the identity of confidential informants. So I had to do that.
David Fair: How much came back redacted for you?
Greg Stesjkal: Not much. I mean, they reviewed the book and I made a couple of minor changes. And they were they were changes that I agreed with, but it didn't affect any of the stories. But again, I mean, it's important that you that you protect those things. One of the reasons I think that we have credibility. I mean, we can we can go to a confidential informant and say your identity will not be revealed under any circumstances unless you agree to have your identity revealed while they're alive and after they're dead.
David Fair: Creative impact continues on Eighty-Nine one WEMU dead. Deb Polich is my partner and co-host and we're talking with retired FBI agent turned author Greg Stejskal. His book, FBI Case Files Tales of a Man, has just come out and, you know, solving a case, seeing justice served. There has to be some great personal reward in that she has any case been more so than others?
Greg Stesjkal: Most of the cases in that book, they are cases that not only were prominent, but I felt like that impact. Some obviously are more rewarding than others, but in different ways. In one case, we solved a kidnaping and recovered the child. And obviously that was rewarding, recovered the child safely. The case that which was actually not just a case, it was an undercover operation that was actually many cases that were all came under. And that was an operation that we started. It was initiated at sort of at the urging of Beauchesne Beckler, who I came to know during my career. And he was very concerned about the proliferation of steroids in in sports and came to us and we opened this case and it ended up being extremely successful and not only locally, but internationally. And that was very satisfying to make that kind of impact and at the time was the only case of its type in existence. And I believe it's still the most successful of that type of case targeting steroids in the history of the United.
David Fair: Again, there's personal reward in there for you. There is a reward for the agency. It is when community gathers around law enforcement and says we are proud. But you talked about how much has to be kept secret with confidential informants, with even the process of investigation when we're having so much national conversation on transparency in law enforcement, how do you create that balance?
Greg Stesjkal: Well, I think that it's actually two separate things. Techniques, irrespective of whether they're kept secret, still have to be legal and still have to fit within legal strictures. The FBI is an investigative agency and we are answerable to the Department of Justice. We're part of the Department of Justice, but we also are answerable to the judicial system. And if you bring a case to court and you have obtained evidence illegally or anything like that, then you've got some problems. So in that sense, we have to be transparent. I guess what I'm talking about in terms of techniques, the FBI seized the money that was paid in ransom for this pipeline. Right. Situation, and they were able to track the money and seize it. Well, the FBI can make public the fact that we were able to seize the money and get it back, but they are not going to reveal how they were able to track it and that that's important. But the public has the right to know that we did it. They don't necessarily have to know the intricacies of how it was done.
Deb Polich: So, Greg, you know, I had a chance to look at the book, and I'm thrilled that you intersect the art in there with authors and films and playwrights. Seems like that's been very important to you and your life.
Greg Stesjkal: Sure. You know, I've always been a big movie fan, and in addition to that, I think I'm reasonably well read. And I went to law school. And so history and a lot of the popular media sort of intersects with a lot of things we do. I remember one time when I was first in the bureau and Aldrich was talking on the phone to another agent that he knew. And he was they were talking about this other agents thinking about retiring. The agent said to him, what, quit show business? And and, you know, it was funny, but it's kind of true. I mean, a lot of the things that the bureau does, you know, ultimately will end up on screen. So, yes, I you know, I talk about movies and plays and literature, how they sort of are intermingled into the stories that I write.
David Fair: Well, as you referenced earlier, Jimmy Stewart help foster your interest in becoming a man. When people read your book Tales of a Man, what do you want them to take away from it?
Greg Stesjkal: I guess what I would like, and I emphasize it in my introduction, that I had a long career, a very rewarding career. I enjoyed it. I loved it. We have mandatory retirement in the bureau or I might still be doing it. Right. But the main thing I emphasize is I did nothing, nothing in my career did I do by myself. It was a team effort. I'm just telling the stories this is and this isn't a memoire, this isn't an autobiography. This this is me talking about these cases, which I think people will find interesting. But also, I want them to understand what the FBI does and multitude of different kinds of cases, what we call violations of federal law that the FBI works and how we adapt to doing the investigations.
David Fair: So one final question. Where does the team think Jimmy Hoffa is?
Greg Stesjkal: Well, I actually addressed that a little bit in the book, but it has in at least in my estimation, and I think that of the agents that were actually involved at the beginning, we believe that his body was destroyed as quickly as possible. The Mafia, the La Cosa Nostra and the people that we believe were involved are very good at making people disappear. And they did do that.
Deb Polich: Greg, thanks so much for giving us a glimpse into your work.
Greg Stesjkal: Thank you for having me.
David Fair: That is retired FBI agent turned author Greg Stejskal. You can go to our website at WEMU Dot org. We'll have all the links for you so you can find out more and pick up the book for yourself. I'm David Fair and this is your community NPR Station. Eighty-Nine one WEMU FM in HD on Ypsilanti.
ABOUT GREG STEJSKAL:
Greg Stejskal graduated from The University of Nebraska in 1971 as a Business Major and received his Juris Doctorate from there in 1974. While attending The University of Nebraska, he played both Freshman and Varsity Football.
He was accepted into the FBI in 1975, and, from 1995 to 2006, he served as a Senior Resident Agent for the Ann Arbor, Michigan office of the FBI. Greg was assigned to Violent Crimes, Bank Robbery, White Collar Crime, Organized Crime, Narcotics and Terrorism Squads during his career. He was a member of the FBI SWAT team from 1977 to 1998 and a Senior Team Leader from 1987 to 1998. He was a certified Rappel Master/Air Assault and an instructor of training for narcotics raids. From 1990 to 1995, Greg was case agent for a major undercover case targeting distribution of anabolic steroids which resulted in the prosecution of over 70 subjects.
ABOUT THE BOOK "FBI CASE FILES MICHIGAN: TALES OF A G-MAN"
Across the Mitten and through the Upper Peninsula, the Wolverine State has witnessed some thrilling and historic federal cases. In Detroit, FBI agents took point investigating the kidnapping (and safe return) of a GM executive’s son and in a manhunt for an armed killer in the north woods near Escanaba. The Bureau was called in to discover who poisoned patients at the Ann Arbor Veterans Hospital and for a grisly double homicide solved by a persistent and determined fingerprint examiner. Michigan agents spearheaded the first-ever investigation and prosecution of an Internet threat, and legendary football coach Bo Schembechler inspired an epic international undercover operation targeting the illegal distribution of steroids. Retired Special Agent Greg Stejskal recalls these stories and others from more than thirty years as a G-man in Michigan.
Non-commercial, fact based reporting is made possible by your financial support. Make your donation to WEMU today to keep your community NPR station thriving.