Greg Stejskal

Greg Stejskal

Greg Stejskal served as an FBI agent, a “G-man”* for thirty-one years and retired as resident agent in charge of the Ann Arbor office. This October 20th he will be the keynote speaker at The Washtenaw 100 annual fundraising dinner. He’ll share details of some of the cases he investigated as part of the FBI’s Detroit Division drawn from his new book, FBI Case Files Michigan: Tales of a G-Man, and how some foundational values directed his career and the on-going work of the FBI—values that can empower everyone to build a life that matters and contribute to their community.

But on to the connection of Hoffa, Lovin’ Spoonful and a meteorite.

Each of these involved cases investigated by Stejskal while in the Detroit Division.

One of the first cases Greg was involved with was the investigation of the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa. It eventually led to a connection between figures in the Teamsters and the Mafia in Detroit. It turned out to include a very lucrative relationship between the Mafia and the union’s pension fund.

The owner of the Lovin’ Spoonful in Ann Arbor, James Hill, was involved in the biggest marijuana ring ever prosecuted by the U.S. at that time in the 90’s. Greg developed a witness who identified Hill, nicknamed “The Joker.” Hill also owned and lived on an eighty-acre farm just west of Ann Arbor. He had a master’s degree from the University of Chicago, and his only criminal record was a minor traffic violation in 1973. And yet on the farm he stored and shipped 100,000 pounds of marijuana generating 20 million dollars in revenue. Greg’s team made the arrest. Unfortunately, after that there were no more double and triple scoops at the Lovin’ Spoonful.

Michigan Meteorite. Well, it was actually a meteorite from Flagstaff, Arizona from the Canyon Diablo. A fragment from the much larger meteorite that mostly vaporized when it collided with the earth’s surface and created the canyon, became part of the University of Michigan’s offerings. Until one day it somehow took flight again. Turns out it took flight to New York when, after he absconded with it, a man named Collins sold it to a dealer in New York. How he got the meteorite out of the museum, is still not known. But as Greg says, “The truth is out there.”

So that’s a tease of the kinds of stories Greg will tell. You won’t want to miss his telling of them live at the dinner. (You can click here to get tickets!)

Now here’s a few thoughts he shared with The Washtenaw 100 in conversation.

The Washtenaw 100: From reading your book it’s clear you had a very, what should we say, a very adventuresome career.

Greg: I sometimes kid about my career in the FBI by saying we have the same mission as Superman—but it’s really what our goal is—To Fight for Truth, Justice, and the American Way. Now DC comics has framed it a little more broadly as “a Better Tomorrow.” But either way, that’s what we want to do through our work—make a better tomorrow for everyone living here in America.

The Washtenaw 100: What was your path to the Bureau?

Greg: My dad served in WWII and was in the Reserves, so we had a model of someone that lifted up service for country. I have two brothers and we were all involved in Scouts—in fact we all made Eagle. So, the camaraderie, the adventure and service of scouting was part of that background. We grew up in Nebraska and I got accepted at University of Nebraska** and played football as a Husker on what was then a national ranked organization. I did more practicing with the team than actually playing in games but the teamwork and focus on a mission of getting that ball across the goal line always excited me. I went on to law school at UN Lincoln and right out of grad school was accepted into the FBI.

The Washtenaw 100: What is the mission of the FBI?

Greg: Our mission is to “Protect the American people and uphold (support and defend) the Constitution of the United States.” Our vision is to be “Ahead of the threat.”

We’re called the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Our role is to investigate, to see if someone is breaking a federal law and if so, to then enforce the law equally–without bias and without political intent.

The Truth is a big value in what we do. We’re trying to follow the facts—and the law—to discover the truth. We in turn have to tell the truth as we are going through the process. For example, we have to be granted a search warrant by a magistrate or judge to proceed. In doing that we have to swear an oath that we are telling the truth. If we aren’t that is perjury which is a felony, and we would lose our job and worse.

The Washtenaw 100: You mention rules. What are the key rules you have to follow?

Greg: It’s the Bill of Rights. It expresses those rules. It spells out the rights of Americans’ in relation to their government. This is the framework within which we work. It gives us a roadmap and protects individual citizens from government excess. Our job is to enforce the law and find out those who are breaking it and bring them to the court.

The Washtenaw 100: You’ve mentioned values, what are the core values of the FBI?

Greg: There are a number of them like respect, integrity, leadership, compassion. This is what every agent strives for. But I would say what is most compelling for all of us who serve in a government position is what is stated as “rigorous obedience to the Constitution.” The Constitution is the treasure we protect for the sake of the people. So that we can maintain government of the people, by the people, for the people. This value and the vision it communicates is what gets us up in the morning no matter how tough the day before might have been, and even if we’re facing personal risk in the line of duty. It just re-engages you.

The Washtenaw 100: Are there a few keys to success as an agent?

Greg: First, it’s your training. We go through some pretty rigorous preparation—mentally, physically and emotionally—to help us engage in what are crisis situations. Then it’s your team. The folks next to you that you can count on to be there for you—including our families. And finally, it’s our relationships with the community. We don’t do this alone. We can only succeed with the cooperation of the public. That’s why it’s important that citizens know who we are and what we do. We want them to see that our actions are on their behalf. And that’s not just true of the FBI. It’s true of everyone that The Washtenaw 100 serves — those right here locally serving in law enforcement and fire protection who protect all of us each day. By getting to know them in some small way and being a support, we secure a safe environment right here at home.

*Tradition has it that the name came about when Machine Gun George Kelly was arrested in Memphis in 1035 and said, “Don’t shoot G-men.”

**For more on Greg, read a wonderful article by Chris Graves for the Nebraska alumni association.

Learn more about the Washtenaw 100.