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Angie Wieck, Published August 25 2013

It's my job: Private eye finds satisfaction in helping

FARGO – Sherlock Holmes, Thomas Magnum, Monk. Thanks to movies and television, many people have preconceived notions about what a private investigator does.

You won’t find Al Kulesa, owner of DW Investigations in Fargo, wearing a trench coat, hat and sunglasses. He doesn’t spend his days hiding in the shadows or lurking behind the bushes.

The former sergeant with the Cass County Sheriff’s Office spends a majority of his time conducting interviews, doing research online and investigating accident scenes.

Q. Will you explain some of the things you do?

I work for a lot of law firms and lawyers, both civil and criminal cases. … Say you get rear-ended in an auto accident and have medical bills and want your rights protected. You contact an attorney and he will call me about a follow-up investigation. I may go back and document the scene through video or photos. I may take some measurements, do diagrams, talk to witnesses.

I also work for a lot of private businesses doing things like criminal background checks and investigating internal issues going on within the company. When you have a large number of employees, you often have internal issues like cases of sexual harassment or theft. When a complaint is made, I will help the human resource department conduct thorough and well-documented investigations that can then be used as grounds for discipline or termination. If our client says not only are we going to terminate this guy, we want him criminally charged, we’ll hand over our reports to the police department and let them continue with the investigation.

Do you ever help people find family members?

I have. … Every family seems to have somebody who has just fallen off the grid. Some of these people don’t want to be found. Sometimes, it’s enough just to be able to tell them (the client) that I found them, and based on what I saw, they appear to be OK.

A big thing right now with what’s going on in western North Dakota is locating people about mineral rights. There are a lot of people out there who currently have mineral rights who aren’t even aware of it.

Do you have access to special websites, or do you just know where to get information that might help find someone?

It’s a little bit of both. Private investigators do have access to a few types of websites the general public does not have access to. Those websites are good as far as obtaining personal information on people. It gives us criminal data and civil data like bankruptcies or civil judgments, but the most important thing it does is give us a history of family and relatives that I’ve found to be very reliable. It also probably gives the best address history I’ve found.

What do you like about your job?

Being my own boss. It’s also a lot like the public service aspect of law enforcement. After many years, I realized the greatest satisfaction I ever got was helping people. People call you because they need help. … I help a lot of people, and they are truly grateful for what I do.

For a more detailed list of DW Investigations’ services, call (701) 365-8014 or log on to dwinvestigations.com.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Angie Wieck at (701) 241-5501