Former officer now works on defense cases

Daily Republic | 2004
By Jess Sullivan

FAIRFIELD – it has been nearly eight years since Eugene E Borghello hung up a shingle for his private investigator business He’s never been in a shoot-out, never been in a high-speed chase with the bad guys and never been roughed up by underworld thugs.

Borghello, who heads up Special Investigations Group, is quick to correct anyone who is careless enough to call him a detective He is also quick to point out his work is nothing like the television stereo types people conjure up when they learn he is a private investigator.

“Exciting? definitely not, but it’s definitely interesting,” Borghello recently said in between answering the phone at his Fairfield office and talking casework with one of his investigators

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You couldn’t pay me enough to sit in a car in 100-degree weather to see if some guy is fooling around on his wife, Borghello said of the work his agency will not do. We rarely take up work from someone walking in off the street. Once in a rare, rare while will we work with civil attorneys on a personal injury-type case ”

The six investigators with Special Investigations Inc specialize in the work of criminal investigations They do not follow around possible philanderers, seek out missing loved on do background checks on people or do the dirty work of planting electronic bugs or similar acts more akin to film and fiction.

There are dozens of licensed private investigators in Fairfield and more than 100 private investigators licensed throughout Solano County, according to data from the Bureau of Collections and Investigative Services, the state agency that regulates investigators.

But only about a half-dozen of those licensed private investigators in the county, by Borghello’s estimate, work criminal cases. With a non-descript office off Madison Street, Borghello’s agency may be the only one working out of Fairfield specializing in criminal case work.

Exculpatory information

With his background in law enforcement, Borghello admits it took him a while to adjust to the task of seeking out exculpatory evidence, information that points to something other than a defendant’s guilt for a specific crime.

“Often when police interview someone it’s in the heat of the moment and there’s a lot going on the former cop said For the most part, the police in this area are doing a good job, but some of the people and witnesses who we interview later, after someone is arrested, say the police took things out of context or they misunderstood what was meant by what was said”.

“I’d guess 75 percent of this job is interviewing,” said Nick Oldwin, one of Borghello’s investigators. “Molest cases are the worst. No one wants to talk, there’s almost never any physical evidence and going into the courtroom you know some people have already convicted your client.”

The other 25 percent of the job includes photographing evidence and crime scenes, diagramming scenes and examining specialized areas of crime, Borghello said. Polygraphs, blood-splatter-pattern analysis, handwriting experts, ballistics experts, and similar crime scene investigation are fields where Specialized Investigations can link resources to particular cases.

Motive to fabricate

Borghello had been a cop in the Bay Area for a decade with three different departments before he took off his badge, got his investigator’s license and set up shop in Fairfield. He credits good timing for the success of his agency which has seen steady growth and success since starting.

When he came to Solano County, it was well into the shift from bucolic to bustling. Only a few other private investigators did his brand of work and most of them moved on to other typos of work, he said.

For every two cases, we close, we pick up three new cases,” Borghello said of his current success. “We’ve probably worked more than 10,000 cases since we started. We dosed 1,400 cases in just the last two years and at this moment we’ve got nearly 80 open cases.”

Several criminal defense lawyers who use Borghello’s company credit his hard work and experience – not luck – for the company’s success.

The bulk of the caseload handled by Specialized Investigations comes from Solano County’s local criminal defense attorneys.
Files with the names of the area’s top legal talent are neatly arranged behind Borghello’s austere desk.

“Prosecutors rely on the investigation done by the police. If there is no private investigation done, then the defense lawyer ends up having to also rely on the police investigation,” Borghello said.

One example of the value of a private investigation was a four defendant murder case in Vacaville where the police and, later, prosecutors, relied on what one alleged eyewitness claimed he saw while four guys fatally beat and kicked a stranger in the street, he said.

”We turned up information that called into question his credibility and why he had a motive to fabricate what he saw,” Borghello said.

The information played a part in changing the fate of the four defendants last year from serving life sentences for second-degree murder to receiving new varied terms for manslaughter with two of the defendants being set free with time served.