The Recovery Detective

November 18, 2021 JoeVanWie / Joe Regan Season 1 Episode 5
The Recovery Detective
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Joe Regan, CIP founded Ashbury Investigations in 2016 to
serve as a bridge between the behavioral health and investigative worlds.

Joe is also is on the front lines of combatting fraud in the Substance Use Disorder Treatment field for SCA 's & Healthcare providers.

In both investigator and interventionist Joe is an athletic
listener; his presence is quiet strength without
condescension. His logic, as well as his genuine
compassion only enhance his deftness in the field. A lover
of people, he is as at home on a city bus as he would be on
the frontier. He is always seeking and never stops wanting
to learn. He stays hungry and humble, valuing his
nourishing friendships, setting his intentions to make
meaningful and impactful connections throughout life—
reflecting onto others the dignity he possesses.

BA History
University of California Berkeley

AA Administration of Justice
City College San Francisco

California Association of Licensed Investigators
San Francisco district
MAR 2017

Association of Intervention Specialists

OCT 2016
Certified Intervention Professionals
Pennsylvania Certification Board

For more information please visit,

Support the show

Joe Van Wie  0:02  
All right. We're back with another episode. And let's meet Joe Regan. He's recovery detective. Joe, thanks for coming today.

Joe Regan  0:13  
Joe, thanks for having me longtime in the making.

Joe Van Wie  0:15  
Yes, yes, a lot has happened since we've last really got got a chance to sit down and talk about all the things that have happened in your last life in the last decade. And the title recovery detective, if you're not interested in what that could possibly mean. You're not very much thinking.

Joe Regan  0:39  
It's in the name? Yeah, it's two words, and it tells you who I am and what I do. We can elaborate further.

Joe Van Wie  0:45  
Well, before we we unpack what a recovery detective is, for anyone listening, give us a little background where you're from up to the point of school. Right before you started this venture of being a recovery detective, who are you?

Joe Regan  1:00  
Sure, well, born and raised in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and then eyeing for a way out to the West Coast and eventually found my way to San Francisco, California. I did my schooling at the University of California, Berkeley. And that's where the story kind of begins. What did you study? I studied medieval history.

Joe Van Wie  1:24  
And was there a lot of detectives when you uncovered at that point? Well,

Joe Regan  1:28  
the wonderful thing about history is, it's a series of arguments over time. And so you're able to infer myself, you know, go into the bowels of the library and Berkeley's library is, you know, second to none. And I could follow these primary sources, through the centuries. And it really gave me this sense of doing history, right? These weren't contemporary sources. These were manuscripts and, you know, the translation and being in the library, you know, after hours, I really felt like I was uncovering and unpacking, you know, these arguments that were centuries old, and then kind of inserting my own ideas into the present conversation,

Joe Van Wie  2:07  
would this be some of the Genesis work of detective work?

Joe Regan  2:12  
There are there are parallels to detective work, right? So you have all these disparate data points, or these pieces of information that are, you know, sometimes contradictory. And it's up to you to kind of winnow through them, and figure out what makes sense, you know, put this story together. So there really is, you know, it does translate into investigative work, because that's what I was doing. I was investigating arguments through time.

Joe Van Wie  2:40  
Wow, that's wild, what a distinct thing to study. I mean, there's not a lot, there was

Joe Regan  2:45  
a, there was a professor who taught Jeff Kozol who taught a High Middle Ages course. And, you know, he came in with a coffee and some post it notes, and then just, you know, command the lecture hall. And, you know, the, the font of knowledge coming from this man just kind of blew my doors back. And, you know, it's, it's, it's Western history, primarily centered in medieval France, and I loved it, it was, it was there were nights and there were, you know, crusades, and you know, reclaiming of the Holy Land. I wanted to get into that and understand more about it,

Joe Van Wie  3:21  
as well. So interesting. Joe, when you depart from Berkeley, how does a professional life start with being now that you're an expert in medieval history? Where did you

Joe Regan  3:33  
the job search? Well, it started like most others with Monster and, and, and a temp agency in downtown San Francisco, and I got a fantastic chance to work at a, at a business consulting firm, you know, it's, it's multinational, it's got 10s of 1000s of employees. And it it kind of satisfied a self image that I had, you know, I wanted to, you know, ride an elevator, I wanted to, you know, look out, you know, floor to ceiling glass, and it was status, it was image. And ultimately, it wasn't, it wasn't what grinded my gears. It wasn't what made me happy. And I'd stayed there for a few years. And there was a gentleman who would come in from the outside, he was a he was a private investigator. And whenever there they were doing background investigations on partners who are going to become you know, executives or suite suite, C suite level, they would have to do a really deep and thorough due diligence on this person. We're not talking about you know, check a box. Have you ever had a DUI? We're talking about months long investigations. And so for objectivity and independence, they would bring in someone from the outside. He happened to be from Rhode Island from Pennsylvania, and we really, really squared off around this East Coast thing. So, there I am, you know, working in the financial district of downtown San Francisco. And I don't want to say that it was soulless. But it wasn't. It wasn't what I thought I wanted. When I had finally arrived, right. I had no my own personal recovery. I'd cleaned up again, I interviewed Well, I landed the job. And then I finally got it. And I felt deflated. I stuck around because you know, the benefits were great. And it was an easy commute on the 21 bus downtown. So But back to back to that first mentor asked if I could do a ride along with him. And he said, Sure, come on out. I'd been living in the city for several years at that point. And the first case we worked, just, it blew my doors, it blew my hair back. It had all of the elements. You know, there were field interviews, there were all these little gangster crews run around Mission Street and if anybody knows anything about you know, Sixth Street in San Francisco, a lot of stories and there. It's just it's a very, very vibrant block, we'll say. And so on the way you'd want to hear the story. Yeah. Okay. All right.

Joe Van Wie  6:16  
Let's set it up. So you've departed from corporate life, it just bottomed out and I can relate to that. Yeah, I've achieved a position somewhere that I wanted so desperately, but I do not want to do this job or how could they pay me enough to care? I just wanted the suit the hill that collapses you start really getting interested in this detective work? Yeah. So what's the first case what are you setting up here

Joe Regan  6:41  
the first job but you know, so down in the in the soma neighborhood just South of Market for the listeners out there. You know, some young tech entrepreneur had pulled up his G wag on on Mission Street between Fifth and Sixth was going to make a deposit at the provident loan. He took his keys with him but he left his doors unlocked and put his four ways on. Went to make the deposit he came back out and he noticed his car had been completely ransacked. Not an uncommon occurrence in San Francisco. However, the contents that had been stolen were in essence a go bag. Right? So we're talking about 25, large computer firearm, passport, drop phones, that's not something that you can go to SFPD and say, I've lost my go bag, you helped me find it. Right. So that's when you reach out to a private investigator. And that was the first case I work so it was it was a theft. It was on Mission Street. So that you know one of the first tasks was to try to collect all the CCTV footage there on Mission Street and one of the first doors I knocked on was a dispensary Barbary Coast and the owner very gracious guy I introduced myself said yeah, sure, come on in I want a safer business corridor I'll let you review the footage and he came in it was kind of a you know a swanky upscale dispensary you know full bar we started to make our way downstairs where the servers were and the mood definitely definitely changed from upstairs to downstairs you know, exposed brick no matter what but we made our way down and you know, for I don't know how to describe it other than it was a BDSM layer right there were chains out of the wall there was a there was a cage there was in the dispensary in the dispensary in the basement basement of the dispensary right there's vaults with you know you know cannabis stacked four feet high and like I said he a cage and a shower and just BDSM so I you know I glanced

Joe Van Wie  8:42  
or any like breakfast

Joe Regan  8:46  
I glanced at him said Jesse what what gives? He's like, Oh, you know, I don't even see it anymore. This was actually kink dot coms first filming location. So but the computers are back here come on and view it right so I had all this stuff right so I collected the CCTV footage was able to find out that you know the person that that had had broken into the car you know, you're you're always you're looking for patterns, anyone that you see on a sidewalk more than twice in under three minutes. You can reasonably assume that they either live right around there or they're they're probably up to no good. So this guy dressed in a Carmelo Anthony jersey, found out that it was a it was a Filipino crew that it lived across the street. Through some more field interviews. I was able to understand that I was supposed to go meet this guy by the name of Tom the Birdman Tom the Birdman Tom the Birdman at Civic Center at two o'clock, he would know where the goods were. This is

Joe Van Wie  9:44  
it sounds like a millimeter. Remember that movie?

Joe Regan  9:48  
Yeah, I do. I do. Make sure I make my way up to civic center. Well, first I asked that, you know the person in the field interview and this person you know, this is this is a street person on I'm on Mission Street. And I said, Well, how am I going to know? Tom the Birdman? How am I gonna know it's them. And they looked at me and this very just matter of fact way like, you dummy. He's gonna have a bird on his shoulder. Oh, that's a street knowledge right there, right? Yeah aacomas Razor, right Tom the Birdman because he's got a bird on his shoulder and there he was like near the hotdog stand at Civic Center. Turns out, it was kind of bust. But again, it just added fuel to my desire to go out there and understand the city in a way that I had never seen. And so that after after doing that case, I said, How do I do more of this. And that was the that was the creation of, of Ashbury investigations, you know, so I started my own detective agency in San Francisco. And a lot of those first cases, because of my knowledge of the city, we're missing persons. San Francisco is a destination, a lot of people wash out a lot of people running from something and up in San Francisco, you know, whether you're, you know, a gay man from Sioux Falls, Iowa, you know, or you just don't really kind of fit in San Francisco is kind of that beacon. People come out there, they get in over their head, with either drugs, the nightlife, the lifestyle, and, and they have concerned family members, and they would call me and I would go find these people. And sometimes, you know, rip them out of the gutter in in the tenderloin and, and find something to do for them. So as an investigator, when you're doing a missing person or a locate, the job is over once the Locate is performed.

Joe Van Wie  11:44  
Yeah, right. Usually hires you for like a Locate family, it would be it would be

Joe Regan  11:49  
families, yeah, primarily families. You know, sometimes it would be you know, a boyfriend or a girlfriend, but mostly, you know, concerned families out of state who were looking for their son or their daughter. So

Joe Van Wie  12:01  
this is a departure from the first case that you realized you had the skills for an in predominantly a mixture of intellect, intuition,

Joe Regan  12:11  
intellect, frustration, the ability to put your hand out, say hi, and start a conversation, build rapport. In 30 seconds, it's just a series of elevator pitches, and under 90 seconds,

Joe Van Wie  12:23  
it just find it's so interesting, you immediately went from finding a go bag, which is exciting, yeah. To capturing, or at least seeking to help people that are missing loved ones. Like, that's a huge departure from

Joe Regan  12:40  
a huge departure. But I didn't

Joe Van Wie  12:41  
know you want it to how did that happen? That transition, knowing this is what I want to investigate,

Joe Regan  12:46  
because it's righteous work. Yeah, you know, it, it hits you where it feels good. And you know, you're, you find the talents that or you rediscover, or they you awaken the talents that were in you all along, and you put them into good use, you know, people who are missing persons usually fit into one of three categories. They're waiting to be found. They don't want to be found, or they're dead. Right. So as the investigator you perform the successful locate jobs over, however, a lot of the times 85 90% of the time, there's a huge question mark, what next? What do we do? Right? So then being able to kind of break that fourth wall and be able to intervene on that person find out you know, what are the resources look like they're in the city and maybe beyond? How can we just move you from a place of, of despair and sickness and harm, danger, really just into something marginally better. And that might be a city detox at jewel, Joe Healy or something. So that's where I started to marry the two ideas of or the, you know, the two professions, the two worlds of investigations and interventions. And it was after probably four or five of doing these that I just, you know, I found out that there's a need for this. Yes, it's it's niche. It's highly specialized. But it's necessary and it's really, really good work and, and that's the recovery detective. Right. So it has that recovery piece and it has to Detective piece you know, for when I'm trying to explain this to more, you know, corporate minded people, you know, these are behavioral health investigations,

Joe Van Wie  14:36  
behavioral health investigations. What did you do to hone the skills you've innately I've known had for detective work, what training couple it to become an interventionist, you find the locate, and now there's this this place that you can intervene on their life for behavioral health manners. Oops, out of that, look. Your training?

Joe Regan  15:01  
Well, there's an organization nationwide, it's called the association of intervention specialists. You know, I had some guides and mentors that, you know, brought me in shepherded me through the process. I think it's around a, you know, a 2500 hour full commitment of doing, you know, recovery based work. I took trainings, I'm a huge advocate for, you know, continuing education, and you know, for better or worse Credentialism right, you you you want to become the authority and it's also it's kind of the beauty of America and to borrow a line from madman you know, this is America. You find a job you create a job and then become the person who does it. And that was me,

Joe Van Wie  15:45  
I'm hired. Like, liquid you got I'm like, what I'm looking at here, you're hired.

Unknown Speaker  15:54  
It's it's such

Joe Van Wie  15:56  
an interesting path you took and I would not expect anything else. But what what makes you distinct is your ability to train and and have a credible intervention, because there's so many out there or stories I've heard in the past, or I've even experienced, or just was browbeaten with coercion, bad facts, strange sentiment, it felt like an attack of all my systems were up Sure. What kind of ethics and compassion you how do you make this innovate? vention happen when you've been telling someone for a couple of weeks, where they don't look like they're being jumped? Like the stranger just comes out of the midst of their life and hiding? Sure, it says, Hey, man, I'm here. Do you want help? Hi. It's your ability to,

Joe Regan  16:43  
you know, to invite them into the conversation. It could be just a curiosity, it could start with a question, right? You want to keep it open ended, you want to keep the conversation alive and thriving and going for as long as you can. You don't want you know, like you said, you know, you don't want to browbeat them. But you want to be able to help them in those few minutes. resolve their ambivalence, and impossibly motivate them towards change. Change is it's a constant, but it's also kind of an amorphous term to write. Do you think that your life could be different? And if you do, what would that look like? So it's collaborative. It's an invitation, you know? And it works. It works. It an intervention is coercive, no matter what? Sure, sure. Right. But there's certain there's certainly degrees. So

Joe Van Wie  17:46  
what would you find your What was your most fulfilling case? When you fully? This, this ventures off the ground? Right? What did a full case look like? A full case? Yeah, full case,

Joe Regan  17:57  
okay. myself or my partner who's based in Denver, Colorado, Jordan, Dawn of the recovery guides, will will feel the call from either, you know, a consultant, a family therapist, a family lawyer, or you know, who we call the, the first caller. And they'll describe the crisis that they're in why they're why they're reaching out, you know, we'll, we'll get as much information as we as we possibly can. And sometimes when you're working these missing persons, all you have is a credit card receipt that's two months old. That's where you start, right, you've got you've got two factors, two variables that you're working with, in missing persons, right, you've got time, and you've got space. And you try to narrow the gap as hard as you can, in time and space. And so if someone has, you know, a two week lead on me, I want to you know, they have two weeks, so you have, you know, your element of time. And what's the distance where were they last seen? Right? So And beyond that, yeah, it's it's gumshoe work. It's also access to, you know, proprietary databases and license plate readers. But nothing beats pounding pavement, field interviews, and kind of moving up the escalation chain, because remember, I said that, you know, people fit into three categories, one of those categories is they don't want to be found, right. So if you shake too many trees, someone's liable to kind of sink further underground. And so, you know, over time I've developed you know, and this gives the family the peace of mind that we're structured that we're organized and that we're moving. We're always moving forward. We're acting assertively, right, we have got a 24 hour 36, a 72. And a 96 hour plan of attack for this missing persons which ultimately, if we need to start a flyer in campaign here's a little tip for your listeners out there if they ever are in That harrowing moment of having to having to find someone who's missing and create a flyering campaign, you want to create two flyers, you want to have two separate phone numbers. You want to flyer one section of town with one and one with the other. Therefore, you are, you're able to be a little more hygienic. When the call comes in, you're able to tell it came into this 650 Number. I'm getting calls from that. So I can reasonably assume this person is in that section of town and not in the other section

Joe Van Wie  20:33  
of target. Right? Good lawyer ads do that too. It always pushes one number for the TV. Right? Well, no, what's that? My ads for working? Yeah, but that's that's brilliant. It works. Yeah,

Joe Regan  20:44  
it does. God, what are some other some other? So these

Unknown Speaker  20:49  
are tactics? These are tactics? Yeah.

Joe Van Wie  20:54  
Are we talking about a demographic that needs to be found that it's just these wealthy people?

Joe Regan  20:59  
Their families are typically resource because they're reaching out to, you know, a private detective to find this person. Yeah.

Joe Van Wie  21:07  
And on average, they've been missing for what a week months? Or?

Joe Regan  21:11  
Well, there's something there's something called the reporting myth and missing persons, right. That's the idea that you need to wait 48 hours in order to file a missing persons report. That's yeah, you just have to think about what's a reasonable amount of time if your teenage son was supposed to be home six hours ago, and he's not you go ahead and file a missing persons report, right? That's gonna put them in a system there. You know, the, if they end up in jail, or in a hospital, there'll be notified in California, it's called klutz, it's the California law enforcement telecommunication service. So beyond that, where were we I lost track. Yeah,

Joe Van Wie  21:48  
we'll reel back in. So if you're, you're chasing someone, or you're tracking them down. They're compromised with a substance use disorder, maybe some other mental health underlying problems. Does this not compromise them in their ability to hide from a guy like you? Would? Do you find when you finally catch, you're ending the trail? Has addiction played a part in them finally, giving up or leaving too many clues were to be found?

Joe Regan  22:23  
I haven't, I haven't really come across anyone. That's that's truly unfixable? Yeah, right? We are creatures of habit, we have routines, no matter whether you're an executive, or you're someone living on the street. I'll also say this. Alcoholism, addiction is a disease of isolation, your world becomes very, very small, right? It could just become, you know, your studio apartment. If you're on the street, you're not going to stray too far from the place where you know, you need to get well and keep well. So once you have a general idea, and you start your field interviews, you'd be surprised you can find people pretty rapidly. Also, when you're doing these field interviews, you know, you're you're interviewing other lost persons lost souls. Right. And when they find, or when they when they speak to someone who's looking for, you know, a loved one. You're talking to someone who perhaps whose family had given up on them 10 years ago, they wish someone was looking for them. Right. And so they're all too happy to help you, you know, kind of solve that, that that puzzle. Also, everyone's got the hunt in them. Everyone likes to kind of be the detective. Right? So again, another tactic to kind of sort through, you know, the good in the bad is whenever I'm doing field interviews, I bring, you know, a picture of the, of the missing person. But I also bring a picture of a cousin. Right. And so I'll start the interview. And the first picture I'll show will flashing a picture of my cousin Max and say, Hey, do you know this guy? And if they say yes, then I know they're probably not that credible of a source. Right? Say No, I never seen the guy in my life. Okay, well move on. Oh, if you haven't seen him, maybe you've seen this person. So I'll, I'll do a show up of the missing person. Oh, yeah. Yeah, I've seen that person. They're over on Edie and Leavenworth. There you go. So, you know, you have to be you have to be creative in these moments. So, Max, if you're out there, I always have a picture of you in my back pocket.

Joe Van Wie  24:45  
Well, listening to these stories, it's just this perfect mixture. When you were talking earlier. You're looking for patterns. Yeah, that's a primal instinct. It's a sort of our first sense of security, find a pattern going automatic pilot, that part of the world's you know, I made sense of it, getting to use that ability and your keen intellect that you've always had. I'm not flattering you, you, you've always had that just mixing those two worlds on the hunt. But that isn't the most fulfilling part is it? How do these cases resolved? That's so you get to use these two core abilities you've always had? And how do they end up? What's the most fulfilling part at the end of this?

Joe Regan  25:28  
Well, has been maybe always will be, you know, driving away from a detox or driving away from a treatment center. You know, just this past week, I'd interview intervened on a on a 35 year old alcoholic, severely alcoholic, chronic progressive, and this man, if he did not accept help, or change, or you know, just a detox would probably be dead inside of a month. So as I'm winding my way back down, you know, the Colorado mountains. I was overwhelmed. Right, you know, I just did something really, really good. You know, and the family is eternally grateful. And that's why, you know, it's, uh, I really find that to be, you know, righteous and fulfilling work.

Joe Van Wie  26:18  
What is the key point where, you know, you have them turned, they're good, they're willing to just give up,

Joe Regan  26:24  
they ask questions, they ask questions, they get curious, themself, they allow the conversation, they allow the conversation to, to ebb and flow. When when they start asking you questions. I think, you know, you got them.

Joe Van Wie  26:39  
And how patient do you have to be before like, that's, that's kind of intuition. Right? Yeah. Reminding them. That's a real delicate skill. And you've been able to do it very successfully.

Joe Regan  26:52  
Yeah, for you. 90% success rate over and over again. Let's see.

Joe Van Wie  27:01  
There was this girl you were mentioning one time. That took a couple days. You finally you located her? Taylor for weeks?

Joe Regan  27:10  
Well, that locate that was in the that was in the Seattle Tacoma area that came in through through a concerned family hadn't seen their daughter in two months. She had taken off in her car and she was really she was on it was hard to tie away. 99 It's the I guess the old interstate five that traverses, you know, Seattle to Tacoma and through about 35 miles apart from each other. And, and I called it Desolation Row, because it's just littered with these, you know, fleabag motels propped up by another, you know, Indian Gaming casino, and they're open 24 hours and, you know, addicts, alcoholics, Drifters. This is the you know, this is the PN W so there's a lot of drifters in the Pacific Northwest. You it was, it was a wild wild scene. You know, imagine yourself walking into a casino that's open 24 hours, 24 hours a day, you know, the sounds, the sights, you know, and just desperate people, you know, gambling away their fixed incomes at at 230 in the morning. You know, vagabonds or Drifters? Really like it because it's open 24 hours and the sodas free. Yeah. Right. And so, you know, the thought going into that case was when you're talking about you know, observing and patterns, you know, picking out patterns. There's really, there's, there's two ways to do it. So I have got these these 35 miles, and like a pinball machine, I'm bouncing back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, from casino to you know, motel, casino to motel. So you can either keep your head on a swivel, or you can just hunker down and stay put. There was another case I work not too far away from Seattle to come in the on the Olympic Peninsula, where the ladder was more effective. I hunkered down, took about three days. But the only the only place of commerce in this, you know, you know, sawmill town was Walmart, so I can read I could reasonably assume that this person if they had to kind of reprovision they would come to Walmart sooner or later. And they did. It took about three days and I'd been up for at that moment when I saw him I thought I'd seen an apparition and he drove this this mid 90s Mercedes like gunmetal grey Mercedes S Class like it looked like some like Robert Mugabe was like pulling and you know what I mean? Even flag exactly this really diplomatic car. So you know, you can either keep your head on a swivel, or stay put Yeah, and wait for it to happen. Wait for them. They come to you because they eventually will

Joe Van Wie  30:01  
nobody this time are there doughnuts and hotdog wrappers. Like can we spot you? Because you're such a healthy guy? I mean, this is this is demanding. It is always took care of yourself. Yeah.

Joe Regan  30:13  
I mean, I challenge any listener out there to, you know, go sit patiently in a chair for 10 hours. And look at a door. Yeah. And don't take your eyes off that door. Don't check your phone. Don't do Sudoku. What do you

Joe Van Wie  30:29  
what kind of snacks you got the cigar? Did a lot of times I've always you always see that Time Lapse Shot or the cutaway of the passage of time and a detective movie Lethal Weapon. And it's just established. You know, the dash has more stuff on it. We've been sitting here pistachios break driven,

Joe Regan  30:47  
like, you nail the pistachios, yeah, mixed nuts. Anything. Anything from that one aisle and Trader Joe's is that's that's the detective aisle right there.

Joe Van Wie  30:56  
Right? Are you packing up?

Unknown Speaker  30:57  
Yeah, this this is wild. It's exciting. It is it is exciting. There's a lot of planning,

Joe Van Wie  31:03  
there's so much detail that would go into this from mental health preparation work of this person's behavior, their state of mind. Look, logistically, traveling, this window, this unknown window of how long you would be on the road, right? Coordinating with your team. If the Locate happens, where are you going? What do we have set up? I mean, this is only for a standard of professionals with ethics and serious training. It's just magnificent to find this, listen to these details that you're living this live show. I'm more interested as a friend, like what does it look like day to day for you? But I'm more interested in to in the stories? What are the successes of the stories of people have become the known people? Have they gotten sober?

Joe Regan  31:55  
Yes, they have gotten sober they and they have they have stayed clean, or you know, we find something, you know, when you present a reality to them that they are able to receive the doors open. Right? So it might not be you know, a detox, maybe it's it would certainly not be you know, a 90 day inpatient. But it would be some sort of change agreement. For instance. bringing someone a, you know, a backpack provisioned out, you know, with socks, socks, or you know, socks are big for people who are are living on the street, something they eat, or you know, and maybe even, you know, a little flip phone with my number and the family is number on speed dial. That just might be enough to kind of nuts it's kind of carrot and stick for a little while. Right?

Joe Van Wie  32:50  
Yeah. And then are you in constant contact with the family now while you're on the road?

Joe Regan  32:56  
Yeah, I give them I always, you know, have, you know, an end of day report for them. But I also I don't, I don't like keeping them in assists on on on edge. Right. So every update, you don't need to update all the time. It's why you hired me right in my professional I can take care of this and and I'll be able to deliver just give me a little time. So it's

Joe Van Wie  33:19  
not this suspense reading drama of looking at your phone is that no, that's an interesting aspect. I'd never consider the contact with the Wow. Joe, do you carry a weapon?

Joe Regan  33:33  
I don't, I do not carry a weapon.

Joe Van Wie  33:37  
That would give me the most sense of security if I was a family member hiring you? Yeah, the position of power that you really just felt you're finding someone with compassion with an A standard of training. It's interesting out just for this a sexy story. I don't know if there is have you ever felt in danger yourself or that the person you were, you know, trying to locate within immediate danger?

Joe Regan  34:04  
Yeah, yeah, there's, there's there's been a few and you know, over time you you develop and then you you hone that instinct, right? Your instincts are primal. It starts in your gut. And it can be it can be, you know, like I said just just really honed, for instance, you know, just a few weeks ago when I was in San Diego, doing a missing person. Young woman had been out there for a few weeks. You know, we were really really fixated on on the car. We knew which car that that she was living out of in the Mission Bay Pacific Beach area of San Diego. So we hunker down for about four days. On this one target house that was you know, the traphouse of the block and nothing, nothing day five sitting there When you're sitting surveillance, it's called Code five, sitting code five. And you know, the, the car that we had been looking for was a it was a 1997 Landrover all tricked out it had, you know, it had a winch on it, it had a, you know, a ladder rack on top. But you know, it was over 20 years old. So it was kind of dilapidated and rundown. So that was the profile of the people that were driving the car. Out of the corner of my eye, I see what looks like, you know, a 20 year old black Escalade drive by and I just got that feeling. That's them. Wow. Right. It just fit the profile. And never before, you know, in the years I've been doing this had had, you know, my heart sunk into my stomach so quickly, you know, and this, this escalated, was murdered out, right, you know, blacked out windows, but it just gave that vibe they are our people would be driving that car. I'm gonna break position. And I'm gonna go ahead and follow this car and see if this is it. And you know what it was this car parked out in the Back Bay neighborhood of San Diego. And no one got out for three hours. Right? I mean, who goes in parks and doesn't get out of their car or someone who's living in a car. Right? So again, you know, these instincts, you know, they're natural. They, they're primal. And they can absolutely be, you know, honed and put to good use.

Joe Van Wie  36:31  
There's a great book on what you just described. Malcolm Gladwell wrote, oh, yeah, blink, okay. And it really dives into the idea of intuition. Where it's just not a foggy idea. It's this practicality of training. Yeah. An hour spent doing what you're doing. It feels like intuition. You don't have time to intellectually articulate it to your conscious mind, like through language. But you knew you had to follow that car. It's because you're an expert. Yeah. It's essentially what the book saying that this is a honed skill. We call it intuition. But it's been hours of training. Yeah. And then the pattern just made sense in your mind, and you acted on it. There was no time to even tell yourself why. That's, that's amazing. That's the marquee of an expert. Yeah.

Joe Regan  37:21  
Maybe tell you, you know, the listeners and yourself another. I know, is it is it sexy. It's, it's it's kind of cinematic. You're familiar with the the Occupy Wall Street movement back in, you know, 2010 2011? You know, I

Joe Van Wie  37:39  
did buy it because I didn't know what what it meant and what it where it was going, but it was, it was some disruption. I was right. It warmed me. What can this mean? Yeah.

Joe Regan  37:48  
Yeah. Before it got co opted. Yeah. Yeah. So a very bright, intellectual. He was a playwright was a playwright from New York City, joined in, in that movement. And, you know, in, like I said, in a short, short amount of time, it got co opted, and, oh, there probably became, you know, safe off ramps for people to, you know, put their energies. And that had an impact on him and became, you know, disenchanted disillusioned by the whole thing. And pulled up stakes in in the borough's and moved out to New Mexico to kind of homestead. And he chose this place called the Mesa which is on the east side of Taos where you have to cross the Rio Grande. And the Mesa can just only be described as outlaw country. Yeah. You know, you're, you're being you know, it's not lino BB, you know, not rail, rattlesnake heads and barbed wire. But you know, when you're entering the mesa, that you are, you know, you're living off grid, but you're also observing in living by an entirely different standard of rules and law with your fellow humans. Mesa is the kind of place where I guess you could call it a commune. But, you know, if you step out of line in the mesa, you'll be dealt with very severely and very rapidly, you know, you'll you'll be shot and buried in the desert. And that's the end of the story. Right, so don't disrupt the flow of the mesa, and that's what he chose. Right.

Joe Van Wie  39:28  
And you're not moving there to open a yoga studio. A social media app company. You're not going right. You're not going to hide

Joe Regan  39:37  
Yeah, yeah. So again, people who don't want to be found Well, we had to go off of was a credit I get a credit card receipt, you know, a phone call back home that he was going to Taos and it fit the description that he would be going to somewhere like the mesa. So starting in Taos, learned a little bit about what the Mesa was and you know, the do's and the don'ts of it. And, you know, you're welcome to come in as a passer through, like, you'll, you'll be tagged and you'll be clocked as you, as you, you know, make your way through the new circuitous route of the mesa. But but you won't be harassed. You know. And you can even strike up a conversation. There's a, you know, the big abandoned school bus, which is, you know, the mesas library. So, like I said, people are going there to homestead. So it's, you know, just a rich library of, you know, you know, cultivation and growing and anything that you would need to know, to kind of like to have your own little startup.

Joe Van Wie  40:39  
And is this becoming generational out there? I don't like I've never been there. Yeah. Is there like, second third generation now? Maybe? Yeah. People?

Joe Regan  40:47  
Yeah, it's actually started in the 1950s. I can't remember the gentleman's name. He was a professional athlete and an Olympian.

Joe Van Wie  40:55  
I'll look them up, insert them here. Yeah. I do two inserts,

Joe Regan  41:00  
if anyone had ever heard of an Earthship, right. Yeah. So an Earthship uses you know, you know, geothermal, and it's kind of built into the side of a, of a sand mound, or you know, like a clay mound out in the desert. And they're wild. It's kind of this New Mexico Adobe slash Burning Man, place of residence. And a lot of them end up looking like Watts Towers.

Joe Van Wie  41:30  
I'm visualizing not the moon of Endor. But we're Luke was from that tower all the jet is kind of you're on

Joe Regan  41:38  
it. Yeah. When we break I'll show you pictures from from the mesa. Okay. So, you know, having that that phone call back home, and that, that credit card receipt, you know, we started our we started our tracking. And I did some interviews at a at a local organic grocery there in Taos. And yeah, he our guy had been seen fairly consistently, usually out back near the dumpster collecting organic matter. You know, orange peels, egg shells, cardboard, so I decided to kind of post up at the dumpster. And there lo and behold, he was I found him dumpster diving for, like I said, organic matter to then kind of haul with him back to the Mesa in order to create Earth, right, because the soil out there is so Alkalyn that you really have to just bring outside organic material in order to, you know, make something arable, you know, to actually cultivate it. Yeah. And so, you know, with this gentleman, it wasn't, you know, he was he was of sound mind, right. He just didn't want anything to do with this material world.

Joe Van Wie  42:57  
Yeah, that's that's a hard confrontation. Because there's, there's a romantic side. I mean, that's always it's always been attracted to. I mean, is this the guy that knows what he's doing? And I'm just, I'm stuck. Did you ever? Yeah,

Joe Regan  43:11  
I mean, well, is there anything else in your own mind collecting rainwater and you know, saving his own urine in order to you know, nitrate, the soil? He wakes up with the sun and he goes to bed with the sun?

Joe Van Wie  43:23  
Yeah. I don't know. There's a homo homeostasis to that, that. I could feel why I would look crazy to him. Yeah. Yeah, man. That's wild. Yeah. How do you how do you engage? How to do engage? Because I'm sure you're coming to him. With the point of non judgement, like you, you can understand this man.

Joe Regan  43:43  
Well, for me, it was it was a great learning experience, too, right? I mean, if you know wait for so I'm extending an offer an invitation, but I'm also listening for the invitation. Right? Once you come into my word a little bit, you know, he didn't drive. I had a car. You've got, you know, at least 65 pounds of of garbage, right of garbage in a tarp right there. Let's throw it in the back of the truck. And I'll take you out there and then you can show me what you do. I'd like to know more.

Joe Van Wie  44:13  
Yeah. Yeah, that is so that's it. You're building a relationship. So it's not you know, you're not slapping bracelets on them? Alright, get out of that. God damn garbage. You were curious. Why would a man so brilliant play right? Be so disillusioned by a movement that just collapsed? Now he's collecting fertilizer? Yeah, to bring out into the desert. Right? I would probably want to hang with him for a day or two myself to see.

Joe Regan  44:44  
Yeah, so we set it up over the next few days that we would meet at a certain time we would go out there and and watch the sunrise with him. You know, watching the sunrise, you know over the Sandia Mountains in northern New Mexico. You really You get the feeling like, Well, maybe he is Joe, this your job? He is doing the right thing here. Yeah.

Joe Van Wie  45:05  
So where's his addiction at this point? You said the sound of mine. But is he compromised with an addiction? Or?

Joe Regan  45:12  
Yeah, well, this was more of a case of, you know, the families or the family needed the family needed to know, you know, were we going to be able to get a clinician in there? I don't think that that was it. But could we have a pool we create, you know, could we create a line of communication? Back home? Yeah, we could certainly do that. Could we maybe create some sort of, you know, document for change, right? What are the what are the markers, you know, what are the things that you know, are going to let him live a peaceful life, but then also, you know, give his family comfort that, that their son is okay. So, it came down to that, you know, he was out there to do something that very few other people would even consider undertaking and you kind of had to respect what he was up to. And so it was one of those rights. So let's leave you with, you know, some credit, you know, at that organic grocery store for you to, you know, buy groceries if you need to. He didn't want the cell phone. Right. But he did agree to you know, check in with the family every two weeks or so resources

Joe Van Wie  46:25  
for make sure he's Yeah. You know, my imagination just went somewhere because I've always had I've always sympathize. But what happened to Ted Kaczynski is a brilliant guy, you know, involved in some experiments, government, but it's brilliant. And to most people for the first half of his life was a gentle soul, just a brilliant guy. If his family reached out to him, I mean, it sounds like you found a Ted Kaczynski before his mental health decline, because he's getting the support of his family he's not totally cut off, doesn't have to turn into something darker. He's living a lifestyle he likes. But there's a point of contact now you could come home, or you have resources here. That's, that's beautiful. Or would you come back, Joe?

Joe Regan  47:20  
Absolutely. Yeah, I've got I'm, you know, helped me help me write the book and helped me tell the story. You know, there are it's overwhelming. I've got yeah, there's a there's a handful of stories that that are waiting to be told, you know, just from the time and in San Francisco doing, you know, more traditional pie investigative work, to you know, traveling throughout the country to find missing persons. I also wanted to add that, you know, another outgrowth of the recovery detective and this came from an intervention that I had done on his about 20 to 23 addict in Pacifica, California. And so just a little sleepy surfer town, just south of San Francisco on your way to Moss Beach and halfmoon Bay. About You know, the really, really dark, dark side of the for profit, addiction treatment industry, and body brokering. Yeah, it's, it's pretty gnarly. I had intervened on this young man placed him in a program down in Orange County, Orange County, California. He was thriving, he was doing well, but he was still you know, vulnerable. And people prayed on him at an AAA meeting. They they poached him, right they they approached him and, and really with enticements of, of money in a motel room said, you know, well, firstly, usually asked, you know, what kind of what's your insurance policy? Because all these policies are placed on a hierarchy. Right. And that's really that's the vehicle for the fraud is the insurance policy. Okay. Maybe on our second, on our second part, he's been taught me a little bit more about, yeah, the the work that I've done, combating fraud, identifying combating fraud inside the addiction treatment industry, because we're looking at an industry that is at least $35 billion a year. Right? Where did this come from? Why is why how have these artificial markets that are preying on people? How are they able to exist? How do they find themselves? Where did they get the money and, and, and what's the what's what's likely to happen? As people do this, they call it you know, the rehab shuffle from South Florida to Southern California. I'm seeing more and more that, you know, in New Jersey, it's cropping up, you know, the listeners of Northeast Pennsylvania don't really have too much to fear. You know, the providers around here are legitimate. They are good, but northeast PA, Lackawanna County, Luzerne County, there's a great crop of young male addicts from which these providers can pull from, and maybe fly out to a program, oh, come down to South Florida or come to Orange County, you'll live on the beach. And, you know, they get there. And, you know, their their living, you know, aid to a room. And, you know, coincidentally, you know, the treatment center itself also has, you know, an IOP, PHP, the lab is in house, the the sober living house component is attached to it. So they're just, they're siphoning off money and kind of playing, you know, a bait and switch with these insurance dollars to kind of just maximize

Joe Van Wie  50:48  
the level of care is pretty. Yeah, exactly.

Joe Regan  50:51  
And so, and it creates this, this really, really perverse incentive, where the worst thing that can happen when the fraud is ongoing, is that someone gets better.

Joe Van Wie  51:02  
Oh, man, it's gross, it grosses.

Joe Regan  51:05  
Because if someone gets better, the fraud can't exist anymore. Right

Joe Van Wie  51:10  
job, the last four guys that, you know, have reached out to me, just non professional help. The help was getting them out of a recovery house that was so disgusting, and lacked all dignity someone would deserve and sobriety. That was the help. That was the immediate help I could offer them get out of here. Let's get out of here. Right? Violence, criminality, I mean, the police should be condemned. Sure. Pennsylvania is doing a great job, putting at least a standard they're called par standards. And that's a private standard, but D gaps, adapting them to regulate now just to have a recovery of no clinical component. Okay. But if you're going to be a recovery house that accepts state or federal money, for county funding, if this is distributed through the counties, you're going to be regulated, you're going to need to keep the standards to accept that money. And I think it can't happen quick enough. Sure. Because this is this undignified, it's, it's inhumane.

Joe Regan  52:10  
Sure, I'd be happy to share with you next time.

Joe Van Wie  52:12  
Let's just talk about that for an hour. Because yeah, it is a problem. It's a problem. We definitely like you said, I don't want to see around here. I don't think it could with our community, we would, we'd be opposed to it. But when you're in these little pockets between exits, like say jersey, they could spring up and all you need is a slick website.

Joe Regan  52:30  
Yeah. So I've created this screening tool for families for prosecutors, you know, for the DEA is for the ADEA is for other investigators for insurance si use because let's not forget, and it's sometimes it's a hard piece to communicate to people, but the insurance company is a victim to, right. Yeah. And so we have this whole scheme of you know, pay and Chase, you know, you pay out the claim, and then you go chase down the veracity of it. So, you know, it took this was this was my work in 2019 was understanding addiction treatment, fraud and body brokering. So I've created this screening tool, again, you know, for the families and for the prosecutors and the insurance groups who are investigating these cases that they can kind of use, you know, it's a field manual, I'll be able to get onto somebody's website, in under 10 minutes really tell you whether they're legitimate or not. Right? This is without even talking to someone in billing or someone in utilization review, right, I want to be able to give you because you want to be able to knock on that door with the evidence.

Joe Van Wie  53:28  
Right. So this has a bunch of bullet points of the screening before you'd have to utilization review is is kind of the apparatus into a rehab that gets insurance companies to pay out the next week or the 30 days. But you don't even need to get into the weeds there. You can review from just the presence the footprint online at this place is up to Yeah, yeah. How would someone reach out to you to do that?

Joe Regan  53:52  
Sure. When you can, you can find Get

Joe Van Wie  53:59  
a post that with your profile. Because that is the best way to reach out to Joe, if you're a family member need are concerned for anyone. If you're an insurance company or an in network or out of network provider, healthcare provider that needs to look into these concerns that Joe just spoke to, please feel free to contact him. Joe, I'm looking forward to having you back next time. Let's do it again. Rock and roll cool

Transcribed by

First Case
Missing in San Francisco
Trade Craft & Credentials
Tips for Listeners
Posting Up
Occupy the Mesa!
Fighting the Fraud!