Casino security expert ‘sleeping well’

Sep 14, 2004 7:12 AM

In recent weeks terrorists have had three fat targets to strike, and each time they took a pass. The Democratic convention in Boston, the Olympics in Greece and the Republican convention in New York City were all conducted without a shot being fired by people with an extreme political agenda. The terrorists’ decision to not strike during any of these three opportunities tells Peter Maheu that they are "either disorganized or they’re planning something real big."

The fact that there were no attacks "tells us our offensive is keeping them in the caves," Maheu said. "It’s hard to plan an operation when you’re running around in a cave."

Maheu, the managing partner of Global Intelligence Network, operates out of offices in Las Vegas. He describes his company as a private investigative firm specializing in due diligence investigations for gaming regulatory compliance and business development.

Maheu, 62, has an extensive career in law enforcement including stints as a patrol officer and detective in the Tucson, Ariz., Police Department and as the chief administrative officer in the Pima County (Tucson) Attorney’s Office from 1978 to 1982.

In 1982, he started a trademark protective service company in Los Angeles that specialized in internal theft and protecting the copyrights and trademarks of major merchandisers.

Maheu has been with Global Intelligence Network since November 1997, but he worked in Las Vegas earlier in his life. In 1964 he started work as an administrator for the gaming interests and other Nevada enterprises belonging to Howard Hughes. In the seven years that he had the job, Maheu says he never saw Hughes. His father, Robert Maheu, was Howard Hughes right-hand man for more than a decade.

Global Intelligence Network’s prime function is to provide businesses with mystery shoppers who give them reports on how customers are treated by the company’s employees. Mystery shoppers are employed by casinos, hotels, high-end restaurants, banks, golf courses, and fast food joints. Global Intelligence has 160 employees according to Maheu, with 15 of them working fulltime and the rest employed as mystery shoppers whenever needed.

Maheu says his business is doing fine and the reason has more to do with the expansion of gaming around the country and the world than the rise in terrorism. One of the services Global Intelligence offers involves doing background checks on people. The cost of the checks range from as low as $500 to as much as $75,000 and can be done as quickly as overnight on somebody living in, say, Japan.

The other major function of Global Intelligence is to perform due diligence investigations for gaming companies and regulatory compliance investigations to see that companies meet the criteria of gaming regulators.

Global Intelligence has other concerns including computer-assisted crimes. Maheu says that the FBI and CIA claim that by 2010, "Russian and Asian criminal elements will be able to hack into any computer system in the U.S.," unless major steps are taken to prevent those intrusions. He says computer security is an issue not only for the security forces of the U.S. but also the casino industry.

He said another emerging criminal activity is money laundering. He says a Russian crime family owns four smart card companies and "if somebody wants to transport $100 million, (instead of trying to physically carry that amount) you do it with the swipe of a card and smart card crime can’t be traced."

Maheu said Global Intelligence recently did a water threat assessment for terrorism and determined that the threat level is not high. However, "any major tourist location has a higher threat level than a non-tourist destination," he says, and "that doesn’t preclude the possibility of (a terrorist) strapping on a bomb and walking through a building" anywhere in the U.S.

In terms of identifying possible terrorist targets, Maheu said "since I’ve never been a terrorist I don’t have any real ability to predict what target they are likely to strike. I don’t pretend to be a prophet."

He suggests that one way to prevent an attack is to keep after the terrorists on a world scale. "You can’t pretend that they’re not around," he said, adding that he thinks city and county officials "are doing a pretty good job" in the area of terrorism, but would like to see more sharing of information.

Maheu said he thinks the ranks of the terrorists, especially among those in command positions, have been thinned considerably by the U.S.’s military efforts in the Middle East, and they may be trying to regroup and rebuild in the wake of their losses.

In any event, Maheu says he is not kept awake at night by the prospect of another 9/11 attack. Instead, in his off hours, he enjoys spending time with his grandkids, boating and fishing, "and (playing) a little golf, badly."