• WORCESTER — Pictures of a dead body littered the fifth-floor conference table.

    Crime scene photos. Autopsy photos. The works.

    Attorney Larry O’Connor was presenting a young John Lajoie with the opportunity to investigate his first criminal defense case. Mr. Lajoie stood in Mr. O’Connor’s office at 390 Main St. after the lawyer invited him to work on a homicide case. The young insurance claims investigator, making his first strides into the world of private investigations, was uneasy that day in 1988.

    “I’m not qualified. That’s how I felt — I’m not qualified,” he said in an interview recalling the day. “I did investigate that case and … there were two people involved, and we pled [our defendant] to a manslaughter.”

    To Mr. Lajoie, securing a lesser charge was a win.

    Years later, almost 30 plus, Mr. Lajoie — president of LaJoie Investigations — was sworn in as the national director for the National Association for Legal Investigators and takes office on Sept. 1. The organization focuses on fostering business relationships, providing professional development and continuing education, establishing a benchmark for investigation ethics among legal investigators.

    As a professional private legal investigator, Mr. Lajoie serves clients to uncover true facts about a particular incident, accident or happening that affects them in a negative or positive way. Lajoie Investigations Inc., located in West Boylston, focuses on legal, insurance, insurance claims investigations and special investigations relating to insurance fraud.

    More specifically, Mr. Lajoie provides litigation support services through his company for attorneys in the realm of personal injury and criminal defense, among other things. These cases can run in probate court, equity court, housing court, and in the district and superior court. From homicides to figuring out if a person is owed money by an insurance company, Mr. Lajoie has experienced quite a lot in his years of work in the private investigation field.

    What are some myths versus realities when it comes to private investigation and working on cases for clients?

    Myths: I drive a red Mustang. I have a dartboard in my office, and I have two blondes on either side of me. I carry a weapon. I don’t carry a weapon. I have a license to carry one, but I don’t carry a weapon on my job. The reason why I don’t is that … if I pull it, I’ve got to be prepared to pull the trigger. If I pull the trigger, I’m getting arrested, and then they’ll ask questions later.

    In your headlines, on your paper, will be ’Famous PI Arrested for Killing So and So.” I don’t think I want to go there. My business would be ruined. The people that depend upon me, my employees, would have no job. If I can’t talk my way out of something, kill me. But I’ve been talking my way into and out of, I won’t say trouble but, into and out of potential issues for the last 35 years.

    Can you break down some of the common misconceptions TV shows portray?

    I’ll give you a classic example: In a TV show, you’re going to see a surveillance and you’re going to see the red Mustang out there with the window rolled down. Then 15 seconds later, you’re going to see the subject of the surveillance come out of the front door of their house and you’re going to see either videotape or the flash flash flash [of a camera] right through the open window.

    Then you’re going to see a tail when the subject gets in the car and leaves, they’re right in the back of the vehicle. All of sudden you’re going to see the person get out and go grab the gun … and then you’re going to see the private eye get out of the car and either obtain or take that weapon away from that person because that’s really the murder weapon that’s going to prove that their client didn’t do the deed.

    That takes what, one minute on TV? I can tell you now that you could sit for 12 hours and not see a subject. You’re not going to be in a red car. You’re going to be in a vehicle that blends right in. It could be anything from a Toyota Prius to a van or let’s just say a Jeep SUV. How many of those are out there? It’s going to be an inconspicuous color and there’s not going to be too much tint on the window.

    Can you tell us about a time you worked through an investigation?

    I’ll give you an example of a case [over a decade ago] I did here in Worcester for Ted Harris. Remember Ted Harris? The tall African-American lawyer, very charismatic, very good closer. He’s now in Atlanta. He left.

    I won’t say the case because it was a bad case.

    They claimed that our guy came into the house of the victim who was deceased through a [kitchen] window that was maybe 18 inches by 20 inches. … Below that kitchen window, there was a counter and nobody ever saw any of this until Ted sent me over the pictures that police took at the scene.

    So, here they’re claiming our guy went in through that window. There was a ladder put up against the window and everything else and our guy went through that window. There was a co-defendant, by the way.

    So, I look at the pictures. You ever see one of those salt and pepper shakers that they have at restaurants? They’re glass and then … stainless steel … and it’s a perfect round on top. … On it, you ever see a Corelle cereal bowl? They’re slippery.

    It’s balanced completely on that pepper shaker. It was a salt shaker, actually. Balanced right in the middle. You’re trying to tell me, and it was right under the window, that our guy climbed into a window and didn’t upset that? So, now I think somebody planted it there. How about the co-defendant?

    Dismisal on a murder case on that one picture. I found that picture … in the police photos. So, I can’t say if it was missed by anybody. I’m not going to dis anybody. It’s not how I operate.

    Now, I’m not saying my guy didn’t have anything to do with it. He did. He pled guilty to an accessory after the fact, but he was not guilty of murder.

    You were appointed to national director of NALI. What does the organization do?

    NALI has been around since 1967. It’s the oldest and most prestigious association in the world for legal investigators, and when I say legal investigators, note the difference, because not everybody qualifies to be a legal investigator. Not everybody — some but not everybody.

    Since I’m so ingrained in the criminal defense area and some plaintiff work, I joined NALI in 1993. … The association was created, first of all, to foster goodwill and friendship and building business relationships. To develop them into personal deep … friendly relations so that we could learn from each other. So, we become friends. So, we like each other because we have something in common.

    The second mission or goal is to provide professional development and continuing education on a high level so that we can be educated. Learning is the most important thing that you’ll do in your life and you’ll do it every day. What learning does? It creates opportunities to unlock your full potential. So, if you learn something, somebody asks you to do something, and you haven’t done it before, how do you know you won’t rise to be the president of the National Association of Legal Investigators if you don’t put your foot out there?

    The third mission of NALI is to establish a benchmark for investigation ethics so that we are respected. So, that those myths are repelled … I’m a certified legal investigator. There’s only 63 of those in the world — 64 now because somebody just passed in Philadelphia. That’s a stringent program of testing.

    Chris Van Buskirk, Special to the Telegram & Gazette
    Original Article Link: https://www.telegram.com/news/20190804/one-on-one-john-lajoie-president-of-lajoie-investigations?fbclid=IwAR2mS697CesNmQKAoJ8KRxBfD_i27mIrs9Kxjw7s87g64FN90ZfShoFmxaQ

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