Criminal mind Panelists to discuss 'Bad Guys' at Ann Arbor event

By Kurt Anthony Krug
Legal News

A district court judge, a retired U.S. marshal, a security agent and an author walk into a comedy club — not a bar, but a comedy club — what do they talk about?

Why, criminals, of course.

The above-mentioned four are Judge Terrence P. Bronson, who presides over the 1st District Court in Monroe; Louis Stock, who was a supervisory deputy U.S. marshal from 1985 to 2014, primarily serving in the Eastern District of Michigan; Daniel A. Alabre, director of all Michigan-based operations for Pinkerton, the security/risk management firm; and Sarah Zettel, a best-selling author who’s written in both the mystery and science-fiction/fantasy genres. 

On Saturday, July 29, these four will gather at the “Bad Guys” panel discussion at the Ann Arbor Comedy Showcase, located at 212 S. 4th Ave, at 2:30 p.m.

This event is sponsored by the Michigan Sisters in Crime, a newly-formed chapter of the writers organization that promotes the advancement and professional development of female mystery-thriller/suspense/crime novelists, and Aunt Agatha’s, an independently-owned mystery bookstore in Ann Arbor.

“Each one of them has an intriguing background with criminals and the criminal mind. Each speaker has their own take on working with criminals. You have to come hear the action unfold,” said the panel moderator Judy Lee Burke, author of “Blackrock Island” and protégé of the late renowned crime/suspense novelist Elmore “Dutch” Leonard.

“I’m excited to be involved in this event for aspiring mystery writers in Michigan. It’s a natural fit for Pinkerton since we are the first private detective services agency in the (United States) and our lineage tracks back to 1850 when Allan Pinkerton formed the Pinkerton National Detective Agency. In 1860, Pinkerton broke the gender barrier when Kate Warne was hired and became the first female detective in the U.S.,” said Alabre.

A 33-year veteran of the security field, Alabre is responsible for the local, national, and global operations based out of Pinkerton’s Detroit headquarters.

He served for 28 years in the U.S. Army, rising to the rank of colonel.

During his military career, he worked for the Defense Intelligence Agency in Washington, D.C.

Alabre oversaw Department of Defense programs in Mexico and other Latin American countries. He also has training and experience in counter-terrorism, surveillance, counter-surveillance, and interviewing/elicitation techniques.    

“Given that our client list spans a majority of the Fortune 1000 list, we handle cases that range from workplace violence prevention to complex investigations on both a temporary to fully dedicated basis,” he said. “Our services include security management, investigations, protective services, response services, business intelligence, and pre–employment services.”

One of the major upsides to working with Pinkerton, he said, “is that we are never bored.”

“Our clients rely on us as trusted risk advisors and constantly bring us new and challenging issues that they are facing,” Alabre said. “It is up to us to analyze the issue and come up with effective and efficient solutions.” 

According to Burke, this panel came about after many years of discussing bad guys with Leonard, whose protagonists were usually criminals, such as bank robber Jack Foley in “Out of Sight” (played by Oscar winner George Clooney in the 1998 movie adaptation) and loan shark Chili Palmer (played by Oscar nominee John Travolta in the 1995 movie adaptation).

Leonard advised Burke to give her villains a redeeming quality.

Therefore, Burke thought a “Bad Guys” panel would be a fascinating topic for the Michigan Sisters in Crime’s first event.

“Their expertise dealing with criminals and their behavior can help writers write good mystery and crime fiction,” she said.

In Stock’s case, he was enrolled in a fiction writing class taught by Burke this past spring.

That’s when he learned about the Michigan Sisters in Crime and that’s when she learned he was a retired U.S. Marshal.

Burke immediately chose Stock — who oversaw operations in Flint, Bay City, Ann Arbor, Port Huron, as well as a fugitive task force in Saginaw for the United States Marshal Services — for the panel.

“I’ll touch on fugitive apprehension because that might fit the (panel’s) theme,” Stock said. “How are fugitive investigations conducted? What if a fugitive crosses a state or international boundary? How do investigators coordinate resources and efforts with other state and local law enforcement agencies?”

In addition to fugitive apprehension, Stock said the USMS program areas include just about all aspects of the judicial system, including prisoner operations, court operations, judicial security, judicial threats, asset forfeiture, community detention and witness protection, to name a few.

 For just about any high profile federal criminal or civil case, the USMS has been involved in some way,” he explained.

Bronson and Burke are old friends, which led to his participation on this panel.

Bronson served in the U.S. Navy for three years during the Vietnam War and in the U.S. Naval Reserve for 27 years. He was trained as a surface warfare officer to maintain and operate naval vessels, qualifying him to command a ship, although he never did.

“I felt that being eligible to command a ship was in and of itself a great honor and something that I am proud of. For the Navy to allow me command, it would have to be a major war, so no regrets,” said Bronson.

An alumnus of Villanova University in Pennsylvania and what is now Western Michigan University Cooley Law School in Lansing, Bronson has been a judge since 1989.

Some of the cases Bronson’s presided over include a man murdering a police officer, major drug dealers, and “very minor crimes.”

Zettel is a University of Michigan alum who writes under her real name, Delia James, and C.L. Anderson.

She won the Locus Award for Best First Novel and was nominated for the Philip K. Dick Award.

Regardless of the genre she writes in or what name she writes under, one constant in Zettel’s work is writing about strong female protagonists. Her latest mystery novel is “Assassin’s Masque.”

“I'm delighted to be a part of the new Michigan Sisters in Crime,” said Zettel. “We have such a vibrant writing community all over the state.”

Added Bronson: “I feel honored to have been asked to be a part of this panel and hope that my experience of (more than) 28 years as a judge will benefit some of the participants.”

For questions and/or further information about the “Bad Guys” panel on Saturday, July 29, call 734.769.1114.