J.T. Mullen Private Detective Website Background Image
J.T. Mullen Private Detective
J.T. Mullen Private Detective Website Background Image
J. T. Mullen Website Background Image
J.T. Mullen Website Background Image
J. T. Mullen Website Background Image
J.T. Mullen Website Background Image


Article on J. T. Mullen in the Rockland County News

Mullen, P.I.s

Rockland Journal News

Manhattan's morning light is turning from neon to natural. Joggers, dog walkers, and delivery men are already out on the street.

And so is Tom Mullen.

He settles his 6 foot, 250 pound frame into the driver's seat of a new black Mitsubishi Galant that's double parked on Park Avenue, and proceeds to do what he does for hours and hours almost every day.


"The guy's 71, married 25 years and he has a secret life. His wife doesn't know where he goes," Mullen says of the multimillionaire he's tailing. "This is the fifth time we've followed him. Two times he's gone to his girlfriend's house."

The 40-year-old Mullen, a married father of two from Pomona, pulls two wallet-sized color photos of the unsuspecting husband from the sun visor. The slender, clean-shaven businessman could pass for 60.

"The girlfriend's about 42," Mullen says with a laugh. "No doubt about it, the guy's in great shape. I don't think he needs Viagra."

Mullen's eyes focus on the doorway of the posh, Upper East Side apartment building in the city's canyon of luxury, where some of the world's richest and most powerful people reside.

Many also cheat.

"I think I've worked every single building here in my lifetime," he says. "I sat for days and days, sometimes for weeks, at many of them."

Mullen anxiously runs his hands over his legs. He is anything but the dapper, mysterious Humphrey Bogart-like stereotype of a private eye. Bearded and balding, dressed in jeans and a windbreaker, he blends in with the surroundings.

Engaging and entertaining, calculating and cautious, Mullen is a human heat-seeking missile hired to follow and destroy.

He anticipates a short wait on this cool and cloudy fall morning - although at $200 an hour, who's in a rush?

The millionaire he's tailing generally sticks to a pattern. He leaves the apartment and his wife between 7:40 and 8:05 in the morning and returns home by 5:30 in the afternoon. In between, he either goes to work at his office or spends the day with his mistress at her apartment.

Right at 7:43, a man wearing a trench coat and fedora steps out of the doorway and into a cab. Mullen smiles and hits the gas.

"That's our man," he shouts.

And the chase begins.


Like his grandfather and father before him, Tom Mullen was born to be a private detective.

He is second in command at J.T. Mullen Company, Manhattan's top private investigation firm. His father, 65-year-old Joe Mullen, might be the most well-known and sought after snoop in America. Their client list reads like a "Who's Who."

Joe Mullen has tailed wives for Donald Trump, Johnny Carson, and Bruce Springsteen. He guarded Walter Cronkite after death threats during the Iranian hostage crisis. And he has uncovered insider theft and fraud at top corporations, brokerage houses and law firms.

"But the most satisfying cases are locating missing kids," Joe Mullen says, sitting behind the desk of his cluttered midtown office. "I've found at least 100."

There's no fancy furniture or flashy decorations. The white-haired private investigator with the steel blue eyes, dressed in a stylish dark blue suit, is all that stands out in an otherwise drab office.

Mullen looks part bank president and part politician, and has the gift of gab and charm to pull off either roll. That's a key to his success: an ability to make a millionaire in a penthouse or pauper on the street immediately feel at ease.

But there is more to Mullen than meets the eye. He maintains a sense of morality in a business that depends on acts of immorality and says he has never taken a case involving drugs, worked for a criminal or set up anyone in compromising position, a la Frank Gifford - there's enough self-generated sleaze among the rich and famous to keep him in demand.

"Our job is to pick up the rocks. We get paid to know where to look," he says with a grin. "But the worst part of this job is that sometimes you realize you're on the wrong side of a divorce case. If I see the client isn't really such a nice guy. I'll call the lawyer."

Mullen disdains family dysfunction. He remains friends with his first wife of 25 years (they divorced in 1980). And four of his five grown children work with him. Only Tom is full time. One son, Joe Jr., is a lawyer.


Bonnie Wolfe of Pearl River remembers going on surveillance with her father from the time she was in elementary school.

"I used to go to spend time with him," she recalls. "It was wonderful."

Wolfe, 42, a teacher's assistant at Rockland Academy, still averages about one case a week. She finds surveillance tedious, much like fishing - sit, wait and hope for a bite.

"Most people think being a private investigator is so glamorous," she says. "But after you've been in a car 18 hours, and you're running to go to a bathroom, it doesn't become too glamorous anymore."

Joe Mullen's blue collar office reveals what's most important in his life - work and family.

Photos of his two daughters, three sons and 13 grandchildren fill a counter. Framed letters from high-powered former clients and friends like Walter Cronkite, Senator Al D'Amato, and Cardinal John O'Connor cover a wall. And newspaper and magazine clippings about the "Real life Mike Hammer" are mounted by a doorway, pieces of a 4- year career.

But not everyone calling on Mullen and his private investigators are friends and family.

A hidden TV camera monitors the hallway outside the front door, and a .38 caliber revolver is only an arm's length away in a safe.

Nearby, boxes are filled with files of active cases. Everywhere there are files and boxes.

"My guess is we have 80 cases going on at one time," Mullen says. "Corporations looking for someone who supposedly stole some money. A guy who is trying to find his biological mother. And a lot of divorces. We're talking major players."

Mullen won't disclose names or intimate details of cases involving famous clients. For the money he's paid, he won't kiss and tell. However, one of his favorite cases, about 10 years ago, involves an incident at a Christmas party.

The wife of the CEO of a small company showed up in a very plain coat. But the wife of the vice president was sporting an expensive fur coat.

"She was wearing a year's salary on her back," Mullen recalls.

The CEO's wife was angry and demanded answers. Mullen was called and soon discovered, with the help of a friendly neighbor, that the free-spending vice president and his wife also owned an upstate weekend home and yacht - compliments of his company, at a cost of about $2.5 million.

"It was the CEO's partner, and he didn't know," Mullen says. "The guy ended up selling everything, so he didn't go to jail."


Mullen's eyes light up as he discusses his work. It invigorates him. But being a private eye is very different now than when, at 16, he first helped his father tail someone. It's less glamorous and more mundane. A lot of digging is done on computers.

Ten years ago, a private investigator would hang out at a courthouse, or hire someone to look up an out-of-state record.

"There are no secrets now," Mullen says. "Everything is on the computer."

But filling in the missing pieces still requires a quick mind. A good private eye is part actor and part con man.

"Let's say I only have someone's first name and an address. I might call a doorman and say I have a 66-pound package from JTM Delivery (his initials) and the last name I have is misspelled," Mullen says. "The key is to act disinterested. People are very helpful to strangers."

These days, Mullen splits his time between New York City and Key Biscayne, Florida, with his wife, Suzanne Kramer.

Both avid joggers, they met 16 years ago, after stepping out of the apartment building where they both lived, for a run. An on and off relationship followed. They married 5 years ago. She is 52.

"I've never been afraid for him. He has too much confidence in his common sense," she says. "He's really always thinking one step ahead of everyone else."

That street smart and successful reputation is what draws so many rich and famous clients to Mullen, who these days plans strategy with clients and lawyers but rarely does surveillance.

"He's the captain of the ship," Kramer says.

His son, Tom, is the first mate.


The cab carrying the philandering multimillionaire shoots out from the front of the Park Avenue apartment building.

Tom Mullen writes down the ID number that's on the roof just in case he loses the cab in heavy traffic.

"They're making a left," he says, swerving into an intersection.

As the light turns green, the cab turns. Mullen follows, cutting off a delivery truck and missing a pedestrian by inches.

"Hold on! I'm a dangerous driver."

Mullen enjoys his cases in Manhattan, where he does about 80 percent of his work. He can become part of the manic pace, deflecting any suspicion, especially from cab drivers.

"I drive like a bullet," he says. "My last car had about 200 dents. And I had to replace the brake pads every 10,000 miles."

But this demolition derby work is still a lot safer than serving a subpoena to, say, Jake LaMotta.

A few years back, Mullen lured the former world champion fighter out of his apartment and onto the street, claiming he repaired boxing gloves and would love an autograph for his son.

LaMotta came down smiling - until Mullen handed him the subpoena in a case brought by a writer of the 1981 film "Raging Bull," claiming he was owed money for LaMotta's life story.

"He threw a punch at me and missed," Mullen recalls. "Then he ran after the car."

It was the closest he's come to being hurt.

"Over the years, maybe 18 or 19 people have chased me. Most of the time I can talk my way out. I've been lucky. I've never been hit or had someone pull a gun on me. I want to keep it that way."


Mullen takes precautions.

When he's following someone for days, he might change cars and his appearance (clothes, hair style, beard or shaved face).

Besides cameras, he keeps a suitcase in his trunk with a suit and three changes of clothes, just in case he must travel unexpectedly to a place like California or the Caribbean.

"My favorite case was when I went to St. Croix, a top line hotel, following a guy. Me and him were the only two single guys there. He was a hard worker who was there to unwind," Mullen recalls. "His wife suspected he had a girlfriend. She spent a fortune for no reason."

Mullen has learned a lot about human nature over the years. Big money doesn't buy love or happiness. But quite often, it does buy sex.

"It's a lot of work being unfaithful. It takes a lot of planning. But nothing surprises me. One guy I followed would jog over to his wife's best friend's house, spend 30 minutes with her and jog home all sweaty."

Given the dirt he uncovers, Mullen finds it funny when people consider him sleazy for sorting through garbage or taking lurid photos of unsuspecting lovers.

Most of the time, the information he provides only confirms a spouse's suspicion of infidelity.

"But many clients don't want to accept the truth," he says. "It's hard to let go after 30 years of marriage. I think that's what will happen in this case. At 70, she probably won't leave. She'll bluff and try to change him."

But Mullen is no marriage counselor.

He guns his Galant in and out of traffic, staying right behind the millionaire's cab.

"It looks like he's going to work," Mullen says with a sigh, as the cab turns down a side street. "He usually doesn't go to the office on Mondays. But once he's there, he won't leave until 3 p.m. He won't meet his girlfriend."

Mullen shakes his head and watches as the millionaire steps into the office building. There's no reason to hang around.

"It's hit or miss, and today was a miss." he says. "But we've already proven what he does. He sees her once or twice a week. After all, he is 71."

Mullen then heads back into the Manhattan morning. Like always, another case waits right around the corner.

Back to Articles

Go To Home Page