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Omaha Magazine

True Detective

Oct 29, 2015 02:59PM ● By James Vnuk
The words “private eye” summon up all manner of familiar motifs: smoky offices, blonde dames in cherry-red lipstick and kitten heels, shifty nighthawks, underworld imps, and hardboiled gumshoes with hearts of gold. In these Raymond Chandler-esque noirs, private detective agencies are mythic worlds dripping in sex, dark alleys, and danger at every turn.

The reality, however, is a little more grounded.

“It’s not sexy. It’s boring,” says Tony Infantino, a retired police investigator and founder of Palladin Consulting Group. “A noteworthy day is seven hours, 59 minutes of boredom and one minute of sheer terror. And the only dame around here is my wife over in the other room.”

TonyInfantino2In some ways Infantino fits the P.I. bill: he’s a brusque, forthright gentleman with a fifth degree black belt in Tae Kwan Do and an impeccable taste in luxury sports cars. He also came up with his company’s name sitting in a Port Au Prince bar. It’s a nod to the bon vivant antihero of the classic TV western, Have Gun – Will Travel; a maxim Infantino follows quite literally.

Palladin handles a wide range of private investigations, including missing persons, child custody, financial fraud, and infidelity cases. Though seemingly mundane, modern private detectives are an essential supplement to public law enforcement. Companies like Palladin ensure that thorough investigations happen for cases of all shapes and sizes. “I like getting to be on the defendant’s side of the aisle for a change,” the former cop remarks.

That’s not to say he doesn’t see his share of intrigue and subterfuge. He shared anecdotes of undercover double agents, chronic embezzlers, suspects employing counter-surveillance strategies, and other glimpses into Omaha’s seedy underbelly. He also produced some gadgets of the trade, including a hidden camera masquerading as an unsuspecting automobile remote.

Despite these trappings, the life of a private eye is less “wild west” and more “game of chess,” an ethos corroborated by his company’s ivory knight logo, another nod to Have Gun – Will Travel. Staffed only by a small team of retired officers, Palladin brings vast experience and skill to the table.

“I see a lot of detectives make rookie mistakes because they get invested and want to catch their guy through shortcuts,” he says. “They can end up breaking the law or ruining their own evidence.” To Infantino, his firm’s purpose is to uphold justice and strengthen his community. As a member of multiple non-profit boards, including Girls Inc. and Planned Parenthood, as well as being a founding member of the Domestic Violence Coordinating Council, his commitment to a community runs deep.

Infantino’s philosophy follows Palladin’s namesake, who sought justice even for those who couldn’t meet his fee.

“If people find themselves in need, don’t let an investigator’s hourly fee discourage you,” he says. Though Palladin is a private business, he stressed what he called his firm’s uncommon standards of excellence and ethics along with their fairness/transparency in costs.

Still, Infantino warns it’s important for him to keep his distance from clients, a sentiment that would be right at home in a piece of pulp fiction featuring Sam Spade or Philip Marlowe.

“I’m never surprised,” he says, “by people’s behavior.”

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