William “Bill” Esposito came to Delaware in the late 1990s to join MBNA, after a 33-year career with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) that culminated in his appointment as Deputy Director, the agency’s second highest post. Esposito recently retired from the Freeh Group, an international security consulting firm based in Wilmington.
You had an extraordinary career in law-enforcement, specializing in organized and white-collar crime. What were some of the most fascinated cases and characters you encountered?
During the majority of my career I was assigned criminal matters involving organized crime, violent crime, white-collar crime and corruption matters. During the end of my career I also oversaw matters concerning terrorism and national security. Cases that I either investigated or oversaw included the Jimmy Hoffa investigation; the investigation and capture of the Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski; the case involving the cross-country shooting spree of Andrew Cunanan that culminated in the murder of the fashion designer Gianni Versace in Miami; and numerous political corruption and drug activities in Colombia and Mexico. I was also instrumental in the expansions of the FBI overseas offices; the investigation of the killing of two Americans in Panama; and health care fraud and telemarketing fraud initiatives. Most, if not all, of these matters were worked with other FBI Agents and other law enforcement officials.
How did you make your way to the FBI?
I grew up in New York City and finished high school in Florida. I graduated from the University of South Florida in Tampa and received a Masters Degree from the University of Detroit in Michigan. I financed my college education by working for the FBI as a support employee at night after becoming interested in the agency when they recruited on my college campus in the early 1960’s.
Quite a few senior law enforcement, national security and military officials came to work at MBNA in the 1990s.
Yes, several former FBI and other law enforcement officials were recruited by MBNA and enjoyed the leadership provided by Charles Cawley and Al Lerner. Both Cawley and Lerner knew the people they hired had excellent reputations, possessed a strong work ethic, high integrity, and leadership skills.
Now a decade after 9-11, how effectively are our national security agencies coordinating to thwart domestic terrorist attacks? Are we any better at “connecting the dots?”
The events of the attack on 9/11/2001 made abundantly clear the fact that agencies can no longer be turf conscience and they must do a better job working together and sharing information. Much has been accomplished and the sharing of intelligence information gets better every day. There have been no major attacks to the United States since 9/11 and agencies have done a lot of work to thwart contemplated attacks. The recent activity involving Osama bin Laden exemplifies the ability of American law enforcement agencies to accomplish their goals.
Putting external threats aside, what about the potential of home-grown frauds doing irreparable damage to the financial system? Given what we’ve seen with Madoff and even some other local cases, how can government agencies keep up with the speed and increasing complexity of the financial markets and the opportunities for potentially devastating fraud?
The FBI hires many Agents who have a background in accounting and finance. A person with this type of background must have at least three years experience in the business world before being eligible to be an FBI Agent. These requirements are needed to work on the sophisticated frauds that are being perpetrated in our country and around the world. The FBI and other investigative agencies strive to do the best job possible, but continually fight budget cuts that adversely impact their recruitment efforts. The FBI also recruits attorneys, former law enforcement and military personnel and applicants with language and computer skills. All agencies must recruit people who are dedicated and also on the cutting edge in their field. Working for the government is rewarding in many ways because the work is interesting and never boring and you have the satisfaction of knowing you are working for the good of our country. I have two nephews who left high paying legal positions to work for the FBI at a much lower salary but they love what they are doing.
What do you make of the (John) Wheeler case? Did you happen to know him?
I did not know him and the only information I know about the case was from the News Journal.
You could have moved anywhere when you left MBNA/BoA but you chose to remain in Delaware. Why?
I have lived in ten different states and have visited numerous countries around the world. My four children were all born in different states: Florida, Michigan, Virginia and California. After leaving MBNA my wife and I decided to stay in Delaware because living here has been great. The people are friendly and it is a wonderful place to raise a family. Our family considers Delaware our home.
What are some of your favorite local spots?
We like and visit many of the local restaurants in the Wilmington area and some of our favorites are Eclipse, Red Fire Grill and Tijuana Taco.