For the past 30 years, no one suspected William "Bill" Klausman '66 was a spy. As the owner of a tavern, a Hallmark shop, and a sporting goods store, Klausman appeared to be an average, personable guy. But behind the scenes he's led a double life as a freelance consultant in corporate espionage.
Lawyers, private investigators, and corporations hire Klausman to collect information on businesses involved in shady dealings like embezzlement and counterfeiting. A master of disguise, Klausman infiltrates companies by assuming fake identities, which run the gamut from district manager or bank auditor to television newscaster. He says his most amazing role came when he posed as a psychiatrist to uncover records of foul play.
"I can go into these situations and portray anyone," says Klausman. "As a kid I wanted to be an actor, and this is the quintessential acting job, but here you only get one chance with your lines," he says.
Klausman relies heavily on his instincts, and if he thinks someone's onto him, he'll change identities in midstream or pull out of the job. His anonymity is so important that most of Klausman's clients don't know who he really is.
One longtime client who knows Klausman well is Alan Crowe, a respected West Coast private investigator with an office in downtown Portland.
"Bill has done jobs for me that were pretty incredible. He melds into any situation and gets information others cannot," says Crowe.
Initially, Klausman dabbled in a variety of professions and briefly served
as a deputy sheriff, where he discovered he had strong crime-solving abilities.
While at a police academy in the late 1960s, he applied to the CIA. He decided
not to join, but a few years later a lawyer who'd been affiliated with
the agency offered him his first clandestine assignment.
Now Klausman has captured his experiences on paper, and his first book, The Amacon Cover, was released in May. Drawing from actual cases, he fictionalized the details and blended events to protect those involved. He says that a second book of short stories is waiting in the wings.
Klausman describes himself as semi-retired. Although he's divulged his
secret career, he said he isn't worried about getting caught.
"I'm sneaky," he explains. "And I never leave footprints." –Kelli Fields