By Steve Neavling
Before Diego Rodriguez became the first Hispanic person to run the FBI’s largest field office, he turned down an offer in the late 1980s to join the bureau.
“I’m really happy teaching. Thanks, but no thanks,” he recalled saying, the Associated Press reports.
But Rodriguez eventually decided to join the FBI and began working drug cases.
More than 25 years later, Rodriguez oversees about 2,000 agents working on cases raining from terrorism and insider trading to cyber fraud and public corruption. He is the assistant director in charge of the FBI’s New York office.
Rodriguez has kept a low profile.
“I genuinely care about their cases, but I’m not a micro-manager,” Rodriguez, 50, said in a recent interview in his lower Manhattan office. “They’ve got their own chain of command. The head of the office doesn’t need to be meddling in certain things.”
The Associated Press wrote:
Rodriguez’s modesty is rooted in humble beginnings: He was born in Colombia and moved to New York City with his family as an infant. He spent his childhood in working-class Queens, where his father turned him in to a lifelong soccer fan by taking him to see the legendary Pele play for the New York Cosmos.
After graduating from St. John’s University and teaching middle school Spanish, he made his career switch and landed his first FBI assignment in a taskforce investigating money laundering by South American and Mexican drug rings. Over the years, he held various investigative and supervisory positions in Puerto Rico, Miami and Washington before being appointed in 2010 to head the New York office’s criminal division.
At the time, the division was immersed in the groundbreaking investigation of Wall Streetmagnate Raj Rajaratnam and his multi-billion-dollar Galleon hedge fund. It marked the first time the bureau had turned to a method familiar in mob and drug cases — wiretaps — to capture conversations about insider trading. The wires sunk the talkative and boastful Rajaratnam, who’s serving an 11-year prison term.