In Memoriam

Michael Kessler, CFE

Longtime ACFE member, Michael G. Kessler, CFE, one of the New York-area’s foremost forensic accountants and private investigators, died June 6 at age 65 after a long battle with cancer.

“Mike was one of our most knowledgeable and experienced CFEs,” said Dr. Joseph T. Wells, CFE, CPA, founder and Chairman of the ACFE. “The profession will miss his wisdom.”

Kessler, the founder and CEO of Kessler International, was a ferocious advocate for victims of fraud and financial crimes. He was instrumental in uncovering Long Island’s biggest Ponzi scheme, the $400 million Agape World scam that claimed more than 4,000 victims.

During his prolific career, Kessler executed forensic training programs for staff at Fortune 500 companies and government agencies, for which he often acted as an independent inspector general. A tireless investigator, he earned letters of commendation from governors around the U.S. for his work on behalf of their citizens.

Kessler previously served as chief of tax investigations for the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance; director for the state’s Revenue Crimes Bureau; deputy inspector general for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority; assistant chief auditor/investigator for the state’s special prosecutor; and senior auditor for Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Greater New York.

Kessler was also a sought-after consultant, lecturer and public speaker for universities, professional associations and news and media outlets including CNN, ABC, CBS and FOX, as well as various newspapers and magazines.

“Michael was a devoted friend and a consummate professional,” said Susan Peterson, his longtime companion and business partner at Kessler International in Port Jefferson Station, N.Y. “Like the best investigators and law enforcement officers, Michael was guided by a natural instinct of right and wrong, a heartfelt compassion for victims of maltreatment and a deep faith in the integrity of the American justice system.”

Kessler was an avid traveler and recently visited China, Japan, Indonesia, Hawaii, Germany, Italy, France, Switzerland and The Netherlands.

Kessler is survived by Peterson and their beloved Shih Tzus, Hachiko and Ninja. He is also survived by his sons Jonathan Kessler, 35, a computer forensics specialist, and Timothy Kessler, 32, a New York City police officer; his mother, Mildred Kessler; his sister Debra Kessler; his brother, John Kessler; sister-in-law, Lisa Kessler; and his nieces and nephew, Christine, Kimberly, Joelle and Brian.

Thanks to David Winzelberg, a reporter for the Long Island Business News, for the original article on Michael Kessler. — ed.