FORTUNE — The day after Pennsylvania State University’s board of directors hired Louis Freeh to investigate the school’s role in Jerry Sandusky’s sex abuse crimes, Freeh traveled straight to Pennsylvania, yellow legal pad in hand, to begin interviewing witnesses.
That’s his approach — straight to the scene, conduct immediate interviews. When the former FBI director and narcotics prosecutor launched his investigation consultancy, Freeh Group International Solutions, in 2007, he recruited friends and former colleagues from the FBI and the New York Southern District court to work with him. (He also at that time launched a law firm, Freeh, Sporkin, and Sullivan, and recently sold both entities to the law firm Pepper Hamilton.) Those “managing directors” of Freeh Group all have extensive resumes, but it’s Freeh’s name on the door, and it is clearly his background and experience — as well as his reputation for rectitude — that brings in the clients.
Where Freeh operates, turbulence tends to follow. When he ran the FBI, he clashed hard with President Bill Clinton (the two criticized each other in memoirs that came out within months of each other in 2005) and was blamed, either fairly or unfairly, for a number of fiascos that left the Bureau with a black eye.
In Fortune’s story, “Louis Freeh, private eye,” writer-reporter Daniel Roberts takes a look at Freeh’s red-hot career as an investigator-for-hire and recounts a number of his recent cases — in some of which his official reports have been called into question.
Freeh sat down with Fortune twice for long, one-on-one interviews about his investigative approach, his feelings about criticism, how he got to where he is today, and the challenges of the high-profile work he takes on. Fortune spoke with former FBI agents, attorneys, prosecutors, White House officials, and public figures who have worked with Freeh to paint a picture of the man some call “Director Freeh,” some “Judge Freeh,” but most just “Louie.”
Today, as Freeh told Fortune, “I’m sort of now in what I call … the third act.” (After FBI agent and director, then prosecutor, judge, and MBNA counsel, Freeh Group is more like his fifth.) “I would like to do something — charitable is the wrong word — something that doesn’t have as its objective reports, investigations, revenue, profits, but which does good things. I don’t know what that is yet, but I’m in the process of figuring it out.”
For now, it seems unlikely he’ll move on any time soon. After all, business is booming at Freeh Group. Read all about it in our profile.