Get To Know The Staff of Gradoni & Associates
Our Case Managers
Our diverse team of Case Managers can facilitate a successful investigation for any client matter to a final conclusion. Learn more about our case managers by perusing the tabs below.
J.J. Gradoni has been president and owner of Gradoni & Associates since January 1988. Prior to forming the firm, he worked 14 years in law enforcement. Gradoni has experience investigating and supervising investigations dealing in narcotics, property crimes, fraud and fugitives. He is recognized by local law enforcement officials as an expert in investigating white-collar crimes.
Gradoni has instructed at the University of Houston Criminal Justice Center. He has authored intelligence documentaries on fraud, and has been interviewed by U.S. Senate Subcommittees concerning the effects of these crimes in the Houston area.
In 1983, Gradoni was honored as Officer of the Year by the 100 Club of Houston. Gradoni holds an Advanced Certificate from the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Standards and Education and has received specialized training at the International Intelligence Network.
Since the Firm’s inception in 1988, Gradoni has been involved as a Lead Investigator and/or Case Manager in over 200 Capital Murder cases at the Federal level and seven different Jurisdictions in Texas.
Gradoni & Associates were involved in two of the four Capital Murder case acquittals in Harris County in the last twenty years.
Gradoni has also managed corporate loss investigations for dozens of clients which identified the wrong-doers, recovered property and secured confessions resulting in termination and successful criminal prosecution.
The ability to identify case objectives, assign competent Investigators for each task, and to accomplish the client’s goal is the foundation of success for Gradoni & Associates.
The firm’s motto “The Truth Makes A Difference” is the underlying element in each of the firm’s investigative activities for corporations, attorneys, business owners or individual clients at every level of the investigation. Leaving no stone unturned to achieve the client’s goal is a daily habit, not a special effort.
Cindy Klein is a graduate of California State University with a Major in Criminal Justice. Cindy was a Special Agent with the FBI working ten years in the Houston Field Office. During her tenure in Houston, Cindy gained extensive experience in Bank Robbery, Kidnapping, Civil Rights and Domestic Terrorism Investigations.
Cindy has extensive training in Advance Profiling, Domestic and International Terrorism, Sexual Abuse of Children, and Interviewing and Interrogation techniques. Cindy has the ability to obtain information from the most reluctant witnesses. Cindy has great people skills and the ability to document her interviews in a very thorough manner.
Cindy is the case manager for our capital murder cases. In this role, Cindy has the responsibility of interviewing the Defendant in order to learn his version of events, the relationship with the other individuals involved and to develop background information that may be useful for mitigation purposes. She then writes an analysis and overview of the Offense Report for the client, identifies the investigative tasks and assigns those tasks to the appropriate Investigator.
Cindy is responsible for the entire investigation and assisting the attorney prepare for trial. Since Cindy’s promotion to this role in 2011, she has experienced one acquittal and one guilty to a lesser offense of Aggravated Robbery on two Capital cases, an accomplishment that does not happen very often.
Cindy is also in charge of our mitigation division, which obtains information for criminal defense attorneys seeking to save their clients from the death penalty or clients wanting to obtain medical history, school records and other documentation that would assist in favorable plea bargain arrangements with Defendants charged with lesser offenses. In order to accomplish this job, one needs to have the ability to identify, locate and obtain volumes of records, which are then placed into a very detailed life story, depicting history and events that may have been responsible for placing the Defendant in the situation causing the incident.
All of the clients who Cindy works with are extremely satisfied with her ability to identify case objectives and develop a working plan to see that the objectives are accomplished in a timely manner.
Our Team of Investigators
The team of professionals who make up the heart and soul of Gradoni & Associates’ investigation team are professionals with diverse backgrounds that can handle any investigatory assignment. Learn more about our team of detectives by reviewing their brief bios.
Edna is a native of Puerto Rico who started with the United States Customs Service in 1997. Edna investigated criminal cases related to Commercial Fraud, Child Pornography, Contraband Smuggling, Money Laundering and Asset Forfeiture. Edna also worked undercover in Narcotics Operations.
Edna was one of the project innovators for the Houston Area Child Sexual Exploitation Task Force Program, which was provided to local police agencies to assist in the prevention of Child Pornography and the apprehension and prosecution of child sexual predators.
Edna transferred to Homeland Security as an Investigator in March 2003, ending her career in May 2011. Edna investigated criminal cases related to Work Site Enforcement, Human Trafficking, Hostage Rescue, and Visa and Medical Benefits Fraud. Edna also supervised other Officers in investigations and mentored new Agents on trial procedures, case management and surveillance techniques.
After her retirement, Edna worked in the Spring Independent School District as a teacher in their Law Enforcement Program. Edna brings a host of experience and skills to our team.
Edna supervises all Felony Criminal Defense investigations. She is responsible for interviewing the Defendant, reviewing the Offense Report and developing the investigative plan regarding interviews to be conducted. Edna delegates and supervises the completion of the investigative tasks with our staff of Investigators.
Edna is one of our three Spanish speaking Investigators.
Wayne Kessler is a 38 year law enforcement veteran. Wayne’s career involved 8 years in patrol as both officer and shift supervisor and 30 years in criminal investigations.
Wayne was assigned on six different occasions to the US Marshall’s Fugitive Task Force and later served 18 months assigned to the Houston Violent Offenders Task Force.
During this period Wayne arrested two Texas Top Ten fugitives.
Wayne was later assigned to the Galveston County Organized Crime Control Unit working on a number of high profile cases. Wayne coordinated the first major body search effort in the 1986 Shelley Sikes kidnapping case, which involved 600 volunteers who searched areas covering Bacliff and San Leon but sadly Shelley’s body was never recovered. Wayne’s efforts, however, resulted in the arrest and conviction of John King and Gerald Zwarst for Aggravated Kidnapping. After two change of venue trials, both were convicted of aggravated kidnapping and sentenced to Life in prison.
Wayne was also the lead investigator on the Timothy Gribble Capital Murder case. Gribble had raped and murdered a prominent Clear Lake Shores resident after performing maintenance on her residence. Wayne tracked Gribble to Newbern, TN where he was arrested and brought back to Texas. After two Capital trials Gribble was sentenced to death.
In 1996 Wayne became a Federal Agent with the Department of Veterans Affairs and worked a myriad of cases, including employee misconduct, pension and benefits fraud, narcotics and homicide. Wayne received numerous awards and commendation including two Assistant Inspector General awards, which were presented in Washington D.C.
After 9 years of Federal service Wayne reached mandatory age and retired from the Government. Wayne’s last tour of duty was with the Santa Fe, TX Police Department where he was a detective four years and was then promoted to Captain, second in command of the 22 man department.
Wayne has extensive training in crime scene search and scene reconstructions. Wayne is a graduate of the Southern Police Institute Homicide Investigator’s Course at the University of Louisville, one of the most prestigious programs in the country. Wayne has also attended numerous Homicide blood splatter interpretation and crime scene training classes throughout the country. This training, combined with Wayne’s excellent interviewing skills made him a premier homicide detective before his retirement.
Keith worked in law enforcement for the Texas Department of Public Safety for 26 years. During his service Keith worked as a Trooper in Patrol, assigned to Ft. Bend County, Texas. After his promotion to Sergeant, Keith was assigned to the Motor Vehicle Theft Service in the Houston region. As a member of this unit Keith was involved in various types of investigation regarding Auto Theft, Aggravated Robbery, Fraud, Financial Crimes, Forgery and Identification Theft. Keith also served in a multi-jurisdictional Auto Theft Task Force in the Houston area.
Keith was promoted to Lieutenant in charge of the Motor Vehicle Theft Service in the Corpus Christi region, directing the strategic and operational management of Criminal Investigations for a 14 county area in South Texas.
Keith was awarded the Ft. Bend County Trooper of the Year Award in 1988 by the 100 Club and also was a recipient of the Texas DPS Director Citation for Outstanding Investigative Work in 2003 for dismantling a major Auto Theft criminal enterprise and recovering stolen vehicles valued at over $3,000,000.
Keith’s diversified experience in investigating all types of cases makes him another versatile member of our team.
José has worked in Law Enforcement for 11 years, having a Master Peace Officer License in the State of Texas.
José has worked for the Harris County Sherriff’s Department in the Detention Bureau and as a Patrol Deputy.
José’s final police assignment was for 5 years at the University of Houston Police Department, where he served as a Patrolman.
Prior to joining Gradoni & Associates, José worked for a large electronics chain as Loss Prevention Coordinator, whose main duty was to investigate consumer fraud and employee theft.
José is one of our three Spanish speaking Investigators.
George Mendoza, a 27 year Law Enforcement Veteran from California, has recently joined our staff as an Investigator. George worked his entire career at the El Monte Police Department, starting in 1985. He worked as a patrolman, robbery detective and homicide detective. George spent 8 years working in narcotics at jurisdictional task force with narcotics, gangs, pro-active high crime area work throughout the United States and Canada, spending his last 15 years as a member of the task force.
George was a Policy Academy instructor, has taught numerous courses on surveillance and counter surveillance techniques, and also served a Use of Force instructor for his department.
George possesses a Kung Fu black belt and has fought competitively over the years, having placed no lower than 3rd in National competitions. George also served as the Police Officer’s Association President on three different occasions.
George is bi-lingual and in the short time he has been with our firm has displayed the ability to find and interview witnesses, documenting their interview in a very factual basis. George has also displayed his ability to “think out of the box” and get things done.
Chris is a 21 year law enforcement veteran, who started his career with the Kansas City, Kansas Police Department in 1995 and served as a Patrol Officer for 6 years. Chris then was accepted into the Special Enforcement Unit in 2001 where he served as SWAT Sniper/Primary Entry Officer along with Vice/Narcotics support. During this time Chris was also a full time Acting Detective with the unit charged with writing search and arrest warrants for all narcotics arrests for the Department. Chris was then promoted to Detective where he served in the Department’s response unit that handled all investigations that would occur to include homicide and crimes against persons. During his time with the KCKPD, Chris worked and was deputized several times with Federal agencies for joint operations to include the FBI, DEA, and U.S Marshal’s Service.
Chris then laterally transferred to the Oro Valley Arizona Police Department in late 2007. During his time with this organization, he worked as a field training officer, patrolman, and served with the DEA Task Force in Tuscon, Arizona. Chris retired from law enforcement in 2016.
Chris has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Management and has held many certifications to include law enforcement, accident investigation, field training officer, general instructor, narcotics field testing, SWAT, interview and interrogation, and investigations to only name a few.
Chris is a military veteran and was discharged in 2009 as a commissioned officer with the United States Army Reserve.
Polly has been with Gradoni & Associates almost since our inception, 29 years ago. Before joining our team Polly worked in the banking industry for a number of years.
Polly is our research analyst, who is in charge of conducting Background Investigations, Asset Searches, and locating current addresses for witnesses.
Polly is an expert at obtaining records of documentation from local Police Agencies via subpoena and Public Information Requests.
Over the years Polly has learned how to identify and obtain records in a timely basis from almost every jurisdiction in the United States, including the Federal System.
Polly is our go-to person when we are trying to locate and interview a crucial witness and also to obtain background information that can be used to dispute a witness’s credibility.
Polly also assists Cindy Klein in obtaining Mitigation records for our Death Penalty Cases.