Computers: Taking A Byte Out of Crime

A custom-made program helps nail 210 federal fugitives

With his bronzed good looks, silky sales pitch and dangerous smile, Leather Importer Iran (yes, that's his name) Michael Kesselman, 41, found it easy to dazzle women and men alike into doing his bidding. They put him up, made his airplane reservations, introduced him to buyers for chic West Coast boutiques and took him to celebrity-studded parties. Some of Kesselman's admirers became so enthralled, federal investigators found, that they even peddled drugs for him.

Yet Kesselman proved so elusive that at times Inspector John Stafford felt as if the character he was tracking were more fictional than real. Stafford, who works...

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