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Former FBI Agent Shared Undercover Experiences

August 8, 2017
by Anna Veltri , Emmetsburg News

On Friday, July 28, Emmetsburg Publishing Company and the Emmetsburg Chamber of Commerce sponsored former FBI Agent, Dana Ridenour-Endorf at The Shores Community Center. Chamber Director, Deb Hite originally planned 50 guests at the event but was delightfully surprised when there were over 100 people in attendance. Ridenour sold out of books before everyone was able to get through the line.

Dana's husband, Bill Endorf, is an Emmetsburg native who returned to town after completing his degree at the University of Northern Iowa. He worked for the Cylinder State Bank for five years before joining the FBI. Dana and Bill met while working for the FBI in St. Croix.

Dana was born in Louisville, Kentucky; she attended Eastern Kentucky University and graduated with a Bachelor's of Science in Police Administration. Law enforcement is in Dana's blood; growing up her father was a sheriff.

Article Photos

BEYOND?THE?CABIN- After speaking to the crowd gathered at The Emmetsburg Community Center on July 28, Dana Ridenour and her husband, Bill Endorf, signed Judy Nixon’s copy of Beyond the Cabin. --Anna Veltri, Photo

When she was 15, she went on a band fieldtrip to Virginia. While she was there, the class made a stop at FBI headquarters. From that point on, Dana swore to her classmates that she was going to become and FBI Agent. After Dana graduated from her undergraduate program she realized that in order to become an agent she needed a law degree. She graduated from Chase Law School with her Juris Doctor in 1992.

After nearly a decade of working for the FBI, Dana decided to attend the FBI's prestigious undercover school. Many of Dana's experiences are included in her second novel, Beyond the Cabin. In both of her novels, she draws from her career to help mold and shape her characters. Dana claims that Lexie, the protagonist of the series, has many of her own personal qualities.

Dana's longest undercover investigation was with an Animal Rights Activist group. She was forced to become vegan; she was not allowed to eat or use any animal products during her time with this group- this restriction included honey. Her investigation of the Animal Liberation Front lasted for years, during which she had no contact with the "outside" world except for her Handler. A Handler is a member of the FBI that keeps track of an undercover agent. He is the only person that knows where an undercover agent is, and the only person that has her contact information. Because of this distance from the outside world, Dana mentioned that her relationships suffered. Her friends knew that she worked for the FBI, but they were unaware that she was an undercover agent.

Dana and Bill met when they were both assigned to St. Croix, U.S.V.I. Shortly after they began dating, Dana was assigned to work a job in Los Angeles as an undercover agent with the Animal Liberation Front. Since she had experience working with that group, she was the top choice to go undercover. Upon her transfer, she convinced her supervisor that the project would be more believable if she had a boyfriend. Bill joined Dana in Los Angeles.

As part of their assignment, they opened a storefront that was strictly vegan and Animal Liberation Front propaganda. They often had meetings in the store, which was conveniently wired for video and sound back to the FBI. Dana and Bill claim that the store lost an incredible amount of money, but it served its purpose in their investigation.

They worked their way deep undercover eventually flying to Amsterdam to an anarchist camp where they learned how to make sure police are not able to hack their computer and how to make homemade bombs. The Liberation front that they worked with began suspecting something strange when Bill and Dana were unable to leave Amsterdam without debriefing with the police department. While they made up a cover story, there were too many "red flags" to the group. Eventually Dana and Bill were unable to continue working in Los Angeles; they were then transferred to Florida.

Shortly after making the move to Florida, Bill began working in Health Care Fraud. After such an exciting, action filled career, it was difficult for Bill to transfer to a strictly "desk job." He retired shortly after his transfer. Dana continued working undercover operations until she had a gut feeling that a buy was about to go wrong. She left the undercover field that day.

The character of Lexie was born during her time with the Animal Liberation Front. Ridenour believes the character she plays while undercover becomes a part of her. Dana says that a great deal of Lexi's experiences in Behind The Mask comes from her own experiences while working as an agent.

Because of such extensive knowledge of the inner workings of the bureau, the FBI to ensure that Dana did not give away any trade secrets. The FBI vetted both of Ridenour's novels. Dana's second novel, Beyond The Cabin was released on August 1 though those in attendance were able to get their hands on a signed copy early. Both of these books are available at Barnes and Nobel and Amazon.

One question was raised during the book signing- how does Dana feel safe with her real name and photograph on her books. Dana made the decision to keep her real name on her novels to prove that she has the experience and career to stand behind her. She claimed that other books written from the perspective of an FBI agent are often not accurate. By having her credentials to back up her stories, her novels are more true to life.



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