Alumni Profile

Jeff Cortese ’99

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Alumni Profile

Jeff Cortese ’99

Jeff Cortese uses his extensive criminal justice experience to teach future professionals.

Summer 2023 | Maura Roan McKeegan

In This Article

Jeff Cortese ’99 was working as an investment broker in Baltimore when 9/11 happened. Though he had majored in business at Franciscan University, he had always been interested in law enforcement, and 9/11 gave him the impetus to finally pursue it.

He joined the Capitol Police, earned a spot on the security detail for the Speaker of the House, and traveled with the speaker all over the country.

“It was a unique and fun opportunity,” remembers Jeff.

Then, as he was preparing to marry Christine Marra ’03, Jeff applied to the FBI and was accepted. He was assigned to the Public Corruption Squad in New Orleans and discovered he loved working in this field.

“The work was brain teasing, methodical, calculated—a chess match,” he explains. “And it was so gratifying at the end.”

Jeff also served on the SWAT team, performing high-risk search warrants and arrests. He was eventually transferred to headquarters in Washington, D.C., where he served as interim chief of the Public Corruption Branch and wrote the curriculum for the FBI’s international public corruption training program. He traveled internationally, training law-enforcement representatives from around the globe.

In 2016, Jeff changed course and took a risk-management job in the private sector in San José, California.

He was thankful to be able to spend more time with Christine and their five children. Yet he still loved teaching about public corruption, so he began doing law-enforcement analysis, writing articles, and giving interviews for various media outlets.

In 2022, his book, Public Corruption in the United States, was released.

“Being able to explain what public corruption is, what it looks like, and where you might see it is my small way of continuing my work in the field,” he says. Defining public corruption as “when government officials use their office for personal gain,” Jeff says he wants to equip others to recognize and report acts of public corruption, with the goal of restoring order.

In addition to being a senior lecturer with the International Anti-Corruption Association and an associate with the Rutgers Anti-Corruption Institute, Jeff began teaching an online course at Franciscan University on corruption in the justice system this past semester.

“I’m thrilled to be able to teach this class there,” says Jeff, who remains “extremely close” with many of his fellow alumni. “The close-knit nature of the school provided a profound foundation for friendship when I went there. As you get older, you realize how important that is.”


Maura Roan McKeegan is the author of “Saved by the Lamb: Moses and Jesus” and other Catholic children’s books.

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