In the early 1970's, an era of the equal rights movement, and prior to the Federal Bureau of Investigation hiring women as agents, Deborah successfully competed with men and became one of the first female patrol officers and detectives for the Huntington Beach Police Department in California. She simultaneously received a Bachelor of Science Degree in the modern field of Criminology from California State University, Long Beach.
While working as a police officer at HBPD, she gained extensive experience working undercover, and, at the same time, earned her Master's Degree in Public Administration from the University of Southern California. After receiving her Master's Degree, she became an associate professor at California State University, Fullerton and taught criminology courses to students and other police officers.
After J. Edgar Hoover's death, in 1972, the FBI opened its agent positions to females and recruited Deborah into the academy at Quantico, Virginia. She became the 67th woman agent to be hired by the FBI. Upon completion of the training, she was the first female Special Agent ever to be assigned to the Las Vegas Field Division. From 1977 until 1979, she worked capaciously in undercover operations against organized crime factions of the Italian Mafia family, involving Anthony Spilotro and his associates. Prior to Spilotro's eventual arrest, Deborah was transferred to the Boston Division of the FBI to work undercover for a period of five years against the New England crime family headed by Raymond L. Patriarca, specifically targeting the Underboss, Gennaro Angiulo, out of the North End of Boston. During that same time period, she worked and had intimate knowledge of the James ''Whitey” Bulger Irish Mob operations, as well as Whitey's involvement as an FBI informant against the Italian Mob. All of which, resulted in the writing of the book and current movie Black Mass.
After the successful prosecution of the Angiulo case, Deborah left the FBI and pursued a career in private business. In 1994, after being separated for a period of over nine years, she was re-recruited back into the FBI. At 45 years of age, she became the oldest female to attend the academy. Subsequently, she was assigned to the Long Beach, California Resident Agency out of Los Angeles and later designated as the case agent to investigate the 2 billion dollar fraudulent take-over of the MGM/UA studios, owned by Kirk Kerkorian. The fraud was perpetrated by two Italian financiers, one of whom, was connected to an Italian La Cosa Nostra family in Sicily.
In 2005, after the conclusion of the investigation surrounding the MGM fraud, Deborah was once again transferred back to the Las Vegas Field Division, where she worked Foreign Counter Intelligence until retiring.