Dumbest Moments in Business 2009

As many of us get ready to take some time off this holiday season we reflect on the past year.  Yesterday I came across a great article on Yahoo (Provided by CNN Money) that discussed the “ProfitsDumbest Moments in Business for 2009.”  My first reaction was, simply being in business in 2009 was the dumbest moment was it not?  I was really hoping to see a background check whopper in here somewhere but unfortunately the closest they got was the Bernie Madoff Story.  So I guess we will have to live with what we got in the article, enjoy!

Dumbest Moments in Business 2009

Loudmouth CEOs, islands in the desert and bringing dead celebrities back to life. Our annual list of the business world’s bonehead plays marches on.  Read on….

New EmployeeScreenIQ White Paper on Workplace Violence

Did you know that each year over two million incidents of workplace violence occur in the United States, costing businesses $70 billion annually, yet over 70 percent of U.S. companies have no policy or formal program to address employee violence.?

EmployeeScreenIQ has just released a free white paper, “Violence in the Workplace” that offers a road map to identify the warning signs of a potential threat and to diffuse problems before they escalate.

Despite high-profile shootings such as the Fort Hood massacre and other workplace incidents, most employers fail to address the problem until after an incident has taken place.  Too often, workplace violence is regarded as part of the job and little is done to eliminate it.

The article also includes:

  • Tips for establishing a safe workplace.
  • The roots and causes of workplace violence.
  • How to spot the warning signs.
  • The benefits of background screenings.
  • Understanding employer liability issues.

The complimentary copy of “Violence in the Workplace” can be downloaded by visiting http://www.employeescreen.com/workplace_violence.asp.

On January 20, 2010, EmployeeScreenIQ will sponsor an online panel discussion about workplace violence, featuring leading experts in the HR industry. For details on speakers and to pre-register, visit https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/876116937.

12/16/2009 New EmployeeScreenIQ White Paper Urges Companies to Develop Policies Against Workplace Violence

Article from background screening firm to be followed by January 2010 online panel discussion about preventing employee incidents.

Cleveland, OH (PRWEB) December 16, 2009 — A new white paper from EmployeeScreenIQ aims to help employers understand and take steps to address and prevent the growing – but largely ignored – issue of workplace violence.

“Each year over two million incidents of workplace violence occur in the United States, costing businesses $70 billion annually,” said Jason Morris, chief operating officer and author of the paper. “Yet over 70 percent of U.S. companies have no policy or formal program to address employee violence.”

The new paper, “Violence in the Workplace,” is available today from the global background screening provider. It offers a road map to identify the warning signs of a potential threat and to diffuse problems before they escalate.

Despite high-profile shootings such as the Fort Hood massacre and other workplace incidents, most employers fail to address the problem until after an incident has taken place, according to Morris. “Too often, workplace violence is regarded as part of the job and little is done to eliminate it.”

The article also includes:

  • Tips for establishing a safe workplace.
  • The roots and causes of workplace violence.
  • How to spot the warning signs.
  • The benefits of background screenings.
  • Understanding employer liability issues.

The complimentary copy of “Violence in the Workplace” can be downloaded by visiting http://www.employeescreen.com/workplace_violence.asp.

On January 20, 2010, EmployeeScreenIQ will sponsor an online panel discussion about workplace violence, featuring leading experts in the HR industry. For details on speakers and to pre-register, visit https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/876116937.

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Healthcare Industry CFO Admits to Federal Criminal Record

According to Tennessean.com, Alive Hospice CFO Missy Bordelan has quit her job after admitting to committing mail fraud at her former employer.  Ms. Bordelan was hired in October while under indictment for 10 federal charges.  “Bordelon admitted to taking more than $192,000 total and entered a guilty plea to one count of mail fraud in September. The conviction carries up to 20 years in prison and a fine up to $250,000 on top of making restitution to the hospital. No sentence or penalty has been set yet, according to court records.”

Alive Hospice says that they conducted a background check and the article infers by that point that nothing turned up.  How is this possible?  I have a theory.

One scenario is that they didn’t conduct a Federal Criminal Record Search. Criminal activity tried in Federal District Courts typically involves violations of the Constitution or federal law. These crimes may include tax evasion, embezzlement, bank robbery, kidnapping, mail fraud and other federal statute violations. Federal criminal convictions do not appear in state or county felony and misdemeanor court record searches, therefore a federal district search is imperative if such records are needed. Each state is comprised of federal districts.

In the article, an expert from the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners suggests that pending charges sometime fall through the cracks.  However, if the article is correct that she plead guilty in September, there should have been federal record when they conducted the check in October.

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12/11/2009 Alive Hospice CFO quits after admitting to fraud at former employer

Tennessean.com- December 11, 2009

Alive Hospice’s new chief financial officer, hired while under federal indictment for 10 counts of mail fraud, has resigned.

Missy Bordelon, whose hiring was announced in October, confirmed that she has resigned her position and that she is the Melissa Hanks Bordelon who was indicted in April this year. She declined to comment further.

Bordelon has admitted in Louisiana federal court filings that, while she was the CFO of Acadian Medical Center in Eunice, La., she ordered excess money from physicians’ student loan payments be paid out in money orders. She then used those money orders to pay off her own debt.

The scheme continued even after she left for a new job, according to the federal court filings, when she ordered the bank to mail the money orders to a post office box she maintained.

Bordelon admitted to taking more than $192,000 total and entered a guilty plea to one count of mail fraud in September. The conviction carries up to 20 years in prison and a fine up to $250,000 on top of making restitution to the hospital. No sentence or penalty has been set yet, according to court records.

Pam Brown, Alive Hospice’s vice president for community development, said Bordelon no longer works there, but she refused to say when she started, when she resigned or whether the company was aware she was under indictment when she was hired.

“It is not our practice to comment on specific personnel issues,” Brown said. “I can tell you that we always do a background check when we’re in a hiring process.”

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Law Student Aims to Clarify Expungement Process

A Minnesota law student is lobbying hard for changes to her state’s expungement process.  Carly Melin, a law student at Hamline University School of Law, has drafted an amendment to her state’s expungement statute that would give courts the right to not only seal criminal records held by the judicial branch but those maintained at the executive branch (police departments, law enforcement agencies, etc.) as well. 

Law student in lobbying effort to make expungement more meaningful

By Michelle Lore, Minnesota Law – December 11, 2009

A local law student is leading an effort to get lawmakers to go back to the drawing board on expungement procedures.

Expungement is supposed to provide a chance for a fresh start by allowing criminal records to be wiped clean in some instances. However, a narrow statutory expungement mechanism and limits on the ability of judges to expunge nonjudicial records have combined to create a very messy situation for those in search of a clean slate.

Most criminal records — including those maintained by police departments — are held outside the judicial branch. Sealing judicial records provides little benefit when a potential landlord or employer can easily retrieve an arrest record from a local police department during a background check.

Hamline 3L Carly Melin has been working on an amendment to the expungement law that would give judges the power to remove the scarlet letter from a past mistake without leaving the smudge marks. In 2008, Melin and a fellow law student drafted an amendment to the state’s expungement statute that would give courts clear authority to seal criminal records held by executive branch agencies. They weren’t successful during the 2009 session, but Melin is planning to be back again lobbying for the change in 2010.

“I’m trying to get them to clarify the statute so that courts can start to provide a meaningful remedy for people,” she explained. “Right now there is basically no remedy for people who have criminal records.”

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Felony Fugitive Working at DHS

The Department of Homeland Security is under fire again for their employment screening efforts (or lack thereof) after it was discovered that one of their employees was a felony fugitive.  In their defense, the individual did undergo a background check at the time of her hiring and the offense occurred after that time.  What I find unusual is their practice of re-screening employees after 10 years of employment.  To be be fair, some employers never conduct recurring or regular background checks on employees to see if they have been involved in criminal activity since the time of their hiring.  However, you would think that DHS would have the strictest policies when it came to monitoring their employees.

This is embarrassing for them to say the least.  Especially when you consider that in 2006  their deputy press secretary was arrested and eventually plead guilty to charges that he had inappropriate sexual  conversations online with minors.

Check out the full story below from the The Register.

Red-faced bosses from the Department of Homeland Security are trying to explain how they failed to know that one of their employees had been a wanted fugitive for more than two years.

According to numerous news reports, Tahaya Buchanan was hired by the Immigration and Naturalization Service in 1995 and eventually came to work in the US Citizenship and Immigration Services office in Atlanta in 2007 following an agency reorganization.

That same year, the 39-year-old was indicted on a charge of second-degree insurance fraud on allegations she staged the theft of her Range Rover SUV. In January 2008, a warrant for her arrest was entered into the the National Crime Information Center system, and in July of this year, Buchanan was arrested by a traffic officer and spent a week in a Georgia jail.

And yet it wasn’t until Tuesday that immigration officials discovered Buchanan had been a known fugitive.

A spokesman for the immigration service said background checks are conducted on employees before they are hired and criminal history checks are performed every 10 years. Buchanan’s most recent check was conducted in 2005, before charges were brought. Agency employees are also required to report any contact they have with law enforcement officers, the spokesman said.

Hollywood Makes It So Easy: Pee-Wee Herman To Make Comeback!

Pee-Wee HermanOk, I hate to even write this posting because like many of you; I am a huge Pee-Wee Herman fan!  However, I would be negligent if I didn’t.  Hollywood makes it so easy.  I could spend the rest of my life writing blogs about stories they create!!  Today is no exception.  Pee-Wee Herman is mounting a huge comeback.   “The Pee-wee Herman Show,” opening next month in downtown Los Angeles at Club Nokia theater, cost millions to produce. It boasts 11 actors, 20 puppets and marks the show’s first production since 1982.

What would a background check on Pee-Wee Herman look like?  It wouldn’t be pretty, I’ll tell you that much!  According to Wikipedia:

Paul-Reubens-MugshotIn July 1991, while visiting relatives, Reubens was arrested in Sarasota, Florida for masturbating publicly in an adult theater while watching a triple bill of Catalina Five-O: Tiger Shark, Nurse Nancy and Turn up the Heat. Detectives would periodically visit pornographic theatres and observe the audience, arresting those engaged in indecent exposure. After having arrested other men, a detective who had been observing Reubens stopped him while he was on his way out. While detectives looked at his driver’s license, Reubens told them, “I’m Pee-wee Herman”, and then offered to do a children’s benefit for the sheriff’s office “to take care of this”. The next day, after a local reporter recognized Reubens’ name, Reubens’ attorney made the same offer to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune in exchange for withholding the story. This was not Reubens’ first arrest in the county; in 1971 he was arrested for loitering and prowling near an adult theater, though charges were later dropped. His second arrest was in 1983 when Reubens was placed on two years’ probation for possession of marijuana, although adjudication was withheld. The night of the arrest Reubens fled to Nashville, where his sister and lawyer lived, and then to New Jersey, where he would stay for the following months at his friend Doris Duke’s estate.

I wish it stopped there, but unfortunately it doesn’t.

In November 2002, while filming David La Chapelle’s video for Elton John’s “This Train Don’t Stop There Anymore”, Reubens learned that policemen were at his house with a search warrant, acting on a tip from a witness in the pornography case against actor Jeffrey Jones, finding among over 70,000 items of kitsch memorabilia, two grainy videotapes and dozens of what the city attorney’s office characterized as a collection of child pornography. Kelly Bush, Reubens’ personal representative at the time, said the description of the items was inaccurate and claimed the objects were “Rob Lowe’s sex videotape and a few 30- to 100-year-old kitsch collectible images”. Reubens turned himself in to the Hollywood division of the LAPD and was charged with possession of obscene material improperly depicting a child under the age of eighteen in sexual conduct. The District Attorney looked at Reubens’ collection and computer and found no grounds for bringing any felony charges against him, while the city attorney brought misdemeanor charges against Reubens “on the very last day” that the statute would allow.Reubens was represented by Hollywood criminal defender lawyer Blair Berk. In December he pleaded not guilty through Berk, who also complained that the city attorney failed to turn over evidence to the defense, which City Attorney Richard Katz countered that prosecutors were not required to do until after arraignment, after which they did; neither side disclosed the contents.

Now just to be clear, we would never, EVER use Wikipedia for background checks, its simply a source.

Mr. Rubens has several offenses in his lifetime.  Criminal recidivism rates for any offender is noteworthy and certainly justifies an employers right to screen employees.  For you screening professionals out there, we understand this opens a quagmire of legal issues under California reporting laws; we can debate that later! Lets hope Pee-Wee (Paul Rubens) is using this as an opportunity to turn his life around!