When it comes to the background check, never assume

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A Philidelphia law firm is feeling the burn after discovering a former employee is responsible for forging checks totaling more than $100,000 from the estates of the firm’s deceased clients.  Assuming that the legal recruiter who recommended the employee for employment had conducted a criminal background check, the firm hired her.  Little did they know that she was awaiting sentencing in New York for stealing $285,000 from her previous employer – also a law firm.

A partner in the law firm states in this news story that the recruiter obviously didn’t do their job since a criminal background check was not conducted on the employee.  Well, unless the law firm made that a requirement in their contract with the recruiter, they never should have assumed the vetting process was taking place.  I believe it is unfair of the firm to throw the recruiter to the wolves over this one when they themselves didn’t conduct their due diligence and make sure the recruiter was conducting the background check. 

It is incredibly important that businesses work with their recruiters and staffing agencies to iron out an employment screening process and determine which types of background check results are acceptable and which are not .  Making assumptions about such an important process can be a costly mistake.

Parelegal charged in 100G theft

By Stephanie Farr, Philadelphia Daily News – May 19, 2009

Kathy Foer-Morse didn’t fit in at High Swartz law firm in Norristown.

She showed up late, left early and couldn’t be located during some workdays, according to her employer.

After her termination, partners at the firm said that they discovered $100,937 couldn’t be located, either.

During a subsequent investigation, detectives learned that the former estate paralegal was awaiting sentencing in New York for stealing $285,000 from the last law firm where she worked, and that she had used the money she allegedly stole from High Swartz to pay restitution in the New York case, said Kevin Steele, Montgomery County first assistant district attorney.

“She clearly didn’t learn her lesson,” he said.

Moreover, rather than take from High Swartz’s accounts, Foer-Morse wrote checks to herself from deceased people’s estates and forged the executor’s signature, said Paul Bartle, managing partner of High Swartz.

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