Every choice has a consequence and no one including the teachers of God’s principles are safe. Fraud is not a socially defined crime or one that is limited to the rich, famous or Wall Street addressed. Fraud can happen anywhere, at any time, to any organization.
As we begin 2009 with the worst January on record for Wall Street, I have stated over and over again in numerous interviews and in many publications, fraud will be on the rise. You just don’t know where it will rear it’s ugly head. But, as a fraud prevention and business ethics speaker, one thing I do know, most of the time it happens by those closest to the organization or by those who have been trusted.
Reported by the Dallas Business Journal – Rodney Bryant, former CFO for the Dallas Theological Seminary, was named in a lawsuit claiming that he embezzled $165,000 during the course of his employment. He was employed from 2000 till October 12, 2008.
The following was included in an article published in the Dallas News:
Mark L. Bailey, president of Dallas Thehological Seminary, said in a written statement that the decision to sue Bryant — “our former employee” — was a difficult one.
“Over the last few weeks, we have found ourselves in the unpleasant position of needing to take appropriate legal action in our fiduciary duty to pursue a biblically appropriate, deliberate, and mutually protected course of action,” he said.
He instructed everyone at the seminary to refer questions about the dispute to the school’s official spokesman, saying, “As responsible Christians, it is imperative that we avoid any gossip or slander.”
Bryant claims the allegations are not true. In the same Dallas News article the following was quoted:
He said he was working with lawyers and could not discuss specifics of the case. He added: “Everything will work out in the end, and I think I’ll be vindicated.”
You are innocent until proven guilty. Likewise you reap what you sow. I understand the truth in both of those statements. While I am not proud of my past, I do believe the past can be an effective learning ground, and one thing (among many) that I’ve learned is that in fraud – especially white collar crime fraud – no matter what you might say, the truth is found in black and white on paper – cause financial crimes leave a paper trial that most folks can follow. You don’t have to work for CSI to figure most of these crimes out.
According to the Dallas Business Journal – “The university alleges that Bryant set up corporate entities that he himself controlled and managed to dispense thousands of dollars into bank accounts for companies that did not exist. Bryant also is accused of forging other DTS employees’ signatures, according to the lawsuit.”
The suit states that Bryant fraudulently drew checks out of DTS accounts for a purported structural engineering firm and a purported law firm. It goes further to say that Bryant used phony North Texas addresses and phone numbers, and phony letterheads, in documents supporting the payments. The suit alleges that neither the law firm nor its listed lawyers belong to the State Bar of Texas. Bryant “incorporated and controlled” the firms, the suit says.
A judge has granted DTS’ request to freeze certain Bryant bank accounts. A hearing is scheduled for Feb. 10.
WHERE FROM HERE?
The truth will set you free or convict you as the case may be. If Rodney Bryant is found innocent then my guess is there are larger issues brewing at the Dallas Theological Seminary. Rarely does an organization of this type press public charges without the full belief that those charges will be sustained. Rarely does a judge freeze an individuals assets without feeling that there is due cause.
If, in fact, these allegations are true, then a civil suit is likely the least of Rodney Bryant’s worries. As I have said – having been there before, I know that civil can be resolved and still there is the issue of potential criminal prosecution.
From personal experience, if there is guilt…admit it. Do it now and begin today making choices that will allow for better outcomes in the future. One can never escape the consequence of past choices. We many not know how those choices will manifest, but they will manifest. When the truth is revealed, either through the court system or by Mr. Bryant – the process of healing can being.
In this case there is more to come. Meanwhile, in a down economy fraud will become more rampant. Ethical choices become skewed when economic pressure come to bear…so it is, now more than ever, important to take precautions to protect yourself and your companies. As a fraud prevention expert if you want to know more contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a confidential conversation.
Meanwhile – if you have thoughts on Rodney Bryant and the charges by the Dallas Theological Seminary feel free to comment. Your comments are welcome!