O.K. – I’ve been a CPA. Been is the operative word. I am no longer a CPA due to choices I made back in the ’80’s. Today it is clear that every choice has a consequence.
Now one would assume that those of us who chose the CPA profession would clearly understand the rules of money and laws of economics. Yet, it never fails that, from time to time, a failure of judgment will catch the headlines of the media. Bad choice = negative consequence. This is true for William D. Poynter.
Poynter, age 59, operated an accounting business, W.D. Poynter & Associates, in Lanham, Maryland. According to the US Attorney’s news release:
From November of 2005 to December of 2006, the defendant and two employees of a mortgage company conspired to launder over $127,000 in cash that they believed were the proceeds of drug dealing.
Now that was a bad choice. I understand how easy it can be to defraud someone and rationalize that it was only a loan, but to conspire to launder money that you thought was drug money … come on! But, no it gets worse.
In actuality, the money was provided to them as part of an undercover money laundering investigation conducted by special agents of ICE. The defendant and his co-conspirators accepted the cash from an ICE informant and undercover agent who posed as drug cartel members. In exchange for payments totaling $8,000, the defendant and his co-conspirators laundered $127,400 by depositing most of that currency into bank accounts they opened in the name of a fictitious church, and by converting the remainder of the cash into United States Postal Service money orders.
I don’t get it. 108 months in prison all for $8,000. Now that is not a good exchange by anyone’s definition!
“By agreeing to launder what he believed were the proceeds of drug trafficking, this defendant’s conduct amounted to a criminal dereliction of the esponsibility and character expected from a CPA,” said U.S. Attorney Taylor. “His conduct is a prime example of why money laundering is such a serious and complex crime, and one against which we must remain vigilant.”
The question remains – what would motivate such bad behavior? Was Poynter motivated by money? Beyond this poor choice how did he operate the remainder of his CPA practice? Some insight into those questions was reported by a former employee in May of 2007:
I worked for W. D. Poynter for approximately two months. He wrote me a check, I took the check to a check cashing place. ACE cashed the check two months laters. ACE contacted me regarding the bounced check. They said they had spoke with Mr. Poynter on numerous occasions. He mentioned that he would take care of the matter and never did.
Also, I had problems getting my W-2 from him. He liared saying his computers weren’t in the building and making excuses. It took him two months to send my W-2.
Regardless of motive – one this is sure, Mr. Poynter’s life will now change. And while he faces federal prison well over 7 years, the repercussions of his actions will have a direct effect on others close to him. His family will have to deal with the issue, his employees either have or will likely have a change in their employment and others with whom he was connected will feel the effect.
As a business ethics and fraud prevention speaker, I am conducting research into the motivation behind the actual crime. If you know Mr. Poynter please contact me so we can discuss the motivation behind his actions.
COMMENTS ARE WELCOME!