Friday, November 28, 2008

Accountant License Suspension

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court upheld a three year license suspension of an accountant convicted of a felony theft offense and false concealment of the conviction in an application for license renewal:

Based on the petitioner's larceny conviction and his false statement on his renewal application, the board, in May, 2006, issued to the petitioner an order to show cause why it should not suspend, revoke, or take other action against his license. Prosecuting counsel for the division of professional licensure moved for summary decision. See 801 Code Mass. Regs. § 1.01(7)(h) (1998). The board allowed the motion, concluding that the undisputed evidence showed the petitioner had been convicted of larceny over $250, and had lied about that conviction on his renewal application. See G.L. c. 112, §§ 61 and 87C 1/2 . The board rejected the petitioner's claim that he had mistakenly thought his larceny conviction had been "stayed" pending appeal--he presented no evidence to support his claim, and the board rejected his explanation of the different answers he gave on his applications to renew his accountant's license and to become a notary public as "linguistic splitting of hairs." See 801 Code Mass. Regs. § 1.01(7)(h) (summary decision appropriate where no "genuine issue of fact"). The board also concluded that, even if the petitioner had not intended to deceive the board, he knew or should have known that his statement in the renewal application was false.

A sanctions hearing took place, at which the petitioner and his defense counsel in the larceny case testified. Thereafter, the board issued a final decision in which it incorporated its earlier decision allowing the motion for summary decision; found no mitigating circumstances; found aggravating circumstances (a pattern of similar financial misconduct shown by the G.L. c. 93A matter and the petitioner's criminal charges above and beyond the larceny conviction; and the petitioner's demeanor during the hearing); and ordered his accountant's license suspended for three years.

The case is Kaplan v. Board of Public Accountancy, decided November 26. (Mike Frisch)

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