Each step in my career prepared me for my role as a senior manager in Forensic Advisory Services at Grant Thornton.
My journey has taken me back to where I started, with a greater recognition of the wide opportunities in a firm with global connections and a culture of teamwork and support.
Grant Thornton helped pave my way to forensic advising, bringing me onboard as an auditor in my early days in the accounting industry. It was the beginning of invaluable experiences that helped me to develop professionally and to years later make my return to the firm.
From auditing, my next step was to follow another interest and earn a law degree. With the combination of financial and legal credentials, I became an employee of our country’s top law enforcement agency — the FBI.
As a financial analyst and forensic accountant in the FBI’s Minneapolis office, I was immersed in federal criminal law enforcement and intelligence gathering, counterintelligence and counterterrorism, as well as white-collar criminal matters in national security cases.
A particularly egregious case was the multimillion-dollar Ponzi scheme headed by a Minnesota CEO. In bilking investors out of their funds, Tom Petters presided over falsified purchase orders, laundered money and acquisitions of huge companies — Polaroid, Sun Country Airlines and Fingerhut — to put up the appearance of great success. I was a member of the team working through the complex business entanglements to produce the evidence for a conviction. We got it. Petters was judged guilty of the largest financial crime in Minnesota history and received the state’s longest-ever prison sentence for financial fraud — 50 years at Leavenworth prison. Two FBI special agents, an IRS investigator and I were presented with the U.S. Attorney’s Office Law Enforcement Recognition Award for outstanding work on a significant federal case. It was a tremendous honor.
An honor of another sort was being called a “financial bloodhound” by my alma mater’s newspaper. As I told reporter for Carthage College’s The Carthaginian,
in my five years with the FBI, my intent was to always “follow the money trail.” I didn’t know it at the time, but this became my purpose in forensics at Grant Thornton.
From federal government employment, I moved into private industry. After eight years at smaller firms, I was again ready to join a large entity.
Grant Thornton was a natural choice for two reasons — the firm and the firm’s people. Grant Thornton’s reputation and global footprint afford opportunities to reach many clients and utilize my skill set. And, just as importantly, the people and culture are great. I’ve known some folks here for a long time, some since back when I was an auditor. I understood the culture, and I was familiar with my potential colleagues, and local, regional and national leadership.
Given my respect for the firm and the individuals, I realized I could be part of a very strong team. I made the decision to return in this new capacity and leverage my experience to help grow our practice in the Minneapolis office.
So now, along with others in the Forensic Advisory Services practice, I’m again steeped in investigations to expose wrongdoing and helping corporations avoid wrongdoing. Our work involves civil and criminal corporate violations, and noncompliance with a variety of laws and regulations, along with helping clients stay in compliance with various laws such as the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and the UK Bribery Act. Engagements can stem from whistleblower allegations, financial statement fraud, money laundering, embezzlement, kickbacks, responses to shareholder or regulatory inquiries, or even suspicions of bad behavior. We often support attorneys in these investigations. And if a matter has already been charged in court, we act as forensic accountants or expert witnesses in providing litigation support for a criminal defendant.
There are matters brought to us that must be referred to county or federal law enforcement. At times, because of long-term relationships with agencies and people, I can make connections for Grant Thornton to offer investigative support and expand our service range.
As it has been since my first steps on my career path, my purpose is to help make sure that the right thing is done and that people, including clients, are well served.