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Archive for Sunday, April 16, 2006

FBI agent to speak on white-collar crime

April 16, 2006

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Former Westar Energy CEO David Wittig, a Kansas University alumnus, was recently sentenced to 18 years in federal prison and ordered to pay $19.5 million in fines and restitution for looting the company along with Douglas Lake.

Students should closely study and become appalled at Wittig's example and the many high-profile, white-collar crime cases of the last decade, KU business professors say.

"I've just been concerned recently about so many business executives getting sent to prison, and I thought our students needed to hear how people, who had families and a good education, were sent to prison and ruined their lives," KU business professor Joe Reitz said.

On Monday, students and members of the public can hear how one KU alumnus and award-winning FBI agent has investigated and helped convict several perpetrators of corporate crime.

Robert Herndon will deliver his lecture, "Diluted Trust: Moral Failure and White-Collar Crime," at 7 p.m. in Woodruff Auditorium at the Kansas Union.

His presentation will be the 11th annual Walter S. Sutton Lecture, which is sponsored by the KU International Center for Ethics in Business.

Herndon graduated from the KU School of Business in 1985 with degrees in business administration and accounting. He joined the FBI as a special agent in 1986.

During his time with the FBI, Herndon has worked on high-profile cases such as the conviction of a federal judge for bribery violations and the price-fixing scandal in the 1990s involving executives of Archer Daniels Midland and Japanese and Korean companies.

ADM paid more than $400 million in criminal and civil fines, and three former executives were convicted of violating antitrust provisions.

Herndon now works in the FBI's Kansas City, Mo., field office, where he helped investigate Robert Courtney, a Kansas City area pharmacist convicted of fraud for diluting chemotherapy drugs.

Herndon's presentation will include audio and video clips of many of the cases he has worked on.

Reitz said the presentation is meant to show KU students and the audience how the crimes happened and the consequences of the perpetrators' greed.

The lecture is named for Walter S. Sutton, a KU alumnus who died in 1985. Sutton served for decades as a managing partner of KPMG Peat Marwick.

Sutton's wife, Betsy, started the lecture series in 1993 in memory of her husband.

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