When you are making $727,000, how much should you steal from your employer?

/ 03.Jun, 2011

One wonders if there are attorneys who have not read The Goose Who Laid the Golden Egg.  It is very short, and contains a life lesson as important as any Rule of Professional Conduct.  It seems that Roosevelt Hairston, Jr. was unaware of its simple lesson.  The allegations came out several months ago when he was fired from his position as general counsel for Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.  The three count information came down yesterday.  The information charges Mr. Hairston with embezzling $1.7 million from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, mail fraud, money laundering, and filing a false tax return to try to hide the theft.  According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Mr. Hairston’s 2009 compensation from the hospital was $727,130.  Despite this generous salary, the information alleges that, between 1999 and February 14, 2011, Hairston used dozens of false invoices he created for shell companies to steal from CHOP.

The ethical ramifications of Mr. Hairston’s conduct (if the accusations are correct) are obvious.  As are the potential violation of Pennsylvania Rules of Professional Conduct.  Most obviously, a violation of law that reflects upon one’s honesty is a violation of RPC 8.4(b):

Rule 8.4 Misconduct It is professional misconduct for a lawyer to: (a) violate or attempt to violate the Rules of Professional Conduct, knowingly assist or induce another to do so, or do so through the acts of another; (b) commit a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects; (c) engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation; (d) engage in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice; (e) state or imply an ability to influence improperly a government agency or official or to achieve results by means that violate the Rules of Professional Conduct or other law; or (f) knowingly assist a judge or judicial officer in conduct that is a violation of applicable rules of judicial conduct or other law.

Although Mr. Hairston has yet to be disciplined, he is unlikely to be a lawyer much longer.

Josh J.T. Byrne, Esquire