Workplace ethics is focus of Shorter College’s Hopkins Institute lecture
April 23 - Shorter College students were given first-hand knowledge about the evils of corporate fraud Thursday morning as part of Shorter College’s Hopkins Institute of Business Ethics Lectureship.
Having been behind bars of a Federal prison for two years, Walt Pavlo pleaded guilty and was convicted of embezzling more than $6 million from MCI in the 1990s. His book, Stolen Without a Gun, is being used as a supplementary text for students enrolled in the business administration program at Shorter. “This is something that I did wrong,” said Pavlo before launching into his speech. “I am in no way proud of this. I am ashamed and what I did was wrong, but it’s an important lesson that others can learn from.”
Palvo discussed his involvement in the scheme, which ultimately involved seven MCI customers over a span of six months and ended with $35 million in account revenues being hidden and $6 million deposited in a Grand Cayman Island bank. “There is no excuse for doing this,” Pavlo said. “There comes a time when we will all be met with something that will test you. This was my test, and I failed it.”
Pavlo admitted that he knew what he was doing was wrong. “I just wanted to fade away. I was sick to my stomach; … it makes it tough to sleep at night. Then drugs and alcohol became a problem.”
He admitted his guilt in October 2000 and was charged with money laundering, wire fraud and obstruction of justice. He began his jail time in a Georgia prison and soon after, was interviewed by Forbes magazine for a series on white-collar crimes. He was later tapped by the FBI, while still serving his prison term, to speak on his experience. “My first presentation was to a room full of 300 U.S. attorneys and FBI agents,” he said. “That proves that God has a plan for everyone. I’m doing this so that people behind me will learn.”
Pavlo was the first speaker featured in the Hopkins Institute for Business Ethics. The lectureship is funded by the institute, established in the fall of 2008 thanks to a generous gift from Shorter College Trustee Col. Harvard Hopkins and his wife. The lecture series will continue to feature notable individuals in government, education, industry, medicine or other fields who are known as ethical leaders or, like Pavlo, who have unique insights to share on this topic.
“A central lesson we want students to understand from these seminars and from all of our business ethics teaching is that it is possible to be ethical and successful at the same time,” said Dr. Robert Darville, School of Business Management dean. “This is a vital conversation to have with our students in these days after Enron, WorldCom, Tyco and moving forward to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. People are looking for individuals to be leaders who exhibit ethical decision-making, and Shorter, as a Christian institution, wants to be a voice promoting the importance of ethics instruction and practice. The Hopkins, through their generosity, are helping to make that desire into reality.”