Sad stories

A PwC Lawyer Who Recently Left the Firm Is Missing in China

Ugh. This doesn't sound good. An in-house lawyer for PwC has gone missing in China. Steve Leavenworth is American but has lived China for 17 years, according to the Telegraph. He recently left PwC after 15 years and was on a solo backpacking trip through Yunnan province when the bus he was believed to be on […]

Indiana University Accounting Professor Dies After Fall From Parking Garage

Sad news on the Indiana University campus as accounting professor Susan Keenan died from injuries suffered after a fall from the fourth floor of a parking garage: Susan Keenan, 51, survived a fall from a Bloomington parking garage at 7th Street and College Avenue but died in an Indianapolis hospital hours later. The Bloomington Police Department says witnesses […]

This Story of a Deloitte Partner’s Suicide is Really Tragic

Deloitte partner Daniel Pirron's suicide is terrible. Anyone that has had to cope with a loved one taking his or her own life knows the helpless feeling you have in the aftermath of such a tragedy. If someone at your company committs suicide, the emotional level is obviously different but it is no less shocking regardless […]

Going Concern Offering Hugs to Celebrate Its Third Birthday

It's Going Concern's 3rd Birthday today which is ordinarily a festive occasion where Adrienne and I drink Racer 5 over Skype and recall some of the more memorable stories from the past three years. Considering what happened in Aurora, Colorado early this morning, it feels like a more somber affair so Adrienne and I will […]

A Florida Man Committed Suicide Inside PwC’s Tampa Office Today

Anthony J. Marcinek jumped to his death from the eighth floor inside the PwC building earlier this afternoon in Tampa. I confirmed with a PwC spokesperson that he was not employed by the firm. The firm did send an email notifying everyone of the incident and is providing grief counselors for employees. Ugh. [TBT]  

If Accounting Firms Are Going to Insist That People Work So Much, They Should at Least Educate Them on How to Recognize When Someone Is About to Keel Over

Earlier this week, our friend Elie Mystal wrote a sad post about a young attorney who died at 35 under suspicious circumstances. Adam Maynard was gunning for partner at Dinsmore & Shohl, LLP and was working very hard right up to the time he died. How hard was he working, you ask? Friends of Maynard […]

PwC India Consultant Did Not Technically Die From Work-Related Hazards

Over the weekend, we got news that a 34-year-old PwC India senior consultant was found dead at his Calcutta home. A maid noticed smoke and alerted the man’s parents, who lived downstairs. When the parents rushed into the room, they found their son’s bed partially in flames. Police and fire department officials initially suspected Sayan Chowdhury died of electrocution after discovering his charred body lying close to his charging laptop and iPod, headphones still in his ears. Police believe the man fell asleep with the laptop on.

“The preliminary post-mortem suggests he died of carbon monoxide inhalation, apparently while asleep,” joint commissioner of police Damayanti Sen said.

A friend told The Telegraph (India) that Chowdhury was “a very bright professional and had been rising fast in the organisation since switching from Cognizant Technology Solutions.” He leaves behind a six month old daughter and a wife, who also happens to work for PwC.

It is suspected at this time that Chowdhury died of carbon monoxide poisoning after the laptop charger short circuited in his tightly closed bedroom. The victim’s wife and newborn daughter were not in the home at the time, as they have been staying with his wife’s parents, who have been helping to care for the baby.

Experts suggest that it is possible the adapter attached to the power supply cord may have failed, leading to a 230-volt alternating current surge into the laptop, turning it into a death trap. Or, the battery may have got overcharged and exploded, spilling lethal chemicals on Chowdhury. Aside from the short circuit scenario, investigators have not ruled out the possibility that the fire and subsequent fatal CO inhalation was caused by a burning cigarette. “To identify the source of the CO, we have to wait for the forensic reports. The state forensic science laboratory officials collected samples of charred wire, the sample of half-burnt cigerettes,” an officer said.

What is the lesson here, kids? Well for one, don’t work too hard. Two, don’t leave your laptop on the charger. Three, don’t pass out with your laptop on the charger. Safety first!

 

(UPDATE) Chicago Area Accountant Charged in Drag-Racing Crash

It really sucks when tragedy is caused by utter stupidity and that’s exactly what we have in the Chicago ‘burbs. Timothy Salvesen, an accountant from Wheaton, was charged with aggravated street racing and leaving the scene of a fatal crash in relation to an incident that occurred back in January.

Killed in the crash were 32-year-old Joseph Paliokaitis of North Aurora, who prosecutors said appeared to be racing with Salvesen as both drove west on Golf Road at speeds that two witnesses estimated at 80 to 90 mph.

The speed limit on that stretch of four-lane road was 55 mph, Assistant State’s Attorney during Salvesen’s bond hearing Tuesday.

As the two westbound lanes merged into one, Paliokaitis apparently lost control of his 2003 Jaguar and rolled into eastbound traffic, striking a 2001 Hyundai Tiburon head-on.

The crash killed its driver, 62-year-old Migdalia Bloch. of Hoffman Estates, who was on her way home from work, McCarthy said.

Salvesen’s attorney said his client, an accountant who has no prior criminal record, will fight the charges that could send him to prison for up to 15 years.

“It’s an unfortunate situation and Tim maintains his innocence,” defense attorney Henry Samuels said.

After poking around a bit, we found a Tim Salvesen on LinkedIn who is a Senior Audit Manager at KPMG and another Tim Salvesen on Facebook who lives in Barlett, IL (a town next to Wheaton) and lists “KPMG” on his networks but we have not confirmed that the “accountant” charged is the “auditor” we found online.

Messages left with a KPMG spokesman, Mr. Samuels, and Tim Salvesen in KPMG’s Chicago office have not been returned.

UPDATE: A couple more reports give us more details that indicate that Salvesen “accountant” is Salvesen “KPMG auditor.” First, the Tribune reports more details of the crash, saying it was “apparently impromptu […]as the men did not know each other.” It also states that Mr. Salvesen is “an ex-Marine” which matches the profile on LinkedIn.

But the mugshot from ABC7 may be the clincher:

This looks a lot like the guy on LinkedIn but now the photo from the profile no longer appears (it’s not just me, DWB confirmed). Regardless, it’s increasingly appears that Salvesen is Salvesen and since no one likes to return our phone calls, we’ll leave it up to you to decide.

37-year-old Wheaton accountant charged in drag-racing crash that killed two [CST]
Man charged with street-racing months after fatal crash [CT]
Accountant charged in drag racing crash that killed 2 [ABC7]

Accountant Claims He Was Fired After Notifying Employer About His Wife’s Cancer

After Carl Sorabella’s wife Kathy was diagnosed with stage 4 incurable lung cancer, he notified his boss at Haynes Management that he would need to work a modified schedule to care for her. One week later, his boss informed him that his services were no longer needed.

Sorabella said he and his wife of 23 years, Kathy, learned she had stage 4 incurable cancer in late April. He said he asked his employer, Haynes Management, a real estate company in Wellesley Hills, Mass., that week for a more flexible work schedule to deal with his wife’s care.

“When I told my boss, she said ‘We were thinking about laying you off.’ I thought, ‘You can’t do that,'” Sorabella told WCVB.

Oh, but they did do that, Sorabella claims, even after he offered to work nights and weekends.

“Ultimately she said don’t worry about it and come in on Monday, and when I came in on Monday I got a letter that I would be laid off,” he said. Sorabella said the letter stated he was being laid off due to “workforce modifications.” But one week after he was fired, he says he saw a listing for his job on the company website.

Because Haynes is a small company (less than 50 employees), it is protected in such situations under the Family and Medical Leave Act. The rationale being that small businesses cannot afford to let an employee take extended leave to care for a sick relative or loved one like a large company can. Legal or not, it’s probably safe to assume that Haynes isn’t much for Employer of Choice initiatives.

Man Says He Was Fired After Telling Employer His Wife Has Cancer [ABC]

Two San Jose State Accounting Students Killed in Bizarre Murder-Suicide

Cindy Caliguiran, 25 and Kyle Williams, 26, both accounting majors at San Jose State University in Northern California, were gunned down by Caliguiran’s 54-year-old engineer husband on Tuesday.

From the Mercury News:

Waiting with a gun on the fifth floor of the campus garage was her husband — a Silicon Valley engineer more than twice her age. A classmate heard the screams — then gunfire — reverberate through the concrete parking structure.

Within minutes, police found Cindy Caliguiran and Williams dead, shot repeatedly, in the front seat of her black 2005 Mercedes. Napoleon “Nappy” Caliguiran lay next to the car, mortally wounded from a self-inflicted gunshot.

On Thursday, shocked students and faculty members learned the identities of the first San Jose State students ever killed on campus — both honor students, both married, one with a job at a major accounting firm waiting.

But the campus community was still trying to comprehend why the 54-year-old native of the Philippines tracked down his bride of three years Tuesday night about 8:30 with a gun registered in his name.

All reports are Caliguiran and Williams were not romantically involved. Williams had been married for two years and was headed to PwC after graduation, while Caliguiran had been married to her nutjob husband, Napoleon “Nappy” Caliguiran (described as a “soft character” by his former brother-in-law), for three. Based on reports, you might conclude that he was jealous of his much younger wife’s friend:

The Caliguirans lived on the fourth floor of the Élan Village apartment complex in North San Jose. A downstairs neighbor who didn’t want to be identified said that although he never met the couple, about two weeks ago they were so loud upstairs that he called security. He was awakened by heavy stomping upstairs, he said. When asked whether the couple was fighting, he said, “something like that.”

SJSU shooting: 3 who died ID’d as student, 25; her husband, 54; another student, 26 [SJMN]

PwC Provides Background, Q&A in Response to Reports on Shanghai Associate’s Death

It’s been just over two weeks since the death of Angela Pan, an audit associate in PwC’s Shanghai office. One report of her death have quoted doctors stating that “Based on her symptoms and her low white blood cell count, it’s reasonable to conclude that overwork led to a weakened immune system, which makes her more vulnerable to infections.” It was also reported she told a friend she was working 18-hour days and about 120 hours a week prior to her sickness and death. However, Shanghaiist (yes, that’s the Gothamist for Shanghai) published a portion of a statement from PwC that stated that Angela died from viral encephalitis not acute cerebral meningitis as had been reported. An internal email from PwC in China found its way into our inbox late last week and it seems to echo the press release and provides other details.

[Ed. note: the second paragraph included HR and press contacts for those needing them so I’ve omitted those here. It did state that the information should only “be communicated verbally.”]

The date on the email was April 20th and the Shanghaiist article is dated April 15th, so whether this communiqué provides additional details, it isn’t entirely clear. The most confusing statement for me in this email is “as a sign of respect to Angela and her family, we have made a decision not to clarify the misreporting in the media at this time.” Seems to me that the respectful thing would be to correct the “misrepresented” facts if they are in fact correct. Of course this is happening in China where we can only assume what qualifies as a “respectful” action might differ from what is respectful in the U.S. Regardless, it’s terribly unfortunate that a young woman’s death had to serve as a reminder for everyone to take a closer look at their own health and behavior, as well as how culture and working environment may cause some to feel pressure to be at work when they shouldn’t.

Did a PwC Auditor Work Herself to Death?

Pan Jie was a 25 year-old auditor in PwC’s Shanghai office, starting her career with the firm last October. She died of acute cerebral meningitis on April 10th, having “ignored the illness until a fever surged,” after catching the flu on March 31st. Reports have stated that Jie told a friend that “she had been working up to 18 hours a day and about 120 hours a week,” prior to her death.


A doctor quoted by one of the reports explained the cause:

Dr Wang Guisong, an expert in the neurosurgery department at Renji Hospital, said overwork can make people more vulnerable to infections. “Based on her symptoms and her low white blood cell count, it’s reasonable to conclude that overwork led to a weakened immune system, which makes her more vulnerable to infections,” Wang said. “When an infection worsens over time, people can develop acute cerebral meningitis.”

According to the story, PwC has denied that Ms Jie died from work-related fatigue but it’s hard to argue that her fatigue was caused by anything else. The firm is providing psychologists for employees, has sent a “team” to comfort Jie’s family and has even offered to assist with the cost of her funeral and this kind of outreach is admirable but the overarching culture within Big 4 firms is really what is of concern here.

Fatigue from overworking is not uncommon in the Big 4 life but when someone dies as a result of the fatigue, that’s will obviously get some attention (even if it’s just for a little bit). At some point it became acceptable for sleep – and health in general – to become of secondary importance when it comes to having a successful career. If you don’t believe me, look around you; everyone is exhausted and that’s part of the life inside a Big 4 firm. The pressures of performance in the name of client service are so great that people regularly come to work when they should be in bed or, in some cases, an emergency room. Of course there’s the macho contingent inside these firms that say “sleep is for the weak” and that’s the kind of attitude that perpetuates the culture of “getting the job done.” How is this acceptable? Not only can lack of sleep kill you, it doesn’t really do much for job performance. We’ve all seen people make big mistakes when they’re lacking sleep and yet no one considers the root cause. If you think skipping a few hours of sleep a night is worth to a few thousand dollars a year (at best) then you’ve got some seriously fucked up priorities.

I admit that people aren’t dropping left and right inside these firms due to lack of sleep but let’s quit pretending like working hours upon hours, putting your health at risk and coming into work looking like – pardon the expression – death warmed up is some kind of badge of honor.

Oregon Accountant Indicted for Fatal Hit-and-Run

In aren’t-you-glad-this-isn’t-you news, an Oregon accounting director has been indicted on one count of criminally negligent homicide and one count of failure to perform the duties of a driver when a person is killed.


On January 26, Les Schwab Tire Center Director of Accounting Bret Lee Biedscheid, 38, allegedly hit Anthony Martin, 48, around 11 pm while Martin was crossing the street on his bicycle. The grand jury made their determination based on witness testimony and videotape evidence.

Two days after the incident, Biedscheid’s lawyer contacted police and surrendered the 2008 GMC pickup matching the description of the truck involved in the crash.

Bend, Oregon police later served search warrants on Biedscheid’s house and seized computers, cell phones, GPS devices and other items. “I feel like if it had been myself or anyone else, we would have already been arrested just on the evidence that they already had,” said the victim’s sister.

Biedscheid has not been arrested and is scheduled to be arranged Thursday morning.

Slow down out there when you’re heading home from ANO, kids.

Grand Jury Indicts Bend Man In Fatal Hit-And-Run [OPB News]

Compliance Auditor Found Dead at Work… a Day After She Died

As many of you sacrifice your lives for the greater good of the profession, slaving away day in and day out to meet that all important April deadline, just remember it could be much worse: you could be dead in your cubicle for a day before anyone actually notices.


Via KTLA:

An L.A. County employee apparently died while working in her cubicle on Friday, but no one noticed for quite some time.

51-year-old Rebecca Wells was found by a security guard on Saturday afternoon.

She was slumped over on her desk in the L.A. County Department of Internal Services.

“I came in Saturday to do a little work, and I saw them when they were taking her out,” co-worker Hattie Robertson told KTLA.

Wells worked as a compliance auditor in the risk management division of L.A. County Internal Services and had just become a grandmother a week before her death. Prior to her position with the county, she was a tax auditor for the California State Board of Equalization. The Imperial County Coroner’s Office is still in the process of an investigation.

L.A. ISD provides computer, telecommunications, building maintenance and repair, purchasing and contracts, fleet, mail messenger and printing services to departments in L.A. County.

Report: Bomber of Moscow Airport Was an Accounting Student ‘Pumped Full of Drugs’

For the love of everything good and holy, we know some of you are depressed but please don’t resort to this:

Forensic experts have determined the identity of the suicide bomber who killed himself and 36 other people at Domodedovo airport – an accounting student from the North Caucasus republic of Ingushetia, Moscow media reports said Friday. The forensic researchers, going by DNA evidence taken from the scene, identified the bomber as a 20-year-old who apparently was ‘pumped full’ of drugs before he carried out the January 24 attack.

Accounting student was airport suicide bomber, Moscow media say [M&C]

Accountant Helps Truth or Consequences, New Mexico Live Up to Its Name

As you might expect, it doesn’t have a happy ending.

Police say a Pueblo accountant suspected of setting fire to his ex-wife’s home committed suicide during a brief standoff with authorities outside of Truth or Consequences, N.M.

Pueblo Police Sgt. Mark Duran says 50-year-old Myron Todd Thomas immediately became a suspect in an arson fire early Tuesday at his ex-wife’s home. Police issued an alert to law enforcement in New Mexico and elsewhere.

Sierra County (New Mexico) sheriff’s deputies and New Mexico police contacted Thomas north of Truth or Consequences, about 380 miles south of Pueblo Tuesday afternoon.

Georgia-Pacific Accountant Found Shot to Death; Husband Charged with Murder

Unfortunate story from the Atlanta Journal Constitution today who reports that 25 year-old Madison McLester was shot to death over the weekend. Ms McLester worked at Georgia Pacific in the financial reporting group and was active in the company’s recruiting at Georgia State University.

Police say McLester, 25, who got married last month, was shot to death by her husband early Sunday.

The 2007 GSU grad was found in her southwest Atlanta home; she had been shot several times.

Around 4:40 a.m, authorities responded to a call about a woman being shot, Atlanta police spokeswoman Officer Kim Jones said. They found her husband, Minchillo McLester, walking nude in a nearby park, where he was arrested, police said.

The couple had apparently just returned from a Halloween party.

Michillo McLester, who turned 29 Saturday, was later charged with his wife’s murder. There is currently no motive. We’ll keep you updated.

Man Blames IRS Raid for Wife’s Suicide

The widower of a woman who committed suicide three days after ten armed IRS agents raided their home in 2007 is suing the U.S. Government.

Federal court papers say Fort Wayne resident Denise Simon left behind a note stating she could not “live in terror of being accused of things I did not do.”

The lawsuit filed by James Simon in U.S. District Court in Fort Wayne says Denise Simon and her 10-year-old daughter were the only ones home when about 10 armed IRS agents raided their residence on Nov. 6, 2007.

The suit also alleges IRS agents made misleading statements to obtain a search warrant.

Pre-tay sure this is the last thing the Service needs to be associated with. The IRS didn’t immediately return our call seeking comment. An IRS spokeswoman got back to us but due to federal disclosures laws, the IRS not permitted to discuss a specific taxpayer case.

Ind. man blames IRS for wife killing herself 3 days after agents raided their home [Fox 59 WXIN]

The Lapsed Estate Tax’s First Victim

And by that we mean, he was only 13 hours away from 2010, when the estate tax expired.
Fritz Lohman of New York died at 11 am on December 31, just barely missing the opportunity to save his heir millions in taxes:

Lohman, 87, a SoHo real-estate magnate who pioneered the exhibition of gay art, died at home at about 11 a.m. on New Year’s Eve after a long illness. If he had instead passed away after midnight Jan.1, his partner of 48 years could have avoided paying at least $3 million in estate taxes — thanks to Congress letting that levy lapse for 2010.

For you populists out there, you could probably give a rat’s ass about but jesus, that just sucks. Thirteen hours. That’s shorter than some Law & Order marathons.
Dying 13 hrs. too soon cost $3 mil in taxes [NYP]