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Friday, October 25, 2002
On the Bellesiles issue for what is very likely the last time, Instapundit tells us that Prof. Michael Bellesiles has resigned from Emory after the committee investigating the charges against him found that they could not prove falsification. This was mainly because the supporting documentation he provided was so poor that they could not tell whether it was fraud or just incompetence. Some of the documentation he provided was just unexplained tickmarks on yellow legal paper. In any event, the sloppiness and inability to show how he got the results was professional misconduct. You can read the committee's report, and Bellesiles' reply (Instapundit links to the .pdf documents) to judge for yourself.

I'm a CPA (though not working in that field now), and before Arthur Andersen raised the bar, one of the worst things a staff auditor could do is what is called "ghost-ticking." This means marking your workpapers to indicate that you performed a procedure without actually having done so. Anyone caught doing this was immediately fired (this was a long time ago, as you can tell). I occasionally suspected it myself when the prior year's workpapers showed everything done in record time without exception, while I was finding missing, inaccurate, or incomplete records in the same client's records the next year, but with last year's staff gone, there was nothing to be done. One incident when I was still a staff auditor involved a young woman who breezed through difficult areas and often left early. The in-charge accountant on the job saw that the time she devoted to the work was nowhere near what he expected it to require and eventually laid a trap. He removed some pages from the middle of several reports and asked her to check the client's totals. She reported back that it all added up without exception. She was escorted out of the building that day.

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