A Religious Institution Taps Hillard Heintze Expertise
On the other end of the line was an attorney representing a major religious organization with more than 400 members of the clergy and approximately one million faithful in the United States. He had been referred to Hillard Heintze by a colleague and was aware of the firm’s significant record of support to other major religious organizations with respect to investigations and security matters.
“We would like your assistance,” he said, “in conducting strategic due diligence and background investigations on 25 members of the clergy we are considering as candidates for a very senior position of trust within our organization.”
As the conversation unfolded, CEO Arnette Heintze gained a better perspective on the institution’s objectives and the internal processes these investigations would support. “Let me suggest this,” he said. “If you insist on a full-scale, strategic investigation of each of these 25 individuals, we will be happy to comply. But that will be a significant expense for you. I think there’s a better way to accomplish your goals at a dramatically lower cost to the organization.”
As the conversation ended, Heintze and the attorney agreed that it made more sense to have Hillard Heintze first complete limited-scope investigations on the 25 candidates and then, once the list had been narrowed down, conduct a full-scope strategic due diligence review of the three finalists for this particular position.
Two weeks later, we provided our key investigative findings to the ecclesiastical selection committee with high-level information on each of the 25 candidates. Areas reviewed included, for example, civil litigation records, bankruptcy filings, criminal records and sex offender registrations, tax liens and press reports. The committee then used this information, as well as many other factors, to winnow the list down to three final candidates.
Across the group, we identified a number of bankruptcies filed by the candidates, as well as diverse business interests. Several subjects had been, as well, subject to state and federal tax liens.
UNPLUGGED: The Project Manager’s Post-Engagement Perspective
“This organization got out in front on this issue. They were about to make a highly strategic decision – and a very public one. But first they wanted some insight into any issues they should know about that would have a material impact on their selection – and on their organization and its followers for many years to come.
This type of due diligence investigation – conducted with great care, integrity and discretion – is enormously important for every religious organization. Just as a pro forma, ‘check the box’ exercise isn’t enough to ensure that the individuals elevated to these positions of trust and authority have an unblemished record.”