Hank Shea Brings White Collar Felons into the Classroom
21 Corporate Crime Reporter 34(10), August 31, 2007

Hank Shea spent much of his career as a federal prosecutor in Minneapolis putting corporate executives behind bars.

Now, he hauls them into his law school classroom to talk turkey to his students.

And he firmly believes that this is the best way to teach ethics to law students.

Not by force feeding them dry case studies from texts.

But by letting them hear the truth from the mouths of the white collar convicts.

Shea is now a professor at the University of St. Thomas School of Law in Minneapolis where he is a fellow at the Holloran Center for Ethical Leadership in the Professions.

Over his nineteen years at the U.S. Attorney’s office in Minneapolis, Shea has prosecuted dozens of white collar and corporate criminals.

In 2000, he prosecuted George Kline in perhaps the largest insider trading scheme in Minnesota history.

“Kline had served on the boards of 40 different companies,” Shea said in an interview with Corporate Crime Reporter earlier this week. “He was that well connected. And he ran his own investment company. He ultimately pled guilty. As did his two sons, another broker they were working with, and a very high placed executive with one of the investment firms here in the Twin Cities. Tips were being traded back and forth.”

Kline cooperated with Shea in an ongoing investigation.

“While he was in prison, I invited him to share with others the very painful lesson he had learned and was still experiencing,” Shea said. “He did so. And the reaction was overwhelming.”

“The reaction of his talk was so positive that I started approaching other felons who I had prosecuted,” Shea said. “Most of them had confessed. So, I knew their stories. And some of them were headed to prison. Some were in prison. One lawyer who I prosecuted for embezzling client funds received a 46-month sentence. And the day before he was going to go to prison – he had already been sentenced, there was nothing in it for him – he appeared in a St. Thomas Law School classroom with me. And a couple of the students told me afterward that they would probably not remember much about what they learned in law school, but they would never forget what they heard from that lawyer.”

“By bringing these felons into a school environment and having these students see not only the consequences of misconduct, but having them tell how they went wrong, where they went wrong, and how others can avoid that path – that is going to stick with these students a lot longer than reading a case book and reading about case study they have little or no identification with,” Shea said.

Shea’s stump speech is titled – Top Ten List of Lessons Learned from White Collar Criminals.

The ten lessons?

Lesson No. 10: When faced with the choice between a right versus a wrong decision, guard against that first intentional misstep.

Lesson No. 9: Never knowingly sign a false document.

Lesson No. 8: Never compound or try to bury your mistakes.

Lesson No. 7: Do not follow directions from others that you believe to be improper or unethical.

Lesson No. 6: No matter what your position in your organization, lead by example.

Lesson No. 5: Avoid the perils of “willful blindness.”

Lesson No. 4: When faced with an ethical dilemma, seek advice and counsel from others.

Lesson No. 3: Learn to be satisfied with what you have legitimately earned – greed is a vicious vice that can destroy you.

Lesson No. 2: No one is above the law.

Lesson No. 1: Above all else, at all times, wherever you live or work, do three things – act with integrity, exhibit courage,

honor your reputation.

(For a complete transcript of the Interview with Hank Shea, see 21 Corporate Crime Reporter 34(10), September 3, 2007, print edition only)


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