Monday, May 25, 2009

CPA - license - revocation

Ake v. State Board of Accountancy - Cmwlth. Court (2-1) - May 20, 2009

The court reversed the imposition of the maximum penality--revocation of a CPA's license--based on a 2002 Illinois felony conviction for a hate crime, consisting of a series of harassing phone calls to a YWCA director concerning the fact that she was a lesbian, something that was contrary to the appellant's religious, moral and ethical beliefs. The court held that the board had abused its discretion in imposing the maximum penalty, which had the effect of depriving appellant of any opportunity for reinstatement of his CPA license.

The court relied on the fact that

- the conviction was relatively remote in time;
- appellant had completed all of the conditions of his sentence and probation (14 days in jail, $2000 fine, 30 months probation, psychological counseling)
- the offense would have only been a misdemeanor in Pennsylvania
- the conduct was not of the type that is an "anathema to the accounting profession"
- there was no rehabilition requirement under the CPA law, but if there were, appellant was rehabilitated, having fulfilled each term of his Illinois sentence
- revocation is reserved for the "worst offenders"

The dissent thought that the board had acted within its discretion and had not abused it. It found that appellant's offense related to his moral character, which is a factor under the CPA law, and that it involved his honesty and integrity.