Accounting and Auditing
Steve has led hundreds of financial statement audits and other assurance engagements that involved planning and supervising fieldwork, testing transactions, evaluating the appropriateness of accounting policies, and reviewing financial statement presentations and disclosures. Typically, these engagements have included the evaluation of internal controls. In addition, his work has often involved performing agreed-on procedures testing and testing compliance with contracts and agreements, such as loans, leases, royalty agreements, and government grants. Steve has also frequently served as a fraud specialist supporting audit teams and coordinated with outside counsel and other forensic firms in internal investigations of allegations of accounting fraud.
Forensic Accounting, Auditing and Financial Reporting Investigations, and Litigation Matters
As a highly regarded expert witness and consultant, Steve has been engaged to assist clients with a wide range of accounting, auditing, financial reporting, and fraud matters. He has worked across many industries involving liability, causation, and damages issues emanating from accounting and financial information. Steve has been qualified as an expert in federal and state courts and testified in arbitrations in a variety of forums.
- Maxar Technologies (2020–2023) – Retained as an accounting expert in defense of several shareholder suits brought against an aerospace company alleging accounting fraud related to impairments of long-lived assets, inventory valuation, and revenue recognition on long-term contracts.
- Confidential Client (2021) – Assisted the sellers of a medical lab in obtaining a substantial earnout payment in a dispute over revenue recognition for COVID-19 testing.
- CVS Health (2021) – Assisted a major health insurance company in a purchase price adjustment dispute in a neutral accountant arbitration regarding the acquisition of a statewide Medicaid health plan, which resulted in an arbitration award for a substantial reduction of the purchase price.
- Life Sciences Industry (2020–2021) – Assisted a life sciences company in successfully disputing a $225M earnout related to numerous erroneous adjustments to earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) claimed by the seller.
- Auditor Defense (2020) – Mathew Pliskin as trustee of Iron Clad Performance Wear v. BDO LLP – AAA Case No. 01-19-000-4459; rebuttal expert on liability, causation, and damages on behalf of an audit firm.
- S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) (2020) – Retained by the SEC to serve as an accounting expert in a case brought against a member of management of a registrant that improperly accounted for foreign currency translation.
- Pharmaceutical Industry (2017–2018) – Served as the lead accounting expert and overall engagement leader in defending against a $1.4B working capital adjustment claimed by the buyer of the generics business of a major pharmaceutical company.
- Power Plant Construction Dispute (2017) – Served as the lead accounting expert in a $750M post-transaction dispute involving percentage of completion and other accounting issues for a company involved in the construction of nuclear power plants.
- Health Insurer Payment Dispute (2016) – Children’s Hospital of Central California v. Blue Cross of California, et al. – Superior Court of the State of California, County of Madera Case No. MCV 048512; expert testimony regarding hospital accounting for patient services in connection with a dispute over how much should be paid for services when the hospital did not have a contract with the health plan.
- Thomson Reuters Special Services, LC v. T4 Data Group, LLC (2016) – U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Case No. 1:15cv1400 – LMB/IDD; expert report and consulting regarding amounts due under a software license arrangement.
- Hospital Uncompensated Care (2014) – Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City v. HCA, Inc. – Circuit Court of Jackson County, Missouri, Case No. 0916-CV30692; served as an expert witness in a special master proceeding regarding the provision of uncompensated care by 11 hospitals in the Kansas City area. Provided approximately four days of hearing testimony covering hospital accounting and auditing, quantification and reporting of uncompensated care, and statistical sampling and testing of patient accounts.
- Agribusiness Client (2013) – Served as an expert witness in arbitration regarding royalties arising from the use of intellectual property related to meat production. The arbitrators awarded damages in excess of $12M based on Steve’s testimony.
- Lockheed Martin Securities Class Action (2012) – City of Pontiac General Employees’ Retirement System v. Lockheed Martin Corporation, et al. – U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, Case No. 1:11-cv-05026-JSR; served as an expert witness regarding accounting and financial reporting matters related to revenue recognition in a class action shareholder suit.
- Magellan Behavioral Health, Inc. v. Molina Healthcare of Florida, Inc. (2012) – AHLA Arbitration Case No. A-052011-924; hearing and deposition testimony, and expert report regarding damages in a breach of contract dispute. The arbitrator awarded damages based on Steve’s testimony.
- Exela Pharmsci, Inc. v. Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc. (2012) – Circuit Court of Loudoun County, Virginia, Case No. CL00064707-00; expert rebuttal witness on damages related to a recall and delay in sales of a pharmaceutical product.
- The Research Foundation of State University of New York v. Nektar Therapeutics (2011–2012) – U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York, Case No. 1:09-CV-1292; expert witness related to pharmaceutical company accounting and financial reporting.
- Salix Pharmaceuticals, Inc. v. Napo Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (2011) – Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware, Case No. 6599-VCG; expert witness related to accounting and financial operations of a pharmaceutical company.
- Not-for-Profit Hospital (2010) – CSAHS/UHHS-Canton, Inc. d/b/a Mercy Medical Center v. Aultman Health Foundation, et al. – U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio Eastern Division, Case No. 5:09-CV-57; served as an expert witness in a jury trial between the two not-for-profit hospital systems in Canton, Ohio, regarding the improper accounting and tax return treatment of certain transactions. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the client, finding that the opposing party engaged in a pattern of corrupt activity, and awarded the largest business dispute verdict ever in Stark County, Ohio.
- Multinational Energy Company (2010) – Assisted counsel and testifying experts for Southern Company in a $2B claim related to the spin-off and subsequent bankruptcy of Mirant Corporation. Issues addressed included accounting restatements, asset impairments, energy trading, and financing transactions.
- White Collar Defense (2009–2010) – United States of America v. Mark P. Kaiser – U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, No. 04-Cr.-733 (TPG); expert witness in connection with Rule 33 motion for a new trial related to accounting fraud allegations related to U.S. Food Service/Royal Ahold.
- Mechanical Contactor (2008–2009) – Washington Gas Resources Corp. v. American Combustion Acquisition, LLC – Circuit Court of Montgomery County, Maryland, Case No. 285861-V; expert witness trial and deposition testimony in a post-sale dispute regarding net book value and receivable collections. The court ruled in WGR’s favor citing Steve’s testimony.
- Bond Compliance Dispute (2008) – Georgia Gulf Corporation, et al. v. Sandelman Partners, et al. – Court of Chancery of the state of Delaware; expert witness regarding compliance with the terms of a bond indenture.
- Health Plan (2007) – Select Medical Corporation v. Medical Care Management Systems, Inc. t/d/b/a America’s Choice Healthplans, Inc., et al. – Court of Common Pleas, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, Civil Action No. 03-1037; expert rebuttal report and assistance in mediation regarding alleged damages related to a health plan contract.
- Stock Option Backdating (2007–2009) – Securities and Exchange Commission v. Gregory L. Reyes, et al. – U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, No. C-06-4435; accounting expert and consultant regarding employee stock options and stock-based compensation expense in connection with two criminal trials and an SEC enforcement action.
- Healthcare Industry (2006) – North Shore Pharmacy, Inc. and Value Pharmacy, Inc. v. Breslin Associates Consulting, LLC/Breslin Associates Consulting LLC v. Omnicare, Inc. – U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts, Civil Action No. 02-11760-NG; expert witness related to the evaluation and testing of an audit of compliance with a pharmacy contract between Omnicare pharmacies and a group of nursing homes.
- Medical Practice Billing (2005) – United States ex rel. Karon E. Hill v. Morehouse Medical Associates, Inc. – U.S. District Court Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division, Civil Action File No. 1:00-CV-1858-GET; expert witness in a qui tam complaint regarding Medicare billings by medical school physicians.
- White Collar Prosecution (2005) – United States v. Dov Shellef, et ano. – U.S. District Court Eastern District of New York, Case No. 03-CR-723; expert testimony on behalf of the prosecution in a jury trial on accounting and auditing matters.
- University Accounting Matter (2003) – University of Cincinnati v. Ohio Insurance Guaranty Association – Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas, Cincinnati, Ohio, Case No. A0205696; expert trial testimony involving definition and quantification of the net worth of a public university. The court ruled in OIGA’s favor based on Steve’s testimony.
- Greater Southeast Hospital Bankruptcy (1999) – U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Columbia, Case No. 99-01159; testified as an expert witness in a cash collateral hearing on behalf of the bond trustee.
Other Expert Witness Engagements
- Healthcare Staffing Company Breach of Contract Dispute (2022–2023) – Retained as an expert witness in a contract dispute between a healthcare staffing company and a hospital company.
- Chemicals Company Breach of Contract Dispute (2022–2023) – Retained as an expert witness in a dispute involving prices charged under a long-term supply agreement.
- Consumer Class Action Litigation (2021–2022) – Javanni Munguia-Brown, et al. v. Equity Residential, et al. – Case No. 4:15-CV-01225-JSW-TSH; expert witness in a class action litigation regarding late rent fees charged in California by one of the largest publicly traded real estate investment trusts (REITs) of upscale apartment communities.
- Manufacturer Breach of Contract Dispute (2020–2022) – ATI Titanium, LLC v. US Magnesium, LLC – Case No. 2:17-cv-00923-HCN-PMW; expert witness regarding contract termination and the closure of a titanium production facility. Case settled on favorable terms just prior to trial.
- Chevron Corporation v. Republic of Ecuador (2019–2022) – UNCITRAL Arbitration PCA Case No. 2009-23; expert witness regarding recoverable costs incurred by Chevron in a long-running dispute with Ecuador.
- Asset Tracing (2020–2022) – United States of America Department of Justice Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section v. All assets held in the investment portfolio of Blue Holding (2) Pte. Ltd., on behalf of or traceable to Ridley Group Limited, and/or the Ridley Trust at J.O. Hambro Investment Management Limited and all interest benefits, or assets traceable thereto, et al. – Case No. 13-cv-1832-JDB; expert witness regarding asset tracing of funds held in foreign investment accounts over a 25-year period that emanated from fraud schemes perpetrated by a former ruler of Nigeria. This matter led to the recovery and repatriation of $23M stolen by General Sani Abacha.
- Hospital Antitrust Class Action (2017–2022) – Led a team of health insurance experts, health actuaries, and data analysts in connection with the defense of two class action lawsuits alleging that the largest health system in Northern California used its market power to illegally charge excessive rates resulting in higher health insurance costs to employers and individuals.
- Health Insurance Network Dispute (2020) – Saint Peter’s University Hospital, Inc. v. Horizon Healthcare Services, Inc. – Superior Court of New Jersey; provided consultation and expert witness support in connection with a lawsuit brought by a hospital that was not placed in the top tier of a newly established provider network.
- Lender Liability Matter (2016–2017) – Palm Beach Finance Partners, et al. v. General Electric Capital Corporation – U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of Florida, Case No. 09-36379-PGH; rebuttal expert in a case involving losses sustained by an investor in the Thomas Patters Ponzi schemes.
- Hospital Billing Qui Tam Case (2017) – United States of America and State of California, ex rel. Paul Chan v. PAMC, Ltd. and Pacific Alliance Medical Center – U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, Case No. 13-cv-04273-RGK (MRWx); damages rebuttal expert on behalf of a hospital in a Stark Law/Anti-Kickback Statute qui tam matter with allegations of improper financial relationships with referring physicians.
- Airline Pilots Pension Fund (2013) – US Airline Pilots Association v. Pension Benefit Guarantee
– U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Civil Action No. 1:09-cv-01675 (HHK); expert witness related to the financial management of the assets of the pension plan for USAir pilots after the bankruptcy of the airline.
M&A Transaction Disputes
Steve has assisted buyers and sellers in numerous post-merger and acquisition (M&A) disputes involving purchase price adjustments related to working capital, net assets, and inventory valuations, as well as earn-out disputes based on revenues or profitability post-transaction. He has frequently served as a neutral accountant to arbitrate such disputes. These matters have included disputes involving amounts from several million dollars to in excess of $1B. The most prevalent issues in dispute were related to accounting for accounts receivable and related reserves for uncollectable accounts, inventory valuation including reserves for excess or obsolete inventory, accrued liabilities, warranty reserves, contingent liabilities, revenue recognition, and nonrecurring expenses. The matters covered a wide range of industries, including technology, energy, chemicals, manufacturing, publishing, professional services, construction, healthcare providers, health plans, and life sciences.
Steve has led a wide range of forensic accounting investigations related to generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), financial reporting and disclosure and other accounting matters, internal controls, compliance with laws and regulations, and allegations of financial impropriety. These matters have included many high-profile alleged accounting fraud matters that have occurred over the past 20 years. Some of his current and previous engagements are as follows:
- Cannabis Company (2022–2023) – Serving as the independent consultant for a publicly traded cannabis company in connection with an enforcement settlement with the SEC and Ontario Securities Commission. This undertaking involves assessing internal controls, critical accounting policies, and staffing accounting and finance functions.
- Professional Sports Teams (2018–2022) – Assisted the minority owner of two professional sports teams, the arena where they played, and an adjacent mixed-use real estate development in evaluating past related-party transactions. Also worked with two valuation firms to determine the fair value of the ownership interest in connection with a potential purchase by the majority owner. Continued to provide ongoing monitoring of the financial operations of the teams and related assets.
- Middle Eastern Food Commodities Distributor (2021) – Performed an investigation into allegations made by a United Nations Panel of Experts that a major importer and distributor of food commodities was engaged in profiteering and money laundering in connection with a government-funded aid program.
- Online Training Provider (2019–2021) – Performed an investigation on behalf of the buyer of an online training provider, which identified apparent fraud and failure to disclose known accounting misstatements related to underpayment of sales tax and overstatement of accounts receivable.
- Major Industrial Company (2018–2020) – Led a team of forensic investigators, technical accountants, and internal control specialists working with outside counsel performing an internal investigation in connection with an SEC and DOJ investigation. The accounting and financial reporting issues involved billions of dollars in revenue recognition under long-term service contracts and insurance reserves.
- Not-for-Profit Organization (2020) – Led an investigation of embezzlement perpetrated by the former CFO of the organization.
- Specialty Apparel Company (2018–2020) – Led an investigation into revenue recognition and related disclosures in connection with an SEC investigation. The project involved evaluating sales transactions at the end of quarters for compliance with ASC 605.
- Public Health System (2019) – Performed an independent investigation on behalf of the Board of Cook County Health in response to concerns raised in an Inspector General’s report. The investigation addressed allegations related to the financial position and operations of Chicago’s public hospital system and an affiliated Medicaid health plan, which culminated in a report to the elected Cook County Board.
Financial Due Diligence and Financing Transactions
Steve has assisted buyers and sellers in M&A transactions including acquisition due diligence engagements for potential acquirers of several manufacturers, health care providers, health insurance companies, a temporary staffing company, and a home security business that involved assessing financial risks, preparing financial projections, and evaluating operating synergies and transaction structures. In addition, he has advised on sale transactions. Steve has also assisted clients with financing transactions, including stock and bond registrations, tax-exempt bond issuances, private placements, and bank financings.