* All names and identities are fictitious and have been changed.
THE PROBLEM: Keep It Simple Solutions (KISS) is a mid-sized Public Relations Agency headed by their long-time CEO, Marty Schaffer. Through a series of strategic mergers and acquisitions, Marty catapulted the firm from a profitless startup in 1999 to the thriving Inc 5000 company it’s known to be today.
Mr. Schaffer was in the midst of yet another key acquisition with Rayburn Communications, an internationally known Omni-Channel Media Relations firm, when KISS lawyers quietly but abruptly halted the talks. Each KISS board member had just received an anonymous letter, followed by a series of disturbing emails alleging sexual harassment and other indiscretions by Mr. Schaffer. If the accusations were proven true, damage to the agency’s multi-million dollar acquisition negotiations and KISS’s reputation could be irreparable.
Outside legal counsel to the KISS board of directors immediately engaged Digital4nx Group to investigate the allegations against their CEO, before moving any further with Rayburn.
THE SOLUTION: After meeting with KISS lawyers to review the email and letters received by the board, Digital4nx devised a plan of action. The initial investigation included interviews with the CEO, senior management, and several former and current employees. Using the information gathered from those interviews, the suspect list was then narrowed to 5 current employees and 2 former employees. Digital4nx coordinated with KISS’s CFO and CIO to immediately sequester potential digital evidence. Five years’ worth of expense reports, relevant personnel folders, and approval to conduct full background checks of all suspect employees wee forensically secured. Lastly, Digital4nx’s digital forensics team imaged the CEO’s computer, desktops of the 5 current employees, and one company email server.
Within a week of starting the investigation, background checks confirmed one current employee and one former employee were the two most likely suspects. Both were involved in prior litigations for harassment at another company and awarded undisclosed sums. Ten days after engagement, Digital4nx’s digital forensic examiners found the smoking gun evidence they were seeking. Recovered deleted files, instant messages, web browsing activities, and emails dating back over two years proved beyond doubt that Jody Flannagan, a former Executive Administrator in KISS’s sales division, and mistress to Marty Schaffer, was the guilty party. She was the person who anonymously sent emails and letters to the board members.
Ms. Flannagan had recently left Keep It Simple, had extensive knowledge of Mr. Schaffer’s business activities, and the motivation and willingness to harm him personally and professionally. Electronic evidence confirmed their intimate and consensual extramarital affair. Recovered deleted emails also showed how their relationship ended on a sour note after Jody’s husband discovered her indiscretions. When Jody told Marty they could be together sooner, Marty changed his mind about divorcing his wife. Evidence showed Marty originally planned to step down from his leadership role at KISS after the Rayburn acquisition was complete to start a new life with Ms. Flannagan and his millions.
Digital4nx immediately alerted counsel and provided them with a formal, easy-to-read report detailing the investigation’s findings. The report further noted that the CEO’s corporate computer possessed hundreds of pornographic images of the couple around the office, as well as extensive browsing history of sexually explicit websites.
THE FINAL OUTCOME: The KISS PR Agency’s general counsel, along with the board’s outside counsel, swiftly confronted Mr. Schaffer with the digital evidence provided by Digital4nx. The facts of the report ultimately forced him to admit his inappropriate personal relationship with a KISS employee; an act which he knew was against company policy.
Thanks to Digital4nx’s prompt and successful investigation, disgraced CEO Marty Schaffer was terminated from Keep It Simple Solutions without severance, and Jody Flannagan was unable to pursue any legal action regarding her false sexual harassment claims. KISS was able to contain its potential PR problem internally and keep the story out of the newspapers. The acquisition continued through to successful completion and Keep It Simple Solutions attained its new impressive status in the Inc. 5000 category along with a 3-Year Growth of increase to 11,996%.
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Disclaimer: The information contained in this case study is educational only. This is not intended to fully cover everything related to the investigation or constitute expert advice, legal advice or otherwise. You should always seek the advice and counsel of an attorney while proceeding with these matters. Results may vary as each case is unique and the types of artifacts may not exist depending on many variables. Contact us for a confidential initial consultation.
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