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July 23, 2012 | Volume 87, Number 19

COMMENTARY

Background checks

You can run, but you can’t hide.

These words might apply to a distressing situation involving the recent resignation of the director of the Nevada Catholic Conference after it was revealed that he had pleaded guilty to a charge of obstruction of justice and was serving three years probation for this federal felony.

Needless to say, John Cracchiolo, the man who held the top position at the Nevada Catholic Conference, withheld this information when he applied for the job in which he represented the interests of Nevada’s two Catholic dioceses — Las Vegas and Reno — in helping shape Nevada’s state legislation. It would be expected that anyone with a felony conviction might not get the job so it was in his best interests to hide this fact.
There is little more information available other than Mr. Cracchiolo’s position was considered part-time.

Mr. Cracchiolo’s plea deal stems from charges brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission in August 2006 against him and another executive at Endocare, Inc., a medical devices company based in Irvine, Calif., whose stock had been traded on the NASDAQ stock market.

The original statement from the SEC claims that Cracchiolo and Paul Mikus were accused of “orchestrating a financial fraud perpetrated on the investing public in 2001 and 2002” while Mr. Mikus served as the company’s chief executive officer and Mr. Cracchiolo was chief financial officer and chief operating officer.

Trying to get a plea deal which kept him out of prison, Mr. Cracchiolo agreed to assist prosecutors by providing information about his involvement in the scheme in which the Endocare corporation consistently inflated its net revenue over a period. It was “by at least 16 percent” for 2001, 17 percent for the first quarter of 2002, and 33 percent for the second quarter of 2002, according to the SEC. Investor losses were $200 million.
Although both dioceses did a background check and a fingerprint check, no red flags were raised. It seems unlikely that a church organization would hire a convicted felon. One wonders what went wrong.

In the Diocese of Richmond all employees and clergy, even those who have long held their positions, are subject to a background check every five years. This applies as well to all candidates for the priesthood and diaconate.

Sure, people make mistakes and they should be forgiven when they seek forgiveness. Forgiveness is a hallmark of Christianity. But criminal activity, while it can be forgiven, is definitely an impediment to employment.

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