By Ed Runyan
Warren accountant Paul J. Hawkins, whose 2007 audit letter promised that a Warren-based company that defrauded 400 people for more than $15 million was “not a Ponzi scheme,” received a “cease-and-desist” notice in March.
The notice from the Accountancy Board of Ohio said Hawkins last held a valid CPA license Dec. 31, 2009, yet he signed a tax return for the Dynamite TKD Kids Foundation” of Warren as “Paul J. Hawkins CPA” on April 12, 2013.
“Since you are not properly licensed as a Certified Public Accountant in Ohio, you are hereby ordered to immediately cease and desist further use of the designations CPA or certified public accountant or to advertise yourself as being permitted to practice public accounting in Ohio,” the letter said.
The letter said Ohio law required Hawkins, of Maplewood Street Northeast, to submit the required forms and fees to obtain a CPA license by April 29, 2014, or the Accountancy Board “will begin disciplinary proceedings against your CPA certificate.”
Hawkins did file those forms and fees, and April 30 was issued a CPA registration for a nonpracticing accountant. It expires Dec. 31, 2015.
A nonpracticing CPA is an accountant who acknowledges that he is not keeping up with the continuing education required to be a practicing CPA. Such individuals must sign documents “CPA, inactive,” said Faith Ottavi, an investigator with the accountancy board.
The problem with Hawkins’ signing the tax return for Dynamite TKD Kids Foundation improperly came to light when the Ohio Attorney General’s Office issued a March 18 press release saying the president of the Dynamite TKD Kids Foundation had agreed to cease operations, cease collecting money for charity and pay $5,000 to the attorney general’s office.
The attorney general’s office said an investigation revealed that the organization had used very little of the fundraising money for its stated purpose — giving scholarships to students to attend Tae Kwan Do classes in Warren.
Hawkins also inaccurately represented himself as a CPA in April 2007 when he wrote a letter to potential investors in the company Complete Developments LLC, which worked out of the former electrical workers union hall on Parkman Road Northwest.
The letter said Hawkins had conducted a “validity audit” of the company, found that no more than 20 percent of the investors’ funds were at risk and that the company was “not a Ponzi scheme.”
All of those things proved to be untrue, according to federal court records. Complete Developments customers were defrauded out of more than $15 million.
Atty. John E. Patterson, executive director of the Accountancy Board of Ohio, said his organization cannot stand in the way of Hawkins working as an accountant without proof that he’s done something illegal.