Unbelievable story today from the annals of Compliance Professionals Gone Wild: the former lawyer for a Tennessee trucking company has been disbarred for fabricating employee complaints, which he then used to launch sham remediation hearings and pocket the settlement money himself by forging the employees’ signatures.
The lawyer in question is one Glen Ray Fagan, who worked as associate general counsel at $1.7 billion trucking business U.S. Xpress from 2015 to 2019. Fagan then moved to Atlanta, and had been licensed to practice law in Georgia since 2000. The Georgia Supreme Court got wind of Fagan’s misconduct, an investigation ensued, and Fagan was disbarred last week.
The court’s disbarment order has the allegations against Fagan, and they are quite something.
While at USX, Fagan oversaw complaints and allegations of employee misconduct, as well as employment-related lawsuits. In April 2018, the order says, Fagan falsified a complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission supposedly from an employee named Karen Sawyer. (Sawyer has since departed USX.)
Fagan then created a sham law firm named Kirk James & Associates; told his supervisors that he had attended a mediation with Kirk James and reached a confidential settlement; forged Sawyer’s name on the settlement documents; instructed the company’s finance team to issue a $27,000 check to Kirk James (for which he even provided a W-9 form); and then diverted the $27,000 into his own bank account.
We’ll pause here for a moment so you can gaze out the window in stunned silence. Lord knows I did.
Fagan then ran the same scam again in January 2019, this time in the name of USX employee Virginia Ladd and settling for $14,000. (Was the fake discrimination in this case less egregious, that the fake employee accepted a smaller fake settlement? We don’t know.)
Two days after the second scam, Fagan resigned from USX and moved to Georgia. Six months later, in August 2019, the EEOC reached out to USX directly to discuss the supposed Ladd settlement — “and upon review, USX became aware of Fagan’s misconduct in that case, as well as in the Sawyer case,” to use the court order’s bland phrasing.
The sanctions against Fagan started coming soon thereafter. USX first filed a complaint with the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility in October 2019, and Fagan subsequently repaid the company $45,243 — the sum of the two sham settlements, plus interest. In 2021 the Tennessee Supreme Court disbarred Fagan for a period of six years.
Then Georgia legal authorities appointed a special master to investigate; Fagan never responded to requests for information during that disciplinary proceeding, so the Georgia Supreme Court deemed allegations against Fagan as admitted fact. (Eventually the special master did hear from Fagan, who declined to request a hearing and said he “did not plan on ever returning to the practice of law.”)
This tale places Fagan among the pantheon of corporate compliance professionals who went, well, totally crazy on their jobs. He now stands with men such as the former corporate secretary of Apple, busted for insider trading while enforcing the company’s insider trading policy; and the Goldman Sachs compliance analyst also busted for insider trading when he made illicit trades under the name of his parents. And we should never forget the former SEC enforcement attorney indicted for stealing confidential information from the agency so he could set himself up as chief compliance officer of a private equity firm under SEC investigation.
As to other potential consequences for Fagan, the Georgia Supreme Court then concluded its disbarment order with this gem:
Indeed, as the special master noted, based on the admitted facts, “the potential laundry list of criminal charges [Fagan] could have, and may still face, is substantial,” and it is not clear to this court why Fagan apparently has not been criminally prosecuted.
Same here, Georgia justices. Same here.