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Residents divided over corporate fraud bill

July 28, 2002|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

Tri-State residents were divided Saturday when asked whether they are satisfied with measures the president and Congress are taking to address corporate fraud and the economy.

Congress has passed and sent to President Bush a business overhaul bill the president is expected to sign this week. It includes sweeping changes in accounting practices and tough new penalties on corporate fraud.

"It's a move in the right direction," Robert Wingerd, 75, of Chambersburg, Pa. said.

Corporate fraud will probably never stop completely but, hopefully, the reforms being considered will stop it somewhat, Dave Sanders, 49, of Fayetteville, Pa. said.

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He thinks anyone responsible for corporate fraud, which could include officials at Enron and WorldCom, should go to jail.

"They need to pay for it," he said.

The government needs to get tough with corporate executives so they are prosecuted for fraud as average citizens would be, Richard Smith, 54, of Martinsburg, W.Va., said.

If they commit fraud, the executives should be forced to pay back the money, he said.

Linda Worthington, 67, of Cascade, Md., said she is skeptical the government will do enough to stop fraud. Some politicians are too close to the businesses involved and there is too much conflict-of-interest, she said.

Bill Cushwa, 45, of Clear Spring, said the government should do more than it is proposing to stop fraud. If an average citizen committed fraud, they would get in trouble, he said, and wondered why the same isn't true for corporate leaders.

John Rowland, 59, of Williamsport, said there should be tougher legislation. Corporate leaders who commit fraud should be jailed like any other citizen, he said.

Lindsey Gudgeon, 43, of Boonsboro, said the president needs to get more directly involved in stopping corporate fraud. However, he said he did not know enough about what has been proposed to say if those measures are sufficient.

Oliver Wirth, 35, of Morgantown, W.Va.; Craig Bathgate, 26, of Hagerstown; Steve Baer, 39, of Williamsport; and Joe Timms, 65, of Bridgeport, W.Va., said they are satisfied with the measures being taken.

"You can only expect so much," Wirth said.

The government is doing the best it can, Ken Wilhide, 35, of Hagerstown, said.

The proposals are good, said Roy Hadley, 39, of Falling Waters, W.Va. Businessmen who commit fraud will go to jail under the legislation, which is how it should be, he said.

Gerald Heinbaugh, 66, of Mercersburg, Pa., said the government can't really stop corporate fraud without passing stricter laws and he does not think government interference is good for business.

Bob Harper, 66, of Shippensburg, Pa., said he did not think there was much the government could do to stop corporate fraud.

Connie Brody, 46, of Hedgesville, W.Va., said the government should do more to stop fraud, including passing tougher legislation.

Mark Tomlin, 38, of Inwood, W.Va., said corporations break existing laws so he wondered why anyone would think they would not violate new laws.

The laws need to be changed to stop businesses from hiding behind tax and legal loopholes, Randy Ammons, 38, of Martinsburg, said.

Mike Weimer, 28, of Shippensburg, said the proposed reforms are good but he is concerned about whether the laws will be enforced.

Graham Brouse, 24, of Shippensburg, agreed. He wonders if people who violate corporate fraud laws will just be given a slap on the wrist.

Grant Ebersole, 76, of Hagerstown, said the government should step in to stop corporate fraud. If the fraud was by a citizen, the government would surely get involved, he said.

Lyn Matson, 46, of Hagerstown, said she is a strong supporter of President Bush and thinks the person responsible for not stopping alleged fraud by Enron is not Bush but former president Bill Clinton.

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