Richard A. Lindsey, CPA

Lindsey & Waldo, LLC – Certified Public Accountants

  • Jun 24

    May 7, 2016 University of South Alabama baseball legend Steve Kittrell’s #3 was retired in an official ceremony. His was only the third number ever retired by the Jaguar baseball program, joining former head coach Eddie Stanky and All-American Luis Gonzalez.

    During his 29 seasons, Coach Kittrell amassed nearly 1,100 victories, a number that, to this day, keeps him in the top 50 of the all-time NCAA victory list and among the top 40 for Division 1.

     

    Sitting in the stands at Stanky Field, listening to all the accolades being bestowed on Steve Kittrell, I remembered an email I received at the middle of tax season and the beginning of college)baseball season. The email didn’t attribute an author, and I wasn’t familiar with the subject of the story so I checked it out before passing it on to you. As far as I can tell the original story was written by baseball consultant Chris Sperry for Baseball Life, but don’t let that keep you non-baseball fans from reading on. Baseball was simply the context, not the story.

    In Nashville, Tennessee, during the first week of January, 1996, more than 4,000 baseball coaches descended upon the Opryland Hotel for the 52nd annual ABCA convention.

    During registration I heard more veteran coach’s conversations returning to the speaker lineup. One name, in particular, kept resurfacing, always with the same sentiment – “John Scolinos is here? Oh man, worth every penny of my airfare.”

    At the time, Coach Scolinos was 78 years old and five years retired from a college coaching career that began in 1948. He shuffled to the stage to an impressive standing ovation, wearing dark polyester pants, a light blue shirt, and a string around his neck from which hung home plate – a full-sized, stark white home plate. Seriously I wondered, “who in the hell is this guy?”

    After speaking for 25 minutes, not once mentioning the prop hanging around his neck, Coach Scolinos appeared to notice the snickering among some of the coaches. Even those who knew Coach Scolinos had to wonder exactly where he was going with this, or if he had simply forgotten about home plate since he’d gotten on stage.

    Then, finally… “You’re probably all wondering why I’m wearing home plate around my neck. Or maybe you think I escaped from Camarillo State Hospital,” he said, his voice growing irascible. I laughed along with the others, acknowledging the possibility. “No,” he continued, “I may be old, but I’m not crazy. The reason I stand before you today is to share with you baseball people what I’ve learned in my life, what I’ve learned about home plate in my 78 years.”

    Several hands went up when Scolinos asked how many Little League coaches were in the room. “You know how wide home plate is in Little League?” After a pause, someone offered, “Seventeen inches,” more question than answer.

    “That’s right,” he said. “How about in Babe Ruth? Any Babe Ruth coaches in the house?”

    Another long pause.

    “Seventeen inches?” came a guess from another reluctant coach.

    “That’s right,” said Scolinos. “Now, how many high school coaches do we have in the room?” Hundreds of hands shot up, as the pattern begin to appear. “How wide is home plate in high school baseball?”

    “Seventeen inches,” they said, sounding more confident.

    “You’re right!” Scolinos barked. “And you college coaches, how wide is home plate in college?”

    “Seventeen inches!” we said, in unison.

    “Any minor league coaches here? How wide is home plate in pro ball?”

    “Seventeen inches!”

    “Right! And in the major leagues, how wide is home plate in the major leagues?”

    “Seventeen inches!”

    “Seventeen inches!” He confirmed, his voice bellowing off the walls. “And what do they do with a big-league pitcher who can’t throw the ball over seventeen inches?” Pause. “They send him to Pocatello!” He hollered, drawing raucous laughter. “What they don’t do is this: they don’t say, “Ah, that’s okay, Jimmy. You can’t hit a seventeen inch target? We’ll make it eighteen inches, or nineteen inches. We’ll make it twenty inches so you can have a better chance of hitting it. You can’t hit that, let us know so we can make it wider still, say twenty-five inches.”

    Pause. “Coaches…” Pause.

    “… What do we do if our best player shows up late to practice? When our team rules forbid facial hair and a guy shows up unshaven? What if he gets caught drinking? Do we hold him accountable? Or do we change the rules to fit him, do we widen home plate?

    The chuckles gradually faded as 4,000 coaches grew quiet, the fog lifting as the old coach’s message began to unfold. He turned the plate toward himself and, using a Sharpie, began to draw something. When he turned to toward the crowd, point up, a house was revealed, complete with a freshly drawn door and two windows.

    “This is the problem in our homes today, with our marriages, with the way we parent our kids. With our discipline. We don’t teach accountability to our kids, and there’s no consequence for failing to meet standards. We widen the plate!”

    Pause. Then, to the point at the top of the house he added a small American flag.

    “This is the problem in our schools today. The quality of our education is going downhill fast and teachers have been stripped of the tools they need to be successful and to educate and discipline our young people. We are allowing others to widen home plate! Where is that getting us?”

    Silence. He replaced the flag with a cross.

    “And this is the problem in the church, where powerful people in positions of authority have taken advantage of young children, only to have such an atrocity swept under the rug for years. Our church leaders are widening home plate!”

    I was amazed. At a baseball convention where I expected to learn something about curveballs and bunting and how to run better practices, I learned something far more valuable. From an old man with home plate strung around his neck, I’ve learned something about life, about myself, about my own weaknesses and about my responsibilities as a leader. I had to hold myself and others accountable to that which I knew to be right, lest our families, our faith, and our society continue down an undesirable path.

    “If I am lucky,” Coach Scolinos concluded, “you will remember one thing from this old coach today. It is this: if we fail to hold ourselves to a higher standard, a standard of what we know to be right; if we fail to hold our spouses and our children to the same standards, if we are unwilling or unable to provide a consequence when they do not meet the standards; and if our schools and churches and our government fail to hold themselves accountable to those they serve, there is but one thing to look forward to…” With that, he held home plate in front of his chest, turned it around, and revealed its dark backside. “… Dark days ahead.”

     

    His message was clear: “Coaches, keep your players – no matter how good they are – your own children, and most of all, keep yourself at seventeen inches.

  • Jun 10

    Between January 2011 and February 2013, Patrice Taylor, an Albany, Georgia resident, conspired with her husband, Antonio Taylor and Jarrett Jones to file over 1,100 fraudulent tax returns. At least 1,089 of the returns were e-filed from two IP addresses registered to Taylor, both located at her home. Patrice was employed at Tift Regional Hospital and used the personal identifying information of five patients to file fraudulent federal income tax returns. Taylor also used the identities of 531 sixteen-year olds to file fraudulent returns.

    The individuals were sentenced to prison terms up to 147 months and ordered to pay restitution to the IRS totaling $2,310,563.

    In Tampa, Florida, law enforcement officers recovered lists and medical records containing the personal identifying information of more than 7,000 victims.

    In Montgomery, Alabama, Keisha Lanier and Tracy Mitchell were sentenced for their roles in a large-scale identity theft ring that filed more than 9,000 false federal income tax returns that claimed more than $24 million in fraudulent refunds. The defendants obtained the stolen identities from various sources, including from the U.S. Army, several Alabama state agencies, a Georgia call center and employee records from a Georgia company.

    Identity theft is growing worse every year. The Federal Trade Commission reported that it has been the top consumer complaint for 16 years straight.

    “Tax-related identity theft is an evolving criminal activity that can happen to anyone.” Rep. Jim Renaccie, R-Ohio, CPA turned lawmaker, said in a statement last month. “In fact, last tax season, my identity was stolen and used to file a fraudulent tax return.”

    In the U.S., someone dies every 7 seconds but there is an identity theft victim every 2 seconds. Seventy percent of those whose identities are stolen need the help of an attorney to resolve the issue. Costs can run into the thousands as well as hundreds of hours of your time.

    Being a victim of identity theft is no picnic. But it is a major warning sign to take action. If you have been a victim, it is self-evident that your information is being bought and sold. Few victims have the highly technical skills and complex tools required to find where their data has been spread and to stop it.

    Ideally you need to have a plan in place before the theft. Unfortunately, most don’t. Fortunately, it’s not too late to protect yourself from further breaches. If you have been a victim, or know someone who has, and would like a referral to someone I know and trust to help, give us a call, or shoot us an email and we’ll be happy to put you in touch.