Blame It on Boca

The house of former WorldCom CFO Scott Sullivan has been languishing on the booming Boca market. Also: ''CPA of the Month''; CFOs on the move.
CFO StaffJanuary 1, 2005

If you’ve been thinking about moving to Florida, have we got an opportunity for you in Boca Raton: a 19,000-square-foot house in a gated community, with 10 bedrooms, 12 baths, a library, a screening room, a boathouse, a six-car garage, a gazebo, and much, much more. First listed at $22.5 million, it can now be yours for a mere $10.9 million.

Yes, the house of former WorldCom CFO Scott Sullivan is for sale, but it’s been languishing on the booming Boca market. That’s not because of the owner’s infamy, but because the house is only 80 percent finished, according to Mark Nestler, a partner at Nestler-Poletto Realty Inc., the original realtor for the property. “It’s a very expensive home with beautiful features, and it will require a considerable amount of time, energy, and dollars to finish it in the manner in which it began,” he says. With luxury houses in this price range, buyers typically want one that’s either in move-in condition or can be customized from the ground up, says Nestler.

Sullivan, who never lived on the 4.3-acre lakefront estate, awaits sentencing after pleading guilty in March 2004 to conspiracy, securities fraud, and filing false documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission. He faces a reduced sentence of up to 25 years in prison after agreeing to cooperate and testify against his former boss, Bernard Ebbers.

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Meanwhile, some of Sullivan’s would-be neighbors in Boca Raton have fallen on hard times, too. They include Mark Swartz and L. Dennis Kozlowski, former CFO and CEO, respectively, of Tyco International. Both await retrial this month on various charges. Then there’s former Rite Aid CEO Martin Grass, who has since relocated: he’s serving an eight-year sentence for his role in the drugstore chain’s accounting fraud. —Kate O’Sullivan

CPA of the Month

In search of a new wall calendar for 2005? If you’re tired of the usual selection featuring classic cars, swimsuit models, or Impressionist paintings, consider 12 months of accountants.

In an effort to promote awareness of the accounting profession and raise money for some of its members’ favorite charities, the Society of Louisiana Certified Public Accountants has produced “All on Account of Service,” a tasteful calendar featuring CPAs doing volunteer work. Mr. November, for example, is Forrest Mills Jr., CFO of Guaranty Corp., shown working at the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank. Other months depict CPAs volunteering at the Special Olympics of Louisiana and with Habitat for Humanity. The calendar is a follow-up to 2004’s surprise hit, “All on Account of Fun,” which feature Louisiana CPAs pursuing such hobbies as scuba diving, motorcycle riding, and caring for a pet tarantula.

That calendar won a marketing award, garnered international press, and raised $8,200.

“We wanted to promote the image of CPAs in both traditional and nontraditional roles and promote awareness of CPA careers,” says Ann Lupo, the society’s communications and public relations manager. “And with a calendar, we’re up on the wall, getting that message out 365 days a year.”

The calendar, which also includes handy accounting related reminders, such as tax filing deadlines, sell for $10 at Proceeds will support the featured charities as well as the Society’s Education Foundation, which provides scholarships for Louisiana students pursuing accounting degrees. —K.O’S.

CFOs on the Move

Tracey Travis takes over as CFO at Polo Ralph Lauren this month after a stint at Limited Brands…. Retailer Sharper Image is looking for a finance chief after the resignation of Jeffrey Forgan…. Frank Sklarsky, formerly of Daimler-Chrysler AG, follows James O’Donnell as CFO at Conagra Foods…. After more than 20 years at biotech firm Genentech, Louis Lavigne will turn over the top finance job to David Ebersman in March…. John Townsend has been named finance chief at Verizon Wireless. He succeeds Andy Halford, who will become group financial director at Vodafone Group.