TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Thursday, January 18, 2018

NY Times: Accountant (Penn)|Lawyer (Georgetown)|MBA (Chicago) Hunts The Taliban

New York Times, He Studied Accounting. Now He Hunts the Taliban.:

When Navy Lt. William Conway is piecing together clues about a new Taliban or Islamic State terrorist cell in Afghanistan, he often falls back on skills he learned hauling crooks, swindlers and embezzlers into court in Chicago.

Lieutenant Conway is not your typical military intelligence analyst. A former state prosecutor in Chicago, he comes armed for his sleuthing duties with a law degree from Georgetown University and an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago. Not to mention an undergraduate degree in accounting from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.

All of which made Lieutenant Conway the right person at the right time, despite his relatively junior rank. He arrived at this air command center in August on Navy reservist duty to lead an Afghanistan intelligence team just as the Trump administration was ramping up its air and ground campaigns there.

“Working complicated embezzlement cases, it took a lot of time trying to trace individual transactions, how crimes had occurred or how a person was able to steal so much,” Lieutenant Conway said in an interview. “I use the same skills here, getting little nuggets of intelligence all the time — some important, some not — then weaving them together into a narrative.” ...

After law school and a brief stop at a technology company, Lieutenant Conway landed at the office of the Cook County State’s Attorney in Chicago, initially slogging through misdemeanors and traffic court.

When a department reorganization offered a job in the public corruption office, Lieutenant Conway, with his accounting background, became the lead prosecutor in several complicated embezzlement cases. One conviction involved a suburban welfare department official who skimmed $125,000 in welfare funds. Another focused on a township treasurer who overpaid himself $135,000 over three years.

About this time, Lieutenant Conway learned that military rules had changed and that he could join the Navy Reserve with a medical waiver, which he did in May 2012. He had also been taking night classes at the University of Chicago to earn his M.B.A., believing a career in business might be more to his liking. In July 2013, he joined J.P. Morgan in Chicago as an investment banker dealing with large manufacturers like Ford and General Motors. ...

He will wrap up his assignment here at the end of March, and return to Chicago to teach real-estate finance at DePaul University, marry his fiancée (a fellow lawyer) and root for his beloved Chicago Cubs. Until then, he is focused on Afghanistan.

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