We've reported on a lot of outrages in the almost five years that we've been writing a blog on justice issues. But perhaps our most outrageous post came last week when we reported that employees for Orkin Pest Control had hosted pizza parties to forge customer signatures on termite inspections that had not been performed.
Why is this so appalling? Well, for one, termite control is a pretty important topic for most homeowners. If an inspection is not performed properly, your house can be eaten out from underneath you--and you are blissfully unaware of a problem until it's too late. Two, it takes some grotesquely cynical minds to turn an act of blatant fraud into the theme for a party.
Perhaps this should come as no surprise when you consider that the parent company for Orkin is Atlanta-based Rollins Inc. That firm is run by the family that produced Ted Rollins, the CEO of Campus Crest Communities and a central figure in a dubious Alabama divorce case that left his ex wife and two daughters on food stamps.
We've already shown that Ted Rollins and his company have a proclivity for falsifying documents. Now we learn that the company headed by his billionaire cousins, Randall and Gary Rollins, engages in similar behavior. Is this some sort of nasty family trait that is passed down through the generations? Let's consider what we know about Ted Rollins:
* In his divorce from Sherry Rollins, he signed a child-support affidavit, under penalty of perjury, stating that he made roughly $50,000 a year. That was listed as his only income, even though he was a principal in at least two major business ventures and had the use of three private jet craft;
* In a discrimination lawsuit, former Campus Crest employee Heather McCormack said a company executive asked her to falsify an apartment-occupancy report in connection with the sale of the property to a major investor, Harrison Street Real Estate of Chicago. In other words, Ted Rollins' company tried to defraud one of its own investors.
That leads us to the Orkin pizza parties, which would be a funny story--if it wasn't so sad. Here is how a Florida man named Jack Cox described the parties for a series of articles about Orkin by John F. Sugg, of the Atlanta alternative weekly Creative Loafing:
Cox, a former Orkin inspector in Tampa, was asked during a deposition in 2001 if he had ever forged customers' signatures to re-inspection tickets, meaning the homes hadn't been scoped for termites and were vulnerable -- or, perhaps, were about ready to collapse from termite damage.
Cox pondered the number of forgeries he had committed, and concluded that "if you do a hundred a month, that's 1,200 a year. So it might be over 1,000. ... In fact, we've had parties, kind of like a party, sat down, and all of us sat down in a room and did them." Often, according to court documents, pizzas were served as Orkin employees industriously forged their trusting clients' signatures to stacks of documents, giving a special and well-known meaning to the term "pizza party" within the company.
No wonder Randall and Gary Rollins are billionaires. It must be easy to rake in big bucks when you charge customers for work that is not performed. It looks like Ted Rollins is employing a similar business "strategy" with Campus Crest Communities.