Our Team

Marc L. Effron, CPA, JD, CFF, CVA – Managing Partner  (meffron@nullwhiteelmgroup.com)

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As a CPA and JD with more than 20 years experience serving client needs in the combined fields of auditing, corporate law and forensic accounting, Mr. Effron has directed or participated in over 250 forensic investigations or valuation matters.  He is experienced in managing complex financial and regulatory investigations ranging from responding to Securities & Exchange Commission, Department of Justice and other regulatory inquiries to small business and matrimonial disputes.

Mr. Effron has also served as a financial consultant in a variety of litigation matters including post-acquisition, civil monetary, occupational fraud, embezzlement and other disputes.  Mr. Effron is a Certified Valuation Analyist.

Mr. Effron has served in a variety of leadership roles and was instrumental in developing the audit investigation support protocols for a Big Four accounting firm as well as its Foreign Corrupt Practices Act strategy. Under the investigation support initiative, he was responsible for the development and implementation of the firm’s methodology for confirming the completeness and reliability of forensic investigations performed on the firm’s audit clients.

In his role of supporting law firms and their clients on internal or independent corporate investigations, he has served a multitude of clients with allegations of financial and other irregularities. Clients served include law firms and both public and private entities from a cross section of industries including manufacturing, financial services, logistics, healthcare, technology and energy.

Prior to founding White Elm Group, Mr. Effron worked with a public accounting firm and spent 11 years in big four litigation and forensic services units including Ernst & Young and Deloitte.

Prior Roles and Experience Overview

  • Former member of senior management at Big Four accounting firm
  • Former corporate counsel

Education

  • Juris Doctor – Northwestern University School of Law
  • Bachelors in Business Administration – Accounting, Emory Goizueta School of Business

Licenses and Professional Designations

  • CPA – Certified Public Accountant – Georgia
  • JD – Georgia
  • AICPA – Certified in Financial Forensics
  • CVA – NACVA Certified Valuation Analyst
  • CFF – Certified in Financial Forensics

 


David E. Sems, CPA, CITP, CFF (david@nullwhiteelmgroup.com)
david

Mr. Sems possesses over 15 years of experience providing forensic technology services to clients in a wide variety of industries. He has extensive familiarity with international work stemming from providing services in 12 countries within Europe and North America – including conducting several 6-8 month investigations in Europe.

His skills cover the full range of services from computer forensic analysis to transactional data analytics. He helps clients by finding the “needle in the haystack”. Using leading techniques including fuzzy string matching, link analysis, text mining, computer forensics and cluster analysis, Mr. Sems leads teams to help clients discover patterns, artifacts and anomalies in huge sets of disparate data that can be used to identify high-risk, non-obvious or suspicious activities.

Mr. Sems serves as an advisor in the area of forensic technology to multiple firms, who rely on his skills and knowledge to execute on the most complex forensic technology matters.

Mr. Sems is a regular national speaker for various groups including, the Institute of Internal Auditors, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners and the New York Computer Forensic Shows. He also is a guest lecturer at various universities including, Notre Dame, Baldwin-Wallace and Kennesaw State University.

Prior Roles and Experience Overview:

  • Owner/Operator of forensic technology firm, consulting a variety of other firms in the service of their clients
  • Senior Manager experience with a prestigious “Big 4” firm

Education:

  • Bachelors of Arts, University of Akron, 1999

Licenses and Professional Designations:

  • Certified Public Accountant – Ohio
  • Certified in Financial Forensics
  • Certified Information Technology Professional

 


Kevin P. Couillard, ASA, CFA  (Kevin@nullwhiteelmgroup.com)
kevin

Mr. Couillard is an affiliate of WEG specializing in business & intangible asset valuation and litigation support regarding valuation/damage matters. His experience includes the valuation of business enterprises, common stock, preferred stock, stock options, general and limited partnership interests, limited liability company interests, debt and note issues, accounts receivable, and other various assets. He has completed valuations for financial reporting, gift and estate tax planning and reporting, state tax planning and reporting, mergers and acquisitions, employee stock ownership plans (ESOP), recapitalizations, management buy-outs, buy-sell agreements, divorce, dissenting shareholders, shareholder disputes, lost profits, and bankruptcy/fraudulent conveyance.

Mr. Couillard’s diversified experience also includes the valuation of intangible assets including patents, trademarks, trade names, proprietary technology, non-competition agreements, assembled work force, going-concern value, goodwill, software, mortgage servicing rights, provider and supplier contracts, and customer lists for various purposes. His experience includes industries such as manufacturing, transportation, wholesale entertainment, healthcare, banking, technology, investment, construction, publishing, real estate, telecommunications, internet domain brokers, and retail.

Kevin is an Accredited Senior Appraiser (ASA) certified in Business Valuation with the American Society of Appraisers and a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) with the CFA Institute.  He holds an MBA in Finance from Georgia State University and a Bachelor of Chemical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Prior Roles

  • Experience as working at various regional and
    “Big 4” accounting firms
  • Experience with international textile company
  • Has testimony experience as an expert witness in
    both state and federal jurisdictions

Education

  • Masters of Business Administration in Finance;
    Georgia State University
  • Bachelor of Chemical Engineering; Georgia
    Institute of Technology

Professional Designations

  • ASA – Accredited Senior Appraiser certified in
    Business Valuation with the American Society of Appraisers
  • CFA – Chartered Financial Analyst with the CFA
    Institute

 


David J. Kennedy, QSA, CISSP, OSCP, OSCE, GSEC, MCSE, ISO 27001 (Kennedy@nullwhiteelmgroup.com)

David is founder White Elm Group’s affiliates TrustedSec and Binary Defense Systems (BDS).  TrustedSec provides information security consulting services for organizations all around the world. BDS is a global Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP) and software security company which detects attackers in the early stages and prevents large-scale attacks. Prior to TrustedSec and BDS, David was a Chief Security Officer (CSO) for Diebold Incorporated, a Fortune 1000 company located in over 80 countries with over 20,000 employees. David developed a global security program that tackled all aspects of information security. David is considered a forward thinker in the security field and has presented at several hundred conferences worldwide.

David has had the privilege to speak and keynote at some of the nations largest conferences. This includes keynoting Microsoft’s Bluehat, DEF CON, Blackhat, DerbyCon, Grace Hopper, and a number of widely popular conferences. David has had numerous guest appearances on Fox News, CNN, CNBC, MSNBC, Huffington Post, Bloomberg, BBC, The Katie Show, and other high-profile media outlets. In addition, his tools have been featured on a number of TV shows including the History Channel, Mr. Robot, and movies. David has assisted in some of the content for the widely popular Mr. Robot TV show, and advises on other news organizations and TV shows. David is the founder of DerbyCon, a large-scale information security conference.

David has testified in front of Congress on multiple occasions on the threats we face in security and in the government space. David also co-authored Metasploit: The Penetration Testers Guide book, which was number one on Amazon in security for over a year. David was also one of the founding members of the “Penetration Testing Execution Standard (PTES)“. PTES is the industry leading standard and guidelines around how penetration tests should be performed and methodologies which is also now adopted by the Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard (DSS) Guidelines for Penetration Testing.

David is also a board of director for the ISC2 organization which is one of the largest security collectives which offers certifications such as the CISSP.

Prior Roles

  • United States Marine Core (USMC) cyber warfare and fornsic analysis
  • 15 years in security over decade specialized in security consulting
  • Creator of open-source tools – The socual Engineer Toolkit (SET), Pentesters Framework (PTF), Artillery, Fast-Track
  • Security advisory releases – Zero Days

Education

  • Malone University
  • Hawaii Pacific University

Professional Designations

  • QSA, CISSP, OSCP, OSCE, GSEC, MCSE, ISO 27001

 


Rich Goeldner, ASA, CBA, CVA  (Email)

Rich has provided valuation advisory services since 1992, on a full-time basis. He specializes in the valuation of privately-held companies and intangible assets. His appraisal and advisory services have been provided to Fortune 500 companies, family businesses, middle-market companies, as well as M&A firms and the Internal Revenue Service.

 He has provided business valuation services for acquisitions & divestitures, family wealth planning, financial reporting, ESOP compliance, stockholder disputes and marital dissolution. He has appraised closely-held common and preferred stock, business assets in aggregate, intangible assets, stock options and warrants, Rule 144 restricted stock, illiquid debt instruments, general and limited partnership interests. Rich has also provided fairness and solvency opinions in connection with mergers and acquisitions, as well as asset impairment studies.

Rich has business valuation experience in a broad range of industries, from early-stage biotechnology and industrial manufacturing, to ecommerce and software technologies. He has testified as an expert witness in business valuation matters involving shareholder disputes and divorce.

Prior Roles and Experience Overview

  • Rich was the Managing Director of Valmark Appraisal.
  • Florida Director of Financial Valuation for Marshall & Stevens.
  • Valuation management positions with:
    • BDO Seidman
    • Arthur Andersen
    • Regional valuation firms

Education

  • Bachelor of Science Degree in Finance – Florida State University
  • Masters in Business Administration – University of North Florida

Licenses and Professional Designations

  • Accredited Senior Appraiser (ASA) in Business Valuation – American Society of Appraisers
  • Certified Valuation Analyst (CVA) – National Association of Certified Valuators and Analysts (NACVA)
  • Certified Business Appraiser (CBA) – Institute of Business Appraisers (IBA)

John A. Harper, CPA, CFF, CFE, CITP, CISA, CCSA  (Email)
John Harper

Mr. Harper is an experienced forensic accountant with 25-plus years of consulting and technical accomplishments in a broad range of domestic and international financial and forensic activities. He has an extensive background supporting public and private companies addressing fraud, internal controls and regulatory related issues in both large and small corporate environments.

Mr. Harper has spent a number of years assisting clients with anti-corruption challenges and fraud investigations, most recently as part of the Monitor team leadership responsible for assessing a client’s implementation of an effective compliance program as part of a deferred prosecution agreement. While a Director at a “Big 4” accounting firm, he provided forensic services to clients on investigations and anti-corruption compliance matters including the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) as well as assessments and guidance on fraud risk identification and remediation. Client businesses were located in North and South America, Western and Eastern Europe, Central Asia, Japan, Hong Kong and China.

Mr. Harper also has an extensive audit background addressing internal controls and related issues in both large and small corporate environments. Previously he was the Director of Internal Audit for a large US-based internet service provider, where he started the Internal Audit Department and directed the company’s efforts for addressing Sarbanes-Oxley compliance.

Mr. Harper is a frequent speaker on the FCPA, internal control and information security topics at client meetings and national conferences. He is a past President of the Atlanta Chapter of the Institute of Internal Auditors.

Prior Roles and Experience Overview

  • Director in Forensic Services at “Big 4” accounting firm
  • Former Head of Internal Audit for national internet service provider
  • Former Head of IT Audit for international telecommunications provider
  • Served on the Fraud Data Subcommittee of the Center for Audit Quality
  • Client industry experience includes manufacturing, automotive, and forest products industries

Education

  • Master of Business Administration in Finance, Georgia State University
  • Bachelor of Science in Mass Communications, Syracuse University

Licenses and Professional Designations

  • Certified Public Accountant – Texas and Georgia
  • Certified in Financial Forensics – AICPA
  • Certified Fraud Examiner – ACFE
  • Certified Information Technology Professional – AICPA
  • Certified Information Systems Auditor – ISACA
  • Certified in Control Self-Assessment – IIA

 


Eugene S. Abernathy, CPA (Email)
Eugene Abernathy

Mr. Abernathy has served the accounting profession for over 40 years. He has held leadership roles of several medium to large accounting firms, as well as having extensive leadership experience in “Big 4” accounting firms. His experience includes specializations in auditing, accounting malpractice, inventory valuation, family law, alternative dispute resolution, as well as corporate and individual white collar crime investigations. Mr. Abernathy has significant experience providing his expertise as both an expert and consulting witness on multiple occasions. In his roles as an expert, he has prepared and presented damage calculations related to purchase price disputes, personal injury, employment disputes, lender liability, suretyships, white collar crime and other issues.

In his public accounting career, Mr. Abernathy has worked extensively in the construction and banking industries. In addition, he spent time as the treasurer of one of the United States’ twenty-five largest contractors, giving him practical “hands-on” experience running a business.

Mr. Abernathy has also devoted himself to education. He is a frequent writer and speaker on construction industry accounting and auditing issues. He is a graduate of The University of Georgia, holding a Bachelor of Business Administration with a major in Accounting. He has also completed masters level accounting coursework at Georgia State University in Atlanta, Georgia. Mr. Abernathy has served on numerous committees and panels for The Financial Accounting Standards Board, The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, The Georgia Society of CPAs, American Arbitration Association, The Journal of Construction Accounting and Taxation, and the Construction Financial Management Association. Among writing many other high-profile publications, he is a co-author of the American Institute of CPAs’ Construction Industry Audit and Accounting Guide and the landmark Statement of Position 81-1 Accounting for the Performance of Construction-Type and Certain Production-Type Contracts.

Prior Roles and Experience Overview

  • Experience as Director and Managing Director roles at various regional and “Big 4” accounting firms
  • Former Treasurer of one of the United States’ top 25 construction companies
  • Served on the Construction Industry Panel of Arbitrators and Mediators
  • Has testimony experience as an expert witness in both state and federal jurisdiction

Education

  • Bachelor of Business Administration with a major in Accounting, The University of Georgia, 1962
  • Graduate level courses in the Masters of Professional Accountancy Program of Georgia State University. GPA: 4.0

Licenses and Professional Designations

  • Certified Public Accountant – Georgia

 


Joseph Rubin, CPA, JD (Email)
joseph

Mr. Rubin utilizes over 40 years of experience in all financial and management aspects of both publicly traded and privately owned companies. His experience includes assisting clients in real estate transactions (including acquisition, development, operation and sale), business operations and turn around, business planning, accounting and taxes issues, mediation of business disputes, risk management and human resources.

Mr. Rubin’s professional responsibilities have included asset management, development of income-producing properties, purchase of raw land held for investment, and management of shopping centers. He has also successfully overseen the formation of multi-family real estate partnerships and their operation. Mr. Rubin has operated businesses in the following areas: (1) construction of commercial and retail projects; (2) manufacturing of steel products and retail store fixtures; (3) electrical and fire protection contracting; and (4) civil engineering. Mr. Rubin has successfully served in multiple senior officer roles, improving company performance and overall stability.

Mr. Rubin also has experience handling SEC filings (10K, 8K, 10Q, Forms 3, 4 and 5) and investor relations. As a member of senior management of a real estate company, he leveraged his experience with these filings to significantly reduce year-end external auditor fieldwork.
He also has experience negotiating significant company purchases such insurance coverage.

Prior Roles and Experience Overview

  • Former chief executive officer and chief financial officer of a publicly held,
    multi-faceted construction and commercial real estate development company
  • Former chief financial officer of a multi-family real estate company
  • Former chief executive Officer, chief financial officer, and board member of a design, fabrication and installer of material handling systems; design and fabrication of specialty truck bodies and
    accessories; and rail car up fitting and repairs – took that company from a
    seven figure loss in 2005 to a seven figure profit in 2011
  • Has served as a member of boards of directors for multiple construction, real
    estate and manufacturing related companies
  • Former Supervisor at an national tax practice

Education

  • Doctor of Law from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
  • Bachelor of Arts from Guilford College, Greensboro, North Carolina

Licenses and Professional Designations

  • Certified Public Accountant – Georgia
  • Attorney licensed to practice in Georgia
  • Georgia Bar Association
  • Registered Mediator with the State of Georgia

 


Phillip M. Robertson
Phillip-M

Phillip M. Robertson provides consulting services to attorneys, accountants, and other professionals engaged in white-collar fraud litigation; banking and financial institution disputes, business and personal financial disputes, and related training. Mr. Robertson offers expertise in the evaluation of evidence, developing legal strategy, witness evaluation and development, oral and written reports, and interface with law enforcement and regulatory agencies. He develops and presents training in detection, investigation, and prevention of white-collar fraud, insider abuse, and business related disputes. He trains professional groups, regulatory and investigative agencies, and institutions of higher learning.

Mr. Robertson has 41 years’ experience focusing on white collar and financial fraud.
The nature of his investigative experience is wide in scope, including fraud involving liquidation agents and other asset managers, fraudulent reacquisition of property by debtors, criminal avoidance of restitution orders, insider abuse at banks, bank bribery and self-dealing, residential and commercial real estate fraud, criminal non-compliance with regulators, money laundering, frauds involving international asset swaps, looting of institutions through subsidiaries and related parties, fraudulent sales and mergers, embezzlements, self-dealing, hidden interest/bribery, “evergreen loans”, manipulation of accounts and reports, falsification of capital ratios to avoid regulatory scrutiny, back-dating of documents, and schemes to avoid compliance with regulatory directives, consent agreements, and cease and desist orders. In addition, he conducted some of the first United States Secret Service investigations into computer hacking, credit cards, and counterfeit merchandise. He also traveled worldwide with several Presidents and Vice-Presidents of the United States as member of The United States Secret Service.

In the fall of 1999, he led the task force (FDIC, FBI, IRS) investigating and prosecuting the largest bank failure since the Great Depression, and has held multiple regional FDIC investigations supervisor roles, with responsibilities in several major business centers such as New York, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Kansas City, Dallas, Chicago, and San Francisco.

Mr. Robertson is a regular lecturer for FDIC Commissioned Examiner schools, the Federal Financial Institution Examination Council (FFIEC), and the bi-annual FDIC/Department of Justice Bank

Fraud Conference. He has also spoken at a number of agencies and professional groups, including the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia; both the Arkansas and Alabama State Banking Departments; Ohio Association of CPA’s; Missouri Bankers Association, and Georgia Bar Association. He is a founding member of both the Forensic Accounting Advisory Board and The Center for Forensic Studies in
Accounting and Business, Georgia Southern University.

Prior Roles and Experience Overview

  • Former Special Agent, United States Secret Service
  • Former Regional Investigations Supervisor, United States Federal Deposit Insurance
    Corporation

Education

  • Bachelors of Science in Business Administration, University of Tennessee
  • Graduate of the Southeast School of Banking

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Where to Find Us

Mailing Address:
227 Sandy Springs Place, Suite D362 Atlanta, GA 30328
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