Great Example of Stunningly Bad Ethics : Lover of the High Life Shows No Remorse After Taking the Low Road to Riches

Daniel Hernandez is talking a lot these days. He's talking to the newspapers. He's talking--or some might label it "singing"--to investigators. And he's doing a lot of explaining to the Internal Revenue Service. But none of it adequately explains how the Mission Viejo resident can possibly justify what he's on record as admitting--namely that he financed a Rolls-Royce-and-designer-clothes lifestyle for himself and his family by stealing millions from his employer.

Hernandez's public statements reflect an awareness that he is in trouble. But "remorse" doesn't seem to be in his vocabulary. Nor does "ethics." Or even "right" or "wrong," other than to say this: "You get caught up in your job--you don't think right or wrong." Or this: "What I did was not wrong."

Astonishing. So blatant are his pronouncements, so totally beyond the pale, that it's hard to imagine. Hernandez, however, provides a useful lesson for all of us who face moral dilemmas in our everyday lives. He asked one interviewer these questions: "When you go to work for a company, you find out they're doing something not ethically correct, what should you do? Should you quit? Where does one start to draw the line?"

OK, most of us would draw the line farther toward the side of honesty than Hernandez did. But how far? Would we quit a job--a job we desperately needed--because we saw something wrong with the way the company kept its books, as Hernandez claims he did in his company? Would we maintain silence? Would we justify stealing just a little because "everybody's doing it"?

Who knows if Hernandez was assuaging his guilt by giving generously to charity?

In any case, he spent most of the money on luxury automobiles (15 of them), a five-bedroom home, European travel, jewelry for his wife and Armani clothes for himself. He says now this was "stupid" because he made himself too visible.

In an interview with The Times, he asked himself: "Do I feel guilty?" His answer: "Maybe in retrospect I do."

That's one big maybe.

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