Post updated at 4 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 9:
Mike Rogers, recently appointed as chief financial officer of Lawrence Memorial Hospital, was terminated after only a month on the job after hospital officials discovered he was a convicted felon who changed his name a year ago.
In addition, the vice president of human resources at LMH was terminated on Oct. 27, the same day staff discovered Rogers had changed his name. But a hospital spokesperson said Thursday there was “no correlation between the elimination of the vice president of human resources on 10/27 and this issue.”
In an internal email Thursday, LMH CEO Russ Johnson said staff “became aware of some inconsistencies regarding Mike’s identity” on Oct. 26, and the next day discovered Rogers had legally changed his name in 2022 from Michael Patrick Brunton, a convicted felon. Rogers did not disclose his employment and felony records during the hiring process, Johnson said.
Brunton, now Rogers, pleaded guilty in 2005 in Oklahoma to one count of mail fraud for accepting nearly $4,000 in online payments for college football tickets that didn’t exist, according to news reports from the time. Brunton, 36, originally was indicted on 15 counts of mail and wire fraud for a scheme that cheated roughly 40 people out of more than $80,000 by using Internet auction sites, according to court records.
In another case, in 2007, Brunton reportedly was charged with theft and extortion for allegedly misusing hospital credit cards while he was a financial officer at a hospital in Louisiana. He failed to disclose his criminal record when hired for that job, as well, according to an Associated Press story at the time.
The Lawrence Times was unable to contact Rogers for comment.
Autumn Bishop, an LMH spokesperson, said the inconsistencies with Rogers’ identity were discovered when a staff member entered information about him into a federal database. The system indicated that the social security number they were entering was assigned to a Michael Brunton.
“This was the same SSN provided to us by Mike Rogers,” Bishop said. “We subsequently learned that there had been a name change from Michael Patrick Brunton to Michael Rogers granted in 2022 in the District Court of Osage County, Oklahoma.”
LMH placed Rogers on administrative leave after learning about his true identity, Johnson said, and his access to LMH systems and facilities was disabled. Johnson said LMH financial assets were “never in jeopardy” as a result of Rogers’ employment.
“Mike had no administrative access nor control over our banking accounts,” the email said. “Early investigations show that no funds were lost during his time with us.”
Johnson thanked staff members who reached out to LMH administration when they learned about Rogers’ identity.
“The quick action of your coworkers allowed us to eliminate this threat before any damage occurred to our organization,” Johnson said. “For that, I am extremely grateful.”
LMH is currently conducting what Johnson called a “root cause analysis” to identify the factors related to the organization’s background checks and other hiring processes that resulted in Rogers’ hiring. Bishop did not explicitly say what information from the analysis would be shared publicly, citing the “sensitive nature of the situation,” but suggested more information would be made available at some point.
“Honesty and transparency are essential to maintaining trust in any organization; as such, we’re sharing what information we can at this point to honor our commitment to transparency,” she said. “We owe our stakeholders – our staff and the community – complete answers about what happened. Once we have completed the Root Cause Analysis, we look forward to sharing more information.”
The organization is now once again actively recruiting a permanent CFO. The LMH board of trustees appears to have held a special meeting, in closed executive session, earlier this week, according to hospital records.
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Conner Mitchell (he/him), reporter, can be reached at cmitchell (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com or 785-435-9264. If you have sensitive information to send Conner, please email connermitchell (at) protonmail (dot) com. Read more of his work for the Times here.