Moore, Ellrich & Neal, PA
Handling Major Forensics Cases
|Matthew C. Smith, Terri Melton, Matthew Stohlman, |
Karyl H. Neal and Dave Ellrich
Dave Ellrich and his forensics accounting team are always ready for action. “Attorney who have worked with our firm, know that we can field a team with the right skill sets and respond quickly to their needs,” says Ellrich, managing partner of Moore, Ellrich & Neal, PA in Palm Beach Gardens. “If a judge on Thursday calls for an emergency hearing on Monday, we have the horsepower to prepare testimony and an immediate report.”
With five partners and a staff of 22, Moore, Ellrich & Neal provides tax, audit, business valuation and business advisory services, as well as litigation support in civil cases, fraud investigations, class actions, contract disputes, lost profits calculations, patent infringements and other types of cases. One of the firm’s areas of deep expertise is marital and family law matters, assisting attorneys in major cases in Tampa Bay, Orlando and Jacksonville, as well as South Florida.
Ellrich is a Florida certified public accountant (CPA) whose other credentials include Accredited Senior Appraiser in Business Valuation (ASA), Certified Valuation Analyst (CVA), Accredited in Business Valuation (ABV), Master Analyst In Financial Forensics and Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE). He has testified in both federal and state courts as an expert witness, and served four years on the 15th Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission.
“Our staff includes five Certified Fraud Examiners who are involved in fraud detection and prevention engagements,” adds Ellrich. “We are often asked to evaluate an organization’s internal controls, and implement procedures to reduce the risk of falling victim to fraud schemes in the future.”
In addition to the firm’s professional team in Palm Beach Gardens and its new office in Miami, Moore, Ellrich & Neal can draw on the resources of other independent accounting firms nationwide as a member of the Financial Consulting Group, LLC (FCG). The firms pool their knowledge in the field of business valuation in order to increase their technical competence, staff knowledge and to develop new products and services.
“I believe there are two key things that distinguish our firm from others,” says Ellrich. “The first is our relentless focus on each client. The second is our emphasis on professional education and development so that we can keep on bringing additional value our to clients in every engagement.”
Trained as an IRS Agent
Ellrich was born in Connecticut and raised in Florida where he cultivated his lifelong love for the outdoors. After earning a business degree at Florida State University, he joined the Internal Revenue Service as an agent in its Miami office. “I was given 35 cases the day I walked in the door to start my training,” he recalls. “One of my first audits was the Dade County sheriff, who was represented by a large team of lawyers and CPAs. It was a great way to start my career.”
Ellrich was honored with a U.S. Treasury Special Achievement Award when he left the government to launch his own private practice. He has worked as an IRS instructor as well as lecturing at university-level accounting graduate programs.
In 1988, Ellrich merged his practice with Becky Moore, to co-found Moore and Ellrich. Two years later, they married and collectively they have three children. They like to spend time with their family and vacation in Utah where Ellrich is able to enjoy his passion for hunting, fishing and horseback riding.
A decade after opening the firm, Karyl Neal became the third shareholder, followed by Matthew Stohlman, Matthew Smith and Terri Melton. Joshua B. Angell, CFA, is senior manager of the Valuation Advisory Services practice.
Looking back on the past 25 years, Ellrich has seen major changes in the field of litigation support, including the greater accessibility of electronic financial records. “It’s easier to track money now than it was a decade ago,” he says. “But I miss being able to look at the canceled checks, since we usually don’t get them anymore.”
But Ellrich doesn’t miss the migration to electronic documents and filings. “Not long ago, we would get box after box of documents with a major case,” he says. “Now we can search for key words and phrases in electronic documents and discovery can take place in a room in the cloud.”
While much has been written about the eDiscovery rules and practices, Ellrich says that aspect of the legal process usually takes place in very large, high-stakes cases involving major corporations. He adds, “We don’t see that as much in South Florida, especially in smaller cases.”
Strengthening the Firm
Ellrich is committed to growing the firm’s capabilities in several ways. “Having been trained in business valuations, I know that growth is important for continued success,” he says. “While the Palm Beach County market is vibrant and Broward continues to thrive, I believe there are excellent opportunities for our firm in Miami-Dade.”
In January, Ellrich opened a new office in downtown Miami with a staff of three. “When you drive south down I-95 to Miami and Coral Gables, you can see new office buildings going up, as well as the business activity sparked by the region’s largest airport and seaport,” he says.
Moore, Ellrich & Neal already has long-time clients and relationships with other attorneys in Miami-Dade, Ellrich adds. “Now, we easily drop in to their offices to pick up documents, analyze cases and assist with anything else that needs to be done. I am tied in to that office with video technology, and have two screens on my desk so I can read a document while talking face-to-face to our staff member.”
Ellrich is already thinking ahead to where the firm’s next office might go. “I think Tampa Bay and Jacksonville would be good markets for us, as they have solid industrial bases,” he says. “I have friends in both cities, and we could enter those markets whenever that step makes sense for our business.”
In addition to geographic expansion, Ellrich is also committed to the ongoing training and professional development of the firm’s team. He is also a role model for education, having earned a graduate degree in accounting in 2012 from Stetson University.
Ellrich has hired college graduates with degrees in accounting, finance or business, and then paid the tuition for a master’s degree in forensic or regular accounting and becoming a CPA. “Meanwhile, they are working full time, participating on our case teams, and dealing with clients and attorneys. We also continue supporting our professionals in earning additional designations. After all, our people are the real assets of our firm, and the more knowledge and experience they gain, the more value we can deliver to our clients.”