Aug. 6, 2010


By Amy Farnum

Crime doesn’t pay, and that’s exactly what Villanova men’s lacrosse defender Chris Ficke is learning during a six-month forensic accounting co-op with the Delaware County district attorney’s office.

Ficke, a rising senior from Morristown, N.J., is an accounting major at the Villanova Business School, and was looking for a summer job or internship when he was introduced to an opportunity in criminal investigation.

“I did a little research and found out it was something that I would be interested in because my grandfather was a New Jersey state trooper and my uncle was a state customs agent in Newark,” said Ficke. “My family has always been involved in law enforcement and this tied what I was doing -- accounting -- together with law enforcement so I decided to give it a try.”

As a member of the office’s White Collar Team, Ficke is putting his accounting skills to work in order to stop criminals in their tracks.

“I work with another Villanova co-op and we handle the Excel computer based area of it for the detectives,” said Ficke. “Any time they need a spreadsheet built or any of the background case work done or need us to go through files, we’re kind of the grunts that build the base of their cases that we’re going to present against the different defendants.”

Ficke, who will be the Wildcats’ team captain for the second consecutive year in 2011, is enjoying a different aspect to his bean-counter background.

“I think it is good for me because it is not the standard day-to-day routine of going through the steps like accounting is usually known for,” said Ficke. “As corny as it sounds, this is kind of like a treasure hunt. You have to figure out where they took the money from, where they funneled it to and where it ended up. Everybody does it differently, so every case is a new learning experience.”

The Dean’s List and Big East Academic Honor Roll student has already worked on a case involving a treasurer of high school booster clubs who was laundering money, and a travel agency that was selling bogus plane tickets.

In addition to number-crunching to help nail criminals Ficke is getting a full picture of the law enforcement experience.

“The Lieutenant that I report to wants us to see the whole process of the justice system,” said Ficke. “If there is something cool going on in the different segments of the criminal investigation division, they will ship us over there for the day. If there is an autopsy in homicide, we’ll get to see that and ask questions, or if there is something going on in Internet crimes, we’ll get to sit in on interviews of the suspects. They try to give us a full idea of what’s going on.”

Ficke started the co-op this summer and will be working with the unit for the remainder of the year. He is definitely keeping forensic accounting open as a career option, whether it be at the criminal level like the FBI or at a Big Five accounting firm looking for fraud at the management level.

Before Ficke makes his career decisions, however, he has some unfinished business on the lacrosse field. The Wildcats finished third in the Big East behind Syracuse and Georgetown in the league’s first year sponsoring men’s lacrosse as a championship sport. Ficke has started every game in each of the last two seasons, a plays a key role for a Villanova defense that finished the season ranked 20th in the nation in scoring defense (9.47 GAA).

“We have a very strong group of upperclassmen, and some of the sophomores are really talented, and we have a good freshmen class coming in,” said Ficke. “I’m looking forward to see how we all meld together. I’m also looking forward to being a senior and one of the leaders on the team, and try and steer the team in the direction I think is best. A lot of us are looking forward to competing in the Big East again and giving it another go in that league.”

Ficke has compiled 77 ground balls and 19 caused turnovers in 41 career games.