For more than a decade, Donald Gravlin was a rising star in the
consulting world a leading expert on health data management and
Gravlin, 46, most recently a principal in the health care
advisory practice at Ernst & Young, has been quoted in trade
magazines as an authority on arcane topics such as electronic health
record systems, medical devices, wireless LANs, blade computing, e-
learning, and optical character recognition software.
Now, the technology guru and health care consultant is viewed as
someone who may have stepped over the line, violating the basic
ethical precepts of the accounting and consulting professions.
Express Scripts Holding Co., the nations largest pharmacy benefit
manager, has accused Gravlin of penetrating the corporate giants
headquarters in north St. Louis County and stealing a massive trove
of secret documents.
In a lawsuit filed last week in St. Louis County Circuit Court in
Clayton, Express Scripts accused Big Four accounting firm Ernst &
Young and Gravlin of misappropriating the equivalent of 20,000 pages
of confidential information and trade secrets in an effort to win
more health care-related business from Express Scripts and its
Ernst & Young and Gravlin were possessed with an evil motive, the
suit alleges. E&Y and Gravlin engaged in unlawful and malicious
competitive intelligence gathering.
The FBI is investigating the matter.
Once we became aware of the issue, we did turn it over to the FBI
for further investigation, Express Scripts spokesman Brian Henry
said in an email. Federal law enforcement is taking this case very
seriously and looking into it thoroughly.
The U.S. attorneys office in St. Louis declined to comment.
Express Scripts lawsuit, which asks for punitive damages, said
those secrets include competitively sensitive cost and pricing
information ... highly proprietary projections and integration
strategy documents ... and highly proprietary business strategy and
performance metrics documents.
In other words, the secrets are the keys to Express Scripts
breakaway success. The alleged thefts occurred around the time when
the pharmacy benefit manager was completing its $30 billion
acquisition of its chief rival, New Jersey-based Medco Health
The suit itself was astonishing because Express Scripts is
considered such a tightly managed company. Its gleaming headquarters
on the campus of the University of Missouri-St. Louis is a virtual
fortress. And at Express Scripts nearby mail-order facility, guests
are forbidden from photographing the robotic machinery.
Judson Clark, an investment analyst at Edward Jones & Co. in Des
Peres, said the allegedly stolen data was highly prized. This is the
first time Ive seen something like this, he said. For (pharmacy
benefit management) companies, their pricing information is their
business. ... If you could go contract by contract and piece
together their pricing strategy, youd have an advantage in the
Jeff Jonas, an analyst at Gabelli & Co, an investment management
firm in Rye, N.Y., called such allegations relatively rare. ... It
also seems like a stretch that Ernst & Young would be complicit. I
imagine there were pretty strict confidentiality and nondisclosure
agreements. And it seems like the data is going to stay private and
not be that big of an issue.
Ernst & Young, which has denied any wrongdoing, was hired to
assist Express Scripts with tax accounting work and the tax-related
aspects of its merger with Medco. Express Scripts consummated its
purchase of Medco in April 2012. The consulting arrangement came to
end in September after the alleged theft was discovered.
If, God forbid, he did this, its a very serious matter. It would
be jail time and very heavy fines, said Alan Reinstein, a professor
of accounting at Wayne State University in Detroit. But the case
doesnt pass my smell test.
Ive never heard of this happening before. …