Forensic accounting is a special area of accounting that deals with fraud investigation, detection and litigation. The other major areas of forensic accounting are litigation support and expert
witnessing. It is a growing area of accounting practice.
“Students like it because it’s unique and interesting, and there’s many different ways to look at it,” said Dr. Heitger. “No two cases are ever alike.”
Forensic accountants provide unique skills in understanding and communicating accounting information. It is particularly important for the next generation of accounting professionals.
“As more accounting functions become automated, the major role of accountants may shift to interpreting, focusing and anticipating where specific types of accounting information will provide the most value to businesses,” said Dr. Heitger.
A family matter
Accounting runs in the Heitger family. Dr. Heitger’s son, Dr. Daniel Heitger, is an accounting professor at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. His granddaughter, Allyson Heitger, will be graduating with a degree in accounting as well.
Dr. Heitger and his son recently had an article accepted into the Journal of Forensic Accounting Research (JFAR) titled “The Effects of Experience and Client-Preferred Outcomes on the Accountants’ Complex Loss Valuation Judgements.” It deals with forensic accounting decision making, and it will appear in the next issue of JFAR.
Becoming a bear
Dr. Heitger arrived at Missouri State University in 2008 with the late Dr. Michael Groomer. Together they developed a certificate in forensic accounting in the graduate accounting program.
Sadly, a few years later, Dr. Groomer was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He passed away in June of 2012. Dr. Heitger’s wife passed away the following April.
“For a while, teaching and my life as a professor was the only part of my life that seemed normal,” Dr. Heitger said. “I feel like people who do what we do have a chance to make a positive difference in the lives of our students. I’m very lucky.”
Prior to joining the faculty at MSU, Dr. Heitger spent 30 years as a professor of accounting at Indiana University.
Dr. Heitger has been active in litigation support and expert witnessing for over 30 years. He has been a forensic accountant on over 50 cases, testifying as an expert witness in state and federal courts and in the United States Tax Court.
He served as a member of the “Model Curriculum in Forensic Accounting” task force, funded by the United States Justice Department White Collar Crimes Division.
Dr. Heitger also was the former president of the Forensic Accounting section of the American Accounting Association.
Learn more about forensic accounting.