Lack of Time No Excuse for Not Running Background Checks

By Michael Klazema on 7/5/2013

Matthew A Mazula got hired on as lifeguard at the Fort Edward Community Pool at the last minute, according to supervisor Mitch Suprenant. Because of the time crunch and the lack of any other qualified applicants, no background check was run, and the 24-year-old was on the job for the pool’s opening day of the season.

It was there that Mazula met a 14-year-old pool patron. Mazula admits arranging to meet the girl at the Riverside Drive park later that same night. He allegedly had sex with her, though the encounter was interrupted when the girl’s mother and her mother’s boyfriend came looking for her around 1 am. According to police, Mazula jumped in a cab when he heard voices calling the girl’s name and fled the scene.

Mazula was arrested the next morning and charged with second-degree rape. This felony charge reflects the fact that the girl was underage. No violence or physical coercion was involved according to police.

Had the town run a background check on Mazula prior to hiring him as a lifeguard, they would not have discovered any prior history of sex crimes, as this was allegedly his first offense. However, they might have discovered a DWI offense, which may at least have alerted them to the fact that this young man had a history of poor judgment and should have been supervised better while on the job.

A lack of time was cited as the reason that town officials did not subject Mazula to a background check before hiring. However, considering that companies like offer nearly instant background checks, this does not seem like a valid excuse. Employers can use instant products like US OneSEARCH from to get a quick and comprehensive picture of a job applicant’s prior criminal history. This enables employers to avoid unwittingly hiring criminals, even in situations where a position must be filled immediately.

Mazula had worked part-time at the pool in the previous season, and perhaps the individual who hired him based their decision on his past performance. However, it is not known whether or not Mazula was subjected to a background check last year either. In any case, it is wise for employers to invest in recurring background checks, especially for positions which provide opportunities to interact with minors. An employer can easily keep tabs on current employees using Criminal Monitoring from This service provides employers with an email notification any time an employee’s name and date of birth comes up in relation to criminal activity recorded in their multi-jurisdictional database that encompasses records from every state in the US. It can be renewed on an annual basis.

This case illustrates the dangers of hiring individuals without proper background checks. In essence, the town got lucky that Mazula did not turn out to have a long list of convictions on his record. If he had had a long list of sex crime convictions on his record, the town could be facing a much more serious backlash for their negligent hiring decision. As it is, the situation is very embarrassing and has prompted the town to review their background check policy.


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