Traditional temple

Former dean of temple affairs convicted of fraud

Moshe Porat | Courtesy of Temple University Fox School of Business

Former Temple University Fox School of Business Dean Moshe Porat was convicted of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud for using false data to improve the school’s national ranking .

Porat, 74, a resident of Bala Cynwyd, conspired with statistics professor Isaac Gottlieb and Fox employee Marjorie O’Neill, submitting fake data to US News and World Report about online MBA programs and The school’s part-time MBA, according to the conviction of Nov. 29. . They inflated the number of students who had taken the Graduate Management Admission Test, the work experience of PMBA students, and the number of students enrolled part-time.

During the trial which began on November 10, Gottlieb and O’Neill both pleaded guilty to separate conspiracy charges from those of Porat. The jury rendered its decision after less than an hour of deliberation.

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All three Fox employees lost their jobs in 2018 after the misrepresentation was discovered. Porat had been dean of the business school since 1996 and worked at Temple University for more than two decades before becoming dean.

From 2015 to 2018, US News and World Report ranked Fox’s OMBA program No. 1 in the United States. students.

“We live in a time when many applicants and parents of applicants – for higher education – look to the rankings to help them determine where to go to school,” said Deputy US Attorney Mark Dubnoff.

To Dubnoff’s knowledge, this case is the first time that a university administrator has been criminally prosecuted for filing fraud.

“It’s a traditional case of fraud in the sense that you have someone making false statements in order to get money,” Dubnoff said. “In a sense, this is a non-traditional case, as we don’t know of any other cases that have come up in higher education in the rankings.”

This case has the potential to deter other university administrators from committing similar crimes, Dubnoff said, which is important given the high tuition fees that students pay to take master’s programs.

“These are incredibly expensive investments that people are making,” he said. “It is important to protect people from those who defraud them. “

Poets & Quants outlet reported a 57% increase in enrollments in Fox’s OMBA program during the program’s inflated rating period.

OMBA student Ibrahim Fetahi testified in federal court that Fox’s high rank forced him to apply for the OMBA program.

“I paid for fine dining and got McDonald’s,” Fetahi said.

Following the report of the forgery in 2018, former Fox OMBA students filed a class action lawsuit against the school, claiming their degrees had been devalued. Temple University paid $ 5 million in settlements for this lawsuit, in addition to $ 17 million in additional settlements and $ 700,000 to the federal Department of Education.

“It was not a victimless crime,” US prosecutor Jennifer Arbittier Williams said when the indictment was announced in April. “The victims are students, graduates and donors of Fox School as well as other universities and their students who have been cheated of their legitimate rankings.”

Temple University affirmed its commitment to “student-centered education” in a statement following the sentencing.

“We respect the court system and the jury’s decision in this matter,” said Steve Orbanek, associate director of problem management in strategic marketing and communications at Temple University. “The evidence presented at the trial speaks for itself, but is not representative of Temple or the overwhelming majority of the thousands of educational professionals serving our students. It is an unfortunate time for our students and alumni, but our goal remains to provide the best possible results for our students. “

Porat received his undergraduate degree and MBA from Tel Aviv University and his doctorate from Temple. He was active in several local Jewish organizations and was listed as a board member of the America-Israel Chamber of Commerce in his Temple biography. In June 2016, Hillel of Greater Philadelphia honored Porat for his campus leadership and advocacy for Israel.

Porat faces up to 25 years in prison and a $ 500,000 fine. After the March 11 sentencing hearing, Porat will likely lose his tenure as a full professor, where he earns $ 316,000 a year, reported Billy Penn.

Porat’s attorney, Michael A. Schwartz, did not respond to requests for comment.

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