PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A jury convicted the former dean of Temple University's business school on charges related to a scheme to falsely boost the school's rankings.
The jury deliberated for less than an hour Monday before deciding Moshe Porat, 74, was guilty of federal conspiracy and wire fraud charges, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
Porat boosted the university’s online MBA program to the top spot on the U.S. News & World Report rankings for four years in a row. With help from with two subordinates, who are also charged, Porat submitted false information about student test scores, work experience and other data.
“The hope is that this case sends a message to other college and university administrators that there are real consequences to making representations that students and applicants rely on,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark B. Dubnoff said.
The elevated rankings helped the university draw more students and vastly increased the Fox School of Business' revenue under Porat's tenure.
An attorney for Porat, Michael A. Schwartz, argued at trial that while he made mistakes, Porat had not committed a crime.
“Forty years — that is how long Dr. Porat dedicated his life and passion to Temple University,” Schwartz said. “And yes, during those 40 years, Dr. Porat did a number of things wrong. He had a big ego. He did not treat people in the way they should have been treated, and he certainly failed to respond correctly."
Porat declined to comment to the newspaper after the jury's decision.
A university spokesperson Steve Orbanek said: “We respect the justice system and the jury’s decision in this matter.”
Despite being fired as dean, Porat has maintained his tenured position as a Temple professor. The university has since taken steps to vet and audit data submissions, the newspaper reported.
A hearing has not yet be scheduled for a judge to determine Porat's sentence, court records show. Prosecutors have previously said he would face up to 25 years in prison if convicted.
The Associated Press