PHILADELPHIA (CBS/AP) — The former dean of Temple University’s business school has been charged with falsifying data to boost the school’s rankings, draw more students and vastly increase the school’s revenue. The federal indictment unsealed Friday charges Moshe Porat, 74, with conspiracy and wire fraud for allegedly submitting phony information about its graduate business programs to U.S. News & World Report.
The information about student test score and other data helped the Philadelphia university’s Fox School of Business claim the top-ranked spot on the magazine’s influential list of online MBA programs for several years and quadruple its enrollment.READ MORE: Philadelphia Mother Pleading To Find Driver Who Struck Son In Hit-And-Run, 'Guardian Angel' Who Found Him
“Success begot success for the business school, but it was all based on lies,” an investigator said.
The U.S Attorney’s Office unveiled the indictment against the former dean of Temple University’s business school. Porat has been charged with falsifying data to boost the school’s rankings.
“The indictment alleges that Moshe Porat conspired with other Fox employees to provide false and other misleading information to U.S. News & World Report about Fox’s business degree programs in order to fraudulently inflate the business school’s rankings for its online MBA and part-time MBA programs,” Acting U.S. Attorney Jennifer Williams said.
The allegations date back more than a decade and include charges against two other business school staff members. Federal officials say the years’ long scheme was meant to draw more students and donations to the business school.
The school charged about $60,000 for its online MBA and enrolled more than 330 students by 2017, before the scandal broke and Fox was removed from the rankings. By 2019, enrollment dropped to 106 students.
The indictment follows both a state investigation by Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, which led to a settlement with Temple, and an ongoing $25 million defamation lawsuit Porat filed against Temple and its president over his 2018 ouster.
“A high ranking can not only lead to graduates more easily find employment, but it can also lead to increases in the number of applicants, naturally resulting in more selectivity by the school, higher enrollment and increased tuition revenues,” Williams said.READ MORE: Philadelphia's Evil Genius Beer Company Giving Out Free Beers To Those Getting Vaccinated In May
The federal indictment unsealed Friday accuses Porat with submitting falsified information to U.S. News & World Report. The information surrounding student test scores and other data helped to boost the Fox School of Business to the top of the magazine’s list of influential MBA programs for several years up until 2018.
“The scheme ultimately unraveled when the fraud was exposed in 2018 and U.S. News announced that it would un-rank the Fox programs,” Williams said.
Defense lawyer Michael A. Schwartz said Porat “vigorously denies” the charges and has been cooperating with federal investigators.
“Dr. Porat dedicated forty years of his life to serving Temple University, first as a faculty member, and ultimately as dean of the Fox Business School, and he did so with distinction. He looks forward to defending himself against these charges and to clearing his name,” Schwartz said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Temple University released this statement that reads, in part, “Temple, at all times, has been transparent about its actions as they pertain to the Fox matter and has sought to protect the interest of our student donors and the university. As part of broad sweeping measures, Temple has implemented a robust host of practices to ensure that date misreporting to ranking bodies will not occur again.”
“This was not a victimless crime. The victims are students and graduates and donors to the Fox school as well as other universities and their students who were cheated out of their legitimate ranking,” Williams said.
According to the indictment, Porat ordered his staff to send inaccurate information about the program after learning that U.S. News & World Report lacked the resources to audit any of the data submitted by the schools. Two of them have also been charged in the case.
Porat served as dean from 1996 through 2018, eventually earning more than $600,000. He continues to receive more than $300,000 as a tenured professor, although he has not taught since 2018, the indictment said.
CBS3’s Natasha Brown contributed to this report.MORE NEWS: Friday Night In New Jersey Looks Like Something Out Of 2019 As Restrictions Eased
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