Six FDNY Applicants Fake Educational Degrees

The North Country Gazette
Posted on Wednesday, 17 of October , 2007 at 8:57 pm

NEW YORK—Six candidates trying to land jobs with the New York City Fire Department have been arrested for allegedly submitting fake high school equivalency certificates and college associate degrees and a phony high school diploma.

The FDNY candidates were trying to earn positions as firefighters, emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and as a clerical associate. These arrests are part of an ongoing DOI investigation into the submission of fake educational degrees.

In January 2007, DOI issued a report that found 14 FDNY members submitted bogus degrees trying to earn promotions or appointments. As a result of the DOI report, the FDNY meted out approximately $135,000 in disciplinary fines against the 14 FDNY members. In addition, the FDNY improved its degree verification procedures.

Subsequently, the FDNY’s Candidate Investigation Division became suspicious of the degrees submitted by these six individuals and referred the cases to DOI.

As part of the investigation, a DOI undercover investigator went online seeking to purchase a college degree from a website called “Belford University.” The DOI investigator took an “entry exam,” failed, was encouraged by the entity’s website to take the exam again and then the investigator even received the answers to the exam from the website. The DOI investigator then successfully passed the online exam and obtained a “bachelor’s degree in Aerospace Engineering.” The investigator paid $509.15 for the “degree.”

The price included an extra cost for graduating “summa cum laude,” and also included a 15 percent “discount” that was described as a “scholarship” for completing the transaction on the phone, with a credit card. The investigator took no classes to receive the so-called “degree” and received graduation documentation 15 days after taking the exam. The graduation documentation included a “degree,” a “transcript” with grades and classes and an “award of excellence” for the investigator’s work on an aerospace engineering project, even though the investigator never performed any work on such a project.

In addition, the DOI investigator intentionally submitted a birth date that indicated the investigator would have been 12 years old at the time of “graduation.” In selecting a “major” for his “degree,” the DOI investigator stated he wished to purchase an Aerospace Engineering degree because, he stated on the application, “I luv planes and rockets.”

In June,  DOI arrested Nicholas Messina who was charged with offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree, a class E felony. In addition, he was charged with second degree falsifying business records, second degree offering a false instrument for filing and official misconduct which are each class A misdemeanors. If convicted, he faces up to four years in prison.

Last month, DOI arrested Martin Burch, Samuel Miller-Vaughn and Mayra Jimenez. Each was charged with first degree tampering with public records,  a class D felony and first degree offering a false instrument for filing, a class E felony. In addition, each was charged with second degree offering a false instrument for filing and second degree falsifying business records which are both class A misdemeanors. If convicted, each faces up to seven years in prison.

On Thursday, Oct. 11, DOI arrested Tyeasha McGriff and Shaquanna Moye. Each was arrested on charges of first degree tampering with public records and second degree criminal possession of a forged instrument which are both class D felonies; and forst degree offering a false instrument for filing, a class E felony. In addition, each was charged with third degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, second degree offering a false instrument for filing and second degree falsifying business records, which are each class A misdemeanors. If convicted, each faces up to seven years in prison.

The DOI investigation found the so-called high school equivalency “certificates” submitted by candidates did not include security features found on genuine New York State high school equivalency certificates. In addition, the New York State Education Department did not have a record of the individuals obtaining the certificates.

The DOI investigation also found that two job applicants allegedly submitted phony degrees from “Belford University,” the entity from which a DOI investigator purchased an Aerospace Engineering degree and is not a legitimately accredited academic institution.

DOI’s investigation culminated in the following arrests:

• Burch, 33, of Lawrenceville, N.J., allegedly submitted an Associate’s Degree in Fire Science from “Belford University” for the position of firefighter in the FDNY. DOI’s investigation found that Burch did not take any courses, nor did he earn the 70 credits he stated on FDNY documents.

• Jimenez, 28, of Brooklyn, allegedly submitted a fraudulent New York State Education Department high school equivalency certificate to the FDNY Candidate Investigation Division, and also allegedly falsified application documents when applying for the position of Clerical Associate with the FDNY. A DOI investigation found that Jimenez did not receive a high school equivalency certificate from a New York State school.

• McGriff, 29, of the Bronx, allegedly submitted a fraudulent New York State Education Department high school equivalency certificate to the FDNY Candidate Investigation Division and allegedly falsified application documents when applying for the position of EMT with the FDNY Bureau of Emergency Medical Services (EMS). A DOI investigation found McGriff did not receive a high school equivalency diploma from a New York State School.

• Messina, 23, of Copiague, allegedly submitted an Associate’s Degree in Fire Science from “Belford University” to become a firefighter with the FDNY. DOI’s investigation found MESSINA did not complete any coursework, nor did he receive the grades as he stated on documents submitted to the FDNY. Messina was already an EMT with the FDNY when he applied to become a firefighter.

• Miller-Vaughn, 25, of Manhattan, allegedly submitted a fraudulent high school diploma and allegedly falsified application documents when applying for the position of EMT with the FDNY Bureau of Emergency Medical Services (EMS). In documents Miller-Vaughn allegedly submitted to the FDNY, he indicated his degree was issued by “Jefferson High School” in Manhattan, but the DOI investigation found no high school exists by that name in New York City and that Miller-Vaughn did not receive a high school diploma from a New York State school.

• Moye, 29, of the Bronx, allegedly submitted a fraudulent New York State Education Department high school equivalency certificate to the FDNY Candidate Investigation Division, and allegedly falsified application documents when applying for the position of EMT with the FDNY Bureau of Emergency Medical Services (EMS). A DOI investigation found that MOYE did not receive a high school equivalency diploma from a New York State School.

The Office of Kings County District Attorney Charles J. Hynes is prosecuting the case.  10-17-07
 

COPYRIGHT 2007 - NORTH COUNTRY GAZETTE All rights reserved.

the news story entitled "" is not available at this time.