Seven Indicted; 4,000 Professionals Using Fake Diplomas
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) _ Seven more people have been indicted in the federal Dipscam probe on charges of running fake schools whose diplomas are allowing 4,000 people to work as doctors, ministers and educators, an FBI official said Friday.
″They’re in just about every type of profession you can imagine,″ said Robert Pence, agent in charge of the FBI’s North Carolina office, which is heading the national probe of mail-order diploma mills. ″They’re in law enforcement, state and federal government, business and education. And some schools heavily targeted the military.″
The seven were indicted Thursday on charges of conspiracy, mail fraud and wire fraud, bringing the total number of people charged in Dipscam to 13. All of the previous six have been found guilty and all but one have been sentenced, Pence said.
The seven, charged in a 30-page indictment returned by a federal grand jury meeting in Charlotte, allegedly ran or helped run one or more of 22 phony schools, guidance centers, accreditation agencies or alumni associations.
He said the schools with the largest number of ″graduates″ are the Northwestern College of Allied Science, with addresses in Tulsa, Olka., and Sprinfield, Mo.; American Western University in Tulsa and Southwestern University in Tucson, Ariz.
The schools awarded diplomas for prices ranging from $45 for a high-school certificate to $1,450 for a doctorate ″without any actual attendance or new work being required on the part of the prospective graduate,″ the indictment said.
As those indicted in Dipscam are found guilty, the names of people who bought fake diplomas from them are released to licensing authorities - for example, to medical or education boards - in each state. ″It’s up to each individual state to determine if they got their job fraudulently or used that degree to get a promotion in a job to make more money,″ said Pence.
Anthony James Geruntino, 41, of Reynoldsburg, Ohio, who faces 27 counts, allegedly ran most of the schools, Pence said.
Geruntino was arrested Thursday with his 74-year-old secretary, Lucille Crawford of St. Georges, Utah, just after he appeared before the St. Georges town council.
″He was making a very impressive and strong presentation ... about why Southwestern University should exist in St. Georges and the contributions it would make,″ Pence said.
James Robert Caffey, 54, of Springfield, Mo., who faces five counts, also ran some schools, Pence said. Caffey also allegedly ran some phony accreditation agencies that Geruntino used to accredit some of his colleges, he said.
The others indicted Thursday allegedly worked for the schools, some as ″deans″ or secretaries, Pence said. They include Ms. Crawford; Donald George Minnich, 46, of Sedona, Ariz.; Viola M. Clark, 32, of Columbus, Ohio; Martha Julia Jupinko, 36, of Tucson, Ariz.; and Larry Edward Pfalzgraf, 42, of Pickerington, Ohio.
The indictments were the result of FBI raids in 1982 at diploma mills in Tucson and Columbus, Pence said. So far, Dipscam investigators have raided some 60 ″colleges.″