The last we heard about Moshe Porat, an appeals court had stayed both his 14-month prison sentence and his $250,000 fine for his role in the biggest university cheating scandal in a rankings publication.
That was on May 9, 2022, the day the 76-year-old former dean of Temple University’s Fox School of Business was slated to report to prison after a federal jury of eight women and four men convicted him of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and other charges. The Third Circuit Court of Appeals then allowed Porat to go home pending the results of the appeal.
It’s been radio silence ever since.
Now there appears to be some movement in Porat’s case. Appellate court documents filed April 25 say that oral arguments on Porat’s appeal are scheduled for Thursday, May 18, 2023. Both prosecutors and Porat’s defense will be allotted 45 minutes to present their arguments.
It’s unclear when the appellate court judges will issue their ruling after the arguments.
PORAT WANTED TEMPLE TO PAY HIS LEGAL FEES
In a separate court action – connected to the scandal but not a part of Porat’s criminal case – the Superior Court of Pennsylvania in March reversed a previous court’s order that Temple University pay Porat’s legal fees.
Temple had previously paid Porat’s fees in cases associated with the rankings scandal from October 2018 to February 2021. The university stopped payments in April 2021 (the same month he was criminally indicted), stating Porat was not a representative of the university that qualified for such payments under its bylaws.
Porat sued Temple University in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County in a civil action, and that court ruled in his favor.
On November 4, 2021, (coincidentally five days before the start of his criminal trial) Temple University appealed the decision to the state’s Superior Court. That court reversed the lower court’s ruling, according to a court document filed on March 16, 2023. However, the court also did not take up Temple’s counter claim that Porat’s federal conviction required the former dean to pay back attorney fees the university had previously paid.
What this all means is that Porat, not Temple, was responsible for paying his attorneys in the six months leading up to his criminal trial, the trial itself, and throughout the 13-month-long (so far) appeals process.
A SCANDAL THAT’S PERSISTED FOR HALF A DECADE
Oral arguments for Porat’s appeal next week are just the latest milestone in a scandal that has slowly unraveled over the course of more than five years.
Porat was convicted by a federal jury on November 29, 2021, on one count each of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud for repeatedly lying to U.S. News & World Report to boost Temple Fox’s performance in its online and part-time MBA rankings. He was the first university administrator to face a criminal trial for lying to a rankings magazine, and the first to be convicted.
He was sentenced on March 11, 2022, with a scathing rebuke from the bench: “This could be my first case where – from start to finish – I was never given one word or gesture to hang my hat on to be able to say that (the defendant) has had some remorse or that he accepts some responsibility,” Judge Gerald J. Pappert of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania said, at times looking Porat directly in the eye.
“A constant theme coming from Moshe Porat is that he did nothing wrong, that he was betrayed by his subordinates … Any such assertion–which I’ve overheard in his comments and in his smirking from counsel’s table–is insultingly silly. And it is contrary to all of the evidence that the court saw and that the jurors based their decision on.”
The scandal was first revealed in January 2018 after an article in Poets&Quants expressed skepticism at Fox’s claim that 100% of its incoming online MBA candidates had submitted GMAT or GRE scores to the school, despite the school advertising a test waiver on its website. The scandal led to Porat’s firing and a class-action lawsuit by former MBA students.
Porat, who has never admitted to any role or responsibility in the scandal, filed his appeal on March 28, 2022, two weeks after sentencing.
More About The Temple Rankings Scandal
How It Happened: Anatomy Of A Business School Rankings Fraud
Jones Day Investigation: Temple Dean Sacked Over Ranking Scandal
MBA Rankings: Why Business Schools Are Willing To Cheat
Trial Coverage: Trial Begins For Ousted Temple Dean In Rankings Fraud Case
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