Come, Let Us Prey

I was looking up a questionable educational institution’s accreditation and learned about accreditation mills when I came across a funny article,  GREAT MOMENTS IN ACCREDITATION THE CASE OF IAC, ACI, AND THE THREE STOOGES, by John Bear, from University Business Magazine, March 2000.  Briefly, because Mr. Bear makes it much funnier with details, the International Accrediting Commission, (IAC) opened up for business in Missouri and began supplying accreditation to educational institutions–diploma mills.  In 1989 the Eastern Missouri Business College applied for accreditation, naming a faculty that included Arnold Ziffel, Eddie Haskell, M. Howard, Jerome Howard and Lawrence Fine, i.e. the pig from the TV series, “Green Acres”, Wally Cleaver’s smarmy friend Eddy, on “Leave It to Beaver”, and the Three Stooges.  There were a lot more obviously bogus features which would have raised a red flag to a genuine accreditation agency.  The guy who created the school was actually an Assistant Attorney General, and as soon as the IAC accepted money and accredited the college an injunction was issued and they had to leave the state.  Whereupon the IAC immediately took itself hither to Beebe, Arkansas and resumed accrediting diploma mills.

Now I came across this story because a friend was thinking about doing some work for a bible college in rural Florida, the president of which referenced the IAC when she asked about its accreditation.  So I was asked to check it out.  And came across Mr. Bear’s hilarious but also sad, tale of the accreditation mill.  Now the friend had already met with the President of the bible college, who represented himself as a Doctor of Divinity.   So of course, my polite–and curious–friend asked where he’d gotten his doctorate.  To which the college President answered, he didn’t remember!  Not kidding, didn’t recall where he’d gotten his degree.  No red flag there.

However, his assistant came up with the name of the institution, Therapon College, a diploma mill formerly located in the U.S. Virgin Islands, where, as it happens, I have friends.  So I called one of them up and asked if he’d ever heard of it.  No, but he called Therapon and talked to the “President” of the college who quite cheerfully admitted there was no college, it was just a phone number, they didn’t even live in the Virgin Islands anymore, and they provided on-line classes–which credits were not accepted at other institutions of higher learning–for degrees.  And Therapon was also accredited by an accreditation mill, but a different one.

Now, this bogus rural bible college my friend was asked to do work for, accredited by the accreditation mill, doesn’t actually have a campus.  Most of its “classes” are on-line.  And they are marketed to people in India and the Philippines.  And those folks abroad pay for those courses thinking–well I don’t know what they’re thinking.  And the President with the bogus doctorate goes to India and the Philippines to–well, I’m not sure what he does there but I’m guessing bank accounts are involved.  And of course I can’t help but wonder if this holy man reports all that income to the IRS.  Because it sure seems like he might have a crackerjack opportunity to launder money and evade taxes.  If he weren’t so holy, that is.

And, you can even go to his bible college’s website and order stuff with the school logo on it.  You can get clothing that touts the school’s “undefeated” athletic team.  Which, technically it is.  Undefeated, that is.  Since there is no campus, no team and therefore, no defeats.  Say hallelujah!

And a graduate of that bible college in Florida, was representing herself to be an ordained minister in a small rural town.  Because she’d gotten her bogus “degree” from the bogus President of the bogus college, who’d gotten his bogus degree from Therapon, and he’d ordained her to boot  Boy howdy–as they say in the South–that woman minister used the name of the Lord like punctuation.  Not a sentence came from her mouth but what Jesus was referenced.  (What would Jesus say?  “Y’know I can hear you don’t you?”)  And she was busy as a bee doing holy work.  She was supposedly serving the homeless, and using grant funded office space gratis for her “ministry” which consisted of her yapping to people about how holy she was and trying to get them to give her money and do stuff for her for free.  The office equipment paid for with grant funds for the homeless was in her home for a long time and she was using it for her business, um, ministry, until she used grant funds to rent an office from a guy who she was hitting on.  After that she used that office gratis for her own business, um, ministry.  Thanks taxpayers.  Jesus sent ya.

And there were grant funds for homeless people–to pay for utility deposits, rent, stuff like that.  Except the holy minister lady didn’t have time to actually get around to getting those funds to the homeless, who were living in the fields and on the streets.  In the summer the heat is unbearable in that area and the mosquitoes are ever abundant and always hungry.  It’s hellish being outside at night in that area.  But she liked to go to meetings, instead, to talk about how holy she was.  And Jesus, who must have been getting an earful.

Now she managed to find a developer/consultant who said he could raise funds and build a homeless shelter.  And this woman asked for help with an application she wanted to do but wasn’t really able to complete.  She needed information about that developer/consultant for it.  But the contact person, his partner or cohort, wasn’t easy to get in touch with but supposedly had a well documented past as an executive director of a housing authority up north.  So I looked him up.  And the first thing that showed up in the browser search was his status as a convicted felon, a sex offender who’d been found to be keeping hundreds of child pornography images on his office computer at the housing authority.  It was discovered while his agency was being audited by HUD because millions of dollars were either unaccounted for or had been misappropriated to a for profit development company he’d formed using the housing authority as a front, um, I mean a related fiduciary entity.  He didn’t get to stick around for the whole audit though–which found out about the misappropriation and missing money, but didn’t necessarily find where it went–because he was busy being convicted for kiddie porn on his office computer.

And the firm he worked for, or was partner in, it’s not clear exactly what the formal relationship between he and the developer is, brags on its website about his 25 years of experience as an executive director of the housing authority.  And they’re going around to all these small rural communities and counties in the Glades area around Lake Okeechobee and impressing them with their combined experience and selling them on the idea of having both a for-profit and non-profit housing development company to build affordable housing using the pedophile’s and the developer’s expertise.  Except the financing scheme they’re pushing–and getting funded from tax dollars–resulted in at least five housing projects developed and managed by the pedophile’s agency going into bankruptcy, and costing the tax payers millions.

The homeless shelter.  Please.  Of course it didn’t get built.  The grant funds?  Never heard what happened to ‘em, but did hear that the holy lady “minister” was collecting furniture for the homeless, to furnish the places she could have rented with the grant money except didn’t because she was too busy going to meetings and saying Jesus to anyone who’d listen.

And the developer, who’s from up north?  I came across an article about him.  He’s started developing more high end stuff in Southwest Florida. He’s working with another developer, who moved from Ohio because he “needed a change”.   We know what that means, here in Florida.  So I looked him up too.  The first thing that came up was an article in which he was promising to “fight the fraud charges”.

As the Bokononists used to say (in the Kurt Vonnegut novel Cat’s Cradle) “And so it goes”.

Come, let us prey.


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