PHILADELPHIA – United States Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams announced that Moshe Porat, 74, of Bala Cynwyd, PA, the former Dean of Temple University’s Richard J. Fox School of Business and Management (“Fox”) from 1996 until 2018, was convicted today after trial on charges that he conspired and schemed to deceive the school’s applicants, students, and donors into believing that the school offered top-ranked business degree programs, so that they would pay tuition and make donations to Temple.
In April 2021, Porat was charged by Indictment with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of wire fraud. The charges stemmed from a multi-year conspiracy in which the defendant participated with a Fox professor named Isaac Gottlieb and a Fox employee named Marjorie O’Neill to submit false information about the school’s online MBA (“OMBA”) and part-time MBA (“PMBA”) programs to U.S. News & World Report in order to inflate Fox’s rankings in the annual U.S. News surveys of top OMBA and PMBA programs.
Among other things, the conspirators agreed to provide false information to U.S. News about the number of Fox’s OMBA and PMBA students who had taken the Graduate Management Admission Test (“GMAT”); the average work experience of Fox’s PMBA students; and the percentage of Fox students who were enrolled part-time, all because it was believed that better numbers for these metrics would result in better rankings for the programs. And indeed, the scheme was successful. Relying on the false information it had received from Fox, U.S. News ranked Fox’s OMBA program Number One in the country four years in a row (2015 – 2018). U.S. News also moved Fox’s PMBA program up its rankings from No. 53 in 2014 to No. 20 in 2015, to No. 16 in 2016, and to No. 7 in 2017.]
Porat boasted about these rankings in marketing materials directed at potential Fox students and donors. Enrollment in Fox’s OMBA and PMBA programs grew dramatically in a few short years, which led to millions of dollars a year in increased tuition revenues.
“Today, a jury reaffirmed that wire fraud is a federal crime even when perpetrated within the system of higher education in the United States,” said U.S. Attorney Williams. “Moshe Porat misrepresented information about Fox’s application and acceptance process, and therefore about the student-body itself, in order to defraud the rankings system, potential students, and donors. This case was certainly unusual, but at its foundation it is just a case of fraud and underlying greed. We respect the jury’s verdict and thank its members for their service.”
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States Postal Inspection Service, and the Department of Education’s Office of the Inspector General; and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Mark B. Dubnoff, Nancy Potts, and MaryTeresa Soltis.