Campus Cops

Five state troopers with faux college degrees sue the state.

There are dozens of websites out there from "colleges" like "Almeda University" where people can log on, plug in a bunch of info on their "life experience," then pay a fee and wait as the website shits out a "degree" they can then pad their resume with. A couple of years ago, nine Washington State Patrol Troopers got caught using fake online degrees in order to get pay raises. Now the troopers are suing the state, saying they were defamed when the department implied a link between their fake degrees and those of an even more egregious Spokane-based diploma mill that was busted before the troopers were. As reported last week, in the suit, the troopers—Bryan Ensley, Daniel Mann, Gabriel Olson, Dennis Tardiff, and Spike Unruh—each claim to hold degrees from Internet-based colleges that award credit based on "life experience," but which aren't recognized by the federal Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, the two organizations on which the patrol now relies to determine if a degree is valid. Basically, the troopers are arguing that at the time they were disciplined (they were each briefly suspended without pay), the department didn't have a policy in place to determine which universities' degrees were valid to use in applications for pay increases, and which might as well be cutouts from boxes of Cap'n Crunch. The state has since more clearly defined its rules, which still hold that the troopers' degrees were bogus. The case also hinges on a Spokane-based diploma mill, run by Steven Karl Randock Sr. and his wife Dixie, that issued counterfeit degrees from hundreds of fake schools around the world. The Randocks were criminally prosecuted and sent to prison as a result. Lawyers for the troopers say the department "implied" a link from their client's fake-but-legal diplomas to the Spokane scam's fake-and-illegal ones.

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