Stanford Takes Away An MBA Degree

by John A. Byrne on

Mathew Martoma apparently lied his way into Stanford's MBA program

Mathew Martoma apparently lied his way into Stanford’s MBA program

For the first time ever, Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business today (March 5) confirmed that a 2003 graduate of the most selective MBA program in the U.S. no longer has a degree because he was admitted under “false pretenses.”

The decision to nullify Mathew Martoma’s MBA, first disclosed earlier today by The Wall Street Journal, follows his conviction last month of insider trading charges. “Martoma does not have a Stanford MBA,” confirmed Stanford GSB spokesperson Barbara Buell.

The school ostensibly did not strip the former hedge fund trader at  SAC Capital Advisors of the degree because of his Feb. 6th conviction, but rather because he failed to disclose that he was thrown out of Harvard Law School for doctoring his grade transcript and sending the forged document to federal judges in search of a job.

MARTOMA APPARENTLY FAILED TO TELL STANFORD HE WAS KICKED OUT OF HARVARD

Two years after being dismissed from Harvard, Martoma had changed his name and successfully applied to Stanford’s business school. But he apparently covered up the fact that he had been kicked out of Harvard. The decision by Stanford indicates that Marie Mookini, then director of MBA admissions at Stanford, did not know that the applicant was expelled. Mookini, now an MBA admissions consultant based in Palo Alto, declined comment.

“What makes this possible is not that he was a convicted felon, but that he was admitted under false pretenses,” a faculty member told the Journal.

Stanford sent Martoma a letter in February seeking an explanation about statements he made on his original MBA application and gave him a two-week deadline for a response, according to the newspaper. Martoma’s lawyers asked for a two-week extension which was granted by Stanford. When the new deadline ran out on Friday without a response, Stanford decided to pull Martoma’s degree.

STANFORD HAS REMAINED MUM ON THE MARTOMA INCIDENT

Though Stanford has consistently declined direct comment on the Martoma case, citing privacy laws, the school does make clear that applicants who are admitted to its MBA program on false pretenses can have their degrees revoked. Most observers assume that Martoma, who legally changed his name from Ajai Mathew Thomas to Mathew Martoma when he applied to Stanford, failed to admit that he was thrown out of Harvard Law School for a disciplinary reason.

“Federal law (FERPA) prohibits Stanford from discussing the specific academic status of a former student,”  says spokesperson Buell. “However, we take very seriously any violation of the integrity of our admissions process. When there is evidence that any misrepresentation has been made, Stanford’s policy and practice is to review the matter carefully.  Determining the validity of the evidence is undertaken immediately, but can take time. When a review is completed, Stanford’s policy provides it can revoke an offer of acceptance and a degree, if it was found that an individual gained admission through false pretenses. “

All of this has come to light many years later because of Martoma’s New York trial on charges of insider trading. Though his ouster from Harvard was ruled inadmissible by the judge, the disclosure of the unsealed disciplinary report showed that he used computer software to improve some of his first-year law school grades from B’s to A’s. He then sent the forged transcript to nearly two dozen judges when he applied for federal clerkships.

What is all the more intriguing is the extent to which Martoma went to conceal his fraud—all of it revealed in excruciating detail in the court papers which includes the full report by a Harvard Administrative Board that recommended his expulsion from the school. A close reading of the board’s report provides a seldom seen glimpse into a disciplinary procedure at a top law school, but also how the board bent over backwards to be fair to someone who was so unethical.

CHANGING ‘B’ GRADES TO ‘A’ GRADES IN THREE COURSES TO SHOW TO HIS PARENTS ON CHRISTMAS EVE

Martoma, who graduated with a degree in biomedicine, ethics and public policy from Duke University in 1995, had entered Harvard Law School in 1997 and quickly racked up what the law school board would call “an excellent record” in his first year-and-a-half. Besides his solid grades, he was on the Board of Student Advisers, an editor of the Journal of Law and Technology and a semi-finalist in the school’s annual moot court competition. He co-founded the Society of Law and Ethics.

For whatever reason, however, the academic record Thomas had compiled just didn’t seem good enough—for him. At the half-way mark of his JD education, in December of 1998, Thomas altered the transcript of his first-year grades so that he received an A rather than a B in Civil Procedure, an A rather than a B+ in Contracts, and another A in Criminal Law instead of a B. He didn’t change his B+ grade in Torts, nor his A- in Negotiation.

The day before Christmas, Thomas showed the forged transcript to his mother, Lizzie Thomas, a doctor, and his father, Bobby Martoma, who owns residential and commercial properties in Florida. They were ecstatic. Several days later, according to a statement made to the Harvard board, Thomas “realized that what he had done was wrong and showed his parents his real grades.”

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  • bwanamia

    On the whole, I’d rather Stanford took away my MBA than be found guilty of a felony.

  • Another Indian Bites the Dust

    Isn’t this somewhat of a catch-22? He lied about failing out of Harvard and because of this fact, Stanford probably would have never admitted him. However, Stanford admit him. He completed the coursework and did graduate with an MBA because he passed all of his classes. What correlation does this show between grades and academic success in graduate school?

    Well anyway, another Indian dude bites the dust, not that big of a deal because there are lots of other Indian-Americans with Stanford MBAs who aren’t liars and cheaters. Or are they? Who knows.

  • Pablo Mayaya

    How am I not surprised when another Indian folk forged some documents?

  • safsdafs

    If you’re that old already, why do you even care what your parents think of your grades? I mean if he was still in high school MAYBE. But at Harvard Law School?

  • Dutch Ducre

    Proof that you don’t have to be intelligent to graduate from GSB or others, just get in and you are good
    what a joke

  • Pali1

    pretty normal story…scapegoat..for the big boys..just reminder..his boss is a jew banker in wall street :) who should go to jail ..

  • anonymous

    It is quite telling that 3 of the 6 comments so far are about race and not what he did. 2 commenters don’t seem to like Indians and a third one doesn’t seem to like jews.

  • Leif Eriksen

    The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. This guy is a case in point.

  • Honesty Gets You Nowhere

    Stanford should look into the application of Rengan Rajaratnam too. I am certain he lied on his application to Stanford’s business school. Rajaratnam also worked at SAC Capital before joining his older brother’s fund, where he apparently was tapping McKinsey classmates for insider information about their clients. If you’re going to that, what else are you going to do.

  • Gin H

    It’s kind of disappointing that so many comments are attributing the entire article to that guy’s ethnicity. Sure, a lot of Indian families value ambition and success to the extent that people might go to that length to “succeed”, but I sure know a lot of Indian people who are honest and hardworking and don’t think anything this guy does should be attributed to his country of origin. Don’t get me wrong, what he did was shitty as f*ck, but I just have a problem with people saying “he just did this because he’s ___”, “that’s just because she’s (insert race, ethnicity, gender, culture, sexual identity here)”. The point here is this person did a shitty thing and deserves some major consequences.

  • refora

    It is quite interesting, because in reality most of Silicon Valley revolutionaries made by indians mathematicians and programmers!

  • Cohen

    not many people like jews…why they hate us ?!

  • Martomus

    Which one, what invention? ‘Cause as far as I know India has less than Italy’s nobel prizes. And you know italians really don’t give a **** on studying. Sometimes it’s more than just studying and learn what others discovered, you also have to be creative.

  • fohrer

    Hotmail, youtube, bose systems, …and lots of lots of technical things in google, cisco and others. You seem to be lazy to like italians :)

  • halo

    Because unfortunately vast amount of cheaters in business schools are Indians. Saw it with my own eyes. And not just one guy either. Supposedly all hotshots from IITs who worked at TATA, Infosys, etc….
    If you have ever tried to do business in India, you will realize just how corrupt the country is as a whole. It makes Russians look like child play.

  • Raghavan

    Dont remain anonymous. Tell your name and origin. I will produce many such cases of fraudulent activities committed by people from your country. The fraudsters like terrorists do not have religion, race, community or country to claim. They all belong to ‘cheating’ race. Hence do not blame Indians as a class or group. I am pround to be an Indian.

  • Floyd

    The same with chinese. I always thought, we the westerners are the bad guys and asians are the good ones and innocent, but after 2yrs of master in SK I realized they are even worse than us on every level, from lie to hypocrisy and cheating and making a false image of themselves.

  • Martomus

    “Things in Google” haha. I didn’t even want to bring in discussion germans, british, russians and french amongst others. India is punching way below it’s weight, the entire Asia actually. Every f*****g theorem in physics, math, stats, econ. and every electronic thing is invented by nations with way less people: Google, Yahoo, Skype, Internet, FB, and more others; phone, tv, submarine, car, plane, boats, whatever, it’s too much. Youtube is just 1/3 :), don’t know about the other ones. Not interested in workers fo big companies, but in really breakthough indeas that you have to come up with yourself not learn in school. But besides that I admire their work though. I just wrote my comments cause I see you guys every time being so proud for nothing and it’s annoying.

  • KJJiii

    Ha! you reckon “f*ck is shitty”? damn!

  • halo

    This isn’t about whether or not corruption exists in every corner of the earth. That is a given. This is about where corruption is found not only to be prevalent, but also to be an accepted cultural norm.

  • Raghavan

    That’s an excellent way of covering up. Talking about culture. The whole world knows about Indian culture, ethos and values better and they do not magnify any aberrations. And also generalizing things no good. You mention the name of your country. I will produce records and research outputs to show your norms as well. Do not indulge in blaming the country, religion and culture as a whole. Only this ‘big brother’ attitude is only bringing all troubles and attacks

  • halo

    You are really good at saying a lot, while at the same time saying nothing at all.
    My “country” is USA-while not perfect, ranked 19th least corrupt country by Transparency International while India is ranked 94th. Liberia, Bosnia, and Malawi are all ahead of India. Cheers.

  • James A.

    “Martoma, who graduated with a degree in… ethics… from Duke University.”

    Because of course he did.

  • anonymous

    Some of these comments are so sad. The guy was a jerk and a liar…plain and simple. Keep race and ethnicity out of it…I can’t even believe people like this are on a b school forum. Talk to your graduate level marketing professor and ask him how effective your broad sweeping assumptions would be if utilized by multinationals operating in today’s business environment.

  • DaReggie

    This is much more common in practice.
    Who gets hired from law school? Pretty girls with big boobs. Everyone has to hustle hustle and forget transcripts, lies and favors are very very common to get lawyers started. This is common both in the USA and the UK.

  • GetYourFactsRight

    Youtube?? Indian’s really like to make stuff up! Youtube was founded by an American, a Taiwanese, and a Bangladeshi-American.

  • george smithson

    A liar and a cheat, with the hubris to think he can get away with it and fool anyone… now he’ll get some ‘reflection’ time…

  • Another Indian Bites the Dust

    It is a fact that a lot of Indian males believe status and money are keys to success in society. It is a cultural and genetic thing. When you have status and money, people want to be your friends. To get the status and the money to make people like you, you need to lie. This is the standard way of Indian-American thinking. Race and ethnicity are so important. Like I said before, them damn Indians. I wondered if he cheated on the LSAT and GMAT too. Nah I don’t so. Them damn Indians are good at standardized tests. That’s one cultural stereotype that holds true.

  • Them Damn Indian dudes

    Sorry Indian dude, but India is a sorry excuse for a country. I can tell from your English that you are directly from India. India is overpopulated, corrupt, impoverished, and stinky. You can’t disagree with these things because they are true. If I were you, I would say I was Hispanic or Mexican. Speaking of which, the government should put quotas on the number of people who are accepted for each incoming MBA class: equal numbers across the board. 10 per country is a good number.

  • Raghavan

    Oh…I understand now why this…

  • fundamentals

    To error is human, but to forgive is divine. Not so with Mr. Martoma. Profiling this individual, people just do not change their names. He is not a celebrity, but is hiding. Plus his credentials were better than average. Yet he was compelled to cheat. Why? The anonymous comment who instigates racial issues, is nothing more than a carpetbagger. Mr. Martoma created his own folly, and continued until he was trapped in a trap of deceit. This person deserved what he deserved.

  • john l

    My name is John L

  • fundamentals

    To most of the comments: He was a lying cheating crook. Keep race out of the discussions, regardless of your experiences with different cultures.

  • g67dodgep

    This is ridiculous in that Stanford University is being pressured by the US Goverment to do this due to this Student being of Muslim descent & for ‘homeland securty reasons’. If one looks back at other famous Stanford Grads. who happened to be cousins of noteworthy Gangsters (both Italian and Jewish), cousins and siblings of Hollywood movie stars, and sibling/cousins of Political Leaders, in addition to siblings/cousins of Asian /Arabic Millionaire businessmen & Oil Sheeqs ..it is quite easy to see that Stanford admitted many students under corrupt pretenses over the last 50 yrs. University founder LeLand Stanford violated may unethica business acumen rules in his takeover of the Transcontinental Railroad and this heist of California Governorship due to political whealing and dealing which were all ‘false pretenses’ as well.

  • Arvind

    Seriously…English is not even our language!
    And the guy was born and brought up in the US, The guy is as much an American as you are. If you have got something to be pissed about, be pissed about your system. Generalizing an entire population based on the wrongdoings of a few is pathetic. I would not have been surprised to find such trolls on Youtube but on P & Q?

  • Anonymous

    How is he any more guilty than Stanford, did they refund his tuition. Too little, too late, trying to save their own image. These universities sicken me. Stanford still educated the man, even if he was a fraud. Why wait until he was convicted? He still lied, but Stanford wanted to hedge their bets. No honor in the University system, they are as big a fraud as he is.

  • Anonymous

    I would agree, however we are speaking about the USA, the most corrupt nation on earth. Just because the corruption is systemic and masked by unfair and selectively enforced laws doesn’t change the fact.

  • Jay

    Dude!!! Rajaratnam never worked for SAC, he worked for JPM. Why dont u do some research?

  • Honesty Gets You Nowhere

    Please note…I am referring to the younger brother, Rengan Rajaratnam who worked at SAC from 2003 to 2004. Jay…dude…I do tons of research. In case I cannot post a link, please see the following article: “Rengan Rajaratnam Says U.S. Blaming Him for Raj’s Trading”, By Patricia Hurtado and Joel Rosenblatt, Bloomberg News, Feb 7, 2014

  • Noreen

    Wha da fa?

    How was Stanford not aware of this guy’s past activity before they admitted him? And now they take away his MBA degree? If He did earn it, mabye it is a little harsh to take it away, and will he have to physically return the sheepskin degree to the University?

  • anonymous15

    Woah woah I’m surprised you noticed a vast mount of Indians (2nd largest population) cheating with your own eyes. You must have huge eyes that can view things across the ocean. Anyway, yes I agree the country is corrupt and people can pay their way into college (bribes) and get degrees. However, it can’t be assumed everyone is like that. Indians have motivation unlike any other culture. Pepsi CEO, Microsoft CEO, and vast number of PhD candidates writing books and educating future AMERICANS among other cultures are Indians who earned their ticket to higher education in the United States (not a easy thing to do at all when you are from a third world nation). And yea sure Indians make Russians look like child play…explains why foreign direct investment is skyrocketing in Russia and not India..wait, no it is not. It is skyrocketing in India and not in Russia. How does India attract foreign direct investment from all around the world with such a corrupt government and labor force? I personally know Indians who work 14 hours a day and 7 days a week at a mediocre information technology job..something most Americans would not do. Anyway, my whole point is because of this one guy above, do not assume you know all Indians sir. And yes I am from India, I was born there and moved to United States when I was nine years old. I am also a business undergraduate currently in graduate school and nope I did not cheat my way through.

  • anonymous15

    Oh here comes a genius to talk about Indians. What do you base your opinion of “India is a sorry excuse for a country” on? How many years have you lived there? How many businesses have you directly dealt with? How many Indian friends do you have? My guess you probably experienced .5% of India my friend. Also, do not act like there is no poverty here in the United States. They are called slums in India and ghetto in the United States. I have been to some freaking ghettos in the United States and thought India was better. Also, saying you judge the entire country from their English (a language that is not their primary language) is a completely idiotic argument. That is like Indians judging you on Spanish, Hindi, German, or a number of languages that aren’t USA’s primary language but still an important language. You really just sound ignorant with your vague and stupid assumptions.

  • Sf Chick

    I know a guy from an Ivy League University who changed his transcript (India makes great fake University seals) and submitted his application to Harvard Business School). He was accepted and received his MBA at HBS. However, fast forward several years later and he is a suspect in ANOTHER insider trading case ( it has not yet been brought to trial). Yes, eventually this innate belief that “everyone does it” and you “will not get caught” will eventually catch up with you!

  • dksamuel

    In India changing grades is a common achievement, but in US of A it is an offence, Martoma must have checked his GPS

  • Rohit – Melbourne

    I hate to break it to you buddy but this guy was born and raised in the United States of America. He did his schooling in America and is a product of the American system. He is as American as apple pie unless of course you make an assumption that only people of Caucasian origin can lay claim to the ‘American” moniker.

    Would you make a similar claim regarding all the Silicon Valley entrepreneurs of indian origin too or are we making an exception just for this guy ?

    Sad to know that P&Q is quickly turning into a reddit forum !!

  • Sajid

    Wow, talk about making sweeping generalisations !! You encountered a few instances of cheating and saw it fit to apply it across the board – an entire country and race of people who happened to be one – sixth of humanity. It is like saying all Americans are war warmongering gun totting sex starved folks or that all arabs are terrorists !!

    How on earth did you even get into any business school ? Lastly, if you bothered to do your research, you would know that this guy is American and has never spent a day of his living life in India.

    Maybe you have something against Indians, maybe you dont but it is undeniable that your perceptions of Indians have been coloured by the experience you have had with a tiny sub-set of Indians. If you cannot see what is wrong in making such assumptions, the rest of the community will hopefully.

  • Ash

    Mate, this guy is as American as an apple pie baked into the shape of a baseball and then fired out of a concealed handgun. He was born and raised here. Why do you have to bring country or race into the equation ? Would it be fair to say all African-Americans are thugs or that all jews are cunning scheming bankers ?

    You bring the level of discourse down by a few notches and frankly speaking, a well informed community like P&Q could well do without people who make such insinuations.

  • Sigh

    There seems to be a deep hole in your life that can only be filled by impotently trolling students of a specific nationality. I surmise you have been completely screwed over in life by one or many Indian males, and somehow you feel that if there were no Indians to compete with, you would be much better off in life. Let me tell you that its just not true. If you are losing at life right now, you always would regardless of external circumstances. I would urge you to reevaluate your life, and how you spend your time online.

    – maybe the only way you can lash out against your perceived emasculation by a certain demographic is by posting an absolutely retarded comment regarding an infraction committed by 1 person, and generalizing it to a billion.

    The level of stupidity in all your posts amuses me, and the fact that you spend so much of your time and energy doing this makes me weep.

  • Baiters gonna bait.

    Congrats to everyone that replied to Halo and co. You have now learned what an internet troll looks like. Next step: learning not to feed the troll.

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