Note: This story was updated May 13.
It looks like Moshe Porat won’t be reporting to prison after all — at least not for a while.
On May 9 — the same day the 75-year-old former dean of Temple University’s Fox School of Business was ordered to report to prison for his role in one of the biggest university rankings scandals in history — the Third Circuit Court of Appeals granted his request to stay both Porat’s 14-month prison sentence and payment of his $250,000 fine pending appeal of his conviction.
“While we give respectful consideration to the reasoning of the trial judge, ‘because of the crucial nature of the defendant’s liberty interest and the clear public interest that is at stake,’ we are required to ‘independently determine’ whether the defendant is entitled to bail pending appeal,” the court wrote in its ruling.
Porat had been ordered a week earlier to report to prison on May 9, after Judge Gerald J. Pappert denied both requests by the defendant. The Third Circuit’s ruling supersedes Pappert’s ruling. For background, you can read our original story on Porat’s prison sentence below.
Moshe Porat, Denied Bail, Ordered To Report To Prison On May 9
Porat was set to begin his prison sentence on May 9 after a federal judge denied his motion to be released on bail pending his appeal.
Porat, 75, asked the Eastern District of Pennsylvania to release him from his prison sentence and to stay his $250,000 fine while he appeals his conviction to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. Judge Gerald J. Pappert denied both motions in papers filed on Monday (May 2).
Porat was sentenced to 14 months in federal prison on March 11, 2022, after he was convicted for his role in one of the biggest university rankings scandals in history. He was the first university administrator to face a criminal trial for lying to a rankings magazine, and the first to be convicted.
“The issue is whether Porat has established his appeal raises a substantial question likely to result in the reversal (of his conviction) or a new trial. He has not,” Pappert wrote in his finding.
PROSECUTION ASKS FOR 6 MONTHS HOME CONFINEMENT FOR CO-CONSPIRATOR
A jury took less than an hour to convict Porat on November 29 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.
Cases against two other defendants are still working their way through the courts. Former Fox professor Isaac Gottlieb pleaded guilty in the case and prosecutors are asking for six months of home confinement and a $100,000 fine, according to court documents filed April 27. Marjorie O’Neill also pleaded guilty and was at one time expected to testify in the case but never did.
Porat’s prison sentence will begin nearly four years after the Fox School of Business admitted that it knowingly and repeatedly reported false data to U.S. News in order to boost the school’s ranking. Porat, who has never admitted to any role or responsibility in the scandal, filed his appeal on March 28, two weeks after sentencing.
“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,” Pappert said in a scathing rebuke of Porat from the bench during his sentencing on March 11.
The trial, which included a day of jury selection and eight days of testimony and arguments, refocused national attention on Temple, which launched an investigation in 2018 after 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. The scandal led to Porat’s firing and a class-action lawsuit by former MBA students.
Between 2014 and 2018, the jury found that Porat conspired to deceive the rankings magazine, leading to four consecutive No. 1 rankings for Fox’s online MBA program. Other data discrepancies in Fox’s part-time MBA program helped that program shoot up in U.S. News’ PMBA rankings as well. Enrollments soared in both programs, and the scheme raked in $40 million in extra tuition, according to testimony in the trial.
Porat was fired from his job as dean in 2018, but did not resign as a tenured professor. He continued to collect $316,000 per year from Temple though he didn’t teach any classes or complete any research, the government says. He finally resigned from his tenure position in December after his conviction.
FOX SCHOOL OF BUSINESS FOCUSED ON FUTURE
Current Fox Dean Ronald Anderson said Porat’s conviction and sentencing closes an ugly chapter for the school, and it is focused on delivering the best possible education for its students. In a conversation after the sentencing, Anderson told Poets&Quants a similar scandal could never again happen at the business school after the university implemented a new governance structure to manage ranking submissions. The trial and its new coverage, he said, revealed new details of the scandal many faculty, including himself, never knew before.
“During the actual trial, it was pretty tense up here. The people who were subpoenaed and testified, I had a lot of sympathy for them because they had known Porat really well,” Anderson told P&Q. “I think they were very disappointed in him as an individual, and I think they were disappointed that our governance structure fell apart that much.
“But for those who did step up, number one, I’m really proud of them for testifying because it was the right thing to do. But it was hard on them. You could see it from a personal perspective–they were losing sleep over this and they felt really bad about it.”
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