Phony Degrees Turn Up Heat at ‘U of Berkley’
One “e” and 2,500 miles from UC Berkeley, Dennis J. Globosky churned out bogus university degrees from the phony University of Berkley at an office park in Erie, Pa., selling them on the Internet for as much as $5,000, according to Pennsylvania authorities.
Now the former New Mexico state trooper, who often referred to himself as “Dr. Dennis Globosky” despite having only a high school education, could face stiff civil penalties from a lawsuit filed recently by Pennsylvania Atty. Gen. Tom Corbett.
The suit accuses Globosky of violating the state’s consumer protection statutes by selling as many as 12,500 fake diplomas -- from associate degrees to doctorates -- and raking in more than $34 million since the late 1990s.
The real California university, which has waged its own campaign against Globosky, welcomed the action.
“We’re pleased to hear that the Pennsylvania attorney general is following up with this particular organization,” said Maria Rubinshteyn, director of marketing and management of trademarks at UC Berkeley. Because the university is often referred to as simply Berkeley, she said, the potential for confusion was too great to ignore.
Over the last two years, Rubinshteyn added, the university sent Globosky three letters telling him to stop using the name, even if the spelling was slightly different. He answered that he was within his rights to use the name because his university was started in the town of Berkley, Mich., though he did add a disclaimer to his 17 websites saying his company had no affiliation with UC Berkeley.
Calls to Globosky’s home in Erie seeking comment were not answered. His lawyer, Gary Nash, declined to comment.
Barbara Petito, a spokeswoman for Corbett, said Pennsylvania authorities started investigating Globosky in April after the attorney general’s office received several tips from people who had seen some of the University of Berkley websites and thought they were fake.
“We suspect that there are some consumers that were legitimately fooled,” Petito said. But, she added, “We suspect that the bulk of the individuals were aware that this was not a legitimate college or university and were trying to mislead employers for personal gain.”
She said her office was not pursuing action against any consumers, though some people who bought the degrees, she said, have been fired for offering the credentials as legitimate.
No criminal charges have been filed against Globosky, 50, though the attorney general’s investigation remains open, Petito said.
Offerings listed on the websites include associate degrees in criminal justice or cinematography, and bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in subjects such as organizational and leadership management, business administration and healthcare administration.
“Earn a world class, formal university degree from one of the most recognized and approved institutions in existence ... all in possibly as few as 6-8 weeks based upon what you already know,” one site exclaims.
It also says students can receive credit for “life experience” that includes books read and movies seen. One site’s alumni page claims a former U.S. president and a former mayor of New York City, both unnamed, as graduates.
“He’s implying that there is a staff of people at this university
The complaint also alleges that Globosky sold degrees to customers from Iran and other countries on the U.S. Treasury Department’s list of nations subject to economic and trade sanctions.
“We will prove to the court that this operation is 100% designed to defraud consumers, prospective employers, businesses, universities and any other organizations or government agencies seeking workers or volunteers,” Corbett said earlier this month. The civil complaint against Globosky calls for him to pay damages of $1,000 for every defrauded consumer, increased to $3,000 for each one over 60.
The lawsuit alleges that Globosky also created a phony accreditation agency: the New-Millennium Accrediting Partnership for Educators Worldwide, incorporated in Delaware with a Washington, D.C., mailing address.
Though the Pennsylvania attorney general’s office also filed a special injunction against Globosky to stop him from advertising and conducting the business, froze his assets and placed locks on the doors of his office, his websites remained accessible last week. Petito said her office filed a contempt-of-court complaint against Globosky for not taking down the sites.