Former Dean Says Inflating U.S. News Rank Isn’t a Crime

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A former Temple University business school dean accused of feeding false data to U.S. News & World Report to inflate his school’s ranking argued that wasn’t a crime.

Moshe Porat, who ran the Richard J. Fox School of Business for more than two decades until his ouster in 2018, asked a judge to dismiss fraud charges against him, saying in a May 28 court filing in federal court in Philadelphia that the government hadn’t sufficiently shown that he profited from the alleged scheme.

Porat was charged in April with conspiring to defraud applicants, students and donors by falsely boosting the ranking of the school’s online MBA program to No. 1 for four years in a row. In his filing, Porat argued that, even if federal prosecutors could prove he engaged in a “deceitful” scheme, the Supreme Court had previously established that a certain amount of monetary gain was necessary to sustain a wire fraud charge.

“The present allegations cannot satisfy this requirement for the straightforward reason that the object of the alleged deception here -- achieving higher U.S. News rankings -- does not implicate money or property,” Porat’s attorney, Michael A. Schwartz of Troutman Pepper, said in the filing.

A grand jury concluded that Porat, who was paid nearly $600,000 for the 2017-2018 school year, should forfeit all personal gains from the alleged fraud. Even after he left his role as dean, he has continued to be a tenured professor, earning more than $300,000 a year from Temple although he hasn’t taught classes or published research since 2018, the government said in an April court filing.

Porat also claimed in court papers that prosecutors had failed to present the grand jury with evidence that would have helped to establish his innocence, including a statement from a key witness who “does not believe that he was deliberately trying to fool anyone.” He’s seeking a court order requiring the U.S. to hand over its confidential jury instructions.

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