Not all bad hire days start with previously-convicted dishonest job seekers.

Morgan County, Utah apparently thought they were hiring a qualified public administration expert when they hired Garth Day as their council administrator. According to the Standard-Examiner, Day’s 2008 resume reflected that he had a Bachelor of Science degree in political science/public administration from Weber State University. He also displayed a 1998 bachelor of science in urban planning and a 2001 master’s of business administration in public administration, both from Rocheville University, in his office.

The problem is that Day never graduated from Weber State University (a real school) and Rocheville University is a diploma mill as defined by the federal Higher Education Opportunity Act:

DIPLOMA MILL- The term `diploma mill’ means an entity that–

(A)(i) offers, for a fee, degrees, diplomas, or certificates, that may be used to represent to the general public that the individual possessing such a degree, diploma, or certificate has completed a program of postsecondary education or training; and (ii) requires such individual to complete little or no education or coursework to obtain such degree, diploma, or certificate; and
(B) lacks accreditation by an accrediting agency or association that is recognized as an accrediting agency or association of institutions of higher education (as such term is defined in section 102) by–
(i) the Secretary pursuant to subpart 2 of part H of title IV; or (ii) a Federal agency, State government, or other organization or association that recognizes accrediting agencies or associations.

Employer Lesson #1:
In my presentations to SHRM chapters, I always say that the employment application is the least expensive integrity test that an employer can ever give a job candidate. If an job seeker is evasive or lies on the employment application, don’t be surprised if the behavior continues into their employment.
Employers should always verify education, employment, and other information provided by a job applicant, even when a particular credential is not required by the job description. A good background screening firm will identify a diploma mill during the verification process.

Unfortunately, Day’s education fraud was not identified until after he plead guilty to embezzling almost $1 million from the county and numerous banks. Had the county simply attempted to verify the claims on Day’s resume prior to placing him in a position where he could create lines of credit with local banks on behalf of the county, they would have identified him as a fraudster and avoided this particular bad hire day.

Employer Lesson #2: 
Even with the most stringent background check, strong business controls should remain in place to ensure that an individual in a position of trust cannot easily take advantage of that trust for their own gain.

Some states, like Texas, make it illegal for a job seeker to use a degree from an identified diploma mill like Rocheville University (which is listed on Texas’ list of diploma mills). In Texas, this is a Class B misdemeanor.

Are any of these individuals who list Rocheville University as the source of their degree working for your company?