FRASER, Mich. (WXYZ) – Michigan state police have officially begun an investigation into the online degree allegations swirling around the Fraser Police department.
A 7 Action News investigation revealed a dozen officers, 10 patrolmen and two sergeants have, for years collected educational bonus dollars for bachelor degrees in criminal justice, purchased online from Almeda University in the Caribbean.
For several hundred dollars, but no classes – study or exams – Almeda bestowed the degrees to the officers, who then presented them to Fraser’s human resources department for credit and several thousand dollars in annual cash bonuses.
A credible source inside city hall confirms Michigan state police have assigned a case number and detectives to try and determine if the officers committed fraud when they knowingly presented the degrees for extra pay.
A Michigan law known as the “Academic Credentials in Education Act”, signed by the governor in the summer of 2005, made it illegal to use a “false academic credential to obtain employment…a promotion…or higher compensation in employment.”
Fraser’s Public Safety director George Rouhib defended his officers last week as he told city council “There’s no criminal act here. This is nothing but a contract dispute, but now, there’s civil ramifications attached to it. This is all this is. You cannot prove criminal intent on these officers.”
Fraser Mayor Doug Hagerty has called for “an outside investigation.”
Former county prosecutor and long-time defense attorney Neil Rockind called the decision of the officers to present the online, unaccredited degrees to the city as “ very deliberate, and it’s very premeditated…and their actions should be examined by a criminal prosecutor.”