Was a Crime Committed in the WVU Bresch Scandal?

From West Virginia Metro News website:

Regarding the recent controversy regarding the governor’s daughter and WVU, was a crime committed when the Bresch transcript was altered? Attorney Tom Payton with the Payton Law Firm, analyzed that very question. His take on the facts are that:

1) In at least one course that she did not actually complete, she was given a grade that “was simply pulled from thin air.”

2) The grade modification forms bear only the signature of Dean Sears and “[a]ppropriate faculty and division chairs were neither consulted nor asked to sign these forms.”

3) “[O]ver Dean Sears’ signatures rather than the requisite course instructors’ and department chair’s signatures (as required by WVU standard operating procedures), grade modification forms were prepared and filed to add to her transcript credit for (redacted) hours of (redacted) that the principals all knew that she had not taken.”

4) The amended transcript now reflects her completion of some courses that she did not in fact complete, and reflects a number of grades that she did not in fact earn.

He points to the pertinent criminal statute which could apply as West Virginia Code § 61-5-22, which provides that:

If any clerk of a court, or other public officer, fraudulently make a false entry, or erase, alter or destroy any record in his keeping and belonging to his office, … he shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and, upon conviction, shall be confined in jail not more than one year and be fined not exceeding one thousand dollars; and, in addition thereto, he shall forfeit his office and be forever incapable of holding any office of honor, trust or profit in this State.

So as he sees it, given that Dean Sears signed the document, if he is a “public officer,” then the statute may apply to him. However, his analysis of the case law reveals that the statute probably would not apply to Dean Sears, and that the ultimate punishment for his in this matter is likely resignation. He does note though, that there is enough authority here to form an investigation, subpoenas, grand juries, etc.

Read the entire article here.

– John H. Bryan, West Virginia Attorney.

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