College professor pleads guilty to fraud in federal court

Bernard Moore, visiting assistant professor of political science, has pleaded guilty in federal court in the District of Columbia to fraud in excess of $800,000. The Washington Post reported the news on its Web site on Tuesday evening, and Interim President Bill Wagner corroborated the story in an all-campus e-mail sent this afternoon around 4 p.m.  According to Wagner, Moore has been suspended from the College until further notice.

Given that The Washington Post piece referred to an Ernest B. Moore at the College rather than Bernard, it wasn’t immediately clear that the two are in fact the same person. Wagner confirmed that the person in the story is in fact Professor Moore, and that the College has been in touch with him since the report. The e-mail did not acknowledge further details.

A report released on Monday by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced Moore’s guilty pleas to one count each of student aid fraud, bank fraud and social security representative fraud. The report offered a detailed account of Moore’s vast history of fraud schemes, which began in 1985 and, according online court records, included a credit card fraud conviction in 1987. Moore faces up to 41 months in prison and is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 17, 2010.

Over the past six years Moore mounted $502,992.97  in purchases with 90 false credit cards accounts, leaving a current outstanding balance of $469,099.52. According to the DOJ report, this was only the latest in a series of frauds committed by Moore.

Kolesar said the College only learned about the situation on Tuesday evening. The College had no knowledge of Moore’s prior convictions.

Moore is being represented by Ken Robinson, senior partner at Robinson & Kourtesis Law Firm in Washington, D.C. Neither Moore nor his lawyer was available for comment.

This semester Moore has been teaching “Black Leadership: Reflections on the Past, Analysis of the Present, and Visions for the Future” and was due to teach a seminar on Congressional Leadership in the spring. The political science and Africana studies departments are making arrangements for other faculty to cover the current course for the remainder of the semester and are still deciding how to proceed with regards to the spring.

“From my standpoint the most important thing is that for the students in Political Science 303 [Black Leadership] there’s continuity one way or the other,” said Jim Mahon, professor and department chair of political science. “We’re coordinating that right now – it will continue as a College course and we’re working to make sure that it’s as good as it can be.” Mahon added that he and the department had no knowledge of Moore’s prior conviction and had only ever known him as Bernard, not Ernest.

Moore has prominent ties to various Congressmen, serving as a senior policy fellow in the office of U.S. Representative Danny K. Davis (D-Ill.). He initiated the panel of Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) members who visited campus last November, and had similarly been involved in inviting CBC members and other leading African American activists to campus for an event next Monday.

In his e-mail, Wagner affirmed that the panel will go ahead as planned.

In 1985, Moore enrolled in the University of Southern California under the alias “Ernest Bouvier-Moore,” applying for and receiving $8000 in federal student loans. In 1993, Moore created another identity for himself, “Bernard Glenn-Moore”, by attaining a new California driver’s license. Under this alias and an associated social security number, he applied successfully for a graduate program at Claremont Graduate University (CGU), gaining admission in 2002. Also as “Bernard Glenn-Moore”, he applied for and received $37,oo0 in federal student aid between 2002 and 2004, and an additional $79,777 in private student loans from Chase Bank and Citibank.

In applying to CGU, Moore falsely stated that he had received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Puget Sound in 1970, and used “Tracy Cannady” as a reference, which in fact was another of Moore’s aliases. In August 2004, he graduated from CGU under his alias, after which he went on to enroll in a Ph. D program at Howard University, again falsifying his education, family information and loan history. During his time at Howard, Moore applied for and received $51,351 in federal student aid. He graduated from Howard under his alias in May 2009, at which point he had already taught for two semesters as a visiting professor of political science at the College.

In a parallel scheme, Moore used his “Tracy Cannady” alias, which he created in 1994, to enroll in George Washington University (GWU) as a non-degree student. Using the Cannady alias, he applied for and received six private student loans from JP Morgan Chase Bank and Bank of America, which totaled $109,000. He never obtained a course credit at GWU.

The DOJ release also detailed a scheme in which Moore fraudulently claimed $13,257 worth of Social Security disability benefits on behalf of an associate.