Friday, September 08, 2006

New Juvenile Center Head Touts Phony Psychology Degree

Marion County has struck out big time in its efforts to restore confidence at the troubled Juvenile Detention Agency. The Star's Tim Evans reports today that the man hired to run the troubled agency earned his so-called master's degree in psychology from a diploma mill, an online university which was shut down by the Federal Trade Commission. Evans writes:

The man selected to run Marion County's troubled Juvenile Detention Center has a master's degree from a "diploma mill" shut down by the Federal Trade Commission.

Troy Hoppes, 36, claims he did course work over the Internet to earn the degree from the University of Ravenhurst in New York.

But New York and national education officials say Ravenhurst was an online university that had no campus and did not require academic work -- instead selling degrees through call centers in Israel and Romania.

Marion Superior Court officials who hired Hoppes last week touted the degree as one of the attributes that made him stand out among about 30 candidates, even though it wasn't required for the job.

Officials said Thursday that they are standing behind Hoppes, who is scheduled to begin the $80,000-a-year job Oct. 9 . . .

"Troy was not hired on the basis of his master's degree. He was hired because he has a proven track record and experience with juveniles," said Court Administrator Ron Miller. "We don't believe it's a character issue, a moral issue or anything else. I think this is really a nonissue."

If you take a look at Evans' and Richard Walton's original report on Hoppes' hiring, the red flags were already going up in their minds. The two of them wrote last week:

A range of checks turned up little information about Hoppes' experience Friday. A Vision Quest spokesman declined to provide information without a release from him.

People who had worked with Hoppes in his past positions could not be reached late Friday. Marion County officials said they did not have a copy of his resume available. They said Hoppes formerly worked for the police in Hastings, Neb., a town of about 25,000 residents west of Lincoln. The department has about 30 officers, according to its Web site.

Hoppes has been a bike patrol officer and physical fitness trainer and worked with drunken-driving enforcement. He also has experience in child abuse investigation.

Hats off to Evans for following up on this important detail--one that obviously escaped the attention of the people who have been failing so miserably in their oversight of the Juvenile Detention Center. I'm sorry, but anyone who represents that they have a master's degree in psychology knowing that it is a phony degree does not deserve the public's trust. When you put that degree on your resume, you are wilfully misrepresenting your academic credentials to anyone who looks at your resume. If you're willing to misrepresent your academic qualifications, what else are you capable of misrepresenting?

Well, plenty. After being called out on the phony degree, Hoppes had the audacity to claim that it was legitimately earned. Evans writes:

"I'm telling you," he said, "I completed the courses required by the university to receive my degree legitimately."

Hoppes said he did research-based assignments, participated in virtual classroom sessions and received credit for professional and life experiences over an approximately one-year period before receiving a degree in 2002.

But a retired FBI agent who has tracked degree mills for the past decade said that's contrary to everything he knows about Ravenhurst, which also sold transcripts and letters of recommendation.

"Ain't no way," said Allen Ezell, co-author of the book "Degree Mills: The Billion Dollar Industry That Has Sold More Than One Million Fake Degrees."

"They aren't set up for that. There was no faculty. They were all salesmen."

Because Marion Co. officials were providing Hoppes cover by saying that they did not rely on the master's degree in their decision to hire him, Hoppes should have fessed up to how he earned the degree. Instead, he chose to make something of it that it most certainly was not. In so doing, he's dug his own grave. Oh, what a tangled web we weave when at first we practice to deceive.


Anonymous said...

"Troy was not hired on the basis of his master's degree. He was hired because he has a proven track record and experience with juveniles," said Court Administrator Ron Miller. "We don't believe it's a character issue, a moral issue or anything else. I think this is really a nonissue."

Oh yes, LYING is a nonissue. Give me a break! I have ZERO tolerance for liars, why shouldn't Marion county?

Anonymous said...

Who makes this hire? mayor, council, who? This is absurd. Is this the best hire the county could make? i certainly hope not

Gary R. Welsh said...

A committee of Marion Co. judges makes the final decision as I understand it. Ron Miller as the court administrator no doubt helped the judges sort through the applicants. Cale Bradford as the head judge and Marilyn Moores as the juvenile court judge probably had the most to say about it--I can't be certain of that though.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Hoppes has to be some power broker's cousin. I find it hard to believe that the court administrator would recommend a person with phony creditials to the judges for Marion County's Juvenile Center at $80,000 a year.

His experience with juveniles got him high marks over 30 other applicants. That is hard to believe.

This man is a fraud and should not be allowed to supervise anyone.

Maybe that's the reason his background and experience could not be varified by the press last week.

This is similar to the Indiana Public Employees Pension Fund CEO with identity theft in his background with a previous employer.

Why are these top decision-makers showing their stupidity in hiring?

Why did Mr. Hoppes choose this specific university in the first place to earn a Masters Degree in Pyschology?

This is proof of his decision-making process. Couuld it be the real reason he has left previous employers?

Indianapolis already has too many bad decision-making working for the public. We don't need another one.

Anonymous said...

Excuse the spelling error for "credentials". I'm upset!

Anonymous said...

(sigh) I had such high hopes for this person. That facility badly needs some credible leadership.

I think Judge Moores is trying, but she is swimming upstream.

Many of these problems began and were fostered under Judge Payne. Who, ironically, had a national reputation in the juvenile justice system.

A court committee did make the final decision. Judge Bradford is presiding Superior judge. This is a judge who saw no problem whatsoever presiding over the 2003 Council redistrict lawsuit when his brother was on the ballot. Thankfully, the appeals court quickly corrected his lack of professional judgment.

So why should we be surprised? Bradford family arrogance is legendary.

This new appointee has to go. No question.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely, Troy Hoppes is a fraud and needs to be fired ASAP!

Beyond that, does anyone know if Hoppes was recruited for the position by way of a private search firm/recruiter/headhunter? If so, common sense suggests (to me) that the professional search firm is the party accountable for verifying the candidates’ credentials.

If Marion Co. officials relied on a private company during this step in the hiring process than perhaps it would be more productive to question/investigate the effectiveness of continuing the policy of replacing government functions via privatization .

Wilson46201 said...

for years the GOP let some horrible juvie judge run the Juvenile Court. After years of problems, the GOP brought in Payne as a reformer who then ran it as his Christian fiefdom. So many souls were saved that Mitch picked him to run stuff at State. His GOP successor discovered the messes he left behind and then hired this new small-town cop to run Juvenile ... and their game goes on and on...

As the GOP wailed so plaintively years ago: "What about the children?"

Anonymous said...

When Wilson's right, he's right...

And just when Dems start to gain control in the county, who goes to the legislature and cuts a deal for judge elections?

Our trusted two county party chairs.

The judiciary here doesn't have enough good judges. Ask any good attorney. Most good lawyers cringe when they file a case and hope they get one of the good judges.

Odds are not with them. It has been a problem for a long time. Mediocre attorneys becoming judges. And staying for a long time.

Neither party can run from this. It crosses party lines.

And in the case of the Juvenile Center, our most-vulnerable pay the price. For over ten years.

We all have to demand better.

Anonymous said...

Wilson46201 - Can we forget the actions of Judge Michael Dugan, a convicted white-collar criminal sentenced to federal prison or Judge Alstatt, a drunk/alcoholic removed from the bench, both were Democrats and a major embarassment to the judiciary and the Party.

Bad decision-makers on both sides!

Anonymous said...

I worked for Troy Hoppes for the entire time he was at EYDC in Florida. Originally touted as the programs savior and knight in shining armour he was finally asked to resign after numerous complaints and investigations into his "Management" tactics.

In the end after his tenure became unbearable to every ethically minded employee, forcing one resignation after another, Troy Hoppes was asked to resign and several of his management team followed close behind. And to think this guy interviewed me...hahahahah! Sounds like he got what he deserved in the end, its just too bad it cost so many other good people thier jobs in thier fight to dethrone this joke!