Kaplan Dean Found Guilty

A federal jury in Chicago has found a former administrator at the Washington Post company’s Kaplan University guilty of sending threatening messages. According to an article in Bloomberg News by Andrew Harris and Esme Deprez:

Bennie Wilcox, former Kaplan University dean of law and legal studies, was convicted on all six counts against him today by a panel of five men and seven women. He faces as long as 18 years in prison and $1.5 million in fines. U.S. District Judge Blanche Manning set April 5 for sentencing. Wilcox and his wife, Kari, declined to speak to reporters before leaving the courthouse.

Wilcox, 45, denied writing the 2007 e-mail messages and Internet postings underlying the charges and said he was framed in retaliation for filing a whistleblower lawsuit accusing Kaplan of committing fraud to get U.S. aid.

Yea, well, I guess two wrongs don’t really make a right here. Videotapes and written communications indicated that Wilcox was implicated in threatening behavior against the for-profit college.

Wilcox was also involved in the continuing Florida investigation of several proprietary colleges. According to the Bloomberg article:

Wilcox and two former Kaplan professors filed their federal False Claims Act complaint in federal court in Tampa, Florida, a year earlier. That case was later transferred to federal court in Miami.

Testifying in his own defense, Wilcox said he witnessed Kaplan executives commit “multiple schemes” to defraud the U.S. government and taxpayers out of $1 billion, with his complicity, by inflating grades and increasing enrollment numbers.

Kaplan hired Wilcox in 2005 and fired him a year later.

Wilcox’s conviction appears to be a victory for Kaplan, though not much of one. Would a dean at real law school be involved in something so sordid?

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer