That’s awkward.

Last week Village Voice had to take down an article it published recently that was highly critical of for-profit colleges. As Editor Tony Ortega wrote:

Freelance writer Rob Sgobbo’s article “For-Profit Blues” was removed from the website after the Voice learned that Sgobbo had invented a character, “Tamicka Bourges,” who claimed she had amassed a large debt at Berkeley College without obtaining a degree.

We first learned that there might be a problem when Berkeley College denied that one of its spokespersons, Kelly Meisberger, had spoken to Sgobbo. Berkeley later added that it had no record of Bourges as a student. At about the same time, the GAO called to inform us that there was no spokesperson there named “Matt Fraser,” whom the story quoted. The Voice apologizes sincerely to Berkeley College and the GAO that this false material appeared in our education supplement.

Sgobbo’s article was apparently about New York City schoolteachers getting into big debt by studying at for-profit colleges

What’s particularly unfortunate about this is that it doesn’t seem that real Tamicka Bourgeses would have been hard to find. Berkeley College, a small proprietary school with locations in New York and New Jersey, appears to have a graduation rate of about 11 percent. Students there have an average $11,656 in federal student loans upon leaving the school.

Well they’re not the only ones. Last year Sgobbo (who was also Teach for America) graduated from the breathtakingly expensive Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He’s probably got some pretty hefty loans to pay off now too.

That’s going to be rather difficult; he was fired from the New York Daily News, where he worked as a reporter, on Friday. [Image via]

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