2007_02_fakedegree.jpgThe city's Department of Investigation revealed that 14 current city firefighters have used fake college diplomas bought online to get ahead in the FDNY. And for three of them, it worked, making their way to positions like Deputy Chief and Battalion Chief! In the FDNY, you need at least 15 college credits to be hired and more to be promoted (ten of the other eleven fake-diploma-holders eventually got enough credit later on to be legitimately hired or promoted).

No charges have been brought against the firefighters, but DOI Commissioner Rose Gill Hearn said, "The Fire Department accepted some of the worthless diplomas, obtained from an Internet diploma mill, because the Department did not take sufficient steps to verify their authenticity." The FDNY said that it was reviewing the situation. What's interesting is that it stopped accepting diplomas from St. Regis University (which had been selling diplomas for $550) in 2003, and the city investigated the matter starting in 2005, after a phone tip. Which means there were two years for the FDNY to figure things out.

The FDNY said it had to promote more firefighters because of losses after September 11. But check out what happened with 27-year veteran Battalion Chief Daniel O'Gara:

According to the investigation department, O'Gara was initially concerned that his online degree might not be adequate for a promotion. The FDNY Tenure Desk confirmed that "Regis College" was acceptable.

However, officials later told the investigation department that they were referring to a Regis College in Massachusetts, and not the online St. Regis University, which claimed to be based in the African nation of Liberia.

The firefighters who graduated from St. Regis are in good company - at least 135 other federal employees have SRU diplomas!

And in the immortal words of Ralph Wiggum in the Simpsons episode, Lisa the Vegetarian: "When I grow up, I'm going to go to Bovine University." Watch The Meat Council's "Meat and You: Partners in Freedom"