BARTOW, FL - Universities place expectations on their students that they not cheat, plagiarize, or falsify data in their pursuit of an education. But what happens when it's the professor in the hot seat?
Charismatic and beloved professor David Broxterman of Polk State College was arrested in 2014 and charged with cheating AND grand theft when it was discovered that his PhD was a fake.
Prosecutors say the college was defrauded for over a quarter of a million dollars because that's how much he was paid over the 5 years he was teaching there.
He stood trial this May, and even though his diploma and transcripts were unquestionably sloppy forgeries, the jury STILL couldn't agree and the judge declared a mistrial.
Why? Broxterman claims that he was the one who was duped by a professor who had helped him get the degree at the University of South Florida. His defense claims he believed the documents were real- even though the word "Board" was misspelled on one.
And the professor he says tricked him? He's since passed away.
So how was it discovered that they were fakes? There was a complaint about the professor's academic claims in an unrelated dispute over coins he had sold to a collector. Is this a real life "Catch Me if You Can" or just bad luck?
A pretrial has been set for June- and both sides seem confident that they will prevail. The lesson is :get everything in writing and always check your references.