Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has obtained judgments against two brothers who operated Trinity Southern University, a for-profit Dallas-based "university" that issued fraudulent degrees.
Craig B. Poe agreed to a $10,000 up-front civil penalty for offering deceptive degree programs and will pay another $10,000 in several installments. Alton S. Poe, who failed to respond to Abbott's December lawsuit, was assessed a default judgment ordering him to pay a $100,000 penalty, plus more than $15,000 in state attorneys' fees.
"These judgments send a message that Texas will not tolerate scam artists who charge consumers hundreds of dollars for worthless 'diplomas,'" said Attorney General Abbott. "Texans seeking an education deserve to receive proper credentials, and I will continue to fight this fraudulent practice."
The Poe brothers had been fraudulently promoting the for-profit "diploma mill" university as an accredited institution offering bachelor's, master's and doctorate "degrees" via advertisements on the university's Web site.
These "degrees" were being issued solely on the basis of a "student's" testimony about skills and experience. Other university names affiliated with the Poes are Wesleyan International University and Prixo Southern University.
According to the final order, the defendants may no longer market or promote fraudulent, substandard degree programs or represent their university as being accredited or affiliated with legitimate universities.
The defendants have never been accredited by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, which referred this matter to the Attorney General for legal action under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
Trinity Southern's Web site claimed that a prospective student had "no classes to attend, no tests to take!" Despite having no classroom instruction, the university assured students that, once "qualified" based on their experience, they could receive a bachelor's degree comprised of 115-120 credit hours. Those pursuing master's and Ph.D. degrees were promised transcripts reflecting 36-48 hours of course credit.