DISTRICT ATTORNEY - NEW YORK COUNTY
July 16, 2007
Contact: Jennifer Kushner
Former Director of Admissions of Touro College, former Director of the Computer Center of Touro College, three students of Touro College, as well as three New York Public School teachers indicted.
Manhattan District Attorney Robert M. Morgenthau announced today the indictment of ten individuals for their involvement in a scheme to create and sell fraudulent student transcripts at a local college based in Manhattan. Some of the defendants charged in the indictment include the former Director of Admissions and the former Director of the Computer Center for Touro College, three students who attended Touro College, as well as three New York City Public School teachers.
In February 2007, Touro College reported the case to the Computer Crimes Squad, New York Police Department, which referred the case to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.
The defendants are ANDRIQUE BARON, MICHAEL CHERNER, VLADIMIR “JIMMY” DIAQUOI, LASHEEN TINGLING, FLORENCE CONSTANT, UZI AZIZOV, BORIS YAKUBOV, RENEE RENE, GHISLENE JULMICE, and IRENE ZALIVANSKY.
BARON was the former Director of Admissions for Touro College, New York School of Career and Applied Studies in Manhattan (1994–2007) and CHERNER was the former Director of the Computer Center for Touro College, Kings Highway, Brooklyn campus (1990-2007). The indictment charges that from approximately January 8, 2007 to March 31, 2007, BARON and CHERNER improperly altered, created, and deleted at least seven transcripts in a cash-for-grades scheme. At least three of the altered records belonged to current Touro students, whose existing records were enhanced with improved grades or additional or deleted courses.
BARON made the changes to the transcripts by accessing the Touro computer server using his work computer (located in his office at 27 West 23rd Street) as well as his home computer in Long Island. CHERNER made the changes by accessing the Touro computer server using his work computer (Kings Highway, Brooklyn).
BARON and CHERNER also accepted bribes from at least four individuals who never attended Touro, but paid for fraudulent transcripts. Three of these individuals were New York City Department of Education (“NYCDOE”) teachers who needed master’s degrees to obtain permanent certification. These teachers purchased counterfeit transcripts, which they submitted to the NYCDOE. BARON and CHERNER created forged transcripts by using as a template a legitimate Touro student’s transcript found on the Touro computer server. The forged “certified” transcript would be identical to the original legitimate student transcript, except the student’s name would be changed.
DIAQUOI acted as the middleman between BARON and the teachers. DIAQUOI collected the cash payments from the teachers and passed them on to BARON. DIAQUOI also delivered the forged transcripts to the teachers after BARON created the documents.
The following are examples of the defendants’ criminal activity.
- AZIZOV was an undergraduate student at Touro College whose grade point average increased from 1.23 to 3.63 through the assistance of CHERNER and BARON. On January 25, 2007, AZIZOV’s official Touro registration records for the fall semester 2006 revealed that he was registered for five courses and that he earned failing grades and withdrawals for four of these courses. BARON and CHERNER accessed AZIZOV’S records in February 2006 and changed his course records for that semester to improperly reflect that AZIZOV took six classes and earned all As and Bs. For example, AZIZOV’s grade in “Business Law I” was changed from an “F” to a “B”; “Principals of Marketing” was changed from a “TF” (tentative fail) to an “A-”; “Principals of Macroeconomics” and “Money and Banking,” which were originally marked as “WNA” (withdrawals), disappeared entirely from his record.
- TINGLING, since February 2002, worked in the Touro Registrar’s office where she processed official student transcripts. She was a Touro student beginning in 1997, earning an Associate of Arts degree and a Bachelor of Science degree. TINGLING was also legitimately enrolled in a graduate program at Touro in order to receive her Masters of Science degree in Special Education; however, she failed to complete required classes for her degree. BARON improperly accessed TINGLING’s records and changed them to improperly reflect that TINGLING completed her required courses and earned As and Bs. For example, BARON gave TINGLING an “A-” in “Spanish II,” a class that TINGLING never attended. TINGLING graduated based on the fraudulent transcript with a master’s degree in Special Education.
- YAKUBOV was an undergraduate student at Touro College who obtained a fraudulent transcript from the Touro Graduate School of Education and Psychology. The phony transcript showed he had earned a master’s degree. BARON updated YAKUBOV’s records in February 2007. Yakubov never attended graduate school classes.
- CONSTANT was a public school teacher at the Queens School for Career Development, where she taught Special Education since 2004. In order to obtain permanent certification from the NYCDOE, CONSTANT was required to earn a master’s degree. Beginning in 2003, she purchased a transcript that falsely indicated that she had earned a Master of Science in Special Education degree from Touro College. She paid DIAQUOI at least $3,000 for the fraudulent transcript. CONSTANT submitted the fraudulent certified transcript to the NYC Department of Education. She never attended Touro nor did she earn a master’s degree.
- RENE was a public school teacher at PS 233 in Queens, where she has held various positions since 1994. RENE paid DIAQUOI at least $3,000 for a transcript falsely indicating that she earned a Master of Science in Special Education from Touro. She never attended Touro College for graduate or undergraduate school. She submitted the forged transcript to the NYCDOE.
- JULMICE had been a New York public school teacher since 2000. Her last teaching job, starting in 2005, was as a teacher at PS 243 Weeksville School in Brooklyn. She also paid at least $3,000 to DIAQUOI to obtain a forged transcript indicating that she had earned a Master of Science in Special Education from Touro College, which she in turn submitted to the NYCDOE.
- ZALIVANSKY, who never attended Touro, obtained an entire transcript, which falsely indicated that she took classes and earned a degree from Touro College.
A search warrant executed at BARON’s home resulted in the recovery of numerous fake student transcripts and records, including those in the names of CONSTANT and JULMICE. BARON was arrested on March 20, 2007 at his Touro College office, located at 27 West 23rd Street. CHERNER was arrested on July 2, 2007 at his home in Brooklyn. Both defendants have been temporarily suspended from their positions at Touro. TINGLING was arrested at her home on July 2, 2007. CONSTANT, RENE, and JULMICE were arrested on July 10, 2007. DAIQUOI, AZIZOV, YAKUBOV, and ZALIVANSKY are still being sought.
BARON is charged with Computer Trespass, three counts of Commercial Bribe Receiving in the First Degree, seven counts of Computer Tampering in the Third Degree, and ten counts of Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree.
CHERNER is charged with Computer Trespass, two counts of Commercial Bribe Receiving in the First Degree and one count of Commercial Bribe Receiving in the Second Degree, one count of Computer Tampering in the Third Degree, and three counts of Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree.
DIAQUOI was charged with two counts of Commercial Bribe Receiving in the First Degree and three counts of Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree.
TINGLING was charged with one count of Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree and with one count of Falsifying Business Records in the Second Degree.
CONSTANT was charged with one count of Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree and with one count of Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree.
AZIZOV, YAKUBOV, JULMICE, RENE, and ZALIVANSKY were each charged with one count of Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree.
Computer Trespass, Commercial Bribe Receiving in the First Degree, Computer Tampering in the Third Degree, and Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree are all E felonies, which are punishable by up to four years in prison.
CHERNER and TINGLING were arraigned today in New York State Supreme Court, part 70. CONSTANT will be arraigned in New York State Supreme Court, Part 70 on July 23, 2007.
Assistant District Attorney Jonathan Lenzner is in charge of the prosecution under the supervision of Identity Theft Unit Chiefs Aaron Karczmer and Antonia Merzon and Trial Bureau 50 Bureau Chief Warren Murray.
Mr. Morgenthau would like to thank the Computer Crimes Squad of the NYPD, specifically Detective Richard MacNamara, Detective Jeannie Finucane, and Detective Robert DiBattista, Lt. John Otero, as well as John P. Higgins, Jr., Inspector General and Special Agent Jeremy Hunt, United States Department of Education, Office of Inspector General who assisted in this investigation. Mr. Morgenthau would also like to thank the New York City Department of Education and officials from Touro College who provided their cooperation and assistance.
ANDRIQUE BARON, 12/15/72
2068 Hoffman Avenue
Elmont, New York
MICHAEL CHERNER, 11/30/56
56 Village Roade East
Brooklyn, New York
VLADIMIR “JIMMY” DIAQUOI, 10/23/69
421 East 21st Street
LASHEEN TINGLING, 8/31/75
175 Willoughby Street
Brooklyn, New York
RENEE RENE, 3/14/69
94-26 210 Street
Queens Village, New York
FLORENCE CONSTANT, 12/22/50
137-20 45th Street
Flushing, New York
GHISLENE JOSEPH JULMICE, 12/9/1964
147-61 Arlington Terrace
UZI AZIZOV, 7/19/85
1790 West 6th Street
Brooklyn, New York
BORIS YAKUBOV, 5/29/1982
105-16 63rd St
Forest Hills, NY
IRENE ZALIVANSKY, 11/20/1983
2800 Coyle Street