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Investigation Memo

Documentation of the falsification of Congressman Mark Siljander's GWU transcript as discovered in 2010

GWU Board of Trustees

TIMELINE:  The dates below correlate George Wythe University records with details in Mark Siljander's Sentencing Memo as presented in court by Federal prosecutors. (Use of the word university in addition to college simply reflects the name change that occurred toward the end of these years.) At the time, Siljander was a close friend and associate of then president of GWU Oliver DeMille, and CEO Shanon Brooks, prior to their eventual removal by the Board of Trustees.

  • 2004 | May - Sept  --  Siljander lobbies to remove the Islamic American Relief Agency (IARA) from two terrorist lists in exchange for $75,000. In addition, he does this without registering as an agent of a foreign principal, concealing the payments.

  • 2004 | Oct 13  --  Federal search warrants are executed on IARA.

  • 2005 | Dec 13  --  A Federal Grand Jury investigation subpoenas Siljander and begins questioning him.

  • 2007 | April 23  --  Federal prosecutors provide Siljander with a “proffer letter” that confirms to him that he is a target of the investigation, and sets forth the ground rules for an interview. The letter advises that should he “intentionally provide any false, incomplete, inaccurate or misleading information or testimony,” any statement he makes could be used to prosecute him for other criminal violations, including obstruction of justice.

  • 2007 | April 26  (Thurs)  --  Siljander signs the letter.  He is interviewed by FBI Special Agents and prosecutors.  Siljander later admits that he made material statements in this interview that are false and fraudulent.

  • 2007 | May 1  (Tues)  --  Three business days later (five including the weekend) Siljander's original PhD transcript is replaced in the George Wythe College records system by an entirely new and fictitious transcript. The forged transcript is falsified from the ground up with the careful construction of a Doctorate degree comprised of regular classes, all on-campus. The transcript software on GWC computers logs this date. By contrast, the archived hard copy of Siljander’s original transcript shows no coursework whatsoever other than a dissertation. Siljander’s own letter on file requesting the degree for “life experience” expressly confirms his lack of coursework.

  • 2008 | Jan 16  --  Siljander is indicted by the FBI.

  • 2010 | June  --  George Wythe University receives a federal subpoena for Siljander's student records. While gathering documents, the new administration under Dr. Schulthies discovers the discrepancy between the transcript in the system and the scanned original that was archived as a Y2K backup in 1999. Siljander's digital transcript is restored to match the original document.  A record of the altered transcript is retained as evidence for future investigation.

  • 2010 | July 2  --  GWU emails Siljander's student file to the FBI agents.

  • 2010 | July 7  --  Siljander pleads guilty to lying to Federal agents, the greatest emphasis being his concealment of the actual reasons he was paid by IARA, and for acting as an unregistered agent for them. He is sentenced to a year in federal prison.

  • 2011 | Jan  --  GWU conducts a preliminary audit of all transcripts.  Siljander's PhD is flagged for review due to (a) his degree program not existing in the course catalog of his calendar year, (b) the absence of any courses, and (c) evidence of records tampering. This expands into an internal investigation by GWU of all questionable degrees.

  • 2012 | Oct 10  --  After completing its investigation of Siljander’s PhD during the summer of 2012, GWU revokes this degree and announces it publicly as a necessary step for clearing the valid degrees earned legitimately by other graduates.

  • 2012 | Oct 12  --  DeMille writes a rebuttal to the school's revocation actions, claiming that Siljander had been given additional assignments, presumably for classes, and done supervised work, suggesting dissertation work under a prospectus plan.  These details support the narrative fabricated in Siljander's fraudulent transcript, but not his original transcript.  No evidence of participation in actual courses, a prospectus, or any supervision was ever found in GWU records.  Instead the opposite was uncovered: Siljander's submission of a brief description of prior "life-experience" business dealings and a binder filled with promotional materials to count as a dissertation. All correspondence clarifies that it was accepted with no feedback or supervision. Likewise, no witnesses could confirm Siljander attending classes as a student. The only instances of his appearance on campus that anyone recalled were his occasional visits as a guest speaker primarily after the date his degree was awarded.

On a related note, GWU’s new administration in 2010 was not able to locate the final section of Siljander’s dissertation to send to the FBI.  It was only found two years later when the campus was moved to Salt Lake City.  Instead, the 2010 administration was only able to locate the packet’s introduction letter – which, surprisingly, contained more original material than the dissertation submission itself. The “dissertation” turned out to be merely a binder filled with a copy of the promotional material used in Siljander's business.  Below is a summary from the Federal Sentencing Memo.  Even though the investigators lacked the additional promotional materials that made up the rest of the dissertation submission, we conclude by concurring with their astute observations below.

Academicians might be concerned that Siljander received his degree for a work containing no original research, empirical data, or citations to primary literature, and no theoretical findings to advance the field of study.  Rather, the “dissertation” is simply a descriptive account of his involvement in InterBank’s criminal enterprise and his own subsequent attempts to find loopholes in the U.S. immigration laws.  Authorities in Utah might be concerned that Siljander held himself out as “Dr. Siljander” and claimed to hold an earned Ph.D. in apparent violation of the Utah regulations governing Wythe. (“A person may not represent him or herself in a deceptive or misleading way, such as by using the title ‘Dr.’or ‘Ph.D.’ if he or she has not satisfied accepted academic or scholastic requirements.” Utah Admin. Code § 152-34-11.)  However, relevant to this sentencing, it is deeply disturbing that Siljander obtained this degree by claiming he was solely responsible for an enterprise that landed his two cohorts in federal prison.

 

 

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