AG Van Hollen: Prison inmate facing felony fraud offense related to operation of alleged “diploma mill”
For More Information Contact:
Dana Brueck 608/266-1221
MADISON — The Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a criminal complaint in Winnebago County Circuit Court on January 5, 2012, against Kenneth S. Shong. The Winnebago County Circuit Court issued a warrant for Shong’s arrest that same day. According to the criminal complaint, Shong is charged with a single count of “Fraudulent Writings,” a felony offense contrary to section 943.39(2) of the Wisconsin Statutes. Shong has been detained on the warrant issued by the court and will make an initial appearance in the case today at 2:30 p.m. in Winnebago County.
The complaint alleges that Shong was an inmate in the Oshkosh Correctional Institution in 2006 when he encouraged another inmate to enroll in “Carlingford University.” Shong allegedly made representations to the inmate about the legitimacy of “Carlingford University” as a degree granting institution and provided the inmate with written information regarding the “University.” Based on those representations, the inmate did enroll in a “Carlingford University” course of study and arranged for his mother to send a tuition payment by postal money order to a post office box in Mobile, Alabama. Investigation revealed that the post office box in Mobile, Alabama, was identified in Carlingford correspondence as the base for Carlingford University’s “Office of External Studies, North American Division.” The inmate and his mother later learned that representations made by Shong regarding the legitimacy of “Carlingford University” as a degree granting institution were untrue and the inmate made a complaint to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) in August, 2008. That complaint was eventually forwarded to the DOJ.
The Wisconsin Department of Corrections (DOC) staff at the Racine Correctional Institution also became suspicious of Shong’s activities from that prison after he had been transferred there in the fall of 2007. DOC staff conducted an investigation and forwarded information to the Wisconsin Educational Approval Board (EAB) in the fall of 2008 questioning whether Shong was operating an unauthorized and fraudulent “university” in Wisconsin. The EAB investigated, determined that “Carlingford” did appear to be operating within Wisconsin without necessary approval, and issued a “cease and desist” order to “Carlingford University” at what was purported on its then-existing website to be its Green Bay “Regional Training Center.” The EAB also forwarded a request for investigation to the DOJ.
An investigation has been conducted by the DOJ Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) and is ongoing. The DCI investigation was aided by the information developed by the Wisconsin DOC and EAB.
The State is represented in this prosecution by Assistant Attorneys General Michael G. Schaefer and Phillip Ferris, at the request of the Winnebago County District Attorney’s Office. The DOJ Office of Crime Victim Services is assisting the prosecutors.
Copies of the Arrest Warrant and Complaint are available at the following link:
The complaint contains only the State’s allegations. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. The State bears the burden of proving the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.