There is an interesting case at my alma mater, Northwestern University School of Law, where a former student is suing over his expulsion shortly before his graduation. The student is Mauricio Celis, 42, and he was expelled for not disclosing that he is a former felon in Texas who was convicted for falsely holding himself out as a lawyer as well as a misdemeanor conviction of portraying himself as a police officer in a bizarre case involving a woman who wandered nude from his hot tub and walked into a convenience store. Celis objects that Northwestern expelled him for the failure to disclose but that it never asked him to disclose any criminal history when he applied for his master of laws. After suing Northwestern, Celis and Northwestern agreed to a voluntary dismissal of the suit.
The case is obviously embarrassing for Northwestern which appeared to do no inquiry into the history of the applicant who was infamous in Texas and called “The Great Pretender.” Indeed, a prosecutor called him “the biggest con man in the history of Nueces County.” Before he was nabbed, he ran offices in eight cities, including Beverly Hills, Miami, and Mexico City. He was a major Democratic donor with contributions of nearly half a million dollars to Democratic political campaigns from 2002 to 2007.
His past difficulties include a long series of fraudulent representations, flashing a pistol during an argument with the owner of a local strip club, breaking into a girlfriend’s apartment and flashing an expired reserve deputy’s badge in three different encounters with police. Here is an account of the hot tub incident that gives a glimpse into Celis:
The position of Northwestern is that Celis should have known that his criminal history was material. Yet, the school did not require the information and took his money for the educational program. Indeed, he spent about $76,000 on the program and the school presumably kept the money and tossed him shortly before graduation.
The failure to even google the applicant shows how schools continue to rely on an “honors system” even among the top law programs in the country. Northwestern came within weeks of giving an advance degree to the “Great Pretender” of Texas.
Of course, the graduation would have made for a classic procession tune.
Source: Chicago Tribune