“The Great Pretender”: Northwestern Expels Law Student Months Before Graduation After Discovering Shocking Criminal Record In Texas

220px-Northwestern_University_Seal.svgThere 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

107 thoughts on ““The Great Pretender”: Northwestern Expels Law Student Months Before Graduation After Discovering Shocking Criminal Record In Texas”

  1. Annie,

    Who or what is Celis? Ummm…Mauricio Celis, the topic or, at least, major subject and principle player of Turley’s post. Remember it?

    As for “obsessed” – I was just humorously – hopefully- concatenating this thread and it’s total divergence from the post in question.

    1. jonolan – I did appreciate your hard work in trying to rein the thread back to the original topic. However, I do hope you did not hurt yourself in the effort. 🙂

  2. jonolan – it is nice of you to object, however these threads do have a tendency to wander into new territory, just like an actual conversation you would have at a coffee house.

  3. On the matter of most of the comments above – OBJECTION! Irrelevant.

    Can I have an “Objection sustained” please? 😆

    I mean really, is Celis an illegal alien from or too an indian reservation who’s a nurse who doesn’t like Annie and taunts her until she runs to the Professor and reports him for lying about his political bias?

  4. Paul wrote “the reservations in Arizona are nothing compared to Pine Ridge, SD.”

    Yes, and that is why they saw something of a revolution in the 1960s and 1970s.

    “remember that the tribes control the reservations”

    The U.S. government stole the Black Hills and other Native American lands, not to mention the ethnic cleansing known as the Trail of Tears, so your statement is more than a little disingenuous.

    1. saucy – the revolution (more of a minor uprising) at Pine Ridge was because of the American Indian Movement or as one of my Indian students so nicely put it A**holes in Moccasins.
      Are you aware of why Hawthorne’s book is titled ‘The Last of the Mohicans’? It is because the Iroquois had ethnically cleaned the Mohicans from the area. The Camp Grant Massacre was done by relatively peaceful Indians attacking the Apaches who had been raiding and killing them for years. The Sioux were not some peaceful group of agriculturalists, they were warriors long before the Europeans got here. The took to the horse well and then started expanding their territory, at the expense of other tribes. The Navajo have cheated the Hopi out of their reservation and now pretty much surround them. For an interesting look at the Indian Wars read Custer’s ‘My Life on the Plains.’

  5. saucy – remember that the tribes control the reservations.

  6. Karen S wrote “over 25% in some demographics, like young black males”

    I believe it is positively shameful that we have certain cities, e.g. Detroit, with obscene unemployment rates and Native American reservations with poverty rates double that of other Americans. I have traveled throughout the Southwest and the poverty of Native American reservations is stifling.

    And yet we have the Senate’s immigration “reform” bill S.744 which will allow hundreds of thousands of foreigners in under H-1B visas. Many people know about the bill’s provisions for illegal immigrants, but few know the extent of its corporate welfare.

    I wrote about this in “American schadenfreude and the Senate Gang of Eight’s fraudulent immigration reform bill S.744.”

    1. saucy – the reservations in Arizona are nothing compared to Pine Ridge, SD.

  7. Paul:

    Your kidding! A national park is deemed unsafe for our own citizens? That makes me so mad that we have just abandoned our borders like that to drug cartels. Get a spine, feds! Stop courting votes and just do what’s right, not what’s politically expedient!

    1. Karen – it is a national monument on the drug highway into Maricopa County, drug distribution center of the Southwest and possibly the US. Parts of Saguaro National Park are closed off as well.

  8. And you are spot on to remark that it makes no sense to increase immigration when our effective unemployment rate is so high, over 25% in some demographics, like young black males.

    And yet we continue to do it . . .

  9. Saucy:

    When I spoke about improving the immigration process, I did not mean to imply increasing quantitative limits. I do believe that countries have the right to determine how many immigrants it can absorb, and that includes taking the job market into account.

    It is exceedingly difficult to immigrate to socialist European countries. They cannot afford giving benefits to immigrants who don’t land on their feet in the country, or to large numbers of immigrants.

  10. jonolan – it doesn’t seem fair, does it, to punish a student for not disclosing something they never asked about?

    Paul – They’re also expanding that to people who want to practice medicine, and other fields. Don’t know how it will turn out.

    I have worked with many people who were here on work visas, or going through citizenship process. Periodically, they had to go back to their home country and go through this absurdly difficult process to renew their visas. It was such a pain. And they were so bitter that people who happened to live in a bordering country appear to believe it is completely unfair to follow our rules. It’s not impossible to immigrate here legally. Millions do it every year. It’s not unfair to follow the rules. It’s unfair to break them and jump in front of those who do follow the rules.

    We could definitely make the process smoother. But abandoning the immigration process entirely is the stupidest thing I ever heard of. We as a country have the right to impose limits on who can come here – for instance, we don’t want any rapists, murderers, gangs, or pedophiles. And we also have the right to determine how many immigrants we can absorb a year without breaking our budget or changing the nature of our country. (As a hypothetical example, one can imagine a lot of changes if we absorbed the entire population of the Middle East within a year.) Why do people find it unfair or rude to impose these restrictions? If you do not have enforceable borders, you are a region, not a country.

    We need to make it easier to immigrate here legally, and impossible to do it illegally.

    There are parts of AZ where there are signs posted that it is unsafe for Americans to be. In our own country. It’s like we’ve ceded land to the drug cartels. So much for being a powerful sovereign country.

    1. Karen – those signs warning people that it is not safe to be there are in a national park.

  11. Don’t worry about it, Karen – or Annie for that matter. There was more to it than that in this post and it occurs in most posts that Annie’s involved in, but that’s not that material to anything. I just found it humorous.

    As for the bar – what does that even have to do with anything? Taking the bar is separate from getting the degree…though most, if not all, states are enough in collusion with the schools to require a degree before taking it.

  12. Jonolan – I didn’t get that, either. All Paul said was that misrepresenting anything is not honorable. And when she asked if it was about her, he said no.

    I was wondering that, too, if there was a stated rule that any behavior that would get you disbarred would also prevent you from being allowed to take the bar. This guy cannot be the first felon con man who tried to get a law degree. Why don’t they ask for criminal history disclosure on their applications?

    1. Karen – what did CA do with that illegal alien who was trying to get in the BAR?

  13. What I continually find strange is how Annie seems to make every post here somehow about her and her being somehow abused by other commentators. 😆

    But, back to the actual post – How can a college expel a student for not volunteering information that they never asked for? Do they have some rule that felons are not allowed to attend in the first place?

  14. Bigfatmike has the best answer. Then he can go on to be another dodgy polititian!

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