Fake Diploma Investigation
By Dan Breitwieser, WCJB TV 20 News.
Maico Edouard got a folded up copy of a district diploma in the mail printed on regular paper. Because he thought it was the real thing, no criminal charges are being filed against him. Now, what people want to know is, how did he get it?
After signing several thousand like it, Columbia County Superintendent Sam Markham says there's no doubt this Edouard's diploma is a fraud. All of the signatures appear to be written by the same person, none match the signatures of school officials on a real diploma and Maico Edouard's name is in plain type, not the old english on a real one.
"I can assure you that they are all false signatures signed by the same person," says Markham. "I can assure you it was done by the same person."
Edouard said his friend and Columbia County Schools employee Anita Stewart told him he could get his GED in Columbia County. He took the exam and later got the copy of the diploma in the mail. But it turns out he didn't pass the exam after all.
According to a Columbia County Sheriff's Office Inquiry, he didn't know it was a fake until he tried to get into the Army National Guard in Lake City. When questioned, he named Assistant Superintendent of Instruction L.C. Bradley as possibly being the one who made it. The State Attorney's office decided not to prosecute.
"They felt like it was a school district matter and a problem for them to handle," says Columbia County Sheriff Bill Gootee. "So he put it back on the school district to do."
Markham is most upset by the Sheriff's Office inquiry. It was started by an anonymous letter sent to School Board Chairman Charles Maxwell, who passed it on to the Sheriff's Office.
Markham says the school board's policy dictates he lead the investigation first. He says he is determined to find out how Edouard got his fake diploma and how Maxwell got a copy of it.
"In refusing me to have that information, as far as i'm concerned, he does nothing but put roadblocks in front of me doing a fair investigation," says Markham.
Maxwell could not be reached by telephone.
Markham hopes to have the investigation complete in about two weeks, in time for the School Board meeting on September 11th.