Way back at the beginning -- in June 2008 -- we used the headline The Neverending story on the saga of Dr. Robert Felner, who was just weeks away from becoming chancellor at UW-Parkside when the Feds rushed in with fraud charges and he withdrew (after shipping boxes of personal materials here).
Well, now the story is about to end: Felner is expected to plead guilty on Friday to charges of defrauding the University of Louisville and the University of Rhode Island of $2.3 million. That's just the smallest piece of what Felner had been accused of: See our recap of the Felner Chronicles here.
The guilty plea is part of an agreement Felner has made with the U.S. Attorney's office. No details were disclosed about which charges Felner would plead guilty to or how much jail time he may receive. He could face 75 years in prison.
A federal grand jury in Louisville indicted Felner and his co-defendant Thomas Schroeder in October 2008, charging Felner with 10 counts of mail fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering and income tax evasion. There were other allegations along the way, including selling a Ph.D. and hiring of his girlfriend -- and a no-confidence vote by his faculty, who accused him of being vindictive, manipulative and threatening. None of which were discovered by UW-P's $70,000 search firm or search committee.
All of which led, inevitably to "a detailed review of procedures used to recruit and screen candidates" within the University of Wisconsin system, which dodged a bullet in this instance.