A Pennsylvania judge ruled today that Paul Arthur Crafton must stand trial on 12 charges of forgery, tampering with public records and false swearing stemming from his employment at Shippensburg State College under an assumed name.
District Court Justice Donald Daihl threw out a felony charge of theft by deception, but his ruling means that the 59-year-old George Washington University professor could face an 83-year prison term if he is convicted of all charges stemming from his employment at Shippensburg. He must appear at a second preliminary hearing May 26 in Lancaster, Pa., stemming from his employment at Millersville State College.
Crafton was arrested March 21 as he walked across the campus of Millersville State, 75 miles from here. Shortly after his arrest, police learned that Crafton held three simultaneous teaching jobs under three names, used at least 34 aliases and had established a complex network of international financial dealings that stretched from Maryland to Australia.
Crafton, clad in a navy blue suit and white shirt, sat impassively during today's hearing, alternately stroking his gray beard as he gazed at the witnesses or conferred with his attorneys. He left the courtroom without comment to rejoin his wife and 17-year-old daughter, Laura, who did not attend the hearing.
Crafton's attorney, John Pyfer Jr., said that the central issue in the case was whether Shippensburg "got a professor well versed in computer sciences." He urged the judge to dismiss all charges saying that Crafton did not alter public records and was a "cognizant, skillful professor in areas in which he was hired."
Deputy Pennsylvania Attorney General Kim Daniel argued that Crafton "mislabeled the bill of goods he was selling" by "passing himself off" as a PhD from Cambridge University named John Byron Hext.
James L. Sieber, chairman of the Shippensburg mathematics department, said it was the PhD from Cambridge that sparked his interest in the application he received last spring from the man he identified as Crafton.
He said he decided to hire Crafton for a $30,000-a-year teaching post after receiving glowing letters in support of his application from three references--Douglas Richmond-Monroe, John Ramsey and Robert A. Lancaster. All are names Pennsvlvania officials say Crafton used as aliases. Richmond-Monroe identified himself as a partner of Monroe & Co., a Washington-based consulting firm at 1377 K St. NW.
In his letter, Monroe described "Hext" as a $65,000-a-year consultant for the firm who wanted to teach at a small school like Shippensburg.
Susan Snyder, manager of the Mailbox, a mail drop located at 1377 K St., testified that Crafton was the man who rented a post office box from her in the name of Douglas Richmond-Monroe.
Sieber, the prosecution's key witness at today's hearing, presented a contradictory picture of Crafton during more than two hours of testimony. He said that he had received "numerous complaints" about the professor's early class dismissals. However, under cross-examination by Crafton's attorney, he acknowledged he had filed official evaluations praising Crafton's "great potential" and "beautiful class lecture" and saying he was so impressed he planned to implement Crafton's ideas in his own teaching.
Sieber said he became suspicious in late January after a faculty member approached him and said " 'We don't think that guy's for real.' I was mad . . . I decided the only way I could quiet him was to check" Crafton himself. Two days later, after consulting scientific journals, Sieber found that the real John Byron Hext was a 44-year-old professor at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. Crafton was suspended from Shippensburg several weeks later.
Since his arrest, Crafton has been on leave from GWU, where he has taught since 1956 and once served as chairman of the department of engineering administration. The university has begun termination proceedings against him and Associate Provost Marianne R. Phelps said that the outcome of Pennsylvania court proceedings are irrelevant to the university's case against Crafton. "The major issue is teaching without permission at another university," Phelps said.
Crafton, who lives in Potomac, has been free on bond but is required to report to the Gaithersburg office of the Maryland Office of Probation and Parole by 9 a.m. every weekday.
On Monday, Pyfer requested that the conditions of Crafton's bail be modified and that his Maryland driver's license, seized with 16 boxes of records in his Shippensburg apartment, be returned.
Pyfer asked that the reporting requirement be relaxed, a motion Daniel said today he would not oppose.