Woodbury man faces charges for fabricating evidence of U degrees

Rocky Thompson

A Woodbury man faces felony forgery charges for allegedly claiming to possess University degrees he never earned.

University police issued a summons Tuesday for Jason R. Severtson to appear in court for allegedly sending a potential employer a letter stating he had three University degrees.

“I can’t recall anything like this in recent history,” University Police Capt. Steve Johnson said.

According to the court complaint:

In December, Severtson sent Russell Reynolds Associates a letter dated Aug. 27, 1999, on University letterhead after employees asked for documentation of his degrees.

The signed letter said Severtson received three diplomas. When Russell Reynolds officials contacted the University, they discovered Severtson never earned any degrees.

University officials said the institution did not send the letter and its rubber-stamped signature was not authorized.

Bob MacDonald, area manager for Russell Reynolds, said the firm verifies every undergraduate degree.

He said there can be mistakes with university records but it did not seem to be the case this time.

“We notified the client and (the interview) was canceled,” he said.

Whether a former student received his or her degree is public information and can be accessed at the University’s Office of the Registrar.

One Stop Student Services director Mary Koskan said the University frequently verifies former students’ graduation status for employers but rarely finds people who lie to their potential employers.

University police interviewed Severtson regarding the letter, and he asked the officer if he could resolve the situation without having to go to court, according to the complaint.

If convicted, Severtson could face a maximum penalty of three years in prison and fines up to $5,000.

Johnson said diploma forgery can be a serious crime.

“Don’t you think,” he said, “there’s a pretty high value in getting a diploma here?”

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