Iowa False or Misleading Educational Degrees, Grades or Honors

Recently the CEO of Yahoo! Inc. [YHOO] was embroiled in a controversy surrounding his qualifications and whether or not he held a degree in computer science. That controversy was created when Dan Loeb’s group, Third Pointe attempted to be seated on the board of Yahoo! and was told he did not have relevant experience. Loeb retorted with questioning Thompson’s curriculum vitae while pointing out the school did not have a degree program in computer science at the time the CEO was enrolled. That led to an investigation and some rather embarrassing discussions about whether the CEO had the degrees shown in SEC filings. In the end the CEO was out along with another member of Yahoo! management. Accusing Loeb of not having relevant experience was not the smartest move I’ve seen.

Some investors were of the opinion this CEO should get nothing and be shown the door; while other investors just wanted to move on. In the end the CEO was allowed to resign and to keep millions of dollars in stock options. Whether that was right or not is now history. But the question remains whether in Iowa you can get in criminal trouble for embellishing your resume to land a high paying job. The answer is yes.

According to the Yahoo! Form 10-K/A, filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on April 27, 2012, newly-hired Chief Executive Officer, Scott Thompson, "holds a Bachelor's degree in accounting and computer science" from Stonehill College. This assertion was repeated in the Company's draft proxy statement, also filed with the SEC on April 27, 2012, as well as on the Company's website (

I mentioned this controversy to my colleague (Todd Miler, criminal law attorney) who pointed out in Iowa embellishing an academic degree can be a crime in Iowa under 715A.6A Here in Iowa anyone making a false representation about a degree can be found guilty of a crime under the penal code. Here is Chapter 715A.6A having to do with false academic degrees, grades and honors.







         1.  As used in this section, "academic degree" means a

      diploma, certificate, license, transcript, or other document which

      signifies or purports to signify completion of the academic

      requirements of a secondary, postsecondary, professional, or

      governmental program of study.

         2.  A person commits a serious misdemeanor if the person,

      knowingly and willingly, does any of the following:

         a.  Falsely makes or alters, procures to be falsely made or

      altered, or assists in falsely making or altering, an academic


         b.  Uses, offers, or presents as genuine, a falsely made or

      altered academic degree.

         c.  Sells, gives, purchases, or obtains, procures to be sold,

      given, purchased, or obtained, or assists in selling, giving, buying,

      or obtaining, a false academic degree.

         d.  Makes a false written representation relating to the

      person's academic grades, honors, or awards, or makes a false written

      representation that the person has received an academic degree from a

      specific secondary, postsecondary, professional institution, or

      governmental program of study, in an application for any of the


         (1)  Employment.

         (2)  Admission to an educational program.

         (3)  An award or other recognition.

         (4)  The issuance of an academic degree to the person. 

Section History: Recent Form

         96 Acts, ch 1039, §1


Steve Lombardi
Iowa personal injury, workers' compensation, motorcycle, quadriplegic, paraplegic, brain injury, death
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