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Alleged Con Man Dupes Yale University for Nearly Two Years

April 11, 1995 GMT

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) _ Lon Grammer desperately wanted to go to Yale University. As a mediocre student at an obscure community college, that would have seemed a long shot. But Grammer managed to get in anyway.

Two years later, he was a month away from picking up an Ivy League diploma when campus police picked him up instead.

Grammer’s downfall came when he bragged to a former roommate about forging his transcripts, campus police said.

The 25-year-old man was expelled, and Yale is pressing larceny charges, saying he stole two years’ worth of a high-priced education from the school and the government. He owes $61,475 in grants and loans, authorities said.

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Yale admissions officers refused to discuss how they were duped.

``Obviously, to get into Yale University the standards are very high,″ James Perrotti, assistant chief of campus police, said Tuesday. ``He tried to show that he met those standards when in fact he didn’t.″

Grammer refused to comment on the case, but his attorney, Norman A. Pattis, said he will fight the charges. He ridiculed the filing of larceny charges, saying even a first-year law student would know better.

Grammer arrived at Yale in 1993, transferring from Cuesta Community College in San Luis Obispo, Calif., where transcripts showed he had compiled nearly a straight-A average. He also presented Yale with an outstanding recommendation from Cuesta’s dean of students and favorable letters from a political science professor and science instructor.

His high school record also was exemplary, with an excellent recommendation from the principal.

But the grades were doctored, some of the recommendations were from people who didn’t exist, and those who do exist say they never wrote them, according to court papers.

Cuesta’s records show his real grade-point average was a C, and his high school in Concord, Calif., told Yale that his transcripts, test scores and letter from the principal were fakes.

Grammer was caught when a detective from the Lebanon, N.H., police department contacted campus police about a forged driver’s license and registration on a leased Jeep.

The vehicle was registered to John Miles, Grammer’s former roommate in California. Miles, who had never been to Lebanon, N.H., told police that Grammer had bragged to him about getting into Yale with forged transcripts.

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In December, Grammer was indicted in New Hampshire on forgery charges in connection with the Jeep. New Hampshire police contacted Yale in January.

At Yale, Grammer maintained a B average, his lawyer said.

Some students said they weren’t surprised by the turn of events, noting Grammer’s background seemed shady. Among other things, he claimed he had played minor-league baseball and was related to actor Kelsey Grammer, students said.

The young man is not related to the actor, Pattis said. Whether he ever played professional baseball couldn’t immediately be confirmed.

``He was a very shady kind of kid. A lot of his stories didn’t really match,″ said senior Michael Ciaschini. ``One day, he would tell us he was in Mexico for three years, then he said he was in the Bahamas for three years. When someone lies to you all the time, you kind of lose respect for them.″

Perrotti said the forgeries Grammer used were very good, and the case has raised concerns at other institutions as well as Yale.

``We tend to take things on faith,″ said Ted O’Neill, dean of admissions at the University of Chicago. ``If something stands out as being likely to be untrue, we will probably discover that, but it is a system built on trust.″

Princeton University uncovered a similar scam in 1991 and expelled a student named James Hogue. The Ivy League school said Hogue enrolled under an alias in 1989. He fabricated his background, telling admissions officers he was self-schooled.

He was accused of defrauding the university out of $21,000 in financial aid, and pleaded guilty to deception.

``There is only so much a college can do to avoid such a situation,″ Princeton spokesman Justin Harmon said. ``Nobody would say that it is impossible this will ever happen again.″