June 5, 2012
I am very saddened to bring you this report today. Following the publication of our investigative story about Sharon Palmer (Healthy Family Farms), James Stewart (Rawesome Foods), Aajonus Vonderplanitz (vocal critic of Sharon Palmer) and Larry Otting (title owner of the land on which the farm operates), we received what can only be called a flood of tips (and documents) from our readers. The irrefutable conclusion from these documents, shown below, is that Aajonus Vonderplanitz, PhD, has been using phony academic credentials. His “doctorate in nutrition” was acquired from a diploma mill.
This saddens me for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that Aajonus was, at one point, instrumental in advocating raw dairy consumption in California, and now that the truth about his academic credentials has come to light, it will be used by raw milk critics to further attack the industry. Aajonus was also a nutritional consultant who taught people to “think outside the box” when it came to food choice. Although his “Primal Diet” of consuming raw, rotten meat seems bizarre to many people, he at least taught people to question the official lies of the USDA and the CDC on issues like food safety. I don’t agree with most of Aajonus’ conclusions on diet and nutrition, but I do agree with his questioning of the status quo.
But perhaps the most disturbing realization in all this is that Aajonus’ illegitimate academic credentials will no doubt be cited by states across the country which seek to criminalize nutritional consultation services and require state licensing for all nutritionists. This has already been attempted in North Carolina, where nutrition blogger Steve Cooksey was threatened by the state with jail time for urging people to eat specific foods for diabetes (http://www.naturalnews.com/035691_dieticians_free_speech_nutrition_ad…).
Why this is relevant to Rawesome Foods, Sharon Palmer and Healthy Family Farms
As you may recall, in our story published yesterday, we asked the NaturalNews community to help investigate the academic credentials of Aajonus Vonderplanitz, PhD, a key informant who has met with Ventura County and Los Angeles County prosecutors who are seeking to send James and Sharon to prison.
Why does all this matter? Because Aajonus Vonderplanitz is both the most vocal accuser of Sharon Palmer and James Stewart as well as someone who met with the Ventura County District Attorney’s office and gave them information. Following this, Ventura County pressed criminal charges against Sharon Palmer and James Stewart. Some of those charges are “financial crimes” stemming from Sharon’s inability to repay investors. Yet the main reason she was unable to repay investors was precisely because her revenues were devastated by Aajonus Vonderplanitz and Larry Otting, who widely publicized a series of defamatory lab tests that we now know to be invalid. For starters, the tests don’t even say they were conducted on chickens from Healthy Family Farms. (http://www.naturalnews.com/036064_Sharon_Palmer_Healthy_Family_Farms_…)
I recently spoke with Chris Harman, the Ventura County prosecutor of Sharon Palmer and James Stewart, and he told me, “Sharon Palmer lied to investors. That’s a crime.” I responded with the question, “But Larry Otting interfered with investors, and the actions of Otting and Vonderplanitz made it impossible for Sharon to repay those investors… If Sharon Palmer had paid investors back, there wouldn’t be any prosecution, would there?”
His answer was, “I don’t know. I can’t say.”
If there is no victim, you see, there is no criminal case. If the investors had been repaid, there would be nothing to charge Sharon over. If Sharon Palmer’s revenues hadn’t been irreparably damaged by both the initial raids on her farm, followed by the now-discredited lab tests that Otting and Vonderplanitz widely publicized, Sharon almost certainly would have already repaid the original investors, who merely provided money for a down payment on the farm land — which, by the way, happens to be titled to none other than Larry Otting!
At this point, you may be wondering: Wait a minute, how can Sharon Palmer be charged for financial crimes for not repaying investors who made a down payment on a piece of landshe doesn’t even own?Umm… yeah. I have that question, too. The financial charges against Sharon are extremely complex and seem to defy rational explanation. There’s something beyond “fishy” in this case, and this whole thing stinks of the FDA from top to bottom. I have reason to believe that Chris Harman and the Ventura County DA prosecutors are being heavily pressured by the FDA to convict this woman for political reasons that have everything to do with destroying the raw milk industry (and nothing to do with actually protecting the People of California).
How to buy your own doctorate in nutrition
Before we present this collection of evidence, it is important to note that this all began when I made a routine effort to fact-check Aajonus’ academic credentials. At the time, my expectation was that his academic credentials would check out, and the matter would be closed. In fact, had his PhD been legitimate, it would have lent support to his accusations against Sharon Palmer. After all, who are you going to believe? The woman with the felony conviction in her past, or a “doctor of nutrition” with a PhD?
But one of the things I’ve learned about being a journalist over the years is to trust no one. And for this story, I fact-checked everything, including the backgrounds of both Sharon Palmer and James Stewart. I was able to confirm, for example, that Sharon Palmer had a felony conviction in 1999 and that James Stewart was late on his child support for two years back in the 1990’s (but he later got caught up and paid up). When people tell me things or make claims about their histories, I check them out. And I routinely check out the academic credentials of professionals I interview. For example, when I recently ran a story featuring an interview with a scientist from the University of Texas, Austin — the story about “transgenerational epigenetic inheritance” — I first called the university and confirmed that he actually worked there and that his academic credentials were legit (http://www.naturalnews.com/035965_epigenetics_inheritance_synthetic_c…).
It is routine in my business to be skeptical of almost anything someone tells me. “Trust but verify.” And that’s what I did with Aajonus, just as I have done with others involved in this story. So when I tried to verify Aajonus’ doctorate in nutrition, it immediately struck me as suspicious that “Richmonds University” did not exist.
Here is an image of the diploma sent to NaturalNews by Aajonus Vonderplanitz as part of our fact-checking effort:
When our original story ran, we immediately began receiving tips from readers who discovered an almost identical phony diploma from another man named Roy David Williams.
Roy David Williams has a PhD in nuclear engineering, he says. At least that’s what he told Department of Justice prosecutors who charged him with fraud (http://www.justice.gov/usao/txn/PressRel09/williams_pantex_indict_pr….).
University of Illinois professor George Gollin knows all about it because he has an interesting hobby… He collects information and evidence about people committing fraud through the use of fake academic degrees. His website (http://www.hep.uiuc.edu/home/g-gollin/) contains a picture of Williams’ diploma:http://www.hep.uiuc.edu/home/g-gollin/pigeons/
As his website explains:
Roy David Williams, 57, was found guilty of 29 separate counts, including wire fraud and false claims regarding contracts with the plant near Amarillo. He appeared in U.S. District Court in Amarillo before Judge Mary Lou Robinson. Federal court records show Williams submitted 28 false or counterfeit billings to the plant from August 2007 to June 2008. During his trial, Williams insisted that he be addressed as “Dr. Williams.” His “PhD” in Nuclear Engineering, which apparently played a role in his success at bidding for a Pantex contract, was issued by the “Richmonds University” diploma mill. Williams provided his Richmonds documents to investigators to substantiate his claim of a PhD.
You can view Williams’ diploma here:
Interestingly, Williams managed to graduate “Cum Laude,” but not “Magna Cum Laude” like Aajonus Vonderplanitz.
What does Williams’ fake diploma have to do with Aajonus? The diplomas are virtually identical.
Compare these resumes side by side to see for yourself how similar they are:
• Same university name
• Same “Doctor of Philosophy” PhD
• Same university seal
• Same signature of “Anne Wallace” as “Dean of the Graduate Division.”
A second whistleblower goes public with smoking gun evidence
Even before publishing yesterday’s story, I had received information from several sources that appeared to show Aajonus’ academic credentials to have been acquired from a diploma mill. I like to thoroughly fact check such things before going public with them, however, so I shared those documents with a few trusted individuals for a second opinion. I also wanted to give Aajonus the benefit of the doubt on this issue and make sure whatever NaturalNews published was carefully considered.
But when the following information was discovered, it was a game-changer. The source of this information — a person I’m calling “Jake” to protect his identity — directly admitted to NaturalNews that he had purchased a fake diploma from the fictitious Richmonds University, complete with fake transcripts, a fake letter of recommendation, and fake verification contact numbers. I conducted an interview with Jake on May 24, 2012, but wasn’t able to fully confirm his identity until yesterday. As of today, I have confirmed his identity and am convinced Jake is telling the truth. (He has no reason to lie and nothing to gain from going public with this information other than the knowledge of “doing the right thing.”) His documents also speak for themselves.
You can view all his fake diploma documents, plus a transcript of my interview with him, at:
This blog site is the source of most of the documents shown below. We have copied them onto our servers in case the WordPress site gets disconnected or slammed with too much traffic.
Here’s what Jake told me on the phone:
Jake: “A friend told me about the website where you could get these diplomas. You sign up under one website, and they redirect you to another site,” he told me. “There, you are instructed to send in a descriptive history of everything you’ve ever done. They asked me to detail all my life experience to see if I would qualify under equivalency.”
The way this works, as you may have guessed, is that you describe to the diploma mill all the things you’ve done in your life, and then they “award” you a fake diploma based on this life experience. And, um… a sizeable payment.
When I asked Jake what life experience he submitted to the diploma mill, he replied, “I coached soccer. I was into sports. I did things involving sports.”
“After they reviewed this information,” he continued, “they got back to me and said yes I do qualify for the doctorate degree. At that point I paid them some money.”
“How much money?” I asked.
“A thousand dollars or so,” Jake said. “The rates depended on whether you wanted a full transcript or not, and letters from professors.”
A full transcript? Really?
“Yes,” Jake said. “They would create a fake transcript showing all the classes you ever took, with class descriptions, credit hours, your grades and everything. They sent it to me as part of the package.”
And what about the letters from professors?
“They even offered for an extra fee that they would write letters of recommendation from your professors, and that you could use those letters to get job interviews, or whatever you wanted to use them for.”
And how would all this hold up under scrutiny if someone tried to confirm your academic background?
“They sent me a letter that told me how to use all this to deceive employers. They included an email address and a fax number. It said that the fax number would be used to respond to any inquiries, and they would confirm everything about my degree and my transcript. They said it was something about federal law that all employers checking your education have to do it by fax.”
All of his documents — with his real name redacted — are now posted on the WordPress website called “Riddled Me Raw”
Faked academic documents revealed: Fake diploma, fake transcripts, fake letter of recommendation, fake verification fax and email
The first document Jake posted was his diploma. You can view it here:
As you can clearly see, this is almost an exact replica of the diploma from Aajonus Vonderplanitz, “PhD” except in this case the phony degree is a “Master of Science in Physical Education Specializing in Sports Administration.”
A degree such as this could get you a job on a pro football team, or perhaps even running a local exercise club. As you will quickly notice, the signature of “Anne Wallace” “Dean of the Graduate Division” appears yet again, just as it did in the fake diploma from Roy David Williams (the phony nuclear engineer) and Aajonus Vonderplanitz.
But this isn’t even the real shocker. That came in the second page he faxed me, entitled, “IMPORTANT INSTRUCTIONS AND EXPLANATIONS,” which instructs Richmonds University “graduates” on ways to use their phony documents to hoodwink prospective employers and anyone else who might be fact-checking their academic credentials.
That page is viewable here:
And here is the full text of what it says:
IMPORTANT INSTRUCTIONS AND EXPLANATIONS
DIPLOMA– The enclosed diploma was designed to be virtually indistinguishable from most of the diplomas of major universities. Your sample diploma had been printed exactly as you instructed. Please inspect your diploma carefully. If there are any errors, emails us immediately at email@example.com.
TRANSCRIPTS– The enclosed transcripts are similar to standard university transcripts. Although a copy of this sample transcript will remain in our files, we suggest you retain a copy for your records.
RECOMMENDATION LETTERS– Please retain these samples for your records, as the University does NOT keep sample recommendation letters on file.
GRADUATE SERVICES– Any changes or corrections to your documents must be done through the Graduate Services Department only. Always use your student ID number when corresponding with us.
Please submit requests via
Fax: (USA) +7-801-992-1502 (UK) +44-207-900-1709
VERIFICATIONS– Before responding to any inquiries about your credentials, we attempt to notify you for approval. Therefore, it is to your benefit to always keep us informed of your current phone number, fax number and email addresses.
Prospective employers should verify your information via
Fax: (USA) +1-208-977-0385
Do not give prospective employers the university telephone numbers for verification as we do not verify over the telephone.
WEBSITE– Please feel free to visit the University website atwww.richmondsuniversity.net
REMEMBER– The University will go to any means to support its diploma holders. For example, if we are contacted, we will confirm the degree, date, and honors printed on your diploma.
We want to give you our best attention at all times. To help us in this endeavor, please follow these procedures carefully.
Fake diploma fax verification number matches the one given to us by Aajonus
If you try to go to the website given in this letter (www.richmondsuniversity.net), you’ll find that it no longer exists.
However, the fax number given for verification of your fake diploma does, indeed, work. The number in this letter, as you can see, is 208-977-0385.
Does that number look familiar? It’s the same verification fax number given to us by Aajonus Vonderplanitz when we asked about his degree (http://www.naturalnews.com/036064_Sharon_Palmer_Healthy_Family_Farms_…).
Fake academic transcripts
The package of materials sent to Jake, who received the phony degree in Sports Administration, included these transcripts:
The fake academic credentials even include a letter of recommendation from university officials which ensures any prospective employer that the PhD in question is a “most likeable individual” and would be “an asset to any organization choosing to utilize his services.”
You can read Jake’s fake recommendation letter at:
Phony diplomas offered online
Where do people purchase phony diplomas from diploma mills? From websites like “DiplomaXpress.com” (www.DiplomaXpress.com).
This website, which is very professionally designed and marketed, offers a “Fake diploma” for $119. For an additional $149, you can get a “fake transcript.” If you want a “Verification Service” that will confirm your fake degree with any prospective employers or business partners, you can buy that for just an extra $99.
You can see all this in the compiled graphic here:
What really caught my eye about this diploma mill is that one of their sample diplomas looked almost exactly like the fake diploma from Aajonus Vonderplanitz. As you can see in the graphic linked above, the third diploma from the top is a fake diploma template from “The University of Southwestern Louisiana.” It has the same font, the same layout, the same university seal, the same signature locations and almost word for word the same language of Aajonus’ diploma.
If you scroll further down on the graphic, you’ll see another picture of a diploma under their “See How We Do It” section that describes how well this company produces authentic-looking diplomas. The diploma in that picture, labeled, “Diploma Xpress University” looks almost exactly the same as Aajonus’ diploma.
A testimonial about this fake diploma service even says, “These guys have become so good at producing fakes which are more real than the real McCoys; the seals, holograms and all — done with such aviation precision that this is surely evidence of highly skilled workmanship and frankly speaking, the phonies are of better paper quality…”
You, too, can “earn” your doctorate in nutrition by purchasing a fake diploma from DiplomaXpress.com. This company will sell you a diploma declaring your doctorate degree in practically anything, with two exceptions: They won’t print fake diplomas for law degrees or medical degrees. Because that would be unethical, it seems.
For the record, DiplomaXpress.com says their diplomas are for novelty purposes only, but it’s clear that many people purchase diplomas from diploma mills for far more nefarious purposes — to deceive people into thinking they have academic credentials when they really don’t. To commit academic fraud, in other words.
Based on the evidence presented here, we can now logically conclude that:
• While NaturalNews set out to try to confirm Aajonus Vonderplanitz’ academic credentials, whistleblowers stepped forward and have now demonstrated, beyond any reasonable doubt, that Aajonus Vonderplanitz’ academic credentials were acquired from a diploma mill.
• There is no legitimate “Richmonds University.” The name appears to have been chosen because of its similarity with a real university name (“Richmond University”). Such name selection is typical of diploma mills. “Diploma mills are frequently named to sound confusingly similar to those of prestigious accredited academic institutions,” says Wikipedia on its “diploma mills” page. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diploma_mill#Common_attributes_of_diplom…).
• Aajonus Vonderplanitz’ diploma shares the same school name, the same signature name, the same seal, the same layout, the same font and the same overall look and feel of at least two other phony diplomas that are confirmed to have been linked to diploma mills.
• Aajonus has been using his PhD credentials for the last seven years on multiple websites, legal documents, lawsuits and other documents.
Prosecutors cases against Palmer and Stewart unraveling by the day
The Ventura County and Los Angeles County District Attorney’s offices appear to have overlooked the academic history of one of their informants. Aajonus was a key informant to these counties and their prosecution offices handling the Sharon Palmer and James Stewart cases. This fact is established in additional documents NaturalNews has already acquired and which we plan on publishing.
The financial crimes charges against Palmer stem in large part from the drastic loss of business revenues caused by the publication of test results that claimed to prove Sharon Palmer’s chickens were contaminated and that Rawesome Foods was knowingly selling those chickens to the public (http://www.naturalnews.com/036064_Sharon_Palmer_Healthy_Family_Farms_…). Any rational person must now begin to question the integrity of the Ventura County and LA County prosecutions against Palmer, based on the findings revealed in this article.
If Ventura and LA Counties are even in the least bit basing their cases on evidence or testimony provided by a person who has now been shown to have acquired his academic credentials through a diploma mill, it throws the credibility of the DA’s offices into question. Do they not fact check the academic backgrounds of their own informants and sources?
More evidence now surfacing
Tips continue to pour in to NaturalNews regarding Aajonus Vonderplanitz, Sharon Palmer, James Stewart and Larry Otting. We are sorting through that evidence, as we have apparently become the “Wikileaks” of the raw milk industry, and we are determined to publish whatever documents and pieces of evidence we can confirm to be factual beyond a reasonable doubt. Readers who have tips for us may reach us through www.NaturalNews.com/feedback.html
My deepest wish is to see some apologies offered in all this so that healing can begin. Sharon Palmer needs to be allowed to conduct her farm business so that she can repay her investors and return to positive revenues. The politically-motivated prosecution attempts against Palmer and Stewart need to be immediately dropped. They are an immense waste of taxpayer resources and a striking example of government injustice aimed at farmers and food advocates. Finally, those individuals responsible for causing financial losses to Sharon and James need to make amends, both financially and spiritually.
This is the pathway to peace and healing. Because the bigger question in all this should humble us and give us pause: If the “high vibration” raw food community can’t find a way to heal, how is the rest of the junk-food-eating world supposed to?
This article was posted: Tuesday, June 5, 2012 at 2:25 am