A member of the Association of Proprietary Colleges was the subject of a Jayson Blair-type assault from a now-former Village Voice reporter who made up sources and quotes in a recently published article about the proprietary sector of higher education. 

Rob Sgobbo, who also freelanced for the Daily News, was fired from both publications after the Village Voice determined he quoted a fictitious Berkeley College student and concocted quotes and a source from the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

APC President Stephen Jerome, president of Monroe College, sent a memo to APC members, informing them that the Village Voice acknowledged Sgobbo crafted a story about a former Berkeley College student who the report claimed left school in debt and without a degree. The subject of student debt load is sensitive as the federal government has singled out proprietary colleges for the ability of their students to repay debt.

The article, “For-Profit Blues,” was an unjustified attack on Berkeley College and the entire proprietary sector, Jerome said.

“The story didn’t sit right with our colleagues at Berkeley because their representative never said the things the reporter attributed to her,” he said. “So Berkeley did some digging and was able to confirm the student didn’t exist, and that quotes in the story, including those from the U.S. Government Accountability Office, were invented. Berkeley demanded a retraction, and the newspaper quickly and rightly issued one, along with a public apology.”

Several news outlets picked up the story, recalling a similar case in 2003, when New York Times reporter Jayson Blair received international notoriety for widespread plagiarism and for manufacturing quotes and sources on several high-profile stories.