In the spring of 2001, though he didn’t know it at the time, Mathew Martoma made a horrible mistake. After being expelled from Harvard Law School for falsifying his transcripts, Martoma (né Thomas) applied, was accepted to, and ultimately chose to attend Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. While having an MBA on his resumé may have helped Martoma in the short-term, years later it would cause him immeasurable heartache, when Stanford stripped him of his degree, deciding that it was too good to have a convicted insider trading among its alums. One business school not too good to embrace a person convicted of securities fraud? University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business. Danny Kuo found this out when he was looking for some sort of diversion to keep his mind off of the possibility of going to prison in 2012.
Kuo plead guilty in April 2012 to sharing illegally obtained information on tech companies Nvidia (NVDA) and Dell with a group of hedge-fund analysts. The group, which shared tips by e-mail, modeled itself after the underground alliance depicted in the movie Fight Club, according to courtroom testimony. (“Rule No. 1 about e-mail list, there is no e-mail list.”)…Going to business school gave Kuo a productive way to fill the time between pleading guilty to securities fraud charges and his eventual sentencing. “He thought it would be a good way to improve his résumé during a period … when he had difficulty working because of the pendency of this case,” his lawyer, Roland Riopelle, said in an interview. Kuo has even been telling his classmates about his experience, his lawyer said, as a way to warn others about insider trading. Amy Blumenthal, a spokeswoman for Marshall, confirmed Kuo is enrolled as an MBA student in the school’s part-time program. She wouldn’t comment on his guilty plea or the school’s knowledge of his record.
Unfortunately for Kuo, he may not get to celebrate his accomplishment in the way that he had hoped, due to a scheduling conflict, i.e. his sentencing.
Kuo…asked a judge on Tuesday to delay his sentencing so he can attend next month’s commencement ceremony at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business and receive his MBA.
Although failing to walk with one’s class generally does not prevent them from receiving a degree, Kuo obviously feels strongly about taking part in commencement exercises and the activities that lead up to it. Even Martoma would tell you that while you can strip him of his degree, you can’t strip him of the memory of what it was like to wear that cap and gown.