University has no record of issuing degree to Saginaw County Animal Control director

Published: Jun. 26, 2018 at 7:33 PM EDT
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(6/26/2018) - The university where Saginaw County Animal Control Director Lisa Stoffel says she earned a bachelor's degree has no record of issuing it to her.

The job description when Stoffel was hired in 2016 required a bachelor's degree. She submitted a transcript from the University of Alaska-Fairbanks showing she earned a bachelor of science in business administration in 1997.

However, a university spokesman said there is no record there of Stoffel earning the degree or of the university issuing the transcript she included.

The former Alaska resident was chosen for the job over three other candidates. University officials say they do not find any records that show Stoffel fulfilled the requirements for a degree with the school.

The school's registrar confirmed that Stoffel attended the university for two semesters in 2010, but did not earn a degree during that time.

Saginaw County Controller Robert Belleman provided a copy of the transcript that Stoffel gave to him to prove she has a degree. But the university spokesman found some issues when he saw a copy of the document.

Among the issues:

-- The university did not offer a bachelor of science degree in business administration in the 1990s and has not at any point since then, even though its on the transcript Stoffel provided.

-- The transcript has four numbers on each course listing, but the University of Alaska-Fairbanks only uses three digits in their course numbers.

-- The document is signed by a Stephanie Mercado, but the school has no record that an individual with that name ever worked in the Registrar's Office there.

-- Any official University of Alaska-Fairbanks transcript issued in 2016 would only have been signed by Registrar Mike Earnest.

-- The university cannot find any record of issuing a transcript to Stoffel in 2016, raising concerns about its authenticity.

On the Saginaw County application Stoffel filled out, its states a false or dishonest answer may be grounds for dismissal. Belleman declined to comment on specific allegations, but he believes Stoffel received a degree from the university, mainly because of the transcript.

Stoffel also declined to comment and referred all questions about her background to Belleman.

Saginaw County Sheriff Bill Federspiel, whose department was asked to do an expedited background check on Stoffel in 2016, said the deputy who did the check does not recall contacting the university to verify the degree.

Saginaw County Commissioner Kyle Harris, who was not on the board when Stoffel was hired, is concerned Stoffel may not have been totally honest on her application. He's also concerned her past in Alaska was not disclosed to commissioners.

"If you have good qualities, good experience, I don't think you need a degree to be running things," Harris said. "But in this case, if she lied, I think that's questionable."

Stoffel was arrested in an embezzlement investigation and pleaded no contest to perjury in 2004, which she was allowed to withdraw eight years later. She blamed the issues on a domestic violence situation with her ex-husband, which the hiring committee accepted.

"You look at one issue and you think, 'OK, it was taken care of in court.' You look at this issue, you start seeing a pattern here," Harris said.