Michael Bell Sr, a prominent Kenosha activist and retired Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Air Force, lost his son to a Kenosha Police officer on November 9, 2004. Police say Michael Bell Jr resisted arrest and went for an officer’s gun. Albert “Brian” Gonzales, who is a candidate for Kenosha Sheriff, is the officer who fired the fatal bullet with his .45 S&W pistol pressed firmly against Michael Jr.’s head while Michael Jr was being restrained by another officer in a bear hug. Large amounts of blood, skull fragments and brain matter were littered along the narrow driveway. Gonzales would later write a book equating the shooting to “scoring a winning touchdown.” Two days later, then-police Chief Dan Wade declared the shooting “justified.” The Kenosha City Council apparently disagreed with the decision when it voted to pay Bell’s family $1.75 Million in 2010 in response to a federal wrongful death lawsuit. Bell used all of his portion to begin to advocate for a change in state law. He was successful. In 2014, a bill was passed that forced an outside agency to investigate police-involved shootings. He also continued his mission to get to the bottom of what really happened on that fateful fall evening.
Application for City Administrator
After the disgraced City Administrator Frank Pacetti resigned as City administrator, the City received several applications for his old job. Former Police Chief John Morrissey was one of them. This author obtained all of the applications with a public records request and published them for transparency purposes. Someone would notice something on Morrissey’s application that looked odd and brought it to Bell’s attention. Morrissey’s application read that he obtained his 4-year college degree from Kaplan college in 16 months. Bell didn’t think this was possible. He would soon have an expert agree with him.
Michael Bell Sr wanted the truth so he hired one of only four of the nations leading education credential investigators, Retired FBI Special Agent Allen Ezell, who left the FBI after a 31-year career. He specialized in fraudulent colleges and universities. He has authored numerous articles and written several books. He is considered an expert in the field of fraudulent schools and credential evaluation. He has testified many times as an expert witness and even before The United States Congress. In his 258-page report, Ezell writes “We have followed leads from California to Wisconsin and from the beaches of Florida and North Carolina to Iowa. Whatever was necessary was done including telephone, emails, US Mails, and overnight letters in pursuit of the facts and truth in this matter.”
Some former employees of Kaplan college lawyered up and refused to speak to Ezell during his investigation. Ezell writes that the degree Morrissey obtained in 16 months was designed to take 74 months. Ezell obtained Morrissey’s transcript from the City of Kenosha and from the college directly – Morrissey cooperated and signed a release for the investigation. “Morrissey could not remember the name of a single proctor. Morrissey has no explanation how he could complete 40 courses in 16 months, while full time employed as a patrol sergeant on 2pm to 10pm shift at Kenosha Police Deportment, married, with family at home.” wrote Ezell. Morrissey’s transcript was signed by Yvette Estrada. Ezell’s team located Estrada and she denied that the signature was hers. It was compared to known samples and it differed significantly. Estrada said she never worked in the registrar’s office, but in admissions. She asked “Are there more?” Investigators spoke to Dr. Susan Craig, former head of the Kaplan Criminal Justice Program. She said she never allowed a student to take five classes at a time. Dr. Craig told investigators that she didn’t believe Morrissey’s transcripts were legitimate because they were formatted differently from known genuine transcripts and the work was completed too quickly. She said there were not enough hours in the day for this to be possible. Ezell’s team also interviewed other law enforcement officers that took the same program and had severe doubts of the possibility. One Sheriff’s Deputy was allowed to take three classes at once and told investigators it “broke his back” and he never did it again. The summary of the investigation finishes with this paragraph:
“Ezell does not know how John Morrissey was able to complete 40 eight-week courses in 16 months at Kaplan Colleges – College For Professional Studies given that he was not approved by Kaplan officials to take multiple courses simultaneously. It is a statistical impossibility that he completed 40 courses, taking five courses each eight week period, for sixteen months. Even Morrissey cannot explain this himself, there is the possibility Morrissey obtained this diploma fraudulently. Ezell does not believe Morrissey ever took more than one course at a time, which would have made him short 32 courses for his degree requirement.”
Interview With Ezell
KCE spoke with Special Agent (Ret.) Allen Ezell and he told us that Morrissey did cooperate with his investigation and even signed a waiver to receive transcripts from Kaplan. He also spoke to Morrissey on the phone several times. Ezell told KCE that it is hard to detect deception on a telephone call but said that he found some of Morrissey’s assertions “unbelievable.”
Reached by telephone Thursday morning, Morrissey had to say about Bell, “I used to have sympathy for Michael Bell – now, I could give a flying fuck about him.” Morrissey says that he’s been blamed for things beyond his control, like the investigation into Bell’s son’s shooting and more recently, the releasing of the lethal bullet. “I don’t have the authority to release the bullet” Morrissey told KCE. “He’s been lying, saying that I’m stopping the release. I’m not behind that decision. The [Police] Chief decided not to.”
As to his degree, Morrissey was clear. It’s not fraudulent. He then explained multiple agencies have vetted the degree including when Morrissey attended UW-Plattville in Wisconsin to earn Masters Degree credits. Bell sent the 258-page report to local leaders and wrote in the email “I strongly believe, based on the findings of Allen Ezell’s report, that former Chief of Police John Morrissey fraudulently obtained a Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice. John Morrissey is currently involved in blocking the release of a 17-year-old police bullet to an outside investigator. This is the bullet that killed Michael E. Bell.”
You can read the entire report here. (It is a large file and some phones can’t download it – must use computer.)
Reached Thursday evening by cell phone, Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian had the following to say:
“I have total faith in John Morrissey and have no intention of doing an investigation.”