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Posted on Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 5:52 a.m.

Ronald Bridgeforth: 'He was a reckless youth who made a horrible decision,' lawyer says

By Cindy Heflin

In 1964, Ronald Stanley Bridgeforth was an idealistic civil rights worker who arrived in Mississippi at the height of racial strife.

Four years later, a moment of bad judgment changed his life forever and eventually turned him into a fugitive from the law, his lawyer said Friday.


Ronald Bridgeforth, 67, center, with his attorney Paul Harris and wife, Diane, in court on Thursday.

Bridgeforth, who worked for more than 30 years at Washtenaw Community College under the alias Cole Jordon, came forward Thursday in San Francisco to face charges of assault on a police officer with a deadly weapon and credit card fraud.

“It’s the right thing to do,” attorney Paul Harris said Bridgeforth, now 67, told reporters Thursday in San Francisco.

Bridgeforth was also trying to do the right thing when he left college in Tennessee at age 19 and headed for Mississippi. He arrived in Starkville on June 22, 1964, one day after the infamous murders of three civil rights workers near Philadelphia, 60 miles to the south.

“He put his life on the line registering voters for a year,” Harris said. Conditions in Mississippi were so tense that one day Bridgeforth, fearing for his life, ran from a mob of white citizens. “The sheriff escorted him back to where he was staying on the black side of town,” Harris said.

After about a year in Mississippi, Bridgeforth moved to San Francisco, where he continued his efforts as a civil rights worker and community organizer. He brought prominent speakers to San Francisco for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, Harris said.

In 1968, Bridgeforth and two other people were working with young people in the Fillmore District of San Francisco, Harris said. The three acquired stolen credit cards with which they tried to purchase clothing and toys from a White Front discount store in San Francisco on Nov. 5, 1968, he said.

Bridgeforth saga

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The clerk became suspicious and called police. After a detective arrived to investigate, Bridgeforth was taken to a back room, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Friday. When a second officer arrived, Bridgeforth is alleged to have pulled a gun.

As Bridgeforth and the other two men tried to flee, a police car blocked their vehicle’s path, Harris said. Bridgeforth got out of the back seat and fired two shots at the police car. Officers fired back, and Bridgeforth was hit in the foot, and all three were arrested.

Harris said Bridgeforth’s two accomplices, who had prominent African-American lawyers, pleaded guilty to credit card fraud and served one year in jail. Bridgeforth pleaded guilty to a charge of assault on a police officer with a deadly weapon, and fearing a life in prison, fled before sentencing.

Harris declined to discuss how Bridgeforth managed to evade authorities for all these years. Bridgeforth fled to Africa for a year and then came back to San Francisco, eventually making his way to Michigan and WCC, he said.

Bridgeforth —under the alias Cole Jordan— began his career at WCC as a custodian. In 1993, he received a master’s degree in counseling from Eastern Michigan University and in 1998 he became a WCC counselor and faculty member.

Thursday, after more than 40 years as a fugitive, Bridgeforth said he wanted to take responsibility for his actions to serve as a role model for his two sons, now in their 30s. He was raised in a religious family in San Francisco and the life on the lam has weighed heavily on him all these years, Harris said.

Bridgeforth makes no effort to defend what he did, Harris said. "He was a reckless youth who made a horrible decision."


In 2007, the case of Ronald Bridgeforth was featured on the television show "America's Most Wanted.'' To see his fugitive profile on the show's web site, click here.

In 2007, San Francisco prosecutors levied additional charges against Bridgeforth. They accused him of being the getaway driver during the murder of a police sergeant at San Francisco's Ingleside Station on Aug. 29, 1971, while Bridgeforth was a fugitive.

But media reports Friday quoted prosecutors saying those charges had been dropped, and Harris confirmed that was the case. Harris said Bridgeforth was not even in San Francisco when the officer was killed.

Bridgeforth was held on $25,000 bond, and Harris said he hoped Bridgeforth would be bailed out by sometime Friday night.

Prosecutors have said they intend to ask for a maximum sentence of five years in prison. Chief Deputy District Attorney Karen Guidotti told the San Francisco Chronicle that such a sentence would be appropriate. She said it was “just fortuitous that none of the officers were hit.”

Harris said Friday he hopes for a sentence of a year in the county jail, but worries Bridgeforth could end up with a 15-year prison term.

He said Bridgeforth now intends to plead guilty to both the charge of credit card fraud and the assault on a police officer. He said Bridgeforth realizes he committed two wrongs and wants to make them right.

“His identity was secure,” Harris said. “There was no law enforcement reason for him to turn himself in.”


Down Home Dixie

Thu, Nov 17, 2011 : 5:48 p.m.

Seems crazy for so much time to pass by, have that guilt but never own up to it until so very many years later. Maybe that is why he picked the job he did to try to help people avoid mistakes that could ruin their lives. Could help with some of that guilt he was feeling? Who knows if we will ever know the true reason why he decided to turn himself in, but I do agree that he should of done so sooner and not after years of hiding. It would of made his accomplishments much better, seeing someone stand up for their beleifs, make mistakes because of getting wrapped up in things, then take responsibility for their actions and change their life because of it. Instead of standing up, falling down, running away, hiding, making a great life and then coming back after the dust has far settled with your tail between your legs. It is great to see someone whose life could of turned out like so many of those who make criminal mistakes, turn it around and help so many others, but you have to take responsibility for your actions or it doesn't seem like your help\advice holds much water. Also I wonder if his family knew? What a mind bowling thing to find out your husband or your father doesn't even go by the name you have been calling him, and I can only imagine the mental torment of wondering who they are or what lies they've told you after lying for so many years to so many people. The whole situation is just crazy!

Dee Baxter

Tue, Nov 15, 2011 : 1:23 a.m.

Mr. Jordan was a phenomenal person, instructor and counselor. Helped many young and older people as well to snap out of their malaise of lazy indifference toward their futures and goals. He assisted worthy students with scholarships, employment and was encouraging and straight forward. I witnessed first hand the way he worked and conducted himself. I have so much more to say, but he has been an awesome influence on those around him for years. Any one can change and many have made mistakes in the past, that is what he tried to help young people prevent; stupid mistakes, and live the best way the first time. We will be praying for him and all involved. God bless him.

Patricia Burgen

Mon, Nov 14, 2011 : 2:43 p.m.

Confused Resident, I'm pretty sure WCC did do a back ground check on "Cole Jordan", and that came back clean. San Fransisco police, the FBI, were looking for Ronald S. Bridgeforth not Cole Jordan. Thirty some odd years ago when Jordan was hired for a custodial position background checks were a lot simpler as well as limited. Since Bridgeforth made himself a whole new identy, I'm thinking he had all his documents in order to be able to live for 42 years as Cole Jordan, have a family, buy a car, a house, get a loan, ect.


Sun, Nov 13, 2011 : 4:52 p.m.

Ronald Bridgeforth aka Cole Jordan grabbed me by the shoulder in a WCC orientation when I was 18 and barely graduated Ypsilanti High School. He took me to his office, sat me down and counseled me through the college entrance process. Over a short period of time, with no father figure in my life, Cole stepped in for emotional support. Always there to listen and most times engaging what was internally bothering me before I knew who to turn to. He became more than a mentor, I honestly looked at him as the father I didn't have. IF IT WAS NOT FOR Ronald Bridgeforth, I WOULD NOT BE THE MAN THAT I AM. I am now a successful college graduate in Secondary Education, teaching another generation of young black men how to deal with their emotions in a racist, facist country. I love him and will carry on the foundation which he has laid.

Dante Marcos

Sun, Nov 13, 2011 : 1 p.m.

Of course an African American civil rights activist in the late 60s would be afraid of the law. This should surprise no one. Each of us, in our own unique ways, have been "criminals" at some point, to lesser or greater degrees. This story serves to remind us that people need not always be "punished" in order to learn from an experience and grow. Let's occupy life, friends, rather than cower in our computer rooms, alone, and expressing hatred for a man who's clearly let a decent life.

Silly Sally

Sun, Nov 13, 2011 : 12:22 p.m.

You are so Silly. Bernie M was caught with his hand in the cookie jar, with all of the cookies, not 40 years later. This man's crime is long in the past and he has been law abiding ever since, except for fake IDs, to hide the first crime.

Kelly Mendenhall

Sun, Nov 13, 2011 : 3:44 a.m.

Ms. Heflin, I know that my contact information was shared with you by Ronald's lawyer Paul Harris, and I'm a little disappointed you didn't contact me. I will say this about the situation -- as a black man in 1969 I don't doubt for a moment that he would have served a long prison term. After which he would most likely have become psychologically institutionalized, and much worse off. He didn't use his life on the lam to commit various crimes, live as a thief or a hooligan. The man got married, raised two sons, and lived a peaceful and meaningful existence. It's easy for everyone who doesn't know him personally to say, "Throw the book at him!" But under 1969 laws the maximum sentence is 15 years. 15 years!! I've personally known individuals who have committed worse crimes than he and served a third of that. In 2000 when I met the man I knew as Cole Jordan, I was a shell of myself. I was 18 and suffering from PTSD, severe depression and anxiety. I had graduated high school when I was 16 and my first year of college was a disaster, ending in something like a 1.1 GPA. I was terrified to go back to school and fail again. And I was terrified of life and the world in general. I could hardly leave my house. But my mom refused to let me waste my potential, and she marched me into WCC and demanded a meeting with the first counselor available. It was Cole Jordan. I cried in his office and explained I just didn't know what to do. He personally walked my registration slips over to the student records desk and had me registered on the spot. I won awards and scholarships and he was always there cheering and clapping. I graduated and cried when I hugged him. He helped save my life because he helped me change my life. And now I'm about to graduate with a graduate degree in Public Administration. I run a community center for at-risk youth. He's no danger to society, no common hood. He's a good man. In spite of the one set of mistakes he made.


Sun, Nov 13, 2011 : 2:59 a.m.

Ho hum. Looking forward to reading the book/seeing the movie.

Chris 8 - YPSI PRIDE

Sun, Nov 13, 2011 : 12:20 a.m.

Back in to 60's and 70's and even into the mid 80's it was very easy to forge the necessary documents to obtain whatever was needed to assume a new identity. With limited computerized cross referencing and lazy government workers rubber stamping everything anyone could have accomplished this. I think he was about to be fingerprinted for some sort of further background check on his job which would have had him caught in 30 minutes these days. If he were ever arrested after lets say 1985 and used that alias the FBI would have caught up with him through his fingerprints. Everything was digitalized around then. It's getting harder and harder to hide any skeletons you may have in your closet. Everything is connected by computers these days. Fingerprinting is the easiest way to really find out if someone has a past to hide. I was under the assumption colleges did this as a condition of hire. It's quite possible they implemeted this type of check after he was hired and he was recently told he had to be fingerprinted to update records. This would leave anyone with an identity falsely obtained and established cornered and probably without a choice but to come clean. He would be foolish to just up and turn himself in at this point. It could turn out to be a life sentence at his age. I did stupid things as a kid and regret them, but it would be a cold day in hell before I would walk into a police station and come clean risking an arrest and huge legal expenses. As for the statue of limitations, it applies to crimes for which no one was charged with. When DNA is obtained some prosecutors are using a John Doe to charge anonymous DNA, and are hoping the person will strike again and get caught. Then they just simply change the name on the accusatory instrument. I've read somewhere that's a legal way around the statue of limitations with any crime if the prosecutor chooses to charge a John Doe. If a lawyer is reading correct me if I am wrong. I remember reading this somewhere.


Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 10:25 p.m.

I suspect there is NOT a single poster here that does not know someone that has committed a crime of one kind or another maybe even you and "gotten away with it". How many of you have turned in yourself or that friend, relative that broke the law? Why not? The man has by ANY standard paid his debt. Get off your sanctimonious pulpit and concentrate on those you know that are STILL breaking the law!


Sun, Nov 13, 2011 : 1:19 a.m.

I do not believe he will be choosing his own punishment. That will be up to the prosecutor correct? And just because there are some of us that believe in this case justice will not be served by "putting him away" only means that there are cases where prosecuting to the fullest extent of the law is not in the best interest of anyone.


Sun, Nov 13, 2011 : 12:19 a.m.

jcj Where, in our justice system, does it allow for each individual citizen to chose their own punishment? Does that even remotely make sense to you? Golly, I shot at police officers, so I'll just spend 'x' amount of time doing 'y', all of my own chosing. Good luck with that.


Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 11:07 p.m.

So can drunk drivers!


Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 10:50 p.m.

He allegedly shot a gun at other people. Allegedly, that action can kill.


Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 10:03 p.m.

Every day since '68 Mr Bridgeforth made a decision not to 'come clean'. Every day since '68 Mr Bridgeforth chose not to face what he knew was just punishment for his crimes. Every day since '68 Mr Bridgeforth chose to live a lie. Evidentally some here think it OK to pick and chose which punishments to face, and which not to. Who the heck are you to make that decision? Our society would crumble overnight if that kind of thinking prevailed. We have a criminal justice system, not a criminal rehabilitation system, like it or not. If criminals manage to get rehabilitated while serving time, great. If not, that's their choice. (Oh, and by the way, I have for years volunteered at the 'Hogback Hilton', trying to help inmates break the cycle.)


Sun, Nov 13, 2011 : 2:27 p.m.

Is it me or is it usually the pots calling the kettles sanctimonious?


Sun, Nov 13, 2011 : 4:01 a.m.

Oh good grief.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Sun, Nov 13, 2011 : 3:27 a.m.

Thanks, SB I rest my case. You've made it for me. GN&GL


Sun, Nov 13, 2011 : 2 a.m.

"Evidentally some here think it OK to pick and chose which punishments to face, and which not to. Who the heck are you to make that decision? Our society would crumble overnight if that kind of thinking prevailed." How many criminals have you come across that have turned themselves in? And some of us are saying that in this case putting him away will serve no purpose. Is everything black and white for you? Or are there cases whereby you might cut someone some slack? If you would be willing to cut anyone some slack what gives you the right? And if you are not willing to cut anyone some slack I suggest you read John chapter 8.


Sun, Nov 13, 2011 : 1:12 a.m.

Mr Ghost I have walked the walk, year in and year out, doing the very thing you point out is being asked of in the New Testament, namely visiting those in prison. Want to come along with the rest of us? We go every other Thursday eve. and Sunday afternoons. Along the way, I've met with perhaps hundreds of inmates. It boils down to personal accountability. Does this person really want to take responsibility for their actions, and make a change, or do they not. It took Mr Bridgeforth decades to come to that point, but he is not alone. I really needn't say any more to you.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Sun, Nov 13, 2011 : 12:51 a.m.

Apparently giving a straight answer to a serious question is censorable. But I'll try again. Sanctimonious: Making a show of being morally superior to other people. Describes your post above exactly. Every word of it. But especially the bit about the Hogback Hilton. GN&GL


Sun, Nov 13, 2011 : 12:16 a.m.

You are extremely quick to cast the first stone, Mr Ghost. You, sir, are the one who is calling people by name. Interesting, isn't it. But, exactly, and using quotes, where am I being 'sanctimonious'? Since you are very quick to use that word, I'm sure you will have plenty of reason to do so. Walk a mile in my shoes, first, by the way, and you'll regret using such an inflamatory word. Have you spent time in jail or prison, as it is asked of you in the New Testament, tending His sheep? (Since I'm directly replying to your post, I hope the censors won't delete this. Otherwise, they should delete all of your posts containing inflammatory, unfounded accusations.)

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 10:22 p.m.

A predictably sanctimonious opinion But no one should be surprised. Time to open up the New Testament. Good Night and Good Luck

toothless wonder

Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 7:19 p.m.

Ron or "Cole" will be fine. But YOU with your student loans, oy, that's a life sentence.


Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 7:14 p.m.

Other than allegedly shooting at police officers he was an alleged civil rights hero. If he had only allegedly not tried to shoot police officers.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 6:25 p.m.

The angry and sanctimonious responses to this situation are sad. Even more sad, however, is that they were entirely predictable. Entirely predictable. No one has suggested that Mr. Bridgeforth not be punished. No one. But they have noted that he appears to have turned his life around. They have noted that he has become a productive member of society, likely much more so than many who write here in judgment of him. They have noted that over the years he has had a positive influence on many, many students who have attended WCC. And this is a man who, for whatever reason, decided late in life that he needed to come clean and own up to his deeds. And let's be clear about this: there is no indication whatsoever that he felt as if he were about to get caught. If you doubt this, take a look at the "America's Most Wanted" link. The digital representation looks nothing like him, and "Cole Jordan" was not one of the alleged aliases. He was safe. He was secure. But he also had a conscience, which is more than can be said for the sanctimonious holy rollers. But here is the true food for thought for those who can bother thinking about this situation rather than reacting in a knee-jerk, sanctimonious, and retributional manner: (continued in 1st reply)

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 10:24 p.m.

Gee, Marshall. Seems like they showed up, anyway. Could have been predicted. GN&GL

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 6:43 p.m.

Yes, you are correct, Marshall. I accidentally posted these to the wrong article. Good Catch. I'll repost them to where all of the sanctimonious appear to be gathered. GN&GL

Marshall Applewhite

Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 6:34 p.m.

I don't really see any angry or sanctimonious responses. Is this a case of you assuming how people would act without it actually happening?

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 6:30 p.m.

Well, apparently one person above (Berda Green) advocates letting him go. One. Good Night and Good Luck

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 6:26 p.m.

Let's imagine 24-year old Ron Bridgeforth had allowed himself to be imprisoned for 5 to 15 years in the California penal system? Do we think that the man who emerged from that sentence would have been nearly as productive member of society as Cole Jordan has become? If you think so, I urge you to look at the statistics about the lives of black men convicted of a felony. They are not pretty. Drug abuse. Homelessness. Recidivism. So the ultimate question we ought ask ourselves as a result of the Bridgeforth/Jordan story is whether or not our penal system, as it currently operates, truly serves the broader interests of society at large. But one would actually have to be willing to THINK in order to address that question, a trait not present in posts of the sanctimonious. But I'm betting and most of the very sanctimonious on this subject are so-called "Good Christians". If so, time for you to actually READ the New Testament. Nothing in there supports your responses to this sad situation. Good Night and Good Luck


Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 6:05 p.m.

I do commend Mr. Bridgeforth (Jordan) on changing his life into a constructive one that has apparently helped others through the years. However, let us not forget that he actually fired shots at police officers and then fled before sentencing. I am sure that the amount of time and resources spent trying to find him and bring him to justice were very considerable after he fled. Imagine if a criminal fired shots at local officers, was apprehended then fled...I know that I would expect the city and authorities to leave no stone unturned to find the fugitive. I am even willing to overlook the credit-card fraud...but cannot just look past the firing of the shots and fleeing, despite what he may have accomplished since then. I think a 5-year sentence is about right. Then again...San Francisco will probably hail him as a hero an erect a shrine to him.

Berda Green

Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 5:38 p.m.

its the past let it go and i wish him all the best

Zach Baker

Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 4:55 p.m.

I cannot speak to the charges against Ronald Stanley Bridgeforth. I can only speak about the man I know – the man he became – Mr. Cole Jordan. When I came to Washtenaw Community College (WCC), I was a broken man. I had been homeless and had no idea what to do with my life. I now attend a major university and live with a passion to help others. I can honestly say that without Mr. Jordan's influence I would likely still be lost. He understood me, encouraged me, and pushed me like no one that has ever touched my life. When I graduated from WCC, I was chosen to be the graduation speaker. Most of my speech was about the experiences I had with Mr. Jordan and the lessons he taught me. I am currently doing 16 hours a week of volunteer work, and I hope to be a social worker someday. Everyone I have helped, and will help in the future, is a direct result of the influence Mr. Jordan had on my life. He helped me harness the power of my humanity. My sympathies go out to all involved.


Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 6:52 p.m.

And THAT is what rehabilitation is all about! He clearly made some poor choices but has spent three decades making the world a better place. Isn't that what we ultimately want for our prisoners? Why spend the money, instead have him HELP prisoners, or continue helping people like Zach Baker. Good luck Mr. Baker!


Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 4:53 p.m.

The real article is here: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> This one is great, too: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 4:39 p.m.

I thought murder and rape were the only crimes for which there is no statute of limitations. How can he be prosecuted for these crimes that occurred so long ago? Can somebody clarify the statute of limitations in this case for me, especially the credit card fraud charges?


Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 6:30 p.m.

I believe it was the sentencing he evaded. Never heard of a statute of limitations for sentencing.

April Griffin

Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 4:24 p.m.

It is hard to know the whole truth here. Was there previous criminal activity before Nov 5 1968? Reading many of the articles that have been written, there has been no mention of a long string of crimes that Mr. Bridgeforth allegedly committed, with exception of the 1971 case and those charges have been dropped. Was he there at that point? We will probably never know. In reading just this article, it seems like he was on the right path in the first place, the late 60's and early 70's were hard times for the African American community and it would have been difficult not to be influenced by the times. Mr. Bridgeforth made mistakes, carried them with him for all these years, and has paid a price internally. I am glad he is choosing to face the judge at this point, but I have to agree with Jim Osborn , there would be no value in putting him in prison. He is not a menace, and by no means dangerous. Mr. Bridgeforth is very well educated and resourceful (in a good way). He would be more helpful in community service talking to the youth of today, sharing his story and helping them not to make the same grave decisions he had made. "Mr. Jordan" asked me a question once, and at that time, I could not answer. Now at this point, I believe I can answer that question. As I said before, my hope is that all parties involved find peace. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. John 8:7. I can assure you, it would not be me.


Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 3:50 p.m.

The article reads like the self-serving political tomes I see at election time. Is he running for office? Is he expecting a medal for the selfless good deeds he has accumulated?


Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 3:34 p.m.

I admire this man for the changes he made in his life and the fact that he is facing up to things he did when he was younger. He has demonstrated that he is a responsible and productive citizen. There is no point to putting him in prison. I would like to see more done to rehabilitate people rather than focus on punishment only. Possibly probation with community service at a jail or prison to show young men who have committed crimes that they can turn their lives around and lead productive and satisfying lives.


Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 1:11 p.m.

If he was using the ID of someone that died as a kid, maybe someone should be prosecuting the lame brains that run the Social &quot;Security&quot; administration!


Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 10:17 p.m.

But I do agree parents get their kids cards much earlier now than they used to. My grandkids all had theirs by age 3.


Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 10:15 p.m.

Gramma You are not issued a card at birth now. You must apply for a card.


Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 3:39 p.m.

People born in the 50's and before generally didn't get social security cards until they were 16 or older. You weren't issued a number at birth like you are now. Someone who was born then might never have had a social security unless they worked outside the home.

Confused Resident

Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 12:55 p.m.

Mr. Bridgeforth (alias Cole Jordan) was also on the Michigan Education Association's (MEA) board of Directors and an Officer on the Washtenaw Community College Education Association. It is an I-9 requirement for ALL employers to review social security cards and other original documents, birth certificates, etc. Did the MEA and WCC fail to ask for these documents?


Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 3:36 p.m.

In the 70's, you did not have to show your birth certificate to get a job. No one checked on the validity of your social security card.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 2:55 p.m.

From Elizabeth's sub-post above: &quot;People seem to be forgetting that he was hired at WCC in the 70's - a time when different policies were likely in place and it was definitely a pre-9/11 time. A lapse in security then doesn't necessarily mean there is one now; although such policies should certainly be looked at, I'm not sure it's such a big deal because he was hired so long ago.&quot; As for the MEA and WCCEA, they are not his employer. They are organizations to which he belongs. No I-9 required. Good Night and Good Luck

Confused Resident

Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 12:27 p.m.

So he was using whose Social Security number for 30 years? How thoroughly does WCC (and EMU) do background checks if it is so easy to use another name, SSN? Makes you wonder about the cross-checking of WCC's HR &amp; EMU's Admissions Dept. To get into a Masters program you have to have an undergrad degree. This guy cooked up a transcript from the Tennessee college he left at 19 and a High School transcript? The SF courts should decide the penalty. Locally, WCC &amp; EMU's departments should examine their internal processes.

Terrin Bell

Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 3:11 p.m.

Yes, let us blame everybody including the guilty party. The reality is the guy was hired thirty years ago. The system was quite different then. For example, no network computers. Further, it is obvious what likely happened. The guy moved to Africa, incorporated a new identity, came back to the US, and applied for a social security number. So, he probably did not have a fake social security number. He had a real one. It doesn't say in the article that he used his previous college experience before the crime to acquire his masters.


Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 2:18 p.m.

People seem to be forgetting that he was hired at WCC in the 70's - a time when different policies were likely in place and it was definitely a pre-9/11 time. A lapse in security then doesn't necessarily mean there is one now; although such policies should certainly be looked at, I'm not sure it's such a big deal because he was hired so long ago.


Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 2:05 p.m.

Spend a little time reading the related stories, which indicate that he earned his bachelor's degree in general studies from Wayne State University in 1986. For adult students, universities usually don't ask for high school information (even today), so I doubt he &quot;cooked up&quot; anything. EMU probably admitted him on the basis of his WSU degree and his GRE scores, just like they do for everyone else.

Jim Osborn

Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 12:36 p.m.

Interesting points. Especially about the SS number that he was using. An id of a person his age who died as a kid? You might mot need a high school diploma. Go to a jr or community college and then transfer. Where did this article say that he &quot;cooked up a transcript from the Tennessee college&quot;? He may have started over. I would have, instead of risking being caught, if I were him.

Jim Osborn

Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 11:20 a.m.

&quot;do the crime. do the time&quot; It just doesn't make sense after 40 years for him. I'm a conservative law and order type, who strongly believes in punishment of crime. But the ultimate goal of society is two-fold; protection and punishment. We have nothing to fear from Ronald Bridgeforth, he has proved that he is rehabilitated. In fact, prison now would only make him bitter, although at his age, I doubt that he would come out a danger. He has had to look over his shoulder for most of his life, even changing his name. His mental punishment has been something. If sent to prison now, he would only fill up a spot that is better used by a more serious criminal. I hope that he gets no jail time, perhaps some minimal community service. He is no danger to us, and I don't want to pay for a cell for him.

Silly Sally

Sun, Nov 13, 2011 : 12:23 p.m.

Silly Sally at 7:22 AM on November 13, 2011 This comment has been removed from our system. This comment is hidden because you have chosen to ignore Silly Sally . Show DetailsHide Details @Freddie - You are so Silly. Bernie M was caught with his hand in the cookie jar, with all of the cookies, not 40 years later. This man's crime is long in the past and he has been law abiding ever since, except for fake IDs, to hide the first crime.


Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 3:42 p.m.

Bernie Madoff did not spend 30 years redeeming himself.


Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 1:16 p.m.

We have nothing to fear from Bernie Madoff either, now that he is unmasked. By your logic we should let him go too?

Jim Osborn

Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 11:27 a.m.

His mental torture must have been severe for him. After all, he turned himself in, he was not caught. Even Obama's buddy, Bill Ayers is free and he did far worse, bombing the Pentagon and never served a day.