A phony college degree is at the center of a controversy at Bay County's Animal Services Division.
A News 13 investigation uncovered evidence that prompted the resignation of Carol Treftz, the animal shelter's top administrator.
Treftz became Animal Services Manager on August 19 at an annual salary of $56,000. Her brief tenure as a county employee came to an end Tuesday, about 24 hours after county officials learned of discrepancies in Treftz's academic records.
"We're going to accept her resignation and move on," Ed Smith, County Manager, said.
On her county employment application, Treftz indicated she graduated from Eckerd College in January 1986 with a bachelor's degree in law enforcement. The application included a photocopy of a diploma for a degree in sociology, also from Eckerd College, conferred in May 1986.
On Monday, a college administrator told News 13 there was no record that Treftz ever attended the school. The county's human resources department later confronted Treftz about the discrepancy and she responded to her supervisor, Jamie Jones, in an email sent at 5:38 a.m. Tuesday.
"Her email to us indicated that there was some confusion on her part, that she had taken a number of online courses that she thought had constituted a degree," Smith said. "We couldn't find any evidence of that."
In the email, Treftz wrote that she spent more than $24,000 for online classes over a three year period and believed she earned a degree more than two decades ago:
"Up until last night I did believe I had a college diploma. I know (sic) find out I was taken by internet fraud. I did not purposely lie on my application, I truly believed I had done the work and earned my degree. I do have the experience to do this job and have worked hard to show you that I care about the shelter and employees. And hope this has no effect on my position."
According to Smith, the county verified Treftz's work history for the previous 10 years but not her education. "We try and match the job with the training requirements and if that had called for a college degree, we would have checked on it," Smith said. "Because it didn't require that, we didn't bother to follow up on that part of it."
Smith said he's "disappointed" because Treftz spearheaded a number of positive changes at the shelter during her brief tenure. "Carol came in with a lot of energy and enthusiasm and certainly she has expertise," Smith said. "We are all disappointed it didn't work out but we're going to go forward."
Smith said Jones, General Services Director, will take over management of the animal services division until a replacement for Treftz can be hired.