An edited version of the original thread is available here. (Unfortunately, the graphics had to be removed after Vadney made a fuss about my alleged infringement of the copyright of the hosting company. I also added a further post after the forum had been shut down but the story taken up in the press. Also, the IP addresses have been removed for privacy.) Below is a bit of a summary of the story from then to now.
The story behind the original NIL forum thread
In June, 2007, I received emails about an American pseudo-translator named Harold Vadney, containing what seemed like extraordinary allegations about his dishonesty. I knew that he was a bit dodgy, claiming to be a clinical scientist despite showing complete ignorance of even the simplest chemistry, but the allegations against him seemed so over the top that I suspected my correspondent of being a few snags short of a barbecue. I told him I would be prepared to publish the allegations against Vadney on the NIL (Network of Independent Linguists) forum, of which I was moderator, but only after independently verifying the facts. At the time, as well as advertising himself as a translator and running a kitchen-table translation agency, Vadney was also running his second campaign for the post of Town Justice in his local community of New Baltimore, New York.
Among the allegations against him were the following:
- that Vadney had falsely claimed to be an FRSA (Fellow of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, a UK-based association of some antiquity and prestige);
- that Vadney had falsely claimed to be a Member of the Institute of Linguists (now the Chartered Institute of Linguists) a UK-based professional society for translators, interpreters and other language professionals;
- that Vadney had falsely claimed to hold an MA degree from the State University of New York at Albany.
These three allegations could be checked objectively without too much trouble, by contacting the IOL, the RSA and an organization called Credentials Inc., trading under the name of DegreeChk.com. I obtained the requisite information quite legitimately, despite Vadney’s subsequent protests, and it turns out that the above three allegations against him were all true. (He has since changed a lot of his online CVs etc., but his false claims were everywhere at the time, and can still be found in archived and cached versions of his websites.) So I went ahead and published the exposé. I notified Vadney immediately of the thread, a fact which, with his usual candour, he later strenuously denied.
One minor problem with the exposé was that DegreeChk.com had incompetently given Vadney’s one degree as a BS (Bachelor of Science in the US), rather than a BA. (There are serious doubts about how Vadney even got this degree—see below.) Although this led to some inappropriate statements on the NIL forum thread, it does nothing to change the undisputed fact that Vadney lied about his qualifications, in particular, by claiming an MA.
Reaction to the exposé
There were some consequences to all this. Vadney started throwing all sorts of wild abuse and allegations around on the TranslatorsCafe.com forum, in a thread that was quickly deleted. A New York regional newspaper, the Albany Times Union, was alerted to the story, and a reporter, Scott Waldman, asked me some questions and interviewed Vadney. The story did not appear until some time later, however, on 22 August, just after the close of nominations for the election. This story repeated the revelations made on the NIL forum thread, but added some other allegations against Vadney. These included his use of the false title MA and the made-up title of “Drt Med” on translations he certified for official purposes (not surprising since his website displayed an example of his certification including these postnominals), along with the revocation of his Army Commendation Medal.
Lying little worm that he is, Vadney has since repeatedly claimed that Scott Waldman got this information from me (and/or Scott Horne). This is simply not true, and Vadney knows it. I don’t know the source of Mr Waldman’s information, but he certainly didn’t get it from me. Clearly something has been going on behind the scenes, but I can only guess at what it might be. One thing is for certain: Vadney previously claimed to have an oak-leaf cluster to go with his medal, and there was no mention of it in the copy of his military record later obtained by Scott Horne from the military archives.
Rather than taking the intelligent approach of adopting a low profile and waiting for the thing to blow over, Vadney used the exposure of his dishonesty as an opportunity to draw attention to himself. He approached the local press, and one so-called newspaper (I say “so-called” because it was known for such journalistic exploits as publishing a multi-page “news” spread on the opening of a new salon), the defunct and unlamented Ledger, run by the contemptible and unprofessional Lisa Deyo, refused to touch the story. Another, the Daily Mail (24 August 2007), uncritically published Vadney’s version of the story, unsurprisingly full of lies, as fact. This servility was limited only by the incompetence of the reporter, Donna Rich.
For example, Ms Rich got my name wrong and said I lived in Canada and Scott Horne in Indonesia, whereas I lived in Indonesia at the time and Scott Horne in Canada. A scanned copy of the article, along with my response to it at the time and various documents relating to Vadney and his lies, may be downloaded in a ZIP folder from <http://www.geocities.com/qzzu/Vadney/Press_Kit.zip>.
Meanwhile, another newspaper, the Greenville Press, published (30 Aug 2007) a more balanced article. (“Balanced” does not mean the same thing as “even-handed”: balanced reporting of a dispute in which one side is clearly in the wrong will report this fact.) The article begins with the words:
A town justice candidate who misrepresented his own educational and professional credentials remains in the running.
Well, that’s one newspaper supporting Vadney, two supporting truth and justice and the contemptible rag known as the Ledger favouring Vadney but too gutless to publish anything about it. Another newspaper, the Ravena News Herald, which was definitely anti-Vadney, was unwilling to touch the story because it and its publisher, Dick Bleezarde, were being sued by Vadney (see below). Unfortunately, the Network of Independent Linguists’ forum, which first made Vadney’s fraud public, did not survive. Early in the piece, Vadney contacted the inaptly-named Bravenet Web Services Inc., the company hosting the forum, and a hack by the surprising name of Coal Fuller sent me a standard email demanding I remove all references to Vadney from the forum. I did not, and so, on 19 August 2007 or so, Coal pulled the plug. Vadney of course gloated about this, but it is merely a reflection of Bravenet’s craven policy: the moment anyone threatens them with legal action, they buckle. (We had experienced a similar reaction, under a previous moderator, when the IOL threatened Bravenet.)
A constant theme running through Vadney’s emails and public pronouncements is his conspiracy theory. At the time I became involved, he was suing several people for alleged defamation, relating to his pathetic campaign to have himself elected Town Justice in 2005. Articles and advertisements had been published pointing to Vadney’s loony conduct and obvious unsuitability for the office. In Vadney’ perverse little mind, my publication of the truth about him was part of some “conspiracy” with the defendants in that case (which was eventually summarily dismissed), in particular one Joan Ross. To this day, he does not seem to have grasped a few simple concepts. He has actually used the term “criminal conspiracy”, but never said conspiracy to do what. He does not seem to realize that there needs to be a “what”, an object of the conspiracy, and that, for it to be criminal conspiracy, this object must be itself criminal. Nor, at least until recently (assuming he read and understood one of the summary judgments against him), did he understand that there is no tort of “(civil) conspiracy”. There needs to be some underlying tort. The existence of a conspiracy, if demonstrated, may expand the class of tortfeasors, but it does not create a tort out of thin air.
The aftermath: the decline and fall of a narcissist
In another bizarre and perverse action, Vadney set up his hate blog, mainly focused on me, in December 2007, accusing me of “Internet abuse and defamation”. Initially, he hid behind the pseudonym “BG” apparently standing for beau gars (!). For a while he posted at a frantic pace, even finding time between the turkey and christmas pudding to post three times (actually more, since he amalgamated some of the posts) on 25 December. Now he seems more subdued. Maybe he has realized that he is totally outclassed in terms of credibility and writing skills and is only making himself look even stupider with every post, or maybe he is too busy behind the scenes, writing letters to judges, foreign consulates, law enforcement officials, dog catchers, and god knows who else trying to get them to do his bidding.
Vadney today cuts an even more pathetic figure than ever before. Unable to come to terms with the inevitable loss of his stupid defamation case, he is trying to appeal. Not only that, he is claiming poverty and trying to weasel out of paying the usual fees. This does not sit very well with his earlier bragging about the success of his business, or even with his dismissive description in his blog of Scott Horne and me as “indigent”. Certain real estate transactions taking place in distant Italy might be of interest to the court authorities in this regard, too. So impotent has he become that he has resorted to placing plastic bags of dogshit on the street in front of one of his neighbours’ homes (that of another of the defendants in his crazy defamation suit). He is a broken man, his demeanour a far cry from the jaunty arrogance of a few months ago.
Meanwhile, the rest of us have been getting on with our lives, advancing our careers, gaining new qualifications, travelling the world. It is only Vadney that is stuck in the mire of brooding, self-delusion, conspiracy theories and revenge fantasies. One wonders how much longer he can continue like that.
Postscript: Vadney’s degree?
The Greenville Press article mentioned above raises some questions about Vadney’s BA degree. How did he graduate in less than a year after leaving the Army? It quotes him as citing credits earned from the University of Maryland while in the military. Fair enough. What puzzles me, however, is the number of credits. There is reference on his military record to his having entered with a massive 15 semester-hours’ credit from Union College, and gained a further 24 SH under the DANTES scheme while serving. That makes a total of 39 SH when he left the Army. And yet he was able to complete the requirements for a degree (at least 100 SH, usually more) in less than a year? The guy is no genius, and, given his self-proclaimed propensity for “forging his way”, we are entitled to ask: just how did he get the necessary credits so quickly? Did Clerk Typist Vadney get some additional credits for his typing ability?