A Real Life 'Breaking Bad'

Recently, a professor at California State University - San Bernardino was arrested for involvement with a drug ring. Is it a real life version of the popular television show 'Breaking Bad'? Not really. But the details of the case are interesting and surprising.

By Sarah Wright


Stephen Kinzey: Outlaw Professor

California State University - San Bernardino professor Dr. Stephen Kinzey recently made headlines for his legal troubles. The charges against him include allegations of drug distribution. According to the San Bernardino Sherriff's Department, Kinzey is suspected of being the leader of the Devil's Diciples, a motorcycle gang with a history of law-breaking. Specifically, Kinzey, who taught in the Department of Kinesiology for almost ten years, is charged with supplying meth to a ring of lower-level dealers and distributors

It's such a weird and unusual story that it's hard to resist making jokes about it. The stereotypical professor is an opera lover in a tweed coat, not the leader of a drug-dealing motorcycle gang. But the charges against Kinzey are serious. When the story first broke in early September, he was said to be on the run, though the San Bernardino Sun reported that he had been arrested as of the week of September 4, but had been released on bail. A procedural snafu over his release and questions over the source of his $300,000 bond payment contribute to ongoing turmoil in the case.

What Kind of a Professor Was He?

It's hard to tell, since by all appearances, pre-arrest Kinzey was a normal, workaday professor without any outstanding academic achievements. But fortunately, the Internet gives us tools to help fill in the blanks. Though RateMyProfessor.com isn't exactly the most scientific way to find out what Kinzey was like in the classroom, it does give us some insight. And on that site, Kinzey has been reviewed 18 times since 2005.

Overall, his reviews are positive. Aggregate scores show that students find him fairly helpful, and his classes relatively easy. The specific comments don't really reveal anything remarkable, except that perhaps he had a tendency toward fraternizing with students and being lenient with grades. Some students also called him out for not keeping the class on-task. On the whole, nothing about his reviews seem strange or indicative of the double life he allegedly led.

The Takeaway

If there's any one takeaway from this bizarre case, it's that you never know what's going on in your professors' personal lives. We tend to think of professors and teachers who exist in a sort of vacuum. They're there to teach us, but the fact that they're individuals with private lives doesn't typically enter into the equation. This is a little different in college, where older age allows you to relate closer to professors.

Though this case does truly prove that you never know who you're dealing with, it shouldn't really be cause for concern. It seems like an awful lot of work to be the head of a motorcycle gang and/or drug ring. Most professors are usually busy enough with their academic lives that the thought of adding so much intrigue and responsibility to the mix is unpalatable. It's actually pretty impressive that Kinzey managed to pull it off for so long without raising any suspicion.

This case is indeed a reminder that professors are people too.

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