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William Lyon University

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William Lyon University was a former diploma mill based in San Diego, California. It closed in the early 2000s.

The school was named after Maj. General William Lyon (USAF) ret., a decorated officer who served during the World War II, Korea, and Vietnam eras.

The school was reported to have been founded as Gaylor Institute, but later became Lyon University and then William Lyon University.

In the late 1980s the school changed its name to become American Commonwealth University.

The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States cites William Lyon University three times.

Abdussattar Shaikh, a San Diego Muslim leader believed to be an FBI informant who hosted two of the 9/11 hijackers at his home prior to the September 11 attacks, claimed he was a retired professor of English at San Diego State University and a Vice President of International Projects at American Commonwealth University.

The 9/11 Commission Report cited the university organization as a diploma mill, consisting of a mail drop in a non-descript office building alongside the 805 freeway in San Diego, CA.

Abdusattar Shaikh told the FBI he first met Omar al-Byoumi at American Commonwealth University in 1994


William Lyon: U.S. Air Force Biography

General Lyon was born in Los Angeles, Calif., in 1923. Prior to entering the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1943, he attended the University of Southern California, and the Dallas Aviation School and Air College. He completed Air War College in 1971 and the Air War College; Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve Senior Officers Orientation Course in 1972 and 1974. Additionally, he attended the Industrial College of the Armed Forces National Seminar in 1973.

General Lyon enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps as a reservist in 1943 and continued serving as a civilian flight instructor until he received a direct appointment as a flight officer in June 1944. During World War II, he was assigned to the 6th Ferrying Group and ferried aircraft to the Pacific and European theaters. In 1945 he was assigned to the North African Division of the Air Transport Command, returning to the United States in 1946.

In 1947 he was commissioned as a second lieutenant and participated in various Reserve assignments until his voluntary recall to active duty in 1951. He was then assigned to Headquarters Air Training Command as a staff pilot and was later transferred to the Military Air Transport Service, flying air evacuation and ferrying missions. In 1953 he volunteered for a tour of duty in Korea and flew 75 combat missions in the C-46 and C-47.

From 1954 to 1963, General Lyon was assigned to various positions in the Reserve and served as a flight commander and operations officer. In 1963 he was named commander of the 929th Tactical Airlift Squadron, March Air Force Base, Calif., and subsequently served as commander of the parent unit, the 943d Tactical Airlift Group.

General Lyon was assigned as mobilization assistant to the commander, Sacramento Air Materiel Area, McClellan Air Force Base, Calif., in June 1970, and in February 1972, he became mobilization assistant to the commander, Fifteenth Air Force at March Air Force Base. In March 1974 he was appointed mobilization assistant to the commander in chief, Strategic Air Command, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., where he was involved in the planning of the transfer of designated KC-135 units to the Reserve Forces.

In April 1975 General Lyon was ordered to active duty to serve as chief of Air Force Reserve, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C.

He is a command pilot. His military decorations and awards include the Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with two oak leaf clusters, Presidential Unit Citation, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, Combat Readiness Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal with hour glass device, and the Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation.

He was promoted to the grade of major general on April 24, 1974, with date of rank May 24, 1972. Retired April 13, 1978


More than 50 years ago, William Lyon started building homes for returning military personnel and others attracted to the Golden State. This modest effort evolved to become William Lyon Homes, Inc., which is now one of the nation’s largest homebuilders. Headquartered in Newport Beach, William Lyon Homes has constructed more than 75000 new residences in Arizona, California, Nevada and Colorado.

General Lyon’s business success isn’t limited to homebuilding. During the 80s, General Lyon established a multifamily real estate company to further diversify his real estate holdings. Today, three privately-held companies, Lyon Capital Ventures, Lyon Realty Advisors and Lyon Management Group, acquire, develop and manage over 10,000 apartment units. In 1981 he and a partner purchased AirCal, a regional air carrier based in Newport Beach, California. General Lyon served as their Chairman & CEO until 1987 when he merged AirCal with American Airlines. His love of flying then led him to purchase Martin Aviation, a fixed based operator, at John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California, as well to establish Lyon Air Museum. Most recently, General Lyon, along with other investors, opened Commercial Bank of California, which he chairs.

William Lyon generously shares his business expertise by serving on the boards of several companies. He is a retired director of American Airlines.


William Lyon has always been an active supporter of community organizations. He currently serves as a director on the Segerstrom Center For The Arts Board (having been a former chairman of that board). General Lyon is the founding chairman of the Orangewood Children’s Foundation, and past chairman of Boy Scouts of America, Orange County Council. Additionally, he has served as board chairman of the Alexis de Tocqueville Society of The United Way.

General Lyon attended USC in the 40s and currently serves as a Lifetime Trustee. Additionally, he serves on the board of USC Marshall School of Business and is a member of the President’s Cabinet of Chapman University.


  • 1954: William Lyon and brother Leon Lyon found Luxury Homes in Fullerton.
  • 1968: William Lyon sells Luxury Homes to American Standard, a plumbing-fixtures company. As part of the deal, Lyon retains control of a subsidiary called William Lyon Development.
  • 1972: Unhappy with American Standard, Lyon quits to start his own company, William Lyon Co., headquartered in Newport Beach.
  • 1974-1979: Lyon serves as chief of the Air Force Reserve.
  • 1979: Lyon acquires the development arm of troubled Continental Illinois Bank. In the deal, Lyon gets more than 2,000 acres of land in Florida.
  • 1981: Lyon and fellow Orange County developer George Argyros pay $61.5 million to buy AirCal, a troubled regional airline. During their ownership, the company makes a financial comeback. Five years later, when Lyon and Argyros sell AirCal for $225 million, they reportedly pocket a profit of at least $15 million each.
  • 1985: Lyon expands in Florida by buying half-interest in Senior Corp. Four years later, Lyon buys out his partners, solidifying a $141 million acquisition. As part of the deal, Lyon gets properties in Florida and Atlanta.
  • 1987: Lyon pays $325 million cash to acquire Newport Beach-based Presley Development Co. and three other real estate companies from Pacific Lighting Corp. Though Lyon becomes chairman of Presley, he runs the company separately from William Lyon Co.
  • 1989: Lyon and former AirCal executive David Banmiller form Air/Lyon, providing ground services for commercial airlines and private aircraft. The company has an estimated 800 employees.
  • 1991: Presley Cos., looking to raise money for Lyon, goes public. The sale generates a disappointing $9.2 million for Lyon, who retains 43 percent of the company.
  • 1992: With home sales sluggish and federal regulations making it tougher for builders to gain financing, Lyon Co. is forced into its first layoffs.
  • 1994: The company receives funding for 500 homes, allowing Lyon to resume its position as one of the county's largest homebuilders. The deals include 246 houses in Foothill Ranch plus 253 condominium units in three Aliso Viejo projects.
  • 1999: William Lyon and The Presley Cos. agree to merge, forming the current publicly traded William Lyon Homes. Under the merger, Presley pays $48 million to buy privately held William Lyon Homes.
  • 2002: A partnership of Lennar Homes and William Lyon Homes buys three parcels of Navy-owned land at the former Tustin Marine base with plans to build 1,900 dwelling units.
  • 2005: William Lyon announces plans to acquire all shares of stock in Lyon Homes not owned or controlled by his family. The proposed deal is worth an estimated $200 million.

George Argyros:

Aug 30 2001: Orange Countys Real Bad Boy George Argyros connected to yet another alleged business scam

Forget Dennis Rodman. George Argyros, the conservative Newport Beach billionaire and U.S.-ambassador-to-Spain designee, is fast becoming Orange County's real bad boy.

Argyros is already under suspicion for his alleged role in a scheme to defraud thousands of his apartment tenants over two decades. Now federal prosecutors are negotiating a fine against Apria Healthcare Group Inc. for allegedly cheating Medicare out of at least $103 million while Argyros served as the company's chairman.

Fraud investigators estimate that Apria submitted 900,000 false claims to the federal assistance program during a three-year-period that ended in 1998. The company acknowledges "errors and omissions that do not amount to fraud."

In a mid-July filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Apria disclosed to its investors that the Department of Justice could seek penalties as high as $9 billion but was asking only for $400 million to resolve the scandal. The Costa Mesa-based company—with annual revenues of more than $1 billion—has not admitted to any criminal conduct and does not want to pay more than $7 million in fines.

Argyros helped build Apria into one of the nation's largest suppliers of home respiratory and infusion therapies. He left the board after a whistleblower revealed the alleged billing scam to federal authorities in 1998.

The Newport Beach resident remains one of Apria's largest individual stockholders. As of late August, Argyros controlled almost 2.8 million shares worth more than $76 million.

For Argyros followers, the Apria scandal may sound like déjà vu. Last December, prosecutors in the Orange County district attorney's office privately accused the Republican Party fat cat of masterminding a systematic "rip-off" scam involving his 4,500-unit apartment empire. The case involved millions of dollars in allegedly swindled funds belonging to thousands of poor Vietnamese and Mexican immigrants. Investigators believed that Argyros may have paid his apartment managers bonuses for cheating ex-tenants out of their security and cleaning deposits. But by the time the case went public in February, the billionaire's involvement had been erased from the public record. Highly reliable law-enforcement sources later told the Weekly that DA Tony Rackauckas had effectively ordered the case softened and delayed until after the U.S. Senate had approved Argyros' nomination. Rackauckas says he has shown his longtime pal no favoritism. In March, he removed himself from the civil case, kicking it up to California Attorney General Bill Lockyer. It has not yet been settled.

Members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which will consider Argyros' nomination after it returns to work following the Labor Day holiday, may want to ask Argyros how he has been so lucky. Though his two key businesses have allegedly stolen more than $100 million in two separate cases, the Harbor Island mogul—who flies to Europe on his own state-of-the-art jet and sails the Mediterranean on his personal, 180-foot-plus yacht—has avoided any criminal charges.

One answer is the local media. Rodman, Argyros' colorful neighbor and a former NBA basketball player, goes to South Coast Plaza, gets arrested; speeds his boat in Newport Bay, gets cited; drives to a convenience store, gets arrested; plays his trance music too loudly, racks up more than $8,500 in noise violations from more than 50 police visits—in the past year alone. In the past eight months, Rodman's misdemeanors have earned him more than two dozen negative articles in the local daily newspapers.

The Orange County Register and Los Angeles Times are so busy covering Rodman—a man who will never influence U.S. foreign policy—that they don't have time for much else. Since July, not one story in either paper has connected the would-be ambassador to the Medicare scandal.

Sloppy reporting is likely the best explanation for the Times' and Register's bizarre failures in l'affair Argyros. But one wonders whether the Times is also compromised by its singular relationship to one of the principals in the Apria story, a former Nixon aide, Newport Beach resident Larry Higby. From 1989 to 1994, Higby was chairman of the Times Orange County; while in Costa Mesa, Higby also oversaw circulation and marketing for all of the Los Angeles Times' non-LA editions. In 1997, Argyros recruited him to serve as Apria's president and chief operating officer. Higby is still there today.


George L. Argyros served as U.S. ambassador to the Kingdom of Spain and Principality of Andorra from November 2001 to November 2004. Ambassador Argyros accomplished much during this extraordinary period in Spain’s history. He forged a close alliance with King Juan Carlos and then-President Jose Maria Aznar, which resulted in Spain’s support and participation in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. He guided the U.S. response to the tragic terrorist bombings in 2003 and worked with the Spanish government to implement a new biometric passport program and container security initiative. He implemented new initiatives to assist and promote U.S. trade and investment in Spain, personally leading two major Spanish trade delegations to the United States, and negotiated the Defense Cooperation Agreement that strengthens the military alliance between Spain and the United States. Ambassador Argyros is currently chairman and CEO of Arnel & Affiliates, a prominent West Coast diversified investment company, with corporate offices located in Costa Mesa, California. He is also a general partner in Westar Capital, a private investment company. From 1981 to 1987, he was co-owner of AirCal, which was sold to American Airlines in 1987, and from 1981 to 1989, he was owner of the Seattle Mariners Baseball Club of the American League. Ambassador Argyros is a member of the Board of Directors of First American Corporation and DST Systems, Inc. Prior to his ambassadorship, he was a member of the Board of Directors of Rockwell International Corporation and the Newhall Land and Farming Company. Ambassador Argyros served as a member of the Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations for the U.S. trade representative until 1990, when President George H.W. Bush appointed him to the board of the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac). He completed his term on the Freddie Mac Board in March 1993. From 1976 to 2001, Ambassador Argyros set a record as the longest-serving chairman of the Board of Trustees of Chapman University, one of the West’s finest private universities. He currently remains on the Chapman Board, while also serving as a life trustee for the California Institute of Technology, where he formerly served as chairman of the Investment Committee. Ambassador Argyros is an international councillor and trustee of CSIS; trustee emeritus of the Library of Congress Open World Leadership Board; member of the Hoover Institution Board of Overseers; former chairman of the Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace Foundation; founding chairman of the Nixon Center in Washington, D.C.; and member and former chairman of the Board of Regents of the Orange County Council, Boy Scouts of America. Ambassador Argyros was a 1993 recipient of the Horatio Alger Award of Distinguished Americans, perhaps the single most coveted award given in America to nonmilitary, non-show business individuals. He served as president and CEO of the Washington-based Horatio Alger Association from 1995 to 1998, chairman from 1998 to 2000, and currently treasurer and chairman emeritus. In 2004, he was selected by the Horatio Alger Association to receive the Norman Vincent Peale Award in recognition for his ongoing involvement in the association and his humanitarian contributions to society. In 1997, Ambassador Argyros received an honorary doctor of laws degree from Pepperdine University; in 2001, he was the recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor; in 2005, he received an honorary doctor of humane letters degree from Chapman University; and in 2010, he received an honorary doctor of sciences degree from City of Hope. Ambassador Argyros was selected in 2005 as an archon of the Mother Church of Constantinople, an esteemed honor in the Greek Orthodox Church, Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle. Ambassador Argyros was the 2007 recipient of the Semper Fidelis Award from the Marine Scholarship Foundation. In 2005, through the Horatio Alger Association, he and Mrs. Argyros initiated the first national college scholarship program exclusively for veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. As of January 2009, 2,349 scholarships had been awarded. Born in Detroit, Michigan, and raised in Pasadena, California, Ambassador Argyros graduated from Chapman University in 1959 with a major in business and economics.

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