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5 more plead guilty in Coast Guard exam scam case

Written by Nick Blenkey
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The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana reports that five more individuals have pleaded guilty in relation to a test score-fixing scheme at the U.S. Coast Guard’s Regional Exam Center (REC) New Orleans in in Mandeville, La.

The latest guilty pleas bring to 26 the total number of defendants thus convicted in the case, which we first reported on in November last year.

On June 10, 2021, maritime industry worker Alonzo Williams pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States. In a factual basis filed into the record, Williams admitted that he acted as an intermediary in the scheme to bribe a Coast Guard employee to enter false scores for another mariner. He also acknowledged that he had his own exam scores fixed.

On June 24, 2021, Alexia Lovett, Fredrick Nettles, Stinson Payne, and Shunmanique Willis each admitted to participating in the scheme by using false exam scores to obtain unearned licenses.

As alleged in the indictment, says the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Coast Guard credentialing specialist Dorothy Smith entered the false scores in this scheme. The indictment alleges that Smith accepted bribes and used a network of intermediaries. U.S. Attorney Evans reiterated that the indictment’s allegations against Smith are merely charges and her guilt must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

U.S. District Judge Barry Ashe presided over the guilty pleas and set sentencing dates of September and October 2021. The maximum penalty for each defendant is five years’ imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, three years of supervised release, and a $100 special assessment.

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