Sixteen people have pleaded guilty in relation to a test score-fixing scheme at a United States Coast Guard exam center that resulted in them unlawfully receiving officer-level mariner licenses.
The defendants admitted to obtaining licenses by paying for false Coast Guard exam scores. According to court filings, the fraudulently obtained licenses included, among others, those authorizing mariners to serve as the master of vessels of any tonnage in any waters, chief mate of vessels of any tonnage in any waters, and first assistant engineer of vessels of any horsepower in any waters.
We first reported on the test-score fixing scheme in November after the U.S. Department of Justice charged 31 people, including three former Coast Guard employees, in relation to the scheme. The indictment alleged that Dorothy Smith, a former Coast Guard credentialing specialist at an exam center in Mandeville, Louisiana, accepted bribes to fix maritime credentialing exam scores over a seven year period. This resulted in the applicants illegally obtaining a range of licenses for officer-level positions, including the most important positions such as master, chief mate, and chief engineer.
Smith was not among the sixteen defendants who have now pleaded guilty.
Judge Barry Ashe set sentencing dates for April and May. The maximum penalty for each conviction is five years’ imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, three years of supervised release, and a $100 special assessment.
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