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Former Mariner is Latest to Plead Guilty in Coast Guard Test-Fixing Scheme

Mike Schuler
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March 9, 2021

A former mariner has pleaded guilty to charges related to her role in a scheme to take bribes to fix U.S. Coast Guard mariner credentialing test scores.

U.S Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana, Duane A. Evans, announced Monday that Shannon Robinson has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States.

Robinson admitted that she acted as an intermediary between Coast Guard exam center employee Beverly McCrary and merchant mariners who were willing to pay for false passing exam scores.

Sixteen people had pleaded guilty in January for unlawfully obtaining and possessing endorsements as part of the scheme. Two other defendants, identified as Anthony Garces and Quang Tran, have also pleaded guilty to that same charge, bringing the total number of people convicted to nineteen.

The exams tested mariners’ knowledge and training to safely operate under the authority of licenses, which were legally required to work various positions on vessels.

According to evidence submitted in court, Robinson acknowledged that she would take money from mariners and then pay McCrary for the false scores. She understood that McCrary would keep a portion of that money and use the rest to bribe another exam center employee to enter the scores. Sometimes she put mariners directly in touch with McCrary to arrange their payments.

Not only did Robinson assist nine other mariners in obtaining false scores, but she also had her own scores fixed, resulting in the Coast Guard issuing unearned licenses.

As alleged in a November 20, 2020 indictment charging 31 individuals, Coast Guard credentialing specialist Dorothy Smith entered the false scores in this scheme. The indictment further alleged that Smith accepted bribes and used a network of intermediaries.

Smith and McCrary are scheduled to stand trial on June 28, 2021.

Sentencing dates for Robinson, Tran and Garces have been set for this Spring. If convicted, each defendant faces a maximum penalty of five years’ imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, three years of supervised release, and a $100 special assessment.

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