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Prosecutors charge 31 in Coast Guard test-fixing plot

The scheme centers around one former employee of the testing center who fixed scores, for a price

Coast Guard
Coast Guard
(U.S. Coast Guard / Getty Images)
Updated: November 25, 2020 - 11:36am

More than 30 individuals have been charged for their participation in a scheme to fix test-scores for seven years at the U.S. Coast Guard exam center in New Orleans, Louisiana.

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana, the indictments pertain primarily to Dorothy Smith, a former employee at the testing center, whose job it was to enter the scores of merchant mariners who needed to pass the test to acquire licenses for positions on ships. 

Smith, according to prosecutors, took bribes to fix exam scores and had a small network of intermediaries who connected her with merchant marines who were willing to pay her.

Smith allegedly entered false scores into the Coast Guard computer system, allowing several maritimers to apply and receive licenses for various positions on ships, including, in one instance, chief engineer.

Six individuals, including two former Coast Guard employees have been accused of acting as intermediaries for Smith. Four of the accused intermediaries allegedly had their own test scores fixed by Smith at some point. All of them have now been charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States.

An additional 24 merchant marines, who were on the receiving end of the scheme, have been charged with unlawfully receiving officer-level licenses. 

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