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New York - Students Prosecuted For Cheating On College Entrance Exam

Published on: November 22, 2011 06:33 PM
By: Reuters
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Joshua Chefec, left, Adam Justin, background center, and George Trane, right, are escorted from of the Nassau District Attorney's office, in Mineola, N.Y. Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2011. Thirteen more current and former high school students from Great Neck, on New York's Long Island were charged Tuesday in a widening college entrance exam cheating scandal, bringing the total to twenty. (AP Photo/Newsday, Howard Schnapp)Joshua Chefec, left, Adam Justin, background center, and George Trane, right, are escorted from of the Nassau District Attorney's office, in Mineola, N.Y. Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2011. Thirteen more current and former high school students from Great Neck, on New York's Long Island were charged Tuesday in a widening college entrance exam cheating scandal, bringing the total to twenty. (AP Photo/Newsday, Howard Schnapp)

New York - Twenty current and former students from five Long Island high schools face charges in what is believed to be the nation’s first criminal prosecution for cheating on the SAT college entrance exam, authorities said on Tuesday.

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Students paid their peers as much as $3,600 to impersonate them and complete either the SAT or the ACT exam in the hopes of getting a higher score on test day, Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice said at a press conference.

Four of the five test takers are currently enrolled at Emory University, Tulane University, Indiana University and SUNY Stonybrook, Rice said. It was unclear whether the fifth person was a college student.

It was also unclear how many of the test takers had already graduated from high school when the crime took place.

“Educating our children means more than teaching them facts and figures. It means teaching them honesty, integrity, and a sense of fair play,” Rice said in a statement.

“The young men and women arrested today instead chose to scam the system and victimize their own friends and classmates, and for that they find themselves in handcuffs.”

The scandal widened on Tuesday with 13 current and former students facing charges, following the first wave of arrests of seven others in September.

The test takers face charges of first-degree scheming to defraud and second-degree falsifying business records and criminal impersonation.

If convicted, they face a maximum prison term of four years—the same length of time as the average college education.

The accused test takers were identified as Joshua Chefec, 20, a graduate of Great Neck North High School who now attends Tulane; Adam Justin, 19, a graduate of North Shore Hebrew Academy now at Indiana; Michael Pomerantz, 18, who attended Great Neck North High School; George Trane, 19, a graduate of Great Neck South High School now at Stonybrook and Sam Eshaghoff, 19, a graduate of Great Neck North High School now at Emory.

The students who paid to have tests taken for them will be prosecuted as youthful offenders, and their cases will remain sealed, Rice said.

The scandal broke in early 2011 when faculty members at top-ranked Great Neck North High School heard rumors that students had paid third parties to take the SAT for them. The paying students registered for tests at schools different from their own so they wouldn’t be recognized by the proctors, Rice said.

Representatives from the College Board, which sponsors the SAT, and the Educational Testing Service (ETS), which administers the SAT, said that to the best of their knowledge, this was the first time anyone had been criminally charged for cheating on the exam.

Thomas Ewing, ETS Director of External and Media Relations, confirmed in an email that in over 2 million SAT exams taken annually, 3,000 tests are examined for irregularities, and of those, 1,000 test scores are canceled. Suspected impersonations make up, on average, 150 of those scores.

Ewing said that in the 2010-2011 school year, 138 scores were canceled based on handwriting analyses that indicated impersonation may have occurred. The vast majority of cancellations are for copying, Ewing added, not impersonation.

At a Senate hearing in October, Gaston Caperton, president of the College Board, announced that it had hired the investigative firm of Louis Freeh, former director of the FBI, to probe into test security issues.

ACT is undergoing a security review and expects to implement additional guards against cheating over the next few months, Scott Gomer, ACT Media Relations Director, said in a statement.


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1

 Nov 22, 2011 at 07:02 PM Facts1 Says:

The justice system is running out crimes to prosecute?

Cheating is morally wrong, but jail time, thats excessive.

This country has lost its way.

2

 Nov 22, 2011 at 08:49 PM enlightened-yid Says:

No, the country has not lost its way. By prosecuting SAT or any other qualifications cheaters, you uphold national standards by deterring future cheaters. If universities start expelling students and even revoking degrees earned based on lies and cheating then fewer students will attempt to cheat their way through in higher education. If you can't score high on SATs, it's an indicator that you're not made to attend demanding universities. In some countries, you can bribe yourself into a university which is no different than cheating on an entrance exam, well there is a reason why those universities have poor international recognition.

3

 Nov 22, 2011 at 08:56 PM Anonymous Says:

Not surprised at all. When I took this test I was shocked that something that has so much bearing on admissions and scholarships was so lightly proctored. My proctor looked around 25 years old, told us to sign in and just sat there with a portable DVD player. He never once checked ID's and at one point he left the room for 15 minutes. I am pretty sure that people taking the test for others has been going on for alot longer than this investigation.

4

 Nov 22, 2011 at 09:38 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #1  
Facts1 Says:

The justice system is running out crimes to prosecute?

Cheating is morally wrong, but jail time, thats excessive.

This country has lost its way.

To the contrary. Cheating on these exams literally is ganavah since it propels certain cheats to the head of the admissions process for higher education and jobs and denies those opportunities to more qualified individuals who play by the rules. Over a lifetime, this is equivalent to stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions of dollars. They should be prosecuted and sentenced to the same jail times as someone robbing a bank.

5

 Nov 22, 2011 at 10:04 PM Facts1 Says:

Reply to #2  
enlightened-yid Says:

No, the country has not lost its way. By prosecuting SAT or any other qualifications cheaters, you uphold national standards by deterring future cheaters. If universities start expelling students and even revoking degrees earned based on lies and cheating then fewer students will attempt to cheat their way through in higher education. If you can't score high on SATs, it's an indicator that you're not made to attend demanding universities. In some countries, you can bribe yourself into a university which is no different than cheating on an entrance exam, well there is a reason why those universities have poor international recognition.

Of course they should be expelled, but do time? These are kids.

6

 Nov 22, 2011 at 10:14 PM Leon Zacharowicz MD Says:

This is reminiscent of the Regents scandal involving a Solomon Schechter high school, in the 1970s. In any event, putting a teenager in federal prison for four years seems excessive, especially since those who solicited their impersonation are getting off with misdemeanors.

7

 Nov 22, 2011 at 11:15 PM Reb Yid Says:

I don't understand. The ones who took the test are being prosecuted as adults and potentially face jail time, all for trying to make a few bucks (I'm not saying they're innocent, but read on...) However, the ones doing the paying (not-so-bright rich kid with money to shell out) is prosecuted as a juvenile with records sealed? Not right.

8

 Nov 22, 2011 at 11:47 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #5  
Facts1 Says:

Of course they should be expelled, but do time? These are kids.

They are not "kids". They are all of college age and legally responsible for their actions and poor judgement. If you want to change the law, than vote for candidates who agree with you. Under halacha, it would be possible to punish a bar mitzvah age child with sekillah for certain transgressions.

9

 Nov 23, 2011 at 12:15 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #4  
Anonymous Says:

To the contrary. Cheating on these exams literally is ganavah since it propels certain cheats to the head of the admissions process for higher education and jobs and denies those opportunities to more qualified individuals who play by the rules. Over a lifetime, this is equivalent to stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions of dollars. They should be prosecuted and sentenced to the same jail times as someone robbing a bank.

Nonsense GPA's and good colleges only count for entrey level jobs. And even then it is not a great indicator of how you will do on the job. It's fluff to begin with. Your second job or your job promotions come from how well you performed on your first job. So it is wrong but not literally geniva. playing by the rules doesn't make you a more qualified individual.

10

 Nov 23, 2011 at 07:55 AM Facts1 Says:

Reply to #8  
Anonymous Says:

They are not "kids". They are all of college age and legally responsible for their actions and poor judgement. If you want to change the law, than vote for candidates who agree with you. Under halacha, it would be possible to punish a bar mitzvah age child with sekillah for certain transgressions.

and Rifvka was 3 yrs old when she married and was a Shepard.

Your heartless if you are suggesting jail time for non violent college kids.

Before you know will have kids dragged into juvenile jail for cheating on their math test and by the third time will get life in prison as a third time offender.

11

 Nov 23, 2011 at 09:42 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #10  
Facts1 Says:

and Rifvka was 3 yrs old when she married and was a Shepard.

Your heartless if you are suggesting jail time for non violent college kids.

Before you know will have kids dragged into juvenile jail for cheating on their math test and by the third time will get life in prison as a third time offender.

Really? Did you know that many college scholarships depend on SAT scores? If someone cheats on their SAT and their score is high, they may be receiving tens of thousands of dollars in scholarship which they are not entitled to receive. That's genaivah and it merits jail time. Or would you see no one who steals money ever go to jail?

12

 Nov 23, 2011 at 12:32 PM Facts1 Says:

Reply to #11  
Anonymous Says:

Really? Did you know that many college scholarships depend on SAT scores? If someone cheats on their SAT and their score is high, they may be receiving tens of thousands of dollars in scholarship which they are not entitled to receive. That's genaivah and it merits jail time. Or would you see no one who steals money ever go to jail?

Thats what the torah would say. You make them a slave for 6 yrs top and in the while the master supports the family.

I would not have someone who potentially "cheats" money go to jail and so do most democratic countries. I would penalize them and make them pay it back with a penalty.

You dont rip up a family for monetary reasons ever. Rubashkin is a result of this justice system.

13

 Nov 23, 2011 at 07:08 PM FredE Says:

Reply to #12  
Facts1 Says:

Thats what the torah would say. You make them a slave for 6 yrs top and in the while the master supports the family.

I would not have someone who potentially "cheats" money go to jail and so do most democratic countries. I would penalize them and make them pay it back with a penalty.

You dont rip up a family for monetary reasons ever. Rubashkin is a result of this justice system.

I'm not exactly sure why you have "cheats" in quotes. This *is* cheating. And its a case that doesn't easily lend itself to restitution. If you want to deter this and other such crimes, where restitution isnt really an option, about 6 months in a minimum security place should do it nicely. The sentence here though does seem excessive.

BTW, slavery has gone out style. There are reasons for that. Flogging is out of style too...Heres an idea: Dont do the crime thing.

14

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