31 Charged In Score-Fixing Scheme At Coast Guard Exam Center

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana has announced indictments for 31 people connected to an alleged test score-fixing enterprise at a U.S. Coast Guard exam center in Mandeville, La.

The indictment centers around Dorothy Smith, a former credentialing specialist at the regional exam center (REC) in Mandeville. Smith was employed with the Coast Guard from about 2001 to August 2019. As part of her duties, Smith was authorized to enter scores for exams mariners have to take to obtain licenses to serve in various positions on vessels, including master, mate and engineer, among others.

The indictment alleges Smith, working with a pair of former Coast Guard employees and four maritime industry workers, operated a score-fixing scheme for more than seven years, taking bribes for falsifying test scores. The indictment alleges a network of intermediaries would identify maritime workers willing to pay for favorable exam scores. The intermediaries would then send money and the requests to Smith, who would file false reports in a Coast Guard computer system that the mariners had taken and passed the required exams, the U.S. Attorney’s Office indictment alleges.

Besides Smith, the two former Coast Guard employees and four maritime industry professionals, the indictment charges 24 current and former merchant mariners with unlawfully receiving officer-level licenses. Some allegedly did so on multiple occasions.

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Smith and the six others allegedly involved in the scheme have been charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States. The 24 mariners named in the indictment have been charged with “receiving, possessing and intending to unlawfully use mariner licenses, to which they were not lawfully entitled.”

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, each defendant faces up to five years in prison, a $250,000 fine, three years of supervised release and a “mandatory $100 special assessment.” Assistant U.S. Attorney Chandra Menon is leading the prosecution. The Coast Guard Investigative Service is investigating the case.

The full 15-page indictment is available on the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana’s website.