More than 30 people are charged for being part of Coast Guard 'test score-fixing scheme' in which woman entering exam marks 'was paid $3,500 to pass mariners who wanted licenses for positions on ships'
United States Coast Guard employees in charge of issuing credentials to merchant marines ran a fraudulent scheme in which they received up to $3,500 each from some 24 applicants in exchange for passing test scores, it has been alleged.
Three former Coast Guard employees were among 31 people named in a federal indictment handed down on Friday by the US Attorney’s Office in Eastern Louisiana, which is based in New Orleans.
The test score-fixing scheme happened over seven years at a United States Coast Guard exam center in Louisiana, federal prosecutors announced.
联邦检察官宣布，这起操纵考试成绩的计划发生在路易斯安那州的美国海岸警卫队(United States Coast Guard)考试中心，持续了七年。
The indictment centers around Dorothy Smith, a former employee at an exam center in Mandeville, who was required to enter scores for exams merchant mariners were required to pass to get licenses for positions on ships, the US Attorneys Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana said Monday in a news release.
Prosecutors said Smith took bribes to fix exam scores and used intermediaries to connect her to maritime workers who were willing to pay.
Two of the intermediaries identified by prosecutors - Eldridge Johnson and Beverly McCrary - were employees of the Coast Guard.
检察官确认的两名中间人-埃尔德里奇·约翰逊(Eldridge Johnson)和贝弗利·麦克拉里(Beverly McCrary)-是海岸警卫队的雇员。
Smith is alleged to have fixed the test scores of individuals who are identified as employees in the maritime industry, including Alexis Bell, Micheal Wooten, Sharron Robinson, and Alonzo Williams.
Those individuals then took part in the scheme by taking bribes in exchange for fixing the test scores of other applicants, it has been alleged.
The release said those intermediaries would funnel the money and the mariners requests to Smith, who would then falsely report the scores in the Coast Guard computer system.
This allowed different applicants to get licenses to work on ships, including for positions like chief engineer.
All of them, including Smith, were charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States.
Prosecutors said 24 current and former merchant mariners were charged with unlawfully receiving officer-level licenses.
Those 24 applicants allegedly paid between $1,000 and $3,500 for the unearned credentials.
If convicted, each defendant faces a sentence of up to five years’ imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.
They would also be subject to three years of supervised release.
Falsely handing out credentials to would-be merchant marines could have implications for American national security.
Civilian mariners with the US Merchant Marine transport cargo and passengers during peacetime.
Though merchant marines are not under the command of the military, in times of war they could be an auxiliary to the Navy.
That means they would be called up to ship soldiers and supplies forthe military.
Merchant Marine officers may also be commissioned as military officers by the Department of Defense.
Last year, President Trumpsigned an executive order that allows military veterans to apply their experience on military ships toward mariner credentialing and waives licensing fees, typically thousands of dollars.
The Trump administration said the executive order fills a shortage in the Merchant Marine.
White House adviser Peter Navarro said the number of those who have sailed in the 18 months before the executive order was signed was below 12,000, and if the US entered into a large-scale military conflict, it could face shortages in Mariners supplying military personnel.