Five more plead guilty in Coast Guard test-fixing scheme
False exam scores were used to obtain merchant mariner licenses
(NEW ORLEANS) — U.S. Attorney Duane A. Evans announced additional guilty pleas related to a test score-fixing scheme at a United States Coast Guard exam center, bringing the total number of defendants convicted in this matter to 26.
On June 10, maritime industry worker Alonzo Williams pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States. In a factual basis filed into the record, Williams admitted that he acted as an intermediary in the scheme to bribe a Coast Guard employee to enter false scores for another mariner. Williams also acknowledged that he had his own exam scores fixed.
Additionally, on June 24, Alexia Lovett, Fredrick Nettles, Stinson Payne and Shunmanique Willis each admitted to participating in the scheme by using false exam scores to obtain unearned licenses.
The exams at issue tested mariners’ knowledge and training to safely operate under the authority of merchant mariner licenses, which were legally required to work various positions on vessels. As alleged in the indictment, Coast Guard credentialing specialist Dorothy Smith entered the false scores in this scheme. The indictment alleges that Smith accepted bribes and used a network of intermediaries. U.S. Attorney Evans reiterated that the indictment’s allegations against Smith are merely charges and her guilt must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
Judge Barry W. Ashe presided over the guilty pleas and set sentencing dates of September and October 2021. The maximum penalty for each defendant is five years’ imprisonment, a $250,000 fine, three years of supervised release, and a $100 special assessment.
This case is being investigated by the United States Coast Guard Investigative Service. Assistant U.S. Attorney Chandra Menon is in charge of the prosecution.
– U.S. Department of Justice