Prosecutors: 31 charged in Coast Guard test-fixing scheme

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MIAMI – MARCH 08: A U.S. Coast Guard boat participates in the Homeland Security Task Force Southeast mass migration drill March 8, 2007 off the shore of Miami, Florida. Hundreds of response personnel from more than 50 local, county, state and federal agencies participated in the two-day exercise that was simulating a large, sudden change in the migration process in Cuba and the United States’ response. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — More than 30 people were charged for their participation in a test score-fixing scheme that happened over seven years at a United States Coast Guard exam center in Louisiana, federal prosecutors announced.

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 U.S. Attorney’s 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.

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.

Six people, including two former Coast Guard employees, are accused of acting as intermediaries for Smith. Authorities said four of those intermediaries had their own exams fixed by Smith, too. 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.

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