Former USCG Employee Sentenced to 54 Months in Jail for Test-Fixing

USCG test fixing scheme
The wide reaching scheme involved more than 60 mariners and USCG employees

Published Dec 13, 2022 2:24 PM by The Maritime Executive

The U.S. District Court in New Orleans is continuing with the sentencing of the leaders of the long-running case in which U.S. Coast Guard employees conspired to fix the test scores of mariners’ licensing exams. With the latest sentencing, more than 60 people have been convicted mostly pleading guilty to charges related to accepting bribes or a felony offense of unlawful receipt of a mariner license.

United States District Court Judge Barry Ashe on December 8 sentenced Beverly McCrary, age 64, who had been employed as a credentialing specialist at a Mandeville, Louisiana Coast Guard exam center known as REC (Regional Exam Center) New Orleans. For her role as one of the organizers of the scheme, McCrary was sentenced to 54 months imprisonment for Conspiracy to Defraud the United States. She was also ordered to serve three years of supervised release following her prison term.

McCrary and two other Coast Guard employees, Dorothy Smith and Eldridge Johnson, participated in the scheme to sell mariners false passing exam scores. In October 2022, Judge Ashe sentenced Smith who was the leader of the scheme to 60 months in prison while Johnson, who had also been an employee at the testing center, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 72 months for his role as an intermediary recruited mariners into the scheme after he retired from the USCG.

During her guilty plea, McCrary admitted that her role in the scheme was as an intermediary for Smith, who entered the false scores. McCrary would receive mariners’ money mostly taking cash but on at least one occasion accepted a cooler of shrimp in exchange for arranging false test scores. She gathered the information about the desired licenses and then provide the information and a portion of the money to Smith. McCrary participated in the scheme starting prior to April 2012 and continuing after her 2015 retirement until May 2019. She admitted that she caused more than 50 mariners to receive false passing scores, with some mariners obtaining false scores on multiple occasions.

To make it less likely that the scheme would be discovered, McCrary instructed mariners. They were told not to contact the exam center regarding their license applications, not to work on vessels during the days they were supposed to be testing, and to use code words when discussing the scheme on the telephone.

McCrary also developed her network of intermediaries. These included Alexis Bell, Michael Wooten, and Sharron Robinson, who all pleaded guilty to conspiracy and who collectively admitted to having McCrary arrange false scores for a total of 31 mariners, including themselves. Prosecutors also charged 32 mariners, each of which pleaded guilty for their role in receiving the falsified scores to obtain licenses.