Four Sentenced for Involvement in USCG Test-Fixing Scheme
Four additional defendants have been sentenced in the U.S. Department of Justice’s ongoing case related to a test fixing scheme for mariner’s licenses from the U.S. Coast Guard. Included in the recent sentence hearings was an individual who acted as an intermediary, connecting mariners to the former U.S. Coast Guard employees who are alleged to be the center of scheme to report fraudulent test results so mariners could obtain their licenses. The latest sentencing followed a second wave of indictments of additional mariners for allegedly paying to obtain the fraudulent test results.
A total of 28 individuals charged in the November 2020 indictment have now been convicted while the investigation is ongoing. For the group charged in November 2020, 24 have pleaded guilty to unlawfully receiving licenses, and four pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud the United States by acting as intermediaries in the scheme. The three leaders of the scheme await trial.
The most recent sentencing last week included one of the four intermediaries, Alonzo Williams, who had previously pleaded guilty to his role in the scheme. Judge Barry Ashe in the Eastern District of Louisiana sentenced Williams to 40 months incarceration to be followed by three years of supervised release.
The prosecution continues for the individuals who paid for the falsified test results. Three mariners, Quang Tran, Harry Johnson, and James Carr, who had also previously pleaded guilty to unlawfully receiving an officer-level mariner license, were sentenced by Judge Ashe to a year of probation and 100 hours of community service.
In November 2021 the Department of Justice announced the indictments of eight additional current and former mariners for allegedly obtaining and intending to use officer-level licenses that were procured through falsified exam scores. If convicted, the new defendants in this indictment face up to five years’ imprisonment, up to a $250,000 fine, up to three years of supervised release, and a mandatory $100 special assessment fee.
The case, which was first announced with the November 2020 indictments, alleges that Dorothy Smith, a U.S. Coast Guard civilian employee working at the exam center in Mandeville, Louisiana (REC New Orleans) took bribes to "fix" the exam scores. Smith working with two former Coast Guard employees, Eldridge Johnson and Beverly McCrary, as intermediaries, allegedly took bribes allowing license applicants to bypass testing for officer-level roles, including master, chief mate, and chief engineer endorsements.
The three defendants in the original indictment, Smith, Johnson, and McCray, are awaiting trial on charges of conspiring to defraud the United States.