13 more students arrested in SAT cheating scandal; total now 20
Authorities on Long Island in New York announced Tuesday the arrest of 13 additional people allegedly caught up in a scandal that involved students from elite high schools paying others to take college entrance exams for them.
The investigation that began at the beginning of the year had led to the arrest in September of 19-year-old Samuel Eshaghoff, who allegedly received as much as $2,500 to take the SATs, and of the six students who allegedly paid him. They have denied the charges.
Prosecutors said the latest group of former and current students was not directly associated with Eshaghoff, but said they all knew one another, according to the Associated Press.
The Nassau County district attorney filed felony charges Tuesday against four people for allegedly receiving $500 to $3,500 to take the SAT and ACT tests for nine other students. Those nine are facing misdemeanor charges, according to the AP.
All but three of the students showed up in court on Long Island.
The cheating probe originated at the high-achieving Great Neck North High School after faculty members heard rumors that students were paying to have others take the exams for them. Administrators started hunting down the alleged cheaters by looking for students who took the tests at a different school and by comparing their academic records with their performance on the tests.
Of those arrested Tuesday, five attended Great Neck North, two attended North Shore Hebrew Academy, one was from Roslyn High School and one went to St. Mary’s High School in Manhasset, according to news reports.
Lawyers representing the young defendants Tuesday, as well as those arrested in September, have maintained that authorities had gone too far in filing criminal charges and that the matter should have been handled by school officials.
"When we glorify Wall Street guys who make money cheating and baseball players who take steroids, how can we condemn kids trying to achieve that same success?" said attorney Michael DerGarabedian, according to the AP.
But Nassau County Dist. Atty. Kathleen Rice insisted the actions of the accused needed to be taken more seriously than that.
“Educating our children means more than teaching them facts and figures. It means teaching them honesty, integrity and a sense of fair play,” Rice said in a statement. “The young men and women arrested today instead chose to scam the system and victimize their own friends and classmates, and for that they find themselves in handcuffs.”
-- Geraldine Baum in New York
Photo: Three alleged test takers, Joshua Chefec, left, Adam Justin, background center, and George Trane, right, are escorted from of the Nassau County district attorney's office in Mineola, N.Y., on Tuesday. Credit: Howard Schnapp / Newsday