More Than 30 Charged in Scheme to Fix Coast Guard Test Scores

This is a story of mindless deceit and disregard for the safety of many

This is about a woman who was intelligent and smooth enough to get hired by the U.S. Coast Guard as a “credentialing specialist.” In that position, she was the person who signed off on a test that qualified individuals for important, officer-level jobs such as Master, Chief Mate and Chief Engineer, all which impacted the safety of many people. She now stands charged with taking bribes in return for passing unqualified people who could not make the grade. Now along with 30 other defendants, she faces up to five years in prison and fines of $250,000.00. 

She must have thought she could connive with several of her colleagues and take bribes from multiple people, without it ever coming out. She was also willing to put people in danger for her greed, planting the seeds of strangulating weeds in her garden of life.

If only she’d read What Goes Around Comes Around! Maybe she would have self-reflected, looked at herself in the mirror and said, “Uh, uh! I don’t ever want that knock on the door and I’m not putting myself and my loved ones in a position where that could happen.” Unfortunately, nobody sent her a copy. Its what can happen when people are not effectively taught that the title of this book is not just some esoteric saying or spiritual notion, but rather a law of nature and physics that once they set in motion, will play out as it says.

More Than 30 Charged in Scheme to Fix Coast Guard Test Scores

An employee at a Coast Guard testing center entered false scores in exchange for bribes, federal prosecutors say.

More than 30 people have been charged in a scheme in which prosecutors say applicants for  Coast Guard positions illegally obtained licenses.
Credit…Mc3 Madysson Anne Ritter/US NAVY, via Associated Press

For more than seven years, prosecutors say, a Coast Guard employee at a test center in Louisiana took bribes to enter falsified test scores, allowing two dozen people to obtain licenses required for various positions on vessels without passing the exams.

Last week, that employee, Dorothy Smith, a credentialing specialist at the center in Mandeville, La., and 30 other people were indicted in the scheme, prosecutors said on Monday.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana, Ms. Smith worked with intermediaries to secure bribes. Two former Coast Guard employees are among the six intermediaries whom prosecutors said Ms. Smith used as part of the operation. The other four, who were workers in the maritime industry, had their scores fixed by Ms. Smith in addition to recruiting others.

In exchange for the bribes, Ms. Smith falsely reported that the applicants had earned passing scores on exams or learning modules, prosecutors said, and in some cases reported that the applicants had appeared for the tests when they had not.

The exams test “mariners’ knowledge and training to safely operate under the authority of licenses,” according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Ms. Smith and the six intermediaries were each charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States. A lawyer representing Ms. Smith in the case declined to comment.

The scheme “resulted in the applicants illegally obtaining a range of licenses for officer-level positions, including the most important positions on vessels, such as master, chief mate, and chief engineer,” the statement said.

The Coast Guard did not immediately respond on Tuesday night to a request for comment.

Twenty-four other people face charges in the case. They were charged with receiving, possessing and intending to unlawfully use mariner licenses by way of the false scores. Some applicants had their scores fixed on multiple occasions, prosecutors said.

One applicant paid an intermediary $3,500 for fake scores, according to the indictment. Another paid Ms. Smith $1,000 directly, prosecutors said. They did not say how much Ms. Smith and her associates made in the scheme.

If convicted, each of the 31 defendants could face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, prosecutors said.

The case is being investigated by the Coast Guard Investigative Service. It was unclear how investigators became aware of the operation.

The indictment came more than a year after dozens of people were charged in an unrelated widespread college admissions cheating scandal. Those charges resulted from the Justice Department’s “Varsity Blues” investigation and involved celebrities including the actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin.

The investigation revealed that wealthy parents had paid to have their children’s admissions scores fixed, sometimes in conjunction with falsified résumés and bribes to coaches to admit students as competitive athletes.

Last week, a former fencing coach at Harvard was accused of taking $1.5 million in bribes to assist a wealthy Maryland businessman’s sons in being admitted to the school.

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And if you happen to be a fan of Louise L. Hay or other forward thinkers/authors like her, you may appreciate my new journal of life affirming aphorisms called Thoughts to Live By. They are meant to be a tool to start or end the day, or referenced to calm the raging beast when life events throw us off balance, ie: a possibly useful antidote during these challenging times.

Thoughts To Live By Rob Davis

What Goes Around available at Amazon

Kirkus Reviews, the gold-standard for independent & accurate reviews, has this to say about

What Goes Around Comes Around:

A stable, positive, non preachy, objective voice makes the book stand apart from others in the genre. The author gives readers not just points or principles to ponder, but real human experiences that demonstrate them. A successful guide that uses anecdotes to reveal powerful truths about life.

~ Kirkus Reviews

“A stable, positive, non-preachy, objective voice makes the manual stand apart from others in the genre.  A successful guide that uses anecdotes to reveal powerful truths about life.” – Kirkus Reviews

Buy What Goes Around at Amazon

“I’ve read a number of books that focus on sharing a similar message, including “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne, “The Answer” by John Assaraf & Murray Smith, “The Celestine Prophecy” by James Redfield, “Think and Grow Rich,” by Napoleon Hill, and I must say that I find Rob’s to be my favorite. – Sheryl Woodhouse, founder of Livelihood Matters LLC