A defendant convicted of acting as an intermediary in a test score-fixing scheme at a Coast Guard exam center has been sentenced for 40 months in prison, while three others convicted of illegally obtaining officer-level licenses have been given probation and community service.
The four defendants are among 31 individuals, including 28 maritime industry workers, charged in a November 2020 indictment alleging bribes to fix Coast Guard mariner credentialing licenses. So far, 24 have pleaded guilty to unlawfully receiving licenses, while another 4 pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud the United States by acting as intermediaries in the scheme. Another three defendants are former Coast Guard employees charged with running the scheme and are awaiting trial.
The latest sentencing were announced by this week by U.S. Attorney Duane A. Evans from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Louisiana.
On December 8, 2021, defendant ALONZO WILLIAMS was sentenced to 40 months incarceration followed by three years of supervised release after pleading guilty to being an intermediary in the scheme. Three others, QUANG TRAN, HARRY JOHNSON, and JAMES CARR were sentenced to a year of probation and 100 hours of community service on October 28, December 8, and December 9, 2021, respectively. Each pleaded guilty to unlawfully receiving an officer-level mariner license.
According to the November 2020 indictment, DOROTHY SMITH, a former Coast Guard credentialing specialist at an exam center in Mandeville, Louisiana, used a network of intermediaries to take bribes for entering false test scores that the defendants were required to pass in order to obtain various officer-level licenses positions including master, chief mate, and chief engineer. The Coast Guard exams tested mariners’ knowledge and training to safely and legally operate under the authority of merchant mariner licenses.
Former Coast Guard employees DOROTHY SMITH, ELDRIDGE JOHNSON, and BEVERLY MCCRARY, are still awaiting trial.
Another eight mariners charged with unlawfully receiving licenses in a separate, recently filed indictment are also awaiting trial.