August 19, 2005
MIAMI -- Two former Florida Memorial University employees and five
students are charged in a grade-changing racket that involves cash
payments, computer hacking and even sexual favors.
According to court records, Ellis Peet and Clifton Franklin were paid
$100 to $150 to change a single grade. They're accused of changing
more than 600 grades for 122 students at FMU (until recently known as
Florida Memorial College).
One female student also allegedly had sex with Franklin in exchange
for changed grades.
"Apparently, she didn't have the financial means to pay for the grade
change. So instead, they worked out a sexual agreement," said Mary
Walters of the Miami-Dade County Police Department.
Peet was a computer technician in the registrar's office and Franklin
was a data entry clerk. Peet was fired and Franklin resigned during
School officials said Peet and Franklin were fraternity brothers and
they acted on their own to organize the scheme.
Officials said that they also believe that Peet and Franklin changed
their own grades while attending the school.
Peet's attorney says his client has pleaded not guilty to racketeering
and violating intellectual property and computer access laws. Franklin
faces identical charges but hasn't yet been located by police.
Police say three of the five students who acted as middlemen have been
arrested and charged with racketeering.
Officials said that Peet and Franklin allegedly used generic passwords
or those belonging to other registrar employees to make the switches.
The five students are accused of conspiring to recruit other students
who wanted their grades changed, and receiving cash payments for the
switches and kickbacks from Peet in the process, court records showed.
Pinkston, the school's director of governmental and public affairs,
said the school has taken several safeguards to prevent a repeat of
the scheme, including a mandatory change in passwords every 40 days,
and the elimination of generic passwords.
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press.
Sept 16-18th, 2005
San Diego, California