Nine students accused of paying someone to take the SAT and four people accused of taking the test are being arrested in the ongoing cheating probe that has rocked Long Island.
The arrests announced Tuesday make for a total of 20 people caught up in the SAT cheating probe since the first seven arrests in September. Three of the defendants in the latest wave of arrests have not yet surrendered, but most were in court on Tuesday.
The probe began in early 2011 after faculty at Great Neck North High School heard rumors that kids were paying someone to take the SAT. School administrators tracked down the first six students by looking for kids who took the test at a different school and then compared their academic records against the test results.
Four of the arrests Tuesday were alleged test-takers accused of accepting cash payments of $500 to $3,600 to take the test for students. The felony charges are first-degree scheme to defraud, second-degree falsifying business records and second-degree criminal impersonation.
The other arrests are students accused of paying for a test-taker to take the SAT, from 2008 to 2011. Those students won't be identified to the public, a source told NBC New York. Instead, they will be prosecuted as youthful offenders on misdemeanor charges and their records will be sealed.
Five graduated from Great Neck North High School, two attended North Shore Hebrew Academy, one was from Roslyn High School, and another went to St. Mary's High School, authorities said.
A lawyer for one defendant said the students should not be prosecuted.
"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?" asked attorney Michael DerGarabedian.
Prosecutors said the latest group of test-takers did not directly work with the first man arrested in the SAT probe in September, 19-year-old Samuel Eshaghoff, but said they all knew each other through word of mouth and referrals.
Eshaghoff is accused of accepting payments of up to $2,500 for taking the tests. He and the other six, who are accused of misdemeanors, have all pleaded not guilty.
Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice said Eshaghoff was aware of all four accused test-takers charged today. She said the alleged impersonators were known in the student community through word of mouth and referrals.
“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.”