7 Arrested For Alleged SAT Cheating Ring At Great Neck North High School

Educator: Pressure On Kids Massive; Attorney: District, Not Courts, Should Rule

MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Seven former and current students of a prestigious Long Island high school were arrested Tuesday in an alleged SAT cheating ring.

Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice announced that six Great Neck North High School students had paid 19-year-old Samuel Eshaghoff thousands of dollars to take the SAT for them.

1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera with the details of the case

Eshaghoff, who graduated from the high school in 2010 and is currently enrolled at Emory University in Atlanta, was paid between $1,500 and $2,500 per student. He has been arrested and charged with scheme to defraud, falsifying business records and criminal impersonation.

Eshaghoff faces up to four years in prison if convicted, but his attorney said there’s no way this alleged scam should end up in a court room.  Bail was set at $1,000 for Eshaghoff.

“Even if something happened it happened within school grounds, under age, should be handled administratively within school. Across the U.S. no one has ever had a case go to criminal court due to cheating or alleged cheating in an exam,” Matin Emouna told CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan.

Photo Gallery: Suspects Arrested In SAT Scam

Rice said the six students accused of hiring Eshaghoff have also been arrested and face misdemeanor charges. They have not been identified because of their ages and all six of them were arraigned and released on their own recognizance.

“Colleges look for the best and brightest students, yet these six defendants tried to cheat the system and may have kept honest and qualified students from getting into their dream school,” Rice said.

Rice said the students registered to take the test at a different school so they would not be known by the proctors and then Eshaghoff would present unofficial identification with his photo and the paying student’s name on it.

1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria With More On The Story

Rice said the students got caught because their SAT scores were so much higher than their school grades, some with as high as 2200 out of a perfect 2400, reports CBS 2’s McLogan. Rice is recommending that all schools who know a student who has cheated on the SAT notify the college the student has applied to.

“The goal here is not only to hold those accountable for their wrongdoing, but to level the playing field for all of the students who play by the rules,” Rice said.

Eshaghoff apparently also took the test at no charge for a female student.

An investigation is currently underway into whether similar scams occurred in at least two other Nassau County high schools, as well as allegations that Eshaghoff took the SAT exam for students of other high schools.  Rice would not name those schools.

WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell On The Story

The Great Neck School District released a statement saying it “does not tolerate cheating” and remains “committed to cooperating with law enforcement in the matter.”

“It is our hope that the actions currently being taken by the DA’s Office will serve to bring an end to any dishonest practices which may have placed students at an unfair disadvantage and will also bring to light any shortcomings in the security of the SAT testing system,” district officials said in the statement.

Great Neck educator Barbara Rothman tried to explain how this could have happened.

“There is a tremendous amount of pressure on these students in a town like Great Neck,” Rothman told McLogan.

Many students were defensive.

“I don’t think they should be arrested. I think the school should be taking care of it, not the court,” Nicole Nicholis said.

Rice demanded Education Testing Service, the non-profit that administers the test, make other immediate security changes like matching photos and handwriting. Late Tuesday night the ETS said it will comply immediately.

If convicted, what do you think is the appropriate punishment in this case? Let us know below…

  • joann

    It is a crime. It is fraud. High SAT scores equal big $$$$ for college. Merit Money. It should only go to those that Merit it.

  • OLiver

    $1500 to $2500 a test. the kids OR parents have lots of extra money. and do you think the girl had her test taken FREE? what was her compensation package for ol’ samuel?

  • Oliver

    one of the top five richest communities in the country. someone’s gotta pay the bills. learn by example.

  • oliver

    One of the top five richest communities in the country.. gotta pay the bills somehow…

  • Tony De Los Santos

    Well, I see it hit home. These established students paying to compete in a competitive market. Shame on you! If it was the other way around, it would have been accepted as a criminal act. Accept it, it is a crime. Crime should not have a specific face, it should apply to everyone in this country so call “freedom” or white privilege.

  • Whatever

    No Terrorism charges?!

  • Kloucks

    I took the SAT. Scored well. Still think it’s complete BS. There were portions of the test that were never taught at my school, and we wasted classes just to prepare for the horrid thing. Have I used anything that I learned from going through what was essentially SAT bootcamp AKA No Child Left Behind? Of course not. Nor has any of it come up in my life again since taking it. A valuable chunk of my high school career was wasted because of that test. These charges this kid is receiving are a tad harsh, though I sort’ve understand them based on just how much he was being paid for each test. Thats some major moolah for filling in some bubbles and multiple choice questions.

  • Chukkalady

    This explains how our president got his degree. He still thinks there are 57 states!

  • Mike Field

    Does anybody realize how absurd all of this is? These are people who are going to college, usually a private college, in any case. Below the top level, these schools are not massively hard to get into if you are an adequate prospect and can pay for it. “Adequate is the key word here. You do not need 700s on the SATs to be adequate.

    My advice? Ifyou are worried, take an SAT prep course so that you are sure of getting a score that accurately represents your aptitude. And go to an appropriate institution. Going to an Ivy isn’t going to make you into more than you are. The world is full of cabdrivers and yogurt shop managers who thought an MBA would make them into Fortune 500 execs. Didn’t work for them. Won’t work for you.

  • ROSS

    Colleges have turned into ticket institutions to get a job. You can take courses at a college without the SAT test and with good grades totaly pass the need to take the test. When you prove your ability by getting good grades colleges will waive the SAT requirement. And a lot of colleges are going to on line courses. Lets say I wanted to get into HARVARD so I when to a lesser school say the University of Maryland and took courses that would be accepted by HARVARD. By taking the first 2 years at a lesser school you would save money by taking the last 2 years at HARVARD as long as the credits are transferable.

  • Brian

    Do you think that foreign students are doing the same cheating with the help from their governments?
    Test scores from other countries shouldn’t be accepted, the student should be required to test within the US.

  • Mary

    I have been curious for a long time about a related subject matter.
    It seems that there are so many unnecessary tests for advanced degrees. There’s the SAT, LSAT, GRE, etc. Now, there is a preliminary test-PSAT. All of these tests cost money to take. And, additionally there are related study books and prep courses to enroll in.It appears that some people are making a lot of money off these tests, related books and courses.

    Many years ago, I took a test for a graduate degree. The administrator advised me to take the test even though my score did not count towards my enrollment. Someone needs to look into these tests to determine which ones are needed and who is making the money off them..

  • Ernaldo T

    Why not just move to Atlanta, where the teachers are told to help the students cheat, and then to fudge the numbers in the students favor. Then we wonder why high school grads can’t do a minimum wage job…….

  • WJ

    So where does a HS student get $1500-2500 to pay for this? (cough MOMMY & DADDY cough)

  • Blake

    appropriate punishment would be 10 lashes with a wet noodle.

    More than half of the people who got into Med school at my University did the same. They bought tests, had their studies, papers and essays written by people they paid whom they knew would ace them. So what? Do you think that’s the only school where that happened? How naive can you be? The media likes to find 1 case of corruption so they can pretend the whole system isn’t corrupt. LOLH

  • joeblo

    How about a thumbprint box on the test?

    • WJ

      For our college exams in Nursing we were required to have a current DL & college ID, as well as sign our exams. If the signature didn’t match the one on our file no credit was given. State Board exams did require a fingerprint as well as two forms of ID.

  • borntobepolitical

    I did not have sexual relations with that women!

  • phat shantz

    If they are caught cheating but don’t confess, make them lawyers.

    If they are caught cheating and confess, make them Atlanta teachers.

    The ones who cheated but didn’t get caught will eventually run for congress.

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