News

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

Educator: Pressure On Kids Massive; Attorney: District, Not Courts, Should Rule
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Samuel Eshaghoff escorted by police on Sept. 27, 2011 (credit: Mona Rivera/1010 WINS)

Samuel Eshaghoff escorted by police on Sept. 27, 2011 (credit: Mona Rivera/1010 WINS)

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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…

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