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Nassau DA Rice: More Arrests Expected In SAT Cheating Scandal

Attorney, Private Eye For Accused Test Taker For Hire Say Problem Widespread
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Two unidentified males are escorted by police after being arrested in an alleged SAT scam on Sept. 27, 2011 (credit: Mona Rivera/1010 WINS)

Two unidentified males are escorted by police after being arrested in an alleged SAT scam on Sept. 27, 2011 (credit: Mona Rivera/1010 WINS)

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MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – More arrests appear imminent in the SAT cheating scandal ravaging Nassau County. Prosecutors are now looking into whether parents helped with the payouts.

It turns out elite Great Neck North High School is only the tip of the iceberg as the tentacles of the growing scandal continue to spread across the county.

Soon, more public school districts and even a private high school will join the ranks — implicated in the disturbing scheme, 1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera first reported earlier Tuesday.

1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera with the details

Photo Gallery: Suspects Arrested In SAT Scam

As her probe widens, District Attorney Kathleen Rice told CBS 2′s Jennifer McLogan on Tuesday night that additional arrests are imminent.

“There are arrests that are going to be made of not just additional test takers, but those who paid them as well. It’s a much bigger and more systemic problem,” Rice said.

With students’ careers and schools’ reputations at risk, Rice said she would not yet name names — that is until the investigation in Nassau is completed. Prosecutors have subpoenaed “a mountain” of records from the Educational Testing Service, the organization that administers the SAT.

A private investigator hired to represent Sam Eshaghoff, the accused brain-for-hire in the impersonation scheme, is working to uncover proof that college board cheating is so widespread that criminal charges should be immediately dropped against his client and the six others so far arrested, arguing against the legality of “selective prosecution.”

“We believe it is really an epidemic, probably nationwide,” private eye Les Levine said, adding that the entire saga should have been handled administratively and not taken to the level it’s been taken to, including the use of handcuffs.

Eshaghoff’s attorney, Matina Emouna, said he is not surprised the scandal is growing.

“I’m sure across the country — in California, in Texas, in Oregon — people are doing this stuff,” Emouna said.

Eshaghoff was paid between $1,500 and $2,500 by students to take the SAT exams for them, officials said.

Officials 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 show up with a fake ID with his photo and the paying student’s name on it. 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.

Eshaghoff’s court appearance Tuesday was waived. He will return on Nov. 28 to face charges of criminal impersonation, fraud and falsifying business records. For now, he is back at school at Emory University.

Great Neck North graduate Perry Landsman told McLogan none of this is new. Kids have been trying to cheat on the SAT for years. Some students are getting defensive and parents are trying to use the moment to teach.

John Byrne, policy director for the Nassau DA, said he’s not sure how many students are actually involved.

“Originally we thought it was just one school district and we’ve been surprised at the prevalence that we’ve seen. We do expect there will be more arrests,”

Rice is demanding strengthening the “identification” process nationwide. Officials at ETS and the college board say adding security might increase the $49 cost of the exam.

WCBS 880′s Peter Haskell: Hearing To Be Held On SAT Security

Meanwhile, Sen. Kenneth LaValle, the chairman of the state Senate’s Higher Education Committee, will be holding a hearing on the scandal on Oct. 25 at Farmingdale State College.

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