Suspects Surrender To Authorities In Connection With L.I. SAT Scandal

MINEOLA, NY (CBSNewYork) – Ten students surrendered Tuesday in connection with Nassau County’s expanding SAT scandal.

1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera reports Joshua Chefec, 20, Adam Justin, 19, Michael Pomerantz, 18,  and George Trane, 19, face felony charges after they were accused of being paid to take the college entrance exams for others.

Chefec, Justin, and Trane, from Great Neck North High School, North Shore Hebrew Academy and Great Neck South, respectively, are charged with scheme to defraud in the first degree, falsifying business records in the second degree and criminal impersonation in the second degree.  They all pleaded not guilty on Tuesday and face up to four years each in prison if convicted, CBS 2’s Jennifer McLogan reported.

LISTEN: 1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera reports

Pomerantz, also from Great Neck North, along with another student, cited medical issues and will surrender Monday. A third student declined to surrender and Rice said arrest arrangements will be made.

Pomerantz’s friend, Oren Kohn, quickly defended him, saying Pomeranz has big plans to study in Israel.  Kohn said he highly doubts the charges.

“He’s a very good kid.  He’s outstanding. He knows the [difference] between right and wrong and he knows that taking a test for others is wrong,” Kohn told CBS 2’s Emily Smith.

Another friend of the accused told CBS 2’s Hazel Sanchez, “The kids are truly good people. They all are smart students. They all have A average without cheating.”

District Attorney Kathleen Rice said the four defendants are accused of taking $500 to $3,600 to stand in for nine students, who are also facing charges for allegedly hiring the accused imposters, on SAT or ACT exams.

In all, 13 former or current Great Neck North students have been arrested, reports CBS 2’s Sanchez.

Rice said the scandal was well known within the halls of their schools and beyond.

“This scheme was so systemic; this fraud is so systemic that there were people who knew who to go to when they wanted to get a particular score. It was run like a business. There were referrals that were made. There was word of mouth,” Rice said.

Rice said Trane attends SUNY Stony Brook and that he took the ACT for two students, earning scores of 29 and 28. Rice said Chefec attends Tulane University and he took the ACT for a student and got a 31. Rice said Justin attends Indiana University and he took the SAT for a student and received a 1920. Rice said Pomerantz took the SAT for a student and received a 1720.

Prosecutors also said the accused may have even used fake IDs to assume the identity of test takers.

Chefec’s attorney, Brian Griffin, said his client has already been cleared of the charges.

Photos: Suspects In SAT Cheating Scandal Surrender

“Mr. Chefec’s matter was investigated some three years ago at the school level and it was unfounded,” Griffin said. “We intend to vigorously defend these charges and obviously he maintains his innocence.”

Griffin said Chefec — a graduate of Great Neck North High School — was not suspended or sanctioned.

Attorney Melvin Roth tells CBS 2’s Kristin Thorne that his client, a 17-year-old boy accused of hiring a stand-in, denies all the charges and will plead not guilty.

“I think this is overkill for this kind of thing,” Roth said. “We look forward to resolving this thing in court.”

WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall On The Story

The arrests came two months after police arrested Sam Eshaghoff and several students from Great Neck North High School in September.

Rice called the recent string of arrests “a systematic problem that compromises the integrity not only of the SAT, but also the ACT, in several schools in Nassau County and beyond.”

The D.A. also went on further to criticize the “gaping hole” in standardized test security, saying that ETS and ACT “do not report verified incidents of cheating to high schools or colleges.”

“This is a system begging for security enhancements,” Rice said.

State Sen. Ken Lavalle, chairman of the committee on higher education, says it’s not just students who may be in trouble.

“There are parents that are complicit in this,” said Lavalle. “They are involved. You can’t tell me that students are walking around with $3,500.”

On Tuesday, Rice said no parents have yet been charged with complicity, but she is not ruling that out. Even the students’ own lawyers questioned the parents’ involvement.

“We train our kids to hedge their bets, to get edges, to cheat, to take steroids, to trade on inside information and that’s the way these kids see it — on TV, on the computer. And, in essence, we are now punishing them for what we are training them to do. It’s a horrible, horrible testament to the way we are raising our kids right now,” defense attorney Michael Dergarabedian said.

Lavalle said every district attorney in the state ought to follow the lead in Nassau and investigate their own high schools.

The schools with accused students say they are fully cooperating with authorities.

Some students are not entirely surprised by the arrests.

“This stuff has been going on for a very long time,” said one student. “Everybody wants to succeed and go to the best college.”

Rice said those students charged as misdemeanor juvenile offenders will not be identified, and the courtroom will be sealed when they are arraigned.

Law enforcement negotiated Tuesday’s surrender date with the lawyers for the students, keeping it close to their Thanksgiving breaks from colleges.

Sound off in our comments section below…

  • Meme Meyagi

    what is done about 7 million mooslime terrorists living in usa?

  • Peter Howell

    I run a financial firm in New York City with a staff of 200 and I will be more than happy to hire any one of these students to work for my firm. Seriously, I would hire them on the spot no questions asked! These students know how to think outside the box and that is exactly what any employer needs taday. There certainly is no shortage of college graduates to hire these days (I can go to Zuccoti Park and find thousands of them) but to to hire someone who is an innovator and is willing and able to go the extra mile to advance himself and his company is very rare indeed. Can somebody please tell me how much time, money & resources need to be spent to arrest and prosecute these teenage innovators of our society? Kathleen Rice is the one that needs to be arrested and she should reimburse the county the hundreds of thousands of dollars that it costs to go after these students.

    • Meme Meyagi

      and you will pay them by college credit, or better yet “work experience” by bringing coffee to senior personnel

  • surfin Bird

    why haven’t the names of the juveniles been released?

    future employers need to know about these scammers.

    • Meme Meyagi

      get back to scrubbing toilets

  • Aquila729

    It’s just too bad that we don’t go after crooked politicians and other government officials with the same elan and energy that we are using on these kids. Let me tell ya, we’d all be better off with more politicos in jail.

  • Dark meat lover

    I cheated my way through college and now I’m rich with a smokin hot wife.
    I got caught a few times but because I’m black they lets me off the hook. I luv this country

  • John

    It’s called accountability! I’m tired of lawyers making excuses for extreme behavior. What about the other 95% of those students that did the right thing and didn’t cheat. They too were exposed to the same influences, but didn’t cheat!.

    • Meme Meyagi

      shove that 95% figure back up ur butt

  • Jury Nullification

    Why isn’t the media questioning the appropriateness of these prosecutions? Why is this being treated as a criminal matter? Why are government resources being used to prosecute what should be a civil matter between ETS, The College Board and the individuals involved? This makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. In essence, the test administrator is using the government to enforce a contractual agreement by means of criminal prosecution. The appropriate response from the public should be jury nullification, and replacement of the District Attorney.

    • Meme Meyagi

      because usa is a police state

  • ups

    And why did they cheat? Perhaps it can be traced to parents who have no clue how to pass on any traits to their children except that you must get ahead. I hope the parents accept that they raised these creeps. not society.

  • Steve

    These students have talent, and think out of the box. If you can’t go through
    the brick wall, then go around it.

    They will be the future Wall Street CEO’s, Presidents and who knows what else.
    Credit earned: A+ for cheating, lying, and stealing!

    • Schmellma Arss

      Now you’re speakin’ deacon! Wanna sniff my butt? No charge!

      • Ray

        Penn State would be a good choice for that student activity.

  • 2gruesome2b

    wait till this entire generation is in red china, repairing the great wall, or building defense sites to guard against an attack from the used-to-be soviet union. 12 hour work shifts, sharing beds in huts insulated with old newspapers, etc., etc. then they will realize what opportunities were by-passed.

  • Great Neck H.S. Parent

    This has been going on since the Stone Ages…I remember doing this when we were in H.S. and we all became lawyers, doctors, stock brokers, teachers, etc. We all became productive members of society and now contributes back to our communities

    • Honesty

      So by your logic, it doesn’t matter how you arrive at success, as long as you get some that’s all that matters. And in the process, lying, cheating, stealing, and being involved in fraudulant behavior should be overlooked. You are exactly the type of parent who is ill-equipped to raise children with ethical values and morals. What about all the HONEST and HONRABLE students who study and sit through a pressure cooker of a test to EARN their way into college? They’re just suckers for not cheating? The world would be better off if you and those who share your flawed mentality were sterilized.

    • Chuck Lunch

      Contributions like poor grammar, i.e.,” contributes”. That explains the condition society is in.

  • T

    Why should these kids be held accountable, have any bankers or Wall streeters been arrested?

    • The Realist

      If you can present SPECIFIC evidence of SPECIFIC crimes, then maybe they will be arrested.

      • Schmellma Arss

        They sniffed my butt without paying my regular fee. That’s their crime bozo.

  • jefferson davis

    These young homophobes need their bare asses horsewhipped.

  • Tommy

    I feel bad for these kids. Just because they are white and have money they have to resort to cheating to get into a good school. If they were minorities they could go to the same colleges, for free, with much lower scores in the interest of “diversity”. Colleges are BS now, all they care about is being politically correct.

  • Honor

    To all their defenders: Ever hear of FRAUD? It is a crime, regardless of their age, intentions, or pressure to get into college. They deserve to be punished. This will be a life lesson for them. If you think you can cheat, lie, steal, and scam your way through life, you run the risk of getting caught. They are caught. End of story. And if their parents are involved, they should face stiffer punishment for their culpability and for allowing their children to take the fall alone.

    • Schniffma Roydz

      You too can be saved if you would just insert your nose between my not-so-well-toned love cushions and breath deeply. Bask in the healing fumes from my posterior exhaust pipe and you will be saved.

  • Tommy C

    Hey this is called entrepenurial spirit . These aqre the future leaders of tomorrow. Making a buck anyway you can. Look at the Kennedys’ and Bushes and for that matter Cheney

  • Tommy C

    Aren’t there more compelling things the cops can be doing . Mr Lavalle please pull ur head out of ur ass. How much time , money and resources has been spent to arrest these REALLY DANGEROUS people. Get alife

    • Schniffma Roydz

      And he should definitely smell my ass, free of charge. A whiff on the house as they say.

  • Schmellma Arss

    Arrested??? But cheating and stealing is the American way! Oh, I forgot. Everything is acceptable as long as you don’t get caught.

    • Cos


      It’s not what you know, but what you can prove…!

  • Pro

    Forget about SAT’s. Colleges should only be looking at your academic performance during your 4 years of highschool. They should do away with SAT exams.

  • Surfin Bird

    The police must release the names of these people.
    They are nothing but thieves,scoundrels,and vagabounds.

  • JB

    Can someone tell me the crime here? This test is administered by a private company. They make a FORTUNE doing it. I still remember when I took this test, any sort of verification is a joke. How is this a felony??

    • Boy Genius Here


  • MIKE



    • Boy Genius Here


  • Simone

    Come to think of it, just how on his very own did Bush
    get into Yale ?
    So there !

    • Simone is brain dead

      So Simone you support cheating.Your everything that is wrong with this country.

  • Esmerelda

    Not the most ethical, but not the worst either.
    All lthese kids wanted to do was get into a school and hope to
    have a good future.
    Certainly not the worst of crimes.

    • Cmystic

      It is one of the worse kind. You wanna know why, because these cheats possibly in the future could command a position of power.

  • MikefromNY

    On their “behaves”? — perhaps the writer here should have hired an imposter for the English writing section.

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