WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — A former head men’s basketball coach at Westchester Community College was arrested Thursday for allegedly submitting phony transcripts for his players to four-year colleges.
According to prosecutors, Tyrone Mushatt, 42, of the Bronx, submitted nine forged transcripts to schools in hopes that eight of his players would transfer and be eligible to play there. Athletes only play two years at community colleges.
The transcripts were either hand delivered, faxed or mailed to seven colleges, including St. John’s, Quinnipiac and Florida A&M, from May 2012 to October 2014, authorities said.
“As the complaint alleges, by altering basketball player’s grades on official transcripts, this defendant, whose primary focus as a coach should have been on the best interests and education of the students, totally abdicated that responsibility,” Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore said in a news release. “As a result, the academic integrity of the College as a whole and of other team members is brought into question, making the degree that others worked hard to achieve, look less valuable.”
The state Office of the Inspector General, the State University of New York chancellor’s office and the National Junior College Athletic Association were all tipped off about the scheme, prosecutors said.
Mushatt is charged with nine counts of criminal possession of a forged instrument, a felony. He was arraigned in the Town of Mount Pleasant Court on Thursday and released on his own recognizance. He is due back in court Dec. 10.
The Journal News reported that Mushatt’s attorney, John Pappalardo, said in court that that college’s internal investigation determined that Mushatt wasn’t involved in altering the transcripts.
Pappalardo said Mushatt “spent his career helping kids.”
If convicted, Mushatt faces up to seven years in prison.
Because of the ongoing criminal investigation, Westchester Community College canceled last basketball season and this season. The school allowed Mushatt’s contract to expire.
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