Leader of Teachers' Cheating Ring in Memphis Gets 7-Year Term

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Clarence D. Mumford Sr., a former teacher and assistant principal in Memphis, was sentenced Monday to seven years in federal prison for orchestrating a scheme to help teachers cheat on certification exams.

Mr. Mumford, who worked in the Memphis City Schools district for more than two decades, initially refused a settlement offer on conspiracy and aggravated theft charges. But he pleaded guilty to the two counts of a 63-count indictment in February, and in Federal District Court on Monday, Judge John T. Fowlkes of the Western District of Tennessee handed down the prison sentence and ordered him to pay a $167,339 fine.

Prosecutors said that for 15 years, Mr. Mumford had doctored driver's licenses and enlisted teachers to impersonate others in Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee at exams that many states require for teaching licenses.

A sweeping federal investigation found that Mr. Mumford's scheme involved 36 people, including Mr. Mumford's son, Clarence Jr., who had a stand-in take a test for him, and Cedrick Wilson, a former wide receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers who worked as a substitute teacher in Memphis. Between 1995 and 2010, prosecutors said, the senior Mr. Mumford collected more than $120,000.

At the hearing on Monday, two witnesses told Judge Fowlkes that they had paid Mr. Mumford thousands of dollars for someone to take a test on their behalf. Another witness, Devin Rutherford, the head coach at White Station High School in Memphis, said he had taken tests for others and been paid by Mr. Mumford.

Mr. Mumford is the ninth defendant in the case to be sentenced. Three others, including Mr. Mumford's son, are awaiting sentencing. The longest sentence other than Mr. Mumford's was an eight-month term given to John Bowen, a substitute teacher from Memphis who took several exams on behalf of others.

Coleman W. Garrett, Mr. Mumford's lawyer, did not respond to requests for comment.

In a telephone interview, Edward L. Stanton III, the United States attorney for the Western District of Tennessee, said that Mr. Mumford was motivated by "greed and financial gain."

"We believe his brazen conduct spoke volumes about his disregard for the educational system," Mr. Stanton said.

education

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.


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