Man Pleads Guilty in USC Grade-Changing Scandal
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ A former employee of the University of Southern California has pleaded guilty to illegal computer access in a case in which officials say up to 43 students may have paid as much as $2,000 to have grades altered.
Darryl Gillard, 28, of Los Angeles, also pleaded guilty Monday to cocaine possession under an agreement with prosecutors. Deputy District Attorney Stephen Plafker said he would seek a two-year prison term.
Gillard was charged in April with seven counts of illegal computer access that allegedly occurred over a year, beginning in May 1983. He was arrested May 13 and charged with selling cocaine to an undercover officer.
Gillard, who pleaded guilty to one access count, faces sentencing Aug. 20. He could have received up to six years in prison if convicted of the computer charges alone.
The grade-tampering scandal led to the explusion of 14 students and the suspension of seven, USC Vice Provost Sylvia Manning said Monday. The academic records of another 14 students have been put on permanent hold until they respond to requests to appear before a hearing panel.
No action was taken against an additional eight students because of insufficient evidence, she said.
″The investigation is closed,″ she said. ″We’re satisfied that we have found all the instances (of grade-tampering) and that no degrees were awarded on the basis of falsified records.″
Computer security has been increased at the school, she said.
Prosecutors alleged Gillard used the university’s computer after-hours because his job in USC’s registration and records office had been phased out.
Plafker said Gillard is not obligated to testify against co-defendant Mehrdad Amini, 28, a former USC student due to go on trial this week for allegedly having acted as a middle-man for Gillard.
Amini is charged with five counts of illegal computer access.
Another man charged in the case, Manual Roberts, 23, of Los Angeles, is being sought.