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Former University Student Guilty in Computer Grade Tampering

August 13, 1986

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ A former University of Southern California student faces up to four years in prison after being convicted of paying to have his grades altered through the school’s computer system.

But jurors Tuesday deadlocked on charges stemming from Merhdad ″Michael″ Amini’s alleged role as a middleman in a widespread grade-tampering scandal, and Superior Court Judge Fred Woods declared a mistrial on those counts.

Amini, 28, of Beverly Hills, will be sentenced Sept. 3. He remains in jail in lieu of $100,000 bail and faces a federal drug trial in Louisville, Ky.

Amini, an Iranian, was accused of paying a former employee of the USC records office $500 to $2,000 to change grades between May 1983 and May 1984.

Darryl Gillard, 28, pleaded guilty last month to tapping into the computer to change three of Amimi’s grades to A’s, Deputy District Attorney Steven Plafker said. The charge will be dismissed as part of a plea bargain, he said.

Gillard testified during the two-week trial that he entered the records office after hours to make changes in student grades at Amini’s request, the prosecutor said.

Another former student, Manuel Roberts, 23, also has been charged in the case, involving up to 43 students, but he remains a fugitive, Plafker said. Information recently provided by Gillard may lead to the prosecution of two others believed involved in the ring, he said.

Indonesian students Ali Tjahjadi and Amir Surjaputra testified that they each paid Amini $500 to have their grades boosted by Gillard.

The tampering scandal resulted in the expulsion of 14 students and the suspension of seven. Holds were placed on the academic records of 14 students who failed to respond to requests for administrative hearings.

Disciplinary proceedings against eight others concluded without any action because university officials found the evidence inconclusive.

The scheme was uncovered in the spring of 1984 after an academic adviser became suspicious of a student’s transcript.

″It’s kind of a painful process, washing laundry in public, but I think it had to be done,″ said Robert Morley, USC associate director of registration and records. ″Our transcripts are the currency of our institution.″

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