Test Taker Pleads Guilty In Teacher Certification Cheating Scam
Memphis, TN – John Bowen, 63, of Memphis, has pled guilty to charges related to the teacher certification cheating scam led by ringleader Clarence Mumford, Sr., 59, of Memphis, announced Edward L. Stanton III, United States Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee. Mumford, Sr. was charged in August, along with his son, Clarence Mumford, Jr., 28, of Memphis, and Dante Dowers, 40, of Belle Glade, Florida, in a 49-count superseding indictment alleging a conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud, Social Security fraud, aggravated identity theft and fraud in connection with identification documents. Bowen pled guilty to a one count information charging a conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud, Social Security fraud, and fraud in connection with identification documents.
The superseding indictment against Mumford, Sr., Mumford, Jr. and Dowers charged a scheme in which Mumford, Sr. was the ringleader of a group of individuals whom Mumford, Sr. paid to take teacher certification examinations on behalf of teachers and prospective teachers in Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi. According to the Superseding Indictment, the ring has been in operation since 1995 and continued at least until July 2010.
At his guilty plea hearing, Bowen admitted that he began taking tests for Mumford, Sr. after he met Mumford, Sr. during the 1994-1995 school year. Mumford, Sr. was the assistant principal at Humes High School and Bowen was a substitute teacher. Bowen admitted to taking at least three or four tests each year since 2000, and that he was paid hundreds of dollars per test. He first began taking tests at the University of Memphis beginning in 1990, and later began taking tests at locations in Arkansas, Mississippi, and Tennessee to avoid being detected by proctors or administrators who might recognize him at the University of Memphis.
It was revealed at Bowen's guilty plea hearing that investigators began to unravel the ring after Bowen was caught at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro in June 2009 when he took one test in the morning in one person's name and a second test in the afternoon in another person's name. Other test-takers paid by Mumford, Sr. were at the same test location on the same date doing the same thing. Educational Testing Service investigated and later referred the case to the Tennessee Department of Education, which referred the case to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. After the investigation was brought to the United States Attorney's Office in the summer of 2011, the United States Secret Service also joined the investigation. Investigators interviewed dozens of individuals, and obtained bank, phone and testing records to identify participants in the scheme.
“Today’s guilty plea demonstrates our ongoing efforts to root out the individuals involved in this unspeakable fraud on our community and to ensure that they are held accountable," said Edward L. Stanton III, United States Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee. "Such criminal conduct cannot and will not be tolerated by those entrusted to teach and serve in our school systems.
This investigation was conducted by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the United States Secret Service. Assistant United States Attorney John Fabian and Special Assistant United States Attorney Kirby May represent the government.