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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Tennessee

Monday, June 24, 2013

More Face Consequences In Teacher Certification Cheating Scam

Memphis, TN – James Sales, 39, of Memphis, TN, and Corey A. Holmes, 36, of Greenville, MS, were indicted yesterday on charges related to the teacher certification cheating scam in which Clarence Mumford, Sr., 59, of Memphis was the ringleader, announced United States Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee, Edward L. Stanton III. Holmes and Sales were each charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud and social security fraud, and Sales was also charged with an individual count of wire fraud and two counts of social security fraud.

Mumford, Sr. pled guilty on February 1, 2013 to a conspiracy to violate the laws of the United States, wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft. He was sentenced on May 13, 2013 to seven years in prison. During the guilty plea hearing for Mumford, Sr., it was revealed that numerous individuals paid Mumford to have PRAXIS examinations taken on their behalf. Many were teaching under temporary licenses and needed the examinations passed to retain their jobs. Others were attempting to obtain teaching jobs, or were teachers seeking additional endorsements on their licenses, in subjects such as guidance counseling. Many obtained teaching licenses in Tennessee and Mississippi based on the examinations. Many, however, never obtained licenses. Sometimes Mumford’s test-takers did not show up or did not pass. Test-takers identified during the investigation admitted taking approximately 70 to 90 tests during the course of the scheme, which dated back to 1995. Mumford, Sr. paid test-takers from $200 to $1000 per examination during the course of the conspiracy and charged individuals prices ranging from $1,000 to $6,000 for multiple examinations.

Investigators began to unravel the ring after John Bowen – who has pled guilty and been sentenced – was caught at Arkansas State University taking a test in the morning in one person’s name and in the afternoon in a second person’s name. In addition to Bowen, proctors caught Shantell Shaw and Carlos Shaw – who have also pled guilty and been sentenced – taking morning and afternoon session examinations in multiple names. Educational Testing Services, which created and administered the PRAXIS examinations, investigated and reported the incident to the Tennessee Department of Education, which referred the case to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. The United States Secret Service later joined the investigation.

As alleged in the indictment, Sales conspired with Mumford to have three PRAXIS examinations taken on his behalf – in Geography, World and U.S. History and Principles of Learning and Teaching – in April and June of 2009. Test-takers used Sales’ social security number while posing as Sales to take the examinations. Sales later submitted an application to the Memphis City Schools in May 2010, citing the Geography and Principles of Learning and Teaching examinations in his educational testing history.

As alleged in the indictment, Holmes conspired with Mumford to have multiple PRAXIS examinations taken on his behalf – in Pre-Professional Skills: Reading, Writing and Mathematics; and in Physical Education – in April 2008. Holmes also conspired with Mumford to have multiple PRAXIS examinations taken on behalf of another individual – in Pre-Professional Skills: Reading, Writing and Mathematics; and in Elementary Education – between May and November 2008.

In addition to the indictments of Sales and Holmes, Clarence Mumford, Jr., 29, of Memphis, TN, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge John T. Fowlkes, Jr. to three years of probation including eight months of home confinement and monthly community service for his role in the teacher certification cheating scam. Mumford, Jr. was charged last August with having a PRAXIS examination taken on his behalf in 2008. During Mumford, Jr.’s sentencing hearing and his March 2013 guilty plea hearing, it was revealed that in addition to having an examination taken on his behalf, Mumford, Jr. also took examinations on behalf of a number of other individuals.

U.S. Attorney Stanton also announced today that the United States has entered into diversion agreements and statute of limitations waivers with the following individuals:

Corey Alexander, 38, of Cordova, TN
Samuel Campbell, 39, of Jackson, MS
Darcel Gardner, 35, of Columbus, MS
Jermaine Johnson, 35, of Bartlett, TN
Rondavius Milam, 38, of Memphis, TN
Jadice Moore, 31, of Port Gibson, MS
Sarah Richard, 55, of Richland, MS
Mario Robinson, 31, of Jackson, MS
Shelvie Rose, 32, of Cordova, TN
Devin Rutherford, 36, of Cordova, TN
Marshay Thornton, 32, of Memphis, TN
Tracey Shaw, 41, of Hales Corners, WI
Kimberly Taylor, 37, of Charleston, MS
Timothy Williams, 43, of Lyon, MS
Cedrick Wilson, 34, of Memphis, TN
Ellix Wilson, 27, of Jackson, TN

The agreements bar these individuals from teaching for five years, regardless of whether they obtain valid teaching certificates based on their own scores, or whether they have already done so. These individuals have also signed five-year statute of limitations waivers so that if they attempt to obtain a teaching job within five years they will be prosecuted. In addition, the agreements require restitution from the individuals who obtained teaching licenses and positions as a result of tests arranged by Clarence Mumford, Sr. Today’s announcements bring the total number of individuals sentenced, indicted or charged to 48.

This investigation is being conducted by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the United States Secret Service. Assistant U.S. Attorney John Fabian and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Kirby May represent the government.

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The charges and allegations contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Updated March 19, 2015