Ringleader Sentenced To Seven Years In Teacher Certification Cheating Scam
Memphis, TN – Clarence Mumford, Sr., 59, of Memphis, was sentenced to 84 months in federal prison and ordered to pay $167,338.84 in restitution after pleading guilty in February 2013 to aggravated identity theft and to conspiring to commit mail fraud, wire fraud, Social Security fraud and identity theft, announced United States Attorney Edward L. Stanton III. Mumford, Sr. was originally charged in July 2012 in a 45-count indictment alleging a conspiracy to violate the laws of the United States, mail fraud, wire fraud, social security fraud, aggravated identity theft and fraud in connection with identification documents. The original indictment was superseded twice, once in August 2012, and a second time in September 2012, ultimately resulting in a 63-count indictment charging Mumford, Sr. and twelve other individuals.
"At a time when school administrators and teachers -- especially those in West Tennessee -- are working so hard, with fewer resources, to meet the challenge of improving our educational system, it is galling that Mumford thought he could get away with his brazen scheme,” said U.S. Attorney Stanton. “His sentence demonstrates that crimes against the integrity of our schools will not be tolerated. We were proud to work with the United States Secret Service, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the Shelby County District Attorney General’s Office to bring Mumford to justice. Criminals like him have no place in our schools. Our school systems have enough challenges already."
Mumford, Sr. is the ninth defendant sentenced in the case. In April 2013, United States District Judge John T. Fowlkes sentenced John Bowen, 64, of Memphis, Tennessee; Dante Dowers, 41, of Belle Glade, Florida; Valerie Humphrey, 47, of Oakland, Tennessee; Felippia Kellogg, 42, of Memphis; Carlo McClelland, 35, of Meridian, Mississippi; Carlos Shaw, 38, of Memphis; Jeryl Shaw, 40, of Puyallup, Washington and Shantell Shaw, 41, of Memphis (wife of Jeryl Shaw but no relation to Carlos Shaw). All but Dowers, who was sentenced to six months of home confinement, have been sentenced to prison.
In February, during Mumford, Sr.’s guilty plea hearing, it was revealed that numerous individuals paid Mumford, Sr. to arrange for PRAXIS examinations to be 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. Twenty-six individuals who had one or more examinations arranged by Mumford were named at the February hearing. Of those, 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.
Two witnesses who testified today at Mumford’s sentencing hearing stated that they paid Mumford $3,000 and $6,000, respectively, but neither received valid scores after paying Mumford. Both received passing scores for examinations taken by Mumford’s test-takers, but Educational Testing Services (“ETS”) flagged the tests taken on behalf of both witnesses for handwriting irregularities. Mumford told both to get doctors’ notes to explain the handwriting irregularities. One did so, and one refused, but it did not work out for either of them. Nevertheless, Mumford did not repay any of the money they had given him.
Investigators began to unravel the ring after Bowen 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. Proctors caught Bowen and two others who had taken morning and afternoon sessions in multiple names. ETS, 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.
Sentencing documents filed in the case reveal that Mumford arranged for at least 100 examinations on behalf of 50 different individuals. Mumford made over $100,000 during the course of the scheme.
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.
The charges and allegations contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.