Federal Racketeering Charges Trial Begins in Atlanta Public Schools Case

Cheating Scandal Leads to Federal Racketeering Charges for  Defendants in Atlanta Public Schools Trial

federal racketeering chargesOver one year after 35 educators, test administrators, and principals in the Atlanta Public School System were linked to a massive cheating scam to change students’ test scores, 12 of those accused are now standing trial on federal racketeering charges.

Prosecutors allege that the Atlanta Public Schools testing scam dates back as far as 2005, when school administrators began to put pressure on teachers and test administrators to change students’ test scores to meet federal guidelines and get more grant money from the US government. Some teachers said they were offered bribes in the form of bonuses, and that if they did not comply, they would be fired.

So far, 21 defendants have been offered plea deals and will likely testify during the  federal racketeering charges case.

For at least four years – 2005 to 2009 – educators across Atlanta altered test scores and answers on standardized tests to make the school district appear to rapidly improve. At the center of the Atlanta cheating scandal was school superintendent Beverly Hall, who was named National Superintendent of the Year in 2009 for the incredible improvements in her urban school district.

In 2011, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported suspicions of cheating in a series of articles, which made the urban school district appear to make rapid and impressive improvements on national test scores. The reports launched a state investigation into Hall’s school district, which uncovered an incredible ring of cheating that occurred at 44 Atlanta schools, perpetrated by 178 educators, including 38 principals.

The indictment against Hall and others alleges that she “created a culture of fear, intimidation and retaliation.” However, Hall’s federal racketeering charges trial specifically was delayed indefinitely because advanced breast cancer has left her too ill to attend court proceedings.

“We’ve had cheating all up and down the line. It was absolutely amazing,” said Michael Bowers, a former Georgia attorney general who investigated the cheating scandal. Bowers said his investigation found “erasure parties,” in which educators – both in school and outside of school – erased and changed test answers to make their students appear smarter. Teachers were even told to make changes to tests. “Anything that you can imagine that could involve cheating, it was done,” he said.

“Not only were the children deprived, a lot of teachers were forced into cheating, forced into criminal acts,” Bowers said. “Now, granted, they did wrong, but a lot of them did this to protect jobs.”

The Strom Law Firm Can Help with Federal Racketeering Charges and Other RICO Charges

RICO charges involve the operation of an illegal business or enterprise, including a fraudulent scams, for an individual or entity’s personal profit. RICO cases are complex criminal cases.  They involve serious criminal charges and life altering potential consequences. The federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) and similar state racketeering laws give the government a tremendous amount of power to go after those accused of racketeering.

For experienced RICO and federal criminal charges defense attorneys who will fight for your rights and work to have your racketeering and corruption charges reduced or even dismissed, contact the attorneys at the Strom Law Firm, today. We offer free, confidential consultations so that you can discuss the facts of your case with impunity, in a safe environment. Do not hesitate to contact us. 803.252.4800.

Speak Your Mind