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Merchant Mariners sentenced for unlawfully receiving licenses

NEW ORLEANS – U.S. Attorney Duane A. Evans announced the sentencings, in April and May 2021, of the following defendants for convictions for receiving and possessing Coast Guard issued merchant mariners licenses to which they were not entitled: Jonathan Abbey, Rafael Atkins, Charles Franks, Jerry Fudge, Justin Gandy, Anthony Garces, Edward Jones, Brandon Mack, Hugo Marquez, Miles Marts, Deverick Morrow, Octavian Richards, Antwaine Travis, and Robert Winters.

Each of these defendants was sentenced to a year of probation and 100 hours of community service. In pleading guilty, each of these defendants admitted to cheating on Coast Guard exams by paying for the entry of false scores. During their guilty pleas, these defendants acknowledged paying various individuals, including former mariners Alexis Bell, Micheal Wooten, and Sharron Robinson, who have plead guilty and are awaiting sentencing, as well as former Coast Guard employees Dorothy Smith, Eldridge Johnson and Beverly McCrary, who are scheduled to stand trial on June 28, 2021.

As alleged in the indictment, Smith, a Coast Guard credentialing specialist, entered false scores in exchange for bribe payments. The indictment alleges that Smith used a network of intermediaries, which included her former co-workers Johnson and McCrary. U.S. Attorney Evans reiterated that the indictment’s allegations against Smith, Johnson, and McCrary are merely charges and their guilt must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

This case is being investigated by the Coast Guard Investigative Service. Assistant U.S. Attorney Chandra Menon is in charge of the prosecution.