Published 1:00 pm Sunday, November 21, 2021

NEW ORLEANS – U.S Attorney Duane A. Evans announced the indictment on November 18, 2021 of the following eight current and former merchant mariners related to a test score-fixing scheme at a United States Coast Guard exam center:  RANSFORD ACKAH, NATHANIEL DOMINICK, ODELL GRIGGS, DEVIN HEBERT, RAYNEL LEWIS, ADRIAN MACK, MAURICE PALMER, and DERRICK WARD.

The defendants are each charged with obtaining, and intending to use, officer-level licenses that were procured through falsified exam scores.  The fraudulent scores were for examinations designed to test the mariners’ knowledge and training to safely operate under the authority of those licenses.

The allegations stem from an investigation that resulted in a previous indictment charging former Coast Guard credentialing specialist Dorothy Smith with accepting bribes in exchange for entering false passing examination scores. Twenty-eight current and former mariners were charged in that earlier indictment and have all pled guilty. Smith and two other former-Coast Guard employees are awaiting trial in that case.

If convicted, each defendant in this indictment faces a sentence of up to five (5) years’ imprisonment, up to a $250,000.00 fine, up to three years of supervised release, and a mandatory $100.00 special assessment fee.

U.S Attorney Evans reiterated that the indictment is merely a charge and that the defendants’ 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.