SAT cheating probe expands, DA says

An undated file photo of Kathleen Rice at An undated file photo of Kathleen Rice at a news conference. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

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An investigation into a test-cheating scandal has expanded to include five Nassau County schools and the possibility that at least 35 people may have been involved in cheating on both the SAT and the ACT, a similar standardized exam, prosecutors said.

Some of that cheating may go back years, beyond the college entrance exam cheating ring allegedly led by a Great Neck North High School graduate between 2009 and 2010, a spokesman for Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice said.

Spokesman John Byrne said investigators suspect at least 31 people may have hired as many as six people to take either the ACT or SAT. Byrne said those investigators are also looking at the roles of at least three ACT test-takers and at least four SAT test-takers -- test-takers who were paid to take those college entrance examinations.

One of the test-takers, Byrne said, may have been involved in taking both tests for pay.

Byrne said no arrests were imminent. He also said it was likely that not all of those under investigation would be arrested -- partly, he said, because the offenses may no longer be prosecutable under the statute of limitations. For a felony, an applicable charge for test-takers, Byrne said, the statute is five years.

For those who may have paid someone to take either test for them, the statute is two years.

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The investigation is looking at the roles of test-takers and those who might have paid test-takers at five schools in Nassau, Byrne said, three of them private schools. The schools were not identified.

Byrne said investigators are awaiting the response of experts to conduct handwriting analysis of test samples.

Scott Gomer, a spokesman for ACT in Iowa City, Iowa, said his company is taking the allegations seriously. "As part of our ongoing security procedures, we continually review additional safeguards to enhance our test security, maintain the integrity of ACT scores and ensure a level playing field for all students," he said.

News of the SAT scandal first broke Sept. 27, when Nassau prosecutors announced the arrest of Samuel Eshaghoff, 19, a 2010 graduate of Great Neck North, charging him with taking the test for six current students at the school -- students who allegedly paid Eshaghoff.

Eshaghoff was charged with first-degree scheme to defraud, six counts of second-degree falsifying business records and six counts of second-degree criminal impersonation. He pleaded not guilty during his arraignment. He faces up to 4 years in prison if convicted.

The students who Rice said hired Eshaghoff, all from Great Neck, also were arrested.

With John Valenti

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