Beyond the Burg: Former student sentenced in grade scandal

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September 29, 2009

1:22 AM

Former Florida A&M University student Marcus Barrington was sentenced Monday to seven years in federal prison for his role in a grade change scandal last March.

“Mr. Barrington is a talented young man of promise who had a bright future ahead of him until this unfortunate incident,” FAMU spokeswoman Sharon Saunders said. “We hope that Mr. Barrington and the others convicted will use this time to reflect and prepare for the next phase of their lives.”

Barrington was facing up to 12 years in federal prison for a conviction on charges of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, unauthorized computer access and three counts of aggravated identity theft. He had two accomplices, FAMU students Lawrence Secrease and Christopher Jacquette, who both pleaded guilty. Both testified against Barrington and are serving 22-month sentences.

“When somebody decides to do what they did in this criminal case, they take away that and that’s not fair to all the thousands who do the hard work, earn the grades and do the right thing,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Mountin said, referring to Barrington getting a second chance.

Barrington, Secrease and Jacquette were indicted last October for changing 650 grades, affecting 90 students.

Over 100 grades were changed from Fs to As. Students’ residency statuses were also altered from out-of-state to in-state, resulting in a loss of over $100,000 for the university.

According to the indictment, the three men installed keystroke loggers on university computers in the registrar’s office between June and December 2007. Barrington denied any wrongdoing.

“If you find it in your heart to afford him a second chance, you will not be disappointed in his future actions,” Miami Beach attorney Hugo Rodriguez, representing Barrington, said. “I told Marcus you would give him a fair and just sentence.”

According to Rodriguez, no fingerprints were taken when evidence was gathered for the investigation. This had little effect on the final decision.

“Mr. Barrington, I sat through your trial. I have yet to hear you say you did wrong. The evidence of guilt was overwhelming,” U.S. District Judge Stephan Mickle said. “Your arrogance … was shocking to me.”

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