Authorities say that this was a brazen and surprisingly long-lived scheme. Another educator spent 15 years helping aspiring public school teachers to cheat on their Praxis exam.
According to NBC News, teachers in three Southern states paid Clarence Mumford Sr. to send someone else to take their Praxis exams in their place. Each time he sent one of his test ringers with fake identification into the Praxis exams, Mumford received a fee between $1,500 and $3,000. In return, his customers got a passing grade and began their careers as cheaters, according to federal prosecutors in Memphis.
This scheme affected hundreds, if not thousands, of public school students who ended up being taught by unqualified educators.
Mumford has been charged with more than 60 fraud and conspiracy charges. These charges claim that Mumford created fake driver’s licenses with the information of a teacher or an aspiring teacher and attached the photograph of a test-taker.
Prospective teachers have been accused of giving Mumford their Social Security numbers in order for him to make the fake identities.
Prosecutors say that the fake test-takers went to testing centers, showed the proctor the fake license, and passed the certification exam. The indictment alleges that the aspiring teacher then used the test score to secure a job with a public school district. So far, 14 people have been charged with mail and Social Security fraud, and four people have pleaded guilty to charges associated with the scheme.
Mumford accumulated tens of thousands of dollars during the alleged conspiracy which began back in 1995. The scheme involved three states (Arkansas, Mississippi, and Tennessee) and ended in 2010.
Among those charged is former University of Tennessee and NFL wide receiver Cedrick Wilson.
Wilson was accused of employing a test-taker for a Praxis physical education exam. He was charged in late October with four counts of Social Security and mail fraud. Wilson has pleaded not guilty and is out of jail on a $10,000 bond. He has been suspended by the Memphis City Schools system.
If convicted, Mumford could face between two and 20 years in prison on each count that he was charged with. The teachers also face between two and 20 years in prison on each count if convicted.