Southern California tutor arrested over cheating scandal

Reuters News
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Posted: Oct 07, 2014 2:07 AM

(Reuters) - A private Los Angeles-area tutor was arrested and charged on Monday for illegally changing grades for three high school students, police said.

Timothy Lance Lai, 29, was charged with one count of felony burglary and four counts of felony fraud after he was arrested at the Los Angeles International Airport on Monday, the Newport Beach police said in a statement.

Lai, who fled the United States after the investigation started, broke into Corona Del Mar High School last year and installed a USB device that recorded keystrokes on a teacher's computer, the police said.

He then accessed the school's network using the keystroke data and changed three students' grades between April and June 2013, the police said.

A teacher discovered the grade changes and contacted school administrators, who called in police. Police later found a separate USB device on another teacher's computer.

If convicted, Lai could face a maximum sentence of five years and eight months in jail. At his arraignment, officials will request that Lai be held on $200,000 bail.

The cheating scandal at the highly-ranked school led to the expulsion of 11 students and the resignation of the district administrator, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Newport Beach is about 45 miles (72 km) south of Los Angeles.

(Reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)