Sharron Robinson, a former U.S. mariner, has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States in connection with a large-scale exam-fixing scheme for merchant mariner licensing.
Robinson admitted that she acted as an intermediary between a Coast Guard exam center employee, Beverly McCrary, and multiple merchant mariners who were willing to pay for fake passing scores on their license exams.
In a filing, Robinson acknowledged that she would take illicit payment from mariners and then pay McCrary for the fake scores. She said that it was her understanding that McCrary would keep a portion of the money and use the rest to bribe another exam center employee, Dorothy Smith, to enter the scores.
She also admitted that she had had McCrary fix her own exam scores. According to the Coast Guard, all of the fake test scores resulted in unearned licenses issued to the scheme's participants - up to and including an unlimited master's endorsement.
Two mariner participants in the scheme, Anthony Garces and Quang Tran, have also recently entered guilty pleas for "unlawfully receiving and possessing endorsements." Sentencing is set for this June, and the maximum penalty for each of the defendants is five years’ imprisonment and a $250,000 fine.
16 others pleaded guilty to the charge of unlawfully receiving and possessing endorsements in late January.
Smith and McCrary have not pleaded guilty, and they are due to stand trial on June 28.