A 41-year-old woman formerly employed by the Ohio Department of Education will pay $250 and spend two years on probation after being convicted of falsifying the records of friends and relatives to make it appear that they had passed their high-school equivalence tests. The woman pleaded guilty to forgery and one misdemeanor count of tampering with records. The judge who sentenced her said she risks up to one year of jail time if she violates her probation.
The woman worked at the Ohio Department of Education for 12 years, but prosecutors say she began altering records several days after being transferred to the agency's general-equivalence diploma division. She was accused of first using one of the division's computers to make it appear that her husband had passed the GED test, making similar falsifications on the records of her brother, nephew and three other people in 2011. She also allegedly forged a signature on a transcript application for one of these individuals.
The State Highway Patrol and the Ohio inspector general began investigating the woman after receiving a tip from several other Education Department employees, who were suspicious about her record-keeping and activity on state computers. The woman voluntarily resigned once she found out about the investigation.
The woman's husband, who works as an assistant prosecutor, said she did not profit from her actions and only wanted to help her family and friends find employment. Her defense attorney claims that none of those parties were aware his client had changed their test grades. The woman told the judge she apologized for altering the records. "I just thought I was helping them," she explained.
Record tampering and forgery are considered serious crimes in Ohio, with those accused of such offenses potentially facing severe criminal penalties. The woman in the case received a relatively light sentence largely because she did not profit, but those who do typically face jail time.
Source: Columbus Dispatch, "Woman gets probation for falsifying GED test scores," John Futty, March 5, 2013