First of Grade Buyers on Trial Oct. 2

Ariel Messman-Rucker

A former DVC student accused of paying $1,000 to change two chemistry grades in connection with the cash-for-grades scandal that rocked the campus is set to go on trial Oct. 2 at Walnut Creek Superior Court. J

oseph Chow, currently a student at UC Davis, was arrested and charged with one felony count of conspiracy on July 7, 2007. He was held until July 30 when $10,000 bail was paid.

The charges were later reduced to a single misdemeanor count of conspiracy last April, said Deputy District Attorney Dodie Katague.

Chow is accused of paying fellow students Julian Revilleza and Jeremy Tato a total of $1,000 to change two of his grades in 2005, according to court documents.

In May of 2005, another student, Montu Sharma, allegedly approached Chow and said he knew someone who could change grades. Court documents say he told Chow it would cost $700 to change a grade, but he could get a discount for $500.

Chow met with Sharma on two separate occasions in May of 2005 and gave him $500 in cash each time, according to court documents.

On May 26, 2005, Revilleza accessed the DVC computer system, DATATEL, and changed Chow’s “C” in Chemistry 120 to an “A.” He accessed the system again on Aug. 16, 2005, and change Chow’s “C” in Chemistry 121 to an “A,” according to court documents.

After graduating from DVC, Chow was accepted at UC Davis for the Fall 2006 semester. His original trial date of Sept. 2 was changed because Chow would have been in the middle of finals for summer session at UC Davis.

His attorney, David Larkin, declined requests for an interview.

Chow is one of more than 50 people accused of paying to have their grades changed by student workers in the DVC admissions and records office between 2000 and 2006, Katague said.

Of the suspected 54 grade buyers, 20 have made plea agreements with the district attorney.

The three former students accused of selling grades – Revelliza, Tato, and Rocky Servo – also struck deals with the prosecutor and pleaded out, Katague said.

So far, the only former student to go before a jury is Erick Martinez, who was acquitted Sept. 5 on all felony charges that he changed 15 of his own grades, as well as those of some friends. Martinez was never accused of taking money in exchange for the grade changes.

Katague said there are still suspected middlemen who were involved in the grades-for-cash scandal, but they have yet to be named or charged with a crime. He declined to reveal any specific information.