Last guilty buyer could face prison

Ariel Messman-Rucker

The cash-for-grades scandal that has rocked the college since it became public in 2007 will come to a close Oct. 30 with the sentencing of the last remaining defendant, convicted grade buyer Khalid Nemati.
Nemati was found guilty Sept. 2 of one count of conspiracy to commit computer fraud after 12 witnesses testified against him during a five-day trial at the Martinez Superior Court House.
Nemati now faces up to three years in state prison.
“This trial was different because [Nemati] was a middle man,” said Dodie Katague, the deputy district attorney who oversaw all of the grade sale trials. “He didn’t actually change any grades; he just passed money from the buyers to the people working in the admissions and records office.”
Nemati’s conviction marks the end of the grade sale trials; there are now only appeals left before the scandal is finally over.
Sumiar Arif who was convicted last March of a single misdemeanor count of conspiracy and sentenced to 75 days of home detention, is appealing his conviction in hopes of having it overturned by a judge.
Danish Farooq’s trial resulted in a hung jury and although he was never retried, a judge will decide Sept. 28 whether to grant his lawyers motion for a declaration of factual innocence. Such a ruling would seal Farooq’s arrest record.
In all, 54 former DVC students were charged in the case. Of those, 40 took plea agreements or were found guilty in jury trials, eight had their cases dismissed and one was found not guilty, Katague said.
Five more students for whom bench warrants were issued have never been found.
“We don’t know where those people are,” Katague said. “We’ve heard they’re out of the country.”
The sale of hundreds of grades by student workers in the admissions office was ongoing from 2000 to 2006 and kept secret for more than a year after its discovery by the college. Contra Costa Times reporter Matt Krupnick broke the story in January, 2007.
“This was certainly a unique case, I don’t think we’ll see anything like it again,” Katague said. “The length that the scandal went on and the scope of the scam is just amazing.”