Middle man sentence marks end of scandal

Ariel Messman-Rucker

The cash-for-grades scandal that involved DVC students selling hundreds of grades out of the college’s Admissions and Records office between 2000 and 2006, ended Oct. 30 with the sentencing of convicted middle man Khalid Nemati.

Although he faced up to three years in state prison, Nemati was sentenced to only 240 days of county jail time and three years of formal probation, said Dodie Katague, the deputy district attorney who oversaw all of the grade sale trials.

Nemati was also ordered to pay a $2,000 fine and $7,400 in penalty assessment.

The sole remaining defendant among those accused in the grade-sale scheme, Nemati was found guilty Sept. 2 of one count of conspiracy to commit computer fraud after a five-day trial in which 12 witnesses testified against him in the Martinez Superior Court.

“He got jail time that was appropriate,” Katague said. “He was a middle man, and he got a middle sentence.”

Stuart Willis, Nemati’s defense attorney, refused the Inquirer’s request for an interview.

In total, 54 former students were charged in the case that put DVC in the national spotlight after the Contra Costa Times broke the story in January 2007 that students were paying hundreds of dollars to have their transcripts fraudulently improved.

Of those, 40 took plea agreements or were found guilty in jury trials, eight had their cases dismissed and one was found not guilty. Five have bench warrants issued against them but have never been found.

Katague said Nemati’s trial marked the end of the grade-sale prosecutions, unless the five remaining suspects are found.

“It’s not active,” Katague said. “If they get picked up, then something will happen.”