Grade Buyer Pleads ‘Guilty’

Ariel Messman-Rucker

A former DVC student accused of paying to have two grades changed in 2005 pleaded guilty Oct. 2 to a single misdemeanor count of unlawful computer access.

Joseph Chow was set to begin a two-day-trial the morning of Oct.2 in Walnut Creek Superior Court. He was not present when his guilty plea, in exchange for 30 days of home detention and a $100 fine, was announced.

“I think he just wanted to put it behind him,” defense attorney David Larkin said of his client’s decision. “He was embarrassed.”

Currently a student at UC Davis, Chow was accused of paying fellow students Julian Revilleza and Jeremy Tato a total of $1,000 to change two chemistry grades, according to court documents.

He is one of 50 people accused of paying to have their grades changed in exchange for money by student workers in the DVC Admissions and Records Office between 2000 and 2006.

Of the 50 suspected grade buyers, 21 have now made plea agreements with the district attorney.

If Chow fails to apply for private home detention in Davis, where he lives, he faces 30 days in county jail, said Deputy District Attorney Dodie Katague.

The district attorney said hesince he had confessed to the crime on two separate occasions, once to a DVC auditor and once to the Office of Student Affairs.

“We had two confessions,” Katague said. “I’m surprised it went this far.”

Katague said the plea agreement offered to Chow is a standard agreement that is being offered to all accused grade buyers.

Although Chow was only required to pay a $100 mandatory restitution fine, he could be asked to pay more.

“If DVC came back and said that they are out this amount of money, he would have to pay his share,” Katague said. “So far, DVC hasn’t asked for any restitution.”