Educator pleads guilty in certification scam - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Educator pleads guilty in certification scam

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MEMPHIS, TN -

(WMC-TV) - Clarence Mumford was charged in a 63-count indictment.

He pleaded guilty to two counts Friday, and the rest was thrown out in a huge teacher certification scam.

The longtime educator told a federal court he's guilty.

Mumford admitted to being the ringleader in a multi-state teacher certification test-taking scheme that spanned almost 20 years.

"We're trying to figure out what harm the children suffered as a result of all of this, and that's a question that I don't know how to answer," said Mumford's Defense Attorney Coleman Garrett.

Garrett said the government originally offered a plea deal that could've put Mumford in prison for 11 years.

Now he faces a guaranteed two, but no more than seven.

"He asked me what did I think of this plea agreement. Quite frankly, I told him I was ecstatic about it," said Garrett.

Prosecutors said Mumford made tens of thousands of dollars coordinating other people to take teacher certification exams for other educators.

In a news release, United States Attorney Ed Stanton said Mumford's guilty pleas illustrates a fundamental element that is taught to all kids.

That lesson being "Cheaters never win."

Garrett contends there is plenty of blame to go around, from the testing company to the test monitors and to the other participants in the scheme.

He said Mumford takes responsibility for actions, but believes he's already been punished significantly.

"He feels like, you know, 38 years of (his) successful teaching career's been destroyed. It's kind of like the Joe Paterno effect. You spend all of your life building a reputation and trying to help people, and at the end of the line it all gets snatched from under you, and you go down in flames," said Garrett.

Mumford will be sentenced May 13.

Prosecutors named 26 other co-defendants Friday.

Some have pleaded guilty, some have diversion agreements.

The teachers involved cannot teach again for at least five years.

Copyright 2013 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.

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