Fed grade change trial continues

The federal trial continues for one of the three students that were charged and indicted for tampering with computers to change grades and residency statuses.

Marcus Barrington, 23, is one of three Florida A&M University students indicted for five counts of aggravated identity theft, unauthorized computer access and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. 

Students and faculty members testified before a 13-member jury on Monday and Tuesday as Barrington pled not guilty.

Monday, the jurors were selected and federal prosecutor Eric Mountin had a list of 12 students to testify against Barrington. The list included Christopher Jacquette, 27, and Lawrence Secrease, 22, the two former FAMU students indicted for tampering with the university’s computer system,  and will be sentenced in April. The two pled guilty.

Assistant Dean Reginald Perry testified and told the jury that he knew of the grade changes in September 2007 after reviewing the grade changes of student Mia Barrington.     
The prosecutor argued that Barrington was the leader of the group while Barrington’s attorney, Robert Harper, argued that FAMU’s computer system should have been tighter so it would have not been breached.

Micheal James, the director of student information systems, said that grades were changed between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m., times when staff was not present.

On the second day of the trial, there was a better explanation of how the three allegedly tampered with computers. Four students also testified.

Officials said the security breach occurred when the registrar’s office set up computers in the Grand Ballroom to assist students with registration.

According to Timothy Foley, an employee at FAMU, key loggers were installed on computers on campus that allowed anyone to enter the system and alter grades and residency.

FAMU Sgt. Luke said authorities began the investigation when the police noticed the computer was accessed during night and weekend hours when employees were absent.

The prosecutor showed the jury Barrington’s unofficial transcript. Barrington allegedly had grade changes where F’s and C’s were changed to A’s or passing grades. The prosecutor said grades were changed for classes he did not attend.

Harper discredited evidence collected by the prosecutors and said it was not fingerprinted, thus, there was no proof.

Luke  said  that passwords and usernames were found in Barrington’s room. Four students testified that Jacquette most often told them they had changed grades. The students also said they were asked by Jacquette if they had money to change residency. The trial is scheduled to resume Wednesday morning with a jury of 13 members, six males and seven females.

Barrington could face a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison if found guilty.