Witnesses testify defendant went overboard in changing grades

One of the three students indicted for the grade-change scandal testified against Marcus Barrington as his federal case continued Thursday morning.

Christopher Jacquette, 27, a former Florida A&M University student who pled guilty in the case, testified against Barrington, who pled not guilty.

Jacquette said that he was partially responsible for 31 students who had their residency status changed.

He said that Barrington and Lawrence Secrease, who also was indicted and pled guilty in the case, 22, was responsible for the rest.

There were 650 students had their grade changes and 90 students had their residency statuses changed from out-of state to in-state.

Jacquette said Secrease created a fictitious character by the name of “TAZ”.

Jacquette also said Barrington made too many grade changes and the character was created to slow Barrington down.

The character was supposed to be somebody that attended Florida State University and was knowledgeable of computers, according to Jacquette. Secrease allegedly told

Barrington that “TAZ” made grade changes so that Barrington would not have to, Jacquette said.

“At some point, Marcus was doing too much with the grade changes,” Jacquette said. 

“Lawrence [created “TAZ”] to slow Marcus down,” Jacquette said he never wrote any passwords down on index cards.  Instead, he admitted to storing he passwords and user names into his cell phone. As the trial progressed, more witnesses came to the stand.

As the trial progressed, more witnesses came to the stand.

Robert Welch, a graduating pharmacy student at FAMU, took the stand and said Barrington dropped off a laptop at his house. Welch said Barrington wanted him to keep the laptop for a period of time.

A month later, Welch said two agents from the FBI showed up to his house to confiscate Barrington’s laptop. He said he handed it over.

Another witness Artesia Whisby, a senior biological engineering student at FAMU, said her grades were changed.

Whisby said she noticed a significant change in her grade point average, but she admitted to not going to FAMU’s Registar’s Office to see if employees made a mistake.

She said she was invited to Secrease’s house along with other students and they were told about how their grades were changed.      

Later in the trial, Ashley Swopes, Secrease’s former girlfriend testified. Swopes said during her courtship with Secrease, he told her about the grade change incident, but never mentioned any names.

On Friday, closing arguments will be made for both the prosecution and defense. The verdict for Barrington is also expected to be announced.