This story has been updated.
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- Tyrone Mushatt, former head basketball coach at Westchester Community College, was arrested Thursday on felony charges related to a "grade-fixing scheme,'' according to Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore.
DiFiore and State Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott announced that Mushatt, 42, of 3563 Boller Ave. in the Bronx, was arraigned in Town of Mount Pleasant Court on a felony complaint charging him with nine counts of criminal possession of a forged instrument. He faces up to seven years in state prison on each felony count if convicted on the second-degree charges.
“As the complaint alleges, by altering basketball player’s grades on official transcripts, this defendant, whose primary focus as a coach should have been on the best interests and education of the students, totally abdicated that responsibility,'' DiFiore said in a press statement. "As a result, the academic integrity of the College as a whole and of other team members is brought into question, making the degree that others worked hard to achieve, look less valuable."
Leahy Scott added: “This defendant’s years-long scheme was an abuse of his position that undermined the integrity of the college athletic system and violated the trust of the vast majority of students who count on hard work in the classroom and on the field of play to earn advancement."
According to the felony complaint, Mushatt submitted nine forged Westchester Community College transcripts to seven colleges and universities from May 11, 2012, to Oct. 31, 2014, in order to facilitate the transfer of eight WCC basketball players to four-year colleges and universities.
Mushatt either mailed, faxed or hand delivered the forged student transcripts to college representatives, according to the felony complaint.
Thursday's complaint alleges that Mushatt fraudulently tried to establish eligibility of students to be enrolled and participate in collegiate sports at Wilmington University, Farmingdale State College, the C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University, St. John’s University, Quinnipiac University, Concordia College and Florida A&M University.
The complaint did not detail results or motives for the alleged fraud, which came to light when the state Inspector General, the State University of New York Chancellor’s office and the National Junior College Athletic Association all received information about the scheme, according to DiFiore.
Mushatt was arrested by investigators from the District Attorney’s office earlier Thursday. After his arraignment in the Town of Mount Pleasant Court, Mushatt was released on his own recognizance. The case was adjourned to Dec. 10.
The U.S. Department of Education assisted in the investigation and Westchester Community College fully cooperated throughout the probe, DiFiore said.
WCC issued this statement: "Westchester Community College affirms its commitment to the highest standards of academic integrity. . . . In September, the college brought on board a new athletic director, Michael Belfiore, who brings more than a decade of experience leading programs for scholar athletes in collegiate and national athletic association roles. His leadership has already begun to shape the future direction of the basketball teams and all of our athletic programs with an emphasis on student success."
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