Alleged cheater pleads not guilty to conspiracy count
Diablo Valley College transfer will appear in court again on Oct. 3
September 20, 2007 9:31 PM
MARTINEZ—A former SF State student, who stands accused of conspiring to falsify his transcript, plead not guilty to one felony to conspire count on Monday.
Christopher MacAtulad, 24, was barred from SF State in August and his transcripts have been put on hold after university officials were notified that the Diablo Valley College transfer had been allegedly involved in a cash-for-grades plot in the Admissions and Records Department at the Pleasant Hill campus. MacAtulad, prosecutors said, took out more than $4,000 in credit card advances while at DVC to pay to have 15 of his grades changed.
MacAtulad, who is out on bail, waived his right to a speedy trial. He is scheduled to appear in court on Oct.3, when a preliminary hearing date will be set. The Pittsburg resident refused to comment outside the Contra Costa County Superior Courthouse Monday.
SF State Executive Director of Admissions Jo Volkert received corrected transcripts from DVC officials and sent certified letters to the eight SF State students who were named in the case. Five of them, with only MacAtulad identified, were active students, two, who were applicants for the fall 2007 semester, had their acceptance rescinded and another one was a former student who took classes at SF State prior to transferring to DVC.
The plot was uncovered in February 2006, according to the Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office, when a professor became suspicious after student Erick Martinez reappeared on his class roster after withdrawing from the class. The professor alerted DVC officials after he sent two corrected forms to the Admissions Office after Martinez kept appearing on the class roster with a grade of an A. Prosecutors have named Martinez, who worked in the Admissions Office at DVC, as one of the ringleaders of the plot.
In all, 34 students have been charged in a case that prosecutors said involved more than 400 grade changes.
Prosecutors said after the fall 2006 semester, MacAtulad used his falsified transcript to gain acceptance at SF State, after allegedly changing 15 grades—more than any other student involved—including eight Fs to Bs and Cs and four Ws to As and Bs.
According to a court complaint filed by the District Attorney’s Office in July, MacAtulad met with Francis Antonio and gave him a list of grades to change and his student ID number. Antonio forwarded the information to Julian Revilleza, the alleged ringleader, who worked in the Admissions Office and made the changes. Revilleza is facing 23 felony counts and could serve a maximum of 70 years in prison if convicted.
According to a press release put out by the District Attorney’s Office in July, several DVC students used falsified transcripts to transfer to four-year universities like UC Berkeley, UCLA, UC Davis, San Diego State University, California Polytechnic University in San Luis Obispo and San Jose State.
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