Newport Beach, CA — Fraud can take many forms (i.e., internet fraud, mail fraud, bank fraud, securities fraud, identity theft, etc.), but ultimately they all involve making false claims for personal gain. Several months ago, news of a cheating scandal at Corona Del Mar High School in Newport Beach made local headlines. On Monday, the tutor at the center of that scandal was taken into custody on suspicion of fraud and other charges and was due to appear in court on Wednesday.
The case first came to light in June of 2013, after teachers reported that someone had accessed the grading system and changed students’ grades. An investigation found 12 students and tutor Timothy Lance Lai may have been involved in the incident, but when officers went to Lai’s home, they found that he had fled. However, several pieces of electronics and other computer equipment was seized when they searched Lai’s home.
According to prosecutors, Lai, who is currently out of jail on $200,000 bail, gave students keystroke logging devices to attach to their teachers’ computers so that they could obtain login credentials to change grades and access exams. When he was arrested on Monday, Lai was booked on suspicion of four felony counts of computer access and fraud along with two counts of second-degree commercial burglary. Although his arraignment was scheduled to take place Wednesday, it has been postponed.
In January, 11 of the students involved in the scheme were expelled. Lai himself could face up to five years and eight months in prison. He is already the target of anger from parents who paid more than $45 hourly for Lai to tutor their children.
In the wake of the recent recession that many feel was caused by rampant fraud and misrepresentation, white collar crimes cases have more media prominence than ever. This, combined with the exploitative nature of the crime, means that the general public, that is to say potential jurors, are not predisposed to be sympathetic to people accused of fraud. When you or a loved one is facing white collar crimes charges in Orange County, you need an experienced legal advocate to make your case in court.
At the Law Office of Michael L. Guisti, we’ve been defending clients against all kinds of criminal charges for over 16 years. Our seasoned team of passionate criminal defense attorneys knows all the best strategies for fighting charges of DUI, fraud, assault, sexual battery, domestic violence, murder, and other serious felonies and misdemeanors. We know how frightening it can be to face criminal charges which is why we work so hard to ensure our clients’ peace of mind.
Our lawyers and staff are here to help you through a difficult time. We can advise on how best to deal with law enforcement and prosecutors throughout the process of an investigation and trial. Outsiders may think that Orange County is nothing but endless suburbs and Disneyland, but we’ve put our roots down here and we want to serve people from all over Orange County’s diverse communities.
We have offices in Garden Grove, Irvine, Santa Ana, and Newport Beach in order to be as close as possible both to our local courthouses and convenient to cities like Westminster, Fullerton, Orange, Cypress, Laguna Beach and everything in between. We also provide foreign language assistance to our clients who require it.
So if you’ve been charged with a crime in Southern California and need an attorney who provide you with the best possible defense, call the Law Office of Michael L. Guisti at (714) 707-2797 for a free consultation, or click the “Contact Us” link above.
Fry, Hannah and Adolfo Flores. “Tutor in Newport grade-fixing scandal free after posting $200,000 bail.” http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-tutor-in-cheating-scandal-makes-bail-200000-bail-20141008-story.html. Los Angeles Times. October 8, 2014.