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Home blog Criminal Defense In the News Theft Crimes New Evidence Against Tutor Charged with Burglary in Newport Beach Cheating Scandal

New Evidence Against Tutor Charged with Burglary in Newport Beach Cheating Scandal

By Michael Guisti on January 14, 2015

Newport Beach, CA — You wouldn’t necessarily think that a cheating scandal at a high school would lead to criminal charges being filed. However, over the past year local news outlets have been reporting on the fraud and burglary case against tutor Timothy Lance Lai, 29, who has been accused of taking illegal measures to help students at Corona del Mar High School break into the school’s grading system and alter their grades.

The case first came to light in the summer of 2013 when a teacher discovered that someone had changed several students’ grades in the computer system. Over the course of the investigation, Lai as reportedly named as having a part in the scheme by students who were interviewed by school administrators.

When news of the story first went public, Lai had disappeared. However, he was arrested after he returned to Southern California from South Korea some time last year. According to prosecutors, Lai gave the students key logging devices that would help them obtain teachers’ login credentials so that they could access the grading database and teacher e-mails.

A hearing was scheduled for Friday to determine whether a phone call between Lai and a student which police had recorded could be admitted as evidence at Lai’s trial. Lai allegedly implicates himself in the cheating scandal on the call, which is summarized in one student’s e-mailed statement to police:

“I agreed to go to the Newport Beach Police Department to place a tape-recorded telephone call to Mr. Lai while officers listened in. During that call, I asked all of the questions suggested by the detectives, and it resulted in Mr. Lai admitting to doing everything that I had said he did.”

So far 11 students have been expelled from Corona del Mar High School and Lai is awaiting trial. If convicted he could be sentenced to up to five years in prison.

Evidentiary hearings are an extremely important part of the criminal justice system. When conducting an investigation police and prosecutors are required to follow strict rules when it comes to collecting evidence to present at trial. Pretrial hearings give the defense counsel the opportunity to ensure that any evidence which was illegally obtained will not be presented to jurors.

There’s more to a criminal trial than you’ll see on an episode of Law and Order or in the movies. Police investigations, pre-trial hearings, and any number of procedures that the average citizen just doesn’t know how to deal with. At the Law Office of Michael L. Guisti, our teaming of tough, intelligent criminal defense attorneys are here to help you make sense of it all.

We know how scary it can be to be charged with a crime. You need to take it seriously, because the prosecution definitely will. Over the past 16 years, our firm has built up a strong reputation for defending clients in Orange County and all over Southern California. We have offices in Santa Ana, Irvine, Garden Grove, and Newport Beach and our staff is available to help you 24/7.

Our team of highly skilled and knowledgeable legal professionals are dedicated to giving each of our clients the best possible defense against any criminal charge. We’ve successfully had charges like murder, assault, fraud, sexual assault, and domestic violence dismissed in federal and state court. We’ll help you manage your legal problems so you can keep your life and your reputation on track during a difficult time.

So if you’ve been charged with a crime in Southern California, call the Law Office of Michael L. Guisti at (714) 707-2797. We also offer foreign language assistance as need.


Fry, Hannah. “Police recorded student-tutor conversation in Newport cheating scandal.” http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-newport-beach-cheating-scandal-recording-20150109-story.html. Los Angeles Times. 9 January 2015.

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