SAT test-taker and cheat Sam Eshaghoff and his lawyer appear tomorrow on 60 Minutes to discuss the criminal case and why he cheated. Normally, I get wanted to capitalize on your 15 minutes of fame, even if its 15 minutes of infamy, but this is a bone-headed move that makes you wonder how smart he is (never mind his lawyer).
You see, Sam got off pretty lightly as far as folks charged with felonies are concerned in Nassau County. The DA allowed him to plead to a misdemeanor and do community service tutoring underprivileged kids as opposed to jail time. In an earlier blog post I agreed that jail time was not necessary for a first offense, non violent offender. But allowing him to tutor as his community service I think was wrong; normally defendants sign up for community service and are given whatever job is next in line – picking up trash, sweeping roadways, etc. The idea is letting folks who can select their own community service do whatever they want is not really punishment and can lead to abuse. But, for whatever reason, DA Rice made an exception and allowed him to do this form of service. Well, now that may be off the table because in snippets of the 60 Minutes interview that were released by CBS, Eshaghoff comes off as an arrogant, unrepentant person who doe snot understand the impact of his actions. Why any attorney would let his client speak on camera in between plea and sentence and then show that he is not really remorseful is beyond me. Here is one of his comments:
“A kid who has a horrible grade-point average, who, no matter how much he studies is going to totally bomb this test,” says Eshaghoff, “By giving him an amazing score, I totally give him . . . a new lease on life. He’s going to go to a totally new college . . . be bound for a totally new career . . . new path in life.”
So that he was essentially an SAT Robin Hood (who charged $2,500- $5,000 per test). He does not consider that he took away that “new lease on life” from a kid who busted his butt, studied hard, paid for tutoring but just missed the cut of the school of his choice. On that issue our resident genius says:
I feel confident defending the fact that [my clients] getting into the schools that they ended up getting into didn’t really affect other people
OK Sam, do you know how college admission works? There are a limited number of spots for a high number of applicants – people get rejected all the time and often it is SAT score that keeps kids out from consideration. Now a spokesperson for the Nassau DA’s office is saying in today’s Newsday that in light of his comments and lack of remorse they will recommend to the court that he not be allowed to tutor but get in line for the usual drudgery of community service every one else gets:
A source close to the DA said that the type of community service Eshaghoff will complete is not set in stone, and that Rice is not likely to allow him to tutor students when “it’s clear he still doesn’t understand the importance of ethics or honesty. “The community service . . . will almost certainly be significantly less sophisticated work than originally planned,” the source said, adding that trash pickup, janitorial work and park maintenance are more likely.
No word by the way about whether he will have to disgorge all the money he made from his fraudulent scheme like most other defendants have to do as well. What I cannot fathom is why he and his lawyer would not just wait a few more weeks for this notoriety and do this interview AFTER he had been sentenced. His lawyer will likely have to explain this decision to his clients, his parents (paying his fee) and the court. Especially if he ends up getting a harsher result than anticipated.