Owners Of Florida Teacher Certification Preparation Company Sentenced For Racketeering Conspiracy And Conspiracy To Commit Theft Of Trade Secrets
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CW44 News At 10)-– Kathleen M. Jasper, 43, and Jeremy M. Jasper, 41, of Estero, Florida, were sentenced today to ten months and four months in federal prison, respectively, plus six months of home confinement, after previously pleading guilty to charges of racketeering conspiracy and conspiracy to commit theft of trade secrets. The sentences were announced by Jason R. Coody, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida.
"The defendants' profiteering scheme is an insult to the dedicated public school teachers and administrators of Florida, who studied and worked hard to become certified in their professions," said U.S. Attorney Coody. "Floridians expect and deserve to know that the public schools to which they entrust their children to learn are being led by teachers and administrators who properly earned their certifications. Today's sentence reiterates a valuable, but basic lesson. Notably, that hard work and diligence are rewarded, but acts of theft and dishonesty, as demonstrated by these defendants, are to be punished."
Court documents reflect since January 2016, the Jaspers, who were both certified Florida teachers, stole content and conspired with others to steal content from the Florida Teacher Certification Exams (FTCE) and the Florida Educational Leadership Exam (FELE), and included the stolen content in the test preparation materials and services that were sold through their business, NavaEd, LLC ("NavaEd") for personal profit.
NavaEd, LLC, was a company that offered tutoring and training to prepare prospective Florida educators to successfully take and pass the FTCE and the FELE. Passage of these exams are required for certification in the state of Florida. NavaEd offered training publications for sale worldwide directly through its website and through third-party e-commerce websites such as Amazon and Shopify. Both Kathleen and Jeremy Jasper took the FTCE and FELE multiple times – after having already passed the exams – in order see and memorize, or harvest, as many different exam questions as possible. After being barred by the Florida Department of Education from taking more offerings of the FTCE and FELE, the Jaspers directed NavaEd employees and independent contractors to take the FTCE and FELE for the purpose of harvesting exam questions and answers.
"These so-called 'educators' knowingly and willfully preyed on the unsuspecting teachers who trusted them. The Jaspers bullied their employees into committing felonies in order to line their own pockets, and that is unacceptable," said Reginald France, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Education Office of Inspector General's Southeastern Regional Office. "I'm proud of the work of our special agents and colleagues in holding these criminals accountable for their unlawful actions."
The Jaspers and NavaEd customers shared the stolen FTCE and FELE test content with each other and the Jaspers republished the stolen FTCE and FELE test content – verbatim and almost verbatim – into NavaEd publications that were written to prepare future Florida teachers and school administrators for the certification exams. These publications and other NavaEd FTCE and FELE preparation materials were also disseminated and used during NavaEd training seminars and tutoring sessions.
Both defendants' imprisonment will be followed by three years of supervised release. The court ordered both defendants to pay approximately $135,000 in restitution to the State of Florida Department of Education, and also entered a $690,879.96 forfeiture money judgment against both defendants. As part of the sentences imposed, the Court ordered the forfeiture of the NavaEd website (www.NavaEd.com), multiple electronic devices, and NavaEd publications relating to the FTCE and FELE.
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