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Continued: AP NewsBreak: Navy kicks out 34 sailors in nuclear cheating ring that operated for 7 years

  • Article by: ROBERT BURNS , Associated Press
  • Last update: August 20, 2014 - 1:10 PM

—Sailors who enabled the cheating by providing answers in advance to others taking the test and tipping them off about what test they would be given.

Richardson called the latter group of 10 sailors the ringleaders and said their offenses are considered more serious because they had facilitated the illicit transfer of classified test answers.

An extensive investigation ordered by Richardson and led by Rear Adm. Kenneth M. Perry found that an electronic master file of "engineering watch supervisor" tests and answers was illegally removed from a Navy computer "sometime before 2007." Investigators failed to identify who took it or exactly when.

The set of test and answer keys became known among the cheaters as the "Pencil Files."

These files were secretly passed via personal email accounts, compact disks, thumb drives and other non-official electronic systems. Richardson said the Pencil Files contained all 600 answers to questions on five sets of tests.

Also, a "Pencil Number" was passed to sailors to tip them to which of the five exams they would be given.

"The result was a deliberate scheme to cheat ...," the report said. It found no evidence of espionage.

Exam security was weak. For example, investigators found that the five tests were used in a predictably rotating order and the questions had not changed significantly since 2004, even though written rules require they be changed frequently.

NCIS investigators interviewed four people thought to have knowledge of the origin of the Pencil Files. Three of them denied involvement in the scheme and the fourth invoked his right to remain silent and requested an attorney.

"Thus, no further evidence of the origin of the 'Pencil Files' was obtained," the investigation report said.

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