Teacher jailed for a year for taking bribes in exchange for good grades

misdemeanour charges, teacher, Maryland, bribery, bribes, grades, Baltimore, The New York Times

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A teacher from Maryland has pleaded guilty and has been imprisoned for a year for soliciting bribes from his students from better grades.

Professor Edward C Ennels, 45, entered the guilty plea to eleven misdemeanour charges at Baltimore County Circuit Court. These counts range from bribery to misconduct in office.

Ennels was a mathematics teacher at Baltimore City Community College for more than 15 years. During his tenure, he sat on the staff’s Ethics and Institutional Integrity Committee, according to The New York Times.

According to statement by Brian E Frosh, the Maryland Attorney General, Ennels solicited bribes from 112 students. He eventually ended up with 10 payments from nine students and is believed that Ennels got $2,815 overall. The initial offer began at a C grade for $150, a B grade for $250 and for an A grade would cost $500, according to Mr Frosh’s statement.

The Attorney General said it was “an elaborate criminal scheme to take advantage of his students”.

As a part of the process, Ennels adopted fake names and conducted an email exchange between “Bertie Benson” and “Amanda Wilbert” in early 2020, according to prosecutors. Authorities cited a series of emails in which ‘Mr Benson’ offered to do ‘Ms Wilbert’’s assignment and get her an A grade for $300. Ennels, then under the guise of Ms Wilbert, forwarded the email to 112 people enrolled his his maths lessons.

“Ennels often haggled with students regarding the amount of the bribe, and set different prices based on the course and grade desired,” the statement read.

His tactics did not always prove popular with his students as they mostly appeared uninterested. However, the statement outlined that Ennels “often persisted, offering to lower the amount of the bribe or offering payment plans”.

One student told Ennels that the prices were too high and according to the statement, they replied to his offer, “Oh I don’t have that sorry. I will be sure to keep studying and pass my exam”. To which, Ennels replied, “How much can you afford?”

Prosecutors said this student accepted the offer, however the amount paid to Ennels was not made public.

Another scheme run by Ennels was also described during the proceedings. For a fee, students could purchase codes from him to enable them to see answers to homework and other material. The was believed to cost $90 and he is thought to have sold 694 access rights.

Ennels’s lawyer, Benjamin J Herbst said in an interview that he committed the crimes “only to keep up with a gambling addiction” and not to satisfy a greedy nature.

“He did not live a lavish lifestyle or squirrel the money away for later,” he said, before calling him a “good person” and saying he loved his students and his job.

Ennels was given a 10-year sentence, of which nine years were suspended. The remaining year will be carried out in a nearby prison. In addition to this custodial punishment, Ennels is required to pay $60,000 restitution and be on probation for five years following his release.

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