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$500 for an A? Baltimore professor sentenced in bribery scheme

Math teacher added up about $65,000 in bribes

A math professor who taught at Baltimore City Community College and served on the faculty senate’s ethics committee has pleaded guilty to selling grades and cheat codes to hundreds of students, over an eight-year period.

He will serve one year in jail, of a 10-year sentence, and pay a $60,000 fine, the New York Times reported.

Professor Edward Ennels taught at the community college over a 15-year period. From 2013 to 2020, prosecutors charged that he sold 694 online “access codes” to students at approximately $90 a pop, for a haul of over $62,000.

These codes “enabled students to view instructional material and complete assignments” without putting in the work to acquire the knowledge.

In 2020, Ennels tried something new:

Over the course of seven months last year, Mr. Ennels, 45, solicited bribes from 112 students, and received 10 payments from nine students, totaling $2,815, the Maryland attorney general, Brian E. Frosh, said in a statement on Thursday.

The pricing scheme for grades on a sliding scale from C to B to A was $150 to $250 to $500. Ennels solicited these bribes using what the Maryland attorney general characterized as an “elaborate scheme.” Here’s how it worked:

In March 2020, Mr. Ennels sent an email using one of his aliases, “Bertie Benson,” to another of his aliases, “Amanda Wilbert,” prosecutors said in a statement. In the email, “Benson” offered to complete “Wilbert’s” math assignments, guaranteeing her an A for $300, prosecutors said.

Then, as “Wilbert,” Mr. Ennels forwarded that email to 112 students enrolled in a class that he was teaching…

As Benson, Ennels wasn’t quick to take no for an answer, often “haggled with students regarding the amount of the bribe,” the New York Times reported. When students said they could not afford the amount solicited, the professor, using his sock puppet, would often offer to juice their grades for a lower amount of money.

For instance, when one student declined the solicitation of a $500 bribe, “Oh I don’t have that sorry. I will be sure to keep studying and pass my exam,” Ennels replied, “How much can you afford?”

Ennels’s lawyer Benjamin Herbst said that his client solicited these bribes not out of greed but because of a gambling addiction.

“He’s a good person, he loved his job, he loved his students,” Herbst said.

Ennels may have had some success soliciting these bribes because of the lackluster performance of Baltimore public schools, from which BCCC draws. Last month it was widely reported that 41 percent of Baltimore high schoolers earned below a D average in the 2020-2021 school year.

Even so, “Most students declined to pay the bribes,” the New York Times reported.

MORE: Over 40 percent of Baltimore high schoolers earn below a ‘D’ average

IMAGE: Sean Locke Photography / Shutterstock.com

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About the Author
Jeremy founded three of the Real Clear Politics family of websites and has covered subjects ranging from religious trends to space travel to an armed standoff, for hundreds of publications. His books and comic books include The Warm Bucket Brigade: A History of the Vice Presidency, William F. Buckley, and Movie Men. Jeremy graduated from Trinity Western University, where he served as an editor for the Mars Hill newspaper.

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