NEWPORT BEACH (CBSLA.com) — A high school tutor accused of illegally changing grades of students at Corona Del Mar High School has been hit with more than a dozen new charges of felony computer access and fraud.
Timothy Lance Lai, 29, was already facing a felony count of second degree commercial burglary and four felony counts of computer access and fraud in connection with the cheating scandal.
Sixteen more counts were added to Lai’s charges Friday after further investigation found Lai changed the grades of students on 16 separate occasions between Jan. 28 and June 14, 2013, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s office.
Eleven students were expelled in the cheating scandal, but prosecutors now say as many as 15 students were involved.
Lai, who pleaded not guilty to the new charges Friday, now faces a maximum sentence of 16 years and four months in jail if convicted.
The former private tutor was arrested on Oct. 6, 2014 at Los Angeles International Airport after fleeing the country as Newport Beach police began investigating claims that students’ grades had been changed during a computer hack.
Prosecutors say Lai broke into Corona Del Mar High School and inserted a USB device into a teacher’s computer that recorded the teacher’s keystrokes. Lai allegedly accessed the school’s network using the information from the recorded keystrokes and changed the grades of at least three students from two different teachers. Another USB device was later discovered on a third teacher’s computer.
Lai makes his next court appearance for a pre-trial hearing on April 24.