- Associated Press - Monday, December 5, 2016

PITTSBURGH (AP) - A former University of Pittsburgh student who pleaded guilty to being the go-between for Chinese students who paid to have impostors take college entrance exams received a probationary term on Monday and will be deported.

Han Tong had faced up to three years in prison, however his lawyer asked for a variance and U.S. District Judge Joy Flowers Conti granted it.

The lawyer, James Brink, and the U.S. attorney’s office declined to comment after the hearing, which was conducted mostly at sidebar, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

Tong is one of 15 Chinese citizens charged by federal prosecutors in Pittsburgh last year with conspiring to have impostors take the Scholastic Aptitude Test or other college entrance tests in western Pennsylvania since 2011.

The students paid up to $6,000. All but three defendants who still remain in China have pleaded guilty.

The scam and others like it have prompted The Educational Testing Service, of Princeton, New Jersey, to bolster security at U.S. testing sites.

The judge imposed a three-year term of probation and said it was justified based on the circumstances of the case and Tong’s history. Tong has no other criminal record and has been a “devoted son” and “good friend” who has helped others in “many ways,” the judge said, based on letters his relatives and friends wrote to her.

Tong, who got into Pitt in 2011 by having someone in China take an English test for him, pleaded guilty over the summer to his leadership role in a conspiracy by Chinese students to cheat on college entrance tests.

During his plea, he admitted that he either took entrance tests for others or found impostors to take the tests, in each case using fake passports made in China and sent to him at his apartment.

He was among five test-takers in the scheme.

He will be turned over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for deportation.

___

Information from: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, https://www.post-gazette.com


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