Former Rhodes student Michael Geddati pleads guilty to changing grades, downloading tests to keep scholarship

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Former Rhodes student Michael Geddati pleads guilty to changing grades, downloading tests to keep scholarship

Former Rhodes student Michael Geddati. This photo was taken from Geddati's Facebook page when it was publicly available.

Former Rhodes student Michael Geddati. This photo was taken from Geddati's Facebook page when it was publicly available.

Michael Geddati's Facebook

Former Rhodes student Michael Geddati. This photo was taken from Geddati's Facebook page when it was publicly available.

Michael Geddati's Facebook

Michael Geddati's Facebook

Former Rhodes student Michael Geddati. This photo was taken from Geddati's Facebook page when it was publicly available.

Jordan Hulseberg '19, Editor-in-Chief

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Former Rhodes student Michael Geddati pleaded guilty to unlawfully accessing his professors’ Bannerweb, Moodle and Box accounts to maintain his annual $30,000 scholarship. Geddati appeared in federal court for the Western District of Tennessee, today. His plea deal with Assistant U.S. Attorney Debra Ireland included a recommendation of probation, restitution to victims in the amount of $72,015, legal fees, and a $100 mandatory special assessment fee.

From December 2017, to May, 2018, Geddati accessed the private accounts of six of his professors dozens of times. Geddati downloaded exams prior to their administration and changed his grades several times. According to Ireland, “His professors remembered him as a D student.” Geddati was a first-year student on the pre-med track at the time of the incidents.

Geddati appeared in court dressed in a black jacket and khaki pants. He was reserved and could be described as carrying a funeral attendee’s demeanor. Judge Thomas Parker called him “soft-spoken” and, at one point, told him that he was “whispering.” He spoke so softly that the court reporter, who was less than five feet away, could not discern if he had answered “yes” or “no.” In point of fact, Geddati almost never strayed from a somber-toned “yes sir” or “no sir” in his answers to the court.

Geddati was brought before the Honor Council and subsequently expelled after one of his professors noticed a grade discrepancy and reported it. Once the college discovered a crime had been committed, the college’s attorneys contacted the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI began their investigation.

The FBI acquired Geddati’s computer, which had been wiped; however, its IP address was used in the unauthorized accesses. Additionally, a residential IP address operated by Comcast was also used in the unauthorized accesses. Comcast records indicate the address was registered to Geddati’s family home.

Rhodes utilizes a single-sign-on system. With one password, a student or professor’s Bannerweb, Moodle and Box accounts can all be accessed.

Geddati waived his right to a Grand Jury and, as a result, was never indicted for his crime. He was, however, charged on information. Unauthorized access of a computer to commit fraud is a violation of U.S. Title 18, §1030 and is punishable up to five years in prison and a fine not exceeding $250,000.

Parker ordered Geddati, who is employed as a math tutor, to make known to his employer the crime he committed. Parker called it, “only fair,” and added that if they should choose to continue to employ Geddati while “knowing what he’s capable of,” then that’s the risk they have chosen to take.

Geddati was released on his own recognizance, ordered to surrender his passport and ordered to remain in the Western District of Tennessee except without the expressed permission of his probation officer.

Provost Milton Moreland, in an email to the Rhodes community, announced the guilty plea and a completed college investigation. The investigation concluded no other records were tampered with outside of Geddati’s. Furthermore, Moreland emphasized the importance of the Honor Code and the seriousness that breaches of it result in.

A sentencing hearing is scheduled for Friday, May 24 at 1:30 p.m. Though Geddati accepted a plea deal, the court is not bound to respect it.