Crime & Justice

Orange County students, tutor could face criminal charges for altering grades

File: A participant sits with a laptop computer as he attends the annual Chaos Communication Congress of the Chaos Computer Club at the Berlin Congress Center on December 28, 2010 in Berlin, Germany.
File: A participant sits with a laptop computer as he attends the annual Chaos Communication Congress of the Chaos Computer Club at the Berlin Congress Center on December 28, 2010 in Berlin, Germany.
Sean Gallup/Getty Images

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The Orange County district attorney is reviewing the case of 11 former Corona del Mar High School students and their tutor for allegedly altering grades. The students allegedly gained access to teachers' computers with the help of their tutor, Timothy Lai, 28.

The Newport-Mesa Unified School District discovered that students hacked into the school's computer system to change their grades — and that students got test information in advance. 

RELATED: Newport Mesa Unified board to decide whether to expel 11 students for hacking, changing grades

Since the tampering was discovered last year, the district has been investigating grade changes and set up a new system to alert teachers when students' grades are changed. The 11 students were expelled.

Jennifer Manzella with the Newport Beach Police Department said the case has been submitted to the Orange County District Attorney's office — but without talking to tutor Timothy Lai.

"It was our intention to speak to him and especially before we submitted the case to the DA," said Manzella. "We asked the public for help in locating him, but so far, none of the information from the public has helped us locate him."

But she said Lai's Irvine home and car were searched in December. 

"There were 24 pieces of property that were seized that we were able to process as evidence," said Manzella. "Everything from USB drives to notebooks, copies of tests, cell phones and miscellaneous papers taken from his residence." 

Manzella said the evidence is now at the DA's office. 

The OCDA wouldn't comment on whether any criminal charges would be filed against Lai or the 11 students, who are juveniles, but the case is under review.