TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — The Northern District of Florida announced Tuesday the owners of a Florida teacher certification exam prep company pled guilty to racketeering (RICO) conspiracy and conspiracy to commit theft of trade secrets.
Jason R. Coody, Acting United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida, announced the guilty pleas from 42-year-old Kathleen M. Jasper and 40-year-old Jeremy M. Jasper, both of Estero, Florida.
Court documents reflect since January 2016, the Jaspers, both certified Florida teachers, "stole content and conspired with others to steal content from the Florida Teacher Certification Exams (FTCE) and the Florida Educational Leadership Exam (FELE) and included the stolen content in the test preparation materials and services that were sold through their business, NavaEd, LLC (“NavaEd”) for personal profit."
NavaEd, LLC, was a company that offered tutoring and training to prepare prospective Florida educators to take and pass the FTCE and the FELE. NavaEd offered training publications for sale worldwide directly through its website and through third-party e-commerce websites such as Amazon and Shopify.
Passage of these exams is required for certification in the state of Florida.
Both Kathleen and Jeremy Jasper took the FTCE and FELE multiple times after having already passed the exams in order to view and memorize as many exam questions as possible, the released report states.
According to court records, the Jaspers also directed NavaEd employees and independent contractors to take the FTCE and FELE for the purpose of harvesting exam questions and answers.
Coody says NavaEd customers shared stolen test content with each other through email, phone, video conferencing, and messaging applications.
The Jaspers republished the stolen test content, verbatim and almost verbatim, into NavaEd publications to prepare future Florida teachers and school administrators for the certification exams, according to court records.
These publications and other NavaEd FTCE and FELE preparation materials were disseminated and used during NavaEd training seminars and tutoring sessions.
Both defendants face a potential maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for RICO conspiracy and a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison for conspiracy to commit theft of trade secrets.
The Jaspers’ sentencing hearings are scheduled for November 15, 2021, at 9:00 a.m. at the United States District Court in Tallahassee before the Honorable District Judge Allen Winsor.
This case was jointly investigated by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the United States Department of Education – Office of Inspector General, and the Florida Department of Education, with assistance by Pearson VUE, the company with whom the Florida Department of Education contracted to administer, and provide test security for, the FTCE and FELE.
Assistant United States Attorney Justin M. Keen is prosecuting the case. The United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Florida is one of 94 offices that serve as the nation’s principal litigators under the direction of the Attorney General.