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Estero couple indicted for Florida teacher certification scheme

Posted at 12:20 AM, Dec 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-12 00:21:01-05

ESTERO, Fla. — A local couple is facing multiple charges according to a 65-page indictment issued by a federal grand jury.

Charges range from racketeering conspiracy to 108 counts of wire fraud, conspiracy to commit theft of trade secrets, and three counts of theft of trade secrets.

According to records, Kathleen Jasper and Jeremy Jasper owned NavaEd, LLC, formerly known as Edge Academic solutions, LLC, a for profit tutoring and training business.

The business offered to tutor and train prospective Florida educators to take and pass the FTCE and FELE successfully.

The indictment alleges that since January 2016, certified Florida teachers Kathleen M. Jasper, 42, and Jeremy M. Jasper, 40, both of Estero, Florida, stole content from the Florida Teacher Certification Exams (FTCE) and the Florida Educational Leadership Exam (FELE).

Court documents say the couple allegedly registered and took certain FTCE and FELE tests multiple times, which allowed both Kathleen and Jeremey to gain access to different versions of those tests.

Allegedly the couple then memorized the test content and wrote it down, a process referred to as “brain dumping.”

The indictment alleges the Jaspers republished the stolen test content – "verbatim and almost verbatim" – into NavaEd publications that were sold through their business to future Florida teachers and school administrators for the certification exams.

After the Florida Department of Education blocked the couple from taking more tests “due to concerns about testing anomalies and fraudulent activity" in 2018, the Jaspers directed NavaEd employees and independent contractors to take the exams for the same purpose, according to the indictment.

“Today’s indictment alleges that these two so-called educators knowingly and willfully preyed on school districts and teachers, and taxpayer money, said Kori Smith, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Education Office of Inspector General’s Southern Regional Office, in a press release. "Together with our law enforcement partners, we were able to stop them.”

They face a potential maximum penalty of 20 years in prison for racketeering conspiracy, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and each wire fraud count, and up to 10 years in prison for conspiracy to commit theft of trade secrets and for each theft of trade secrets count.

The couple maintained their innocence in a post shared on the company's Facebook page Friday.

"We are proud of our efforts to assist teachers who are entering the profession," the post states. "With respect to the filings in the Northern District of Florida, we maintain our innocence, and we intend to defend the case vigorously to defeat these unfounded charges."

Kathleen Jasper worked in the Lee County District from August 2007 until she resigned in February 2014 for personal reasons.

Kathleen served as assistant principal at Estero High School.

Jeremy Jasper was hired in August 2010 and resigned for personal reasons in June 2018.

In an email, the School District of Lee County confirmed the district began working with NavaEd during the 2017-2018 school year.

"NavaEd provided teachers training in preparation for the general knowledge test, subject area exam(s), and the professional education test," said, Dr. Angela Pruitt, Chief Human Resource Officer for the District in a statement.

"The District did not utilize NavaEd during this school year and once we were notified of the investigation on November 5, 2020, we discontinued our relationship with NavaEd," said Pruitt.

A spokesperson for FGCU, Susan Evans, confirmed Kathleen was an adjunct for them in 2016, but also emphasized that "FGCU is not accused of any wrongdoing and is not a party to the individuals’ indictment. FGCU is not involved in any way in these allegations and these individuals are not associated with the University."