Barack Obama in his college years
One of the nine workers fired from a U.S. Department of Education contractor for allegedly accessing President Obama’s student-loan records has pleaded guilty.
According to the Des Moines Register, Mercedes Costoyas, 53, of Iowa City entered the plea in federal court in Davenport Wednesday.
Her sentencing is scheduled for this fall, but other details about the plea have yet to emerge. The sole listing on the website for the federal court in Davenport listed an Aug. 23 status conference with Judge Thomas Shields.
The others are scheduled for trial later in the summer.
The nine had been accused of accessing information about Obama’s student-loan records between July 2007 and March 2009, before and after Obama was elected, from the Coralville, Iowa, offices of Vangent Inc.
The company is a consulting service that serves the federal government and higher-education institutions.
Should the defendants actually have obtained the records as accused, the information they obtained could blow the lid off questions still surrounding Obama’s past.
As WND has reported, several of Obama’s records from his college years remain off-limits to the public, including his Occidental College records, his Columbia University records, his Columbia thesis, his Harvard Law School records, his Harvard Law Review articles and his scholarly articles from the University of Chicago.
The dearth of information even led to a popular e-mail hoax declaring Obama’s Occidental records had been found, revealing he received financial aid for foreign-born students.
Thus far, however, the accused employees – and the details of the case – have been kept quiet.
The remaining defendants – including Andrew J. Lage, Patrick E. Roan, Sandra Teague, John P. Phommivong, Gary N. Grenell, Lisa Torney and Julie Lynn Kline – were indicted in May.
They all pleaded not guilty.
The full indictment, which would list the details of the charges, however, remains sealed. Only a redacted document is available, which states simply that the accused are charged with a misdemeanor offense of intentionally exceeding “authorized computer access,” thereby obtaining from a department of the United States “student-loan records of a candidate for president of the United States without authorization.”
As for the defendants themselves, most have refused to comment publicly. WND contacted several of the attorneys in the case and received either no response or a refusal to comment.
Only defendant Sandra Teague, a 10-year employee of Vangent before being fired and subsequently charged in the indictment, has spoken to the press:
“I don’t know what the others did, but I know that I did not do it,” Teague told KCRG-TV in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, at the time.
She further claims she was fired without being told the cause.
“All of it was a shock,” Teague said. “I knew that something had occurred and that there was a breach of security.”
Vangent Inc. has since confirmed the nine defendants were fired last June for violating the company’s security policy. But the company has refused to comment on why the records were accessed or what information may have been uncovered.
“We do not know the intentions of the former employees,” company spokeswoman Eileen Rivera said. “However, no evidence of misuse of the data by the former employees was found.”
KCRG has reported voting records show four of the indicted are registered as Democrats, and two are registered as Republicans. Teague, one of those whose voting patterns were not discovered, told the station she “didn’t even pay attention to the election” because she was planning her wedding at the time.
If convicted, the accused could face up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.