NORFOLK, Va. – A former chief administrator at the Mid-Atlantic Maritime Academy has been sentenced to 45 months in prison for his role in making counterfeit certificates and selling them to Merchant Marines for profit.
43-year-old Lamont Godfrey of Virginia Beach was sentenced today to 45 months in prison for mail fraud, wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.
According to court documents, Godfrey and 3 of his conspirators; Eugene Johnson, 46, of Manteca, California; Shunmanique Willis, 44, of Richmond, Texas; and Alonzo Williams, 46, of Pineville, Louisiana, all worked together to counterfeit certificates from the Mid-Atlantic Maritime Academy (MAMA) and sell them to Merchant Mariners for a profit from July 2016 to December 2019.
The group was formally charged back in October of 2020.
At that time, Godfrey worked as the Chief Administrator for the MAMA, which is a private state-of-the-art maritime training center that offers mariners over 100 U.S. Coast Guard-approved deck and engineering courses.
These courses are needed for Merchant Mariners to hold certain positions aboard merchant vessels. The mariners would receive the fake certificates along with instructions on how to load them in the Coast Guard systems and be credited with a fraudulent Coast Guard qualification.
Prosecutors say Godfrey used this position to create fake MAMA course certificates for mariners who had never taken the MAMA courses, in exchange for thousands of dollars in payments.
Johnson, Willis, and Williams worked with Godfrey as brokers to find additional mariners willing to buy the fake certificates. The three then received a cut of the proceeds from the scheme.
In total, the group netted over $394,000 in profits, $249,000 of which directly went to Godfrey.
The conspiracy also involved over 252 mariners purchasing fraudulent qualifications.
Williams was sentenced on June 24 to 27 months in prison for his role in the conspiracy. Willis was sentenced on June 28 to 18 months in prison for his role in the conspiracy. Johnson was sentenced on August 3 to 29 months in prison for his role in the conspiracy.