According to a news release issued by U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart, Mellissa Krystynak, 49, of St. Lucie, FL, pled guilty to a mail fraud scheme she executed while employed as a counselor at Greenbrier West High School, in Charmco, Greenbrier County.
The investigation was conducted by the Office of Inspector General, United States Department of Education.
“This takes cheating to a whole new level,” said Stuart. “We expect to find students cheating. We don’t expect a parent abusing a position of authority to inflate her daughter’s grades and, adding even more harm, to use those fake grades to obtain federal benefits and, potentially, keep a deserving student from a legitimate opportunity. I think it’s fair to say that Krystynak might not be the best role model to emulate. Very, very sad.”
Krystynak was a school counselor at Greenbrier West from 2011 until 2017. While she was employed there, two of her children attended the school. Krystynak used her position as a counselor to gain access to the school’s computerized grading programs to inflate at least 34 of her daughter’s grades. Her daughter then used the inflated grades to apply for and receive over ten different college scholarships with a potential benefit of over $20,000. The scholarships were based on applications containing the fraudulent report cards and transcripts.
Krystynak faces up to 20 years’ imprisonment, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release when she is sentenced on May 16. United States District Judge Irene Berger presided over the plea hearing. Assistant United States Attorney Steve Loew is handling the prosecution.