Criminal Justice

Ex-Student Pleads in Law School Break-In; State Says He Tried to Intercept Transcript Request


A former law student at the University of Virginia has taken a plea in what authorities described as a registrar’s office surveillance camera scheme intended to intercept a law firm’s request for his transcript.

Joshua Peter Gomes pleaded guilty on Friday to a reduced charge of unarmed robbery, reports the Daily Progress. Two other charges were dropped.

The claimed scheme came to light Dec. 6, after an employee noticed an adhesive hook attached to the wall and removed it, which led to the discovery that the hook was in fact a camera, according to a statement of facts filed by Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Joe Platania in Charlottesville Circuit Court. A memory card attached to the camera showed an individual looking through a file cabinet at the registrar’s office at 3 a.m. the same day the hook was discovered.

The camera wasn’t wireless, so the individual who installed it would also have to retrieve it to access the pictures it took. University police set up a surveillance operation and intercepted a man as he approached the building’s entrance at 3 a.m.on Dec. 7. In a subsequent search of his home, they found packaging and a receipt for the camera, the statement says.

“Gomes was conducting surveillance on the registrar’s office to determine their transcript printing/operating procedures,” it continues, explaining that Gomes had lined up a summer job with a large New York law firm and expected it to request a copy of his law school transcript around Dec. 8.

“Gomes was concerned about his actual grades being revealed and losing the internship since he had inaccurately reported his GPA. His goal was to intercept the transcript request.”

Defense attorney Bonnie Lepold said Gomes was stressed both academically and personally and had a tumor on his pituitary gland, which can cause emotional problems, the newspaper reports.

Hat tip: Associated Press

Earlier coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Law Student Charged in Registrar’s Office Break-In; Police Suspect He Sought UVA Transcript Paper”

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