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Grand jury indicts ex-teachers with false credentials

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SMITHFIELD-A Johnston County Grand Jury indicted a married couple on felony charges of obtaining property by false pretenses when they were hired as teachers by Johnston County Public Schools using false credentials.

Ivette Serrano Hughes, 45, worked for Four Oaks Middle from March 19 to June 30, 2018 as an exceptional children's teacher.

According to the sheriff's office, Hughes is married to Torians Hughes, 40, who was charged with similar offenses after being employed by Cleveland High School as a social studies teacher and assistant football and basketball coach.

The indictment against Mrs. Hughes submitted an employment application which said she attended and received a bachelor of arts degree from Southern Connecticut State University when she didn't graduate there.

Her husband was indicted for submitting an employment application which stated he had only been guilty of speeding tickets when he was actually convicted of several felony and misdemeanor crimes.

Hughes also stated he had attended and received a bachelor of arts degree from LaFayette College but didn't graduate there.

Assistant District Attorney Jason Waller is prosecuting both cases. Hughes is represented by Mike Reece and Mrs. Hughes is represented by Antoan Whidbee.

Waller declined to comment since this is a pending case but said the alleged crimes are Class H felonies and the maximum sentence, depending on their crimimal records, could be 39 months in prison which is 3 years, 3 months.

Johnston County Public Schools spokeswoman Delores Gill said the human resources office takes the application process for prospective employees very seriously.

"As such, the team regularly reviews its processes and procedures for employment," said Gill. "In addition to working with our current background vendor, the department has been communicating with other vendors throughout the state to discuss their processes, procedures and costs."

Gill said an existing posiition within human resources is now devoted to reviewing employment documents and processes for all new employees beyond the background measures already in place.

The next administrative hearing for this case is Monday, Oct. 7 in Johnston County Superior Court.