By SELWYN H. HARRIS
The 2010 Pahrump Valley High School salutatorian was arrested Wednesday at his college dorm room by a Nye County Sheriff’s detective for allegedly breaking into the school district’s computer system in 2009 and changing his grades.
Tyler Coyner, 19, then allegedly sold access to the records to other students over a two-semester period — but not before acquiring a 4.54 grade point average for himself.
Coyner along with two other 19-year-olds was arrested and booked into the Nye County Detention Center in lieu of $15,000 bail on charges of altering computer data, conspiracy to commit a crime, burglary and grand larceny.
Mathew Miller, Nicholas Ramoser, and Coyner, all three from Pahrump, were later released on their own recognizance at the request of the district attorney’s office.
Police arrested 10 other former and current students in connection to the case, but did not identify them because they were juveniles when the alleged crimes were committed. They will have their cases turned over to the county’s juvenile court.
In a sheriff’s press release, it is alleged that Coyner was the mastermind behind the grade tampering.
In June, he was the subject of a feature story in the Pahrump Valley Times. In an interview with the newspaper, Coyner said he was a shy student who focused on academics. But he also exuded confidence.
“Nothing will change for you; you have to make an effort to make a better future,” he said then.
During a phone call Thursday, a person who answered at Coyner’s home in Pahrump said the family did not wish to speak to the newspaper.
According to the June article, Coyner was involved in several clubs during his high school years, including the Renaissance Club and Future Business Leaders of America.
Coyner said then that after his college education, his goal was to become a hedge fund manager.
As for high school, “Even the mistakes I’ve done were worth it,” he told the newspaper, before wishing his peers well, “I just want to wish all of my fellow graduates good luck in their future.”
Ramoser said he barely knew Coyner when reached by the PVT on Thursday.
Sounding broken up by the predicament he faces, Ramoser said “I have no idea” when asked how his name came up during the police investigation.
Asked whether he attempted to change his own grades in high school, he paused and said “Umm, my grades. I don’t know. I don’t want to talk about this right now.”
Sheriff’s Det. David Boruchowitz said Coyner appeared remorseful when police arrested him at the University of Nevada, Reno. Inside the dorm room, police discovered a television that was stolen from a Pahrump Wal-Mart, according to a statement released by the detective. Also, police seized equipment used to make counterfeit drivers’ licenses.
Sheriff Tony DeMeo said UNR police will be handling the counterfeiting case.
It was unclear how students were able to gain access to the school district’s secured electronic records. Police are still investigating that.
A statement released by the school district reads simply, “Nye County School District cannot comment on the recent arrest of students at Pahrump Valley High School due to student privacy rights and related issues. The school district will be conducting its own investigation and will cooperate fully with law enforcement officials during the course of any continuing investigation that is conducted.”
An NCSO School Resource Officer and detectives have been working on an extensive case involving illegal access into the school grading program and changes to students’ grades, according to the police statement.
The crime is considered a category D felony, Boruchowitz said.