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Sentencing hearing starts for ex-educators in cheating case
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ATLANTA (AP) — Character witnesses are pleading for leniency as a judge prepares to sentence most of the former Atlanta educators convicted in a widespread conspiracy to cheat on state tests.

Fulton County Judge Jerry Baxter is scheduled Monday to hand down sentences for 10 of the 11 defendants convicted this month of racketeering for their roles in a scheme to inflate students' scores on standardized exams. A sentencing hearing began Monday morning.

One witness, Cynthia May, called defendant Sharon Davis Williams a woman with a strong faith in God. May pleaded with the judge to show mercy when she is sentenced. Relatives of the former educators are also testifying.

The case is one of the nation's largest cheating scandals of its kind.