News

Locals among 14 defendants who plan to plead guilty in college-admissions bribery scam

Parents, a coach face jail time, hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines

Four Midpeninsula residents are among the 14 people who agreed to plead guilty in the national college-admissions bribery scandal, U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts Andrew Lelling announced on Monday. The group is made up of 13 parents and one athletics coach, about a quarter of the total 50 people have been charged in the scheme.

The agreements, which must be presented before a judge no later than April 30, could lead to incarceration and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines for the parents' roles in bribing college-entrance-exam administrators and college admissions and athletics staff to improve their children's chances of gaining entrance to top-tier universities. The parents paid for false SAT and ACT test results and bogus profiles for the students in sports they had minimal to no experience in, all under the direction of Newport Beach resident William "Rick" Singer. He ran a college-admissions coaching business and funneled the bribes through a fake nonprofit organization he founded, the Key Worldwide Foundation, according to federal prosecutors.

The 13 parents include Menlo Park residents Marjorie Klapper, 50, and Peter Jan Sartorio, 53; Hillsborough residents Bruce Isackson, 61, and Davina Isackson, 55; and actress Felicity Huffman, 56. They each intend to plead guilty to one count of mail fraud and honest services mail fraud. In addition, Bruce Isackson plans to plead guilty to one count each of money laundering conspiracy and conspiracy to defraud the IRS.

Klapper paid Singer $15,000 to participate in the cheating scheme for her son, according to court documents.

The Isacksons agreed to pay Singer a total of $600,000 to have both of their daughters listed as recruited college athletes and to obtain false test scores for the younger of the two daughters. The couple also paid less on their federal income taxes by deducting the bribe payments as purported charitable contributions, according to court documents.

Sartorio paid $15,000 to aid his daughter, according to court documents filed last Wednesday.

The penalties could be severe. Mail fraud and honest services mail fraud carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater. Conspiracy to commit money laundering has a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of $500,000 or twice the value of the property involved in the money laundering. Conspiracy to defraud the United States or IRS carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000.

The government will ask for incarceration at the low end of the U.S. sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors, prosecutors noted in each agreement. The decision is up to the judge.

In addition, all of the defendants would receive 12 months of supervised release; a special assessment of $100; restitution to be determined by the court; and forfeiture of any assets seized during investigation and prosecution.

Under their respective agreements, Klapper would pay a fine or penalty of $20,000; Sartorio would pay a $9,500 fine; Davina Isackson would pay a fine or penalty of $100,000; and Bruce Isackson would pay $150,000. The Isacksons have also agreed to cooperate with the government and the IRS and to correct any tax returns and pay delinquent taxes and fees. They have signed separate cooperation agreements with the government for any investigations, grand jury inquiries or court proceedings.

Huffman, 56, of Los Angeles, agreed to the same conditions as the other defendants in addition to a $20,000 fine. She originally paid $15,000 to participate in the scheme on behalf of her oldest daughter. University of Texas at Austin coach Michael Center, 54, of Austin, Texas, plans to plead guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud for labeling a student as a tennis recruit.

Plea and sentencing hearings have not yet been set. Attorneys for the local defendants couldn't immediately be reached.

Other local defendants in the case include:

Dr. Gregory and Amy Colburn of Palo Alto, who pleaded not guilty last Wednesday; Elizabeth and Manuel Henriquez of Atherton; Marci Palatella of Hillsborough; and William McGlashan of Mill Valley, who have made initial appearances in federal court in Boston but have not yet entered pleas.

Related content:

• Listen to the March 15 episode of "Behind the Headlines," where Palo Alto college adviser John Raftrey discusses the implications of the nationwide admissions bribery scandal, now available on our YouTube channel and podcast.

Stanford students file class action lawsuit in admissions scandal

Pressure over college admissions 'out of control'

Ex-global equity firm exec, a grad of Gunn High, implicated in admissions scam

Opinion: Making the college-admissions system more equitable

Opinion: Lessons parents should learn from the college-admissions scandal

Editorial: The audacity of privilege

$75K for a fake ACT score? Students say cheating happens without the big bucks

In response to college-admissions scandal, Stanford to probe policies, current athletic recruits

Palo Alto couple faces money-laundering charge in college-admissions scam

Following college-admissions indictments, feds investigate whether Stanford was lax in complying with financial-aid laws

Menlo Park father intends to plead guilty to an unspecified charge in college-admissions scam

Stanford expels student in connection with college fraud scheme

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Comments

13 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 8, 2019 at 5:55 pm

I'll wait to see the sentences before I believe that rich people are treated equally by our justice system


9 people like this
Posted by Bill Bucy
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 8, 2019 at 6:21 pm

Bill Bucy is a registered user.

Given the fines noted and the fact the government is asking for the low end of incarceration, I would be surprised if any of these privileged felons does a minute in a brightly colored jumpsuit.


4 people like this
Posted by East-West
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 8, 2019 at 6:30 pm

Modern & advanced societies emphasize restitution rather than retribution which is why Mr. Bucy's prediction will probably ring true.

Now if we were living in a fundamentalist country/state, things would perhaps be handled differently.

Regional temperatures have a lot to do with how certain crimes are dealt with.

Hint: blue = moderate while red = retributive in most cases.


8 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 8, 2019 at 9:04 pm

Modern societies emphasize deterrence, not restitution. If a crook gets caught and the penalty is just paying back the victims, how much of a deterrence is that? Next time, they will just try harder not to get caught. Penalties need to be harsh enough that the perps (even rich perps) will think long and hard before attempting their crime.


7 people like this
Posted by Skeptical one
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Apr 8, 2019 at 9:28 pm

I wonder if University leadership (not just the sailing coach) will ever get indicted for taking bribes? That would be actual justice. Instead, the public will likely be told that the University President, Provost, etc. had no idea this stuff was happening.... yeah, right.


9 people like this
Posted by 6Djockey
a resident of Green Acres
on Apr 9, 2019 at 11:00 am

6Djockey is a registered user.

to Skeptical One,

You are skeptical! Do you think the University president knows every last thing that goes on in the university?


4 people like this
Posted by StatusPanic
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 9, 2019 at 11:07 am

This is the 14th report on this scandal on PAOnline. The amount of press this story is getting on this forum alone tells a lot about why many of the defendants are local.


2 people like this
Posted by Shawn
a resident of Atherton
on Apr 10, 2019 at 8:47 am

Lots of community service coming and fines. No jail time. No jail time.


12 people like this
Posted by biggest losers
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Apr 26, 2019 at 11:09 pm

According to the WSJ Chinese parents paid the most ($6.5M and $1.2M) to illegally get their kids into elite colleges:
Web Link
Ironically, had they paid those sums directly to the schools, rather than to Singer, they could have legally greased the wheels to get their kids' applications more favorable consideration.


6 people like this
Posted by A Separate Reality
a resident of Los Altos
on Apr 27, 2019 at 9:07 am

A Separate Reality is a registered user.

> According to the WSJ Chinese parents paid the most ($6.5M and $1.2M) to illegally get their kids into elite colleges:

^^^ Wow. Since many Chinese high school students are seemingly well-prepared academically for college with high GPAs & SAT scores it's hard to imagine that some Chinese parents still had to resort to bribery measures in order to ensure desired placement.

I guess they could afford the money as many who have relocated to the SF Bay Area from China are seemingly quite wealthy in their own right.

The good old days = when a 3.40 GPA would get you into Cal...though the CA minimum wage was only around $2.50/hour.

Times have changed.


Like this comment
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 27, 2019 at 9:51 am

Posted by Skeptical one, a resident of East Palo Alto

>> I wonder if University leadership (not just the sailing coach) will ever get indicted for taking bribes? That would be actual justice. Instead, the public will likely be told that the University President, Provost, etc. had no idea this stuff was happening.... yeah, right.

Actually, I would be very surprised. As discussed previously, these universities already have channels for the wealthy to donate, serve on boards, help with fundraising, and get their kids in and through school. This was referred to as "the back door" during the investigation. Some people consider the back door "corrupt", others don't, but, at least for private universities, it is perfectly legal. Most universities have buildings named after big donors, and, many C students with wealthy parents have gotten through these schools over the years. Since when has higher education been purely a meritocracy? "Ain't it awful?"

This case is about "the side door"-- where low-level admissions and coaching staff being bribed on the side to conspire to get students admitted. University management has every incentive to rub this out. After all, the conspirators didn't pay the universities their share.


4 people like this
Posted by Divided We Exist
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Apr 27, 2019 at 1:28 pm

Divided We Exist is a registered user.

Who are we trying to kid? Ourselves via self-denial?

Cheating is a venerable part of Americana. It is a viable ticket to financial, political & athletic success for many aspirants.

Very few individuals succeed financially doing things the honest way.

Not endorsing cheating...just saying it's standard operating procedure.

The Kennedys, Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, Leland Stanford Sr., Bill Gates, are just a few examples. Might as well add the underworld into the equation as well.

"Behind every great fortune lies a crime." Pere Goriot by Honore de Balzac

If people were actually honest, there would be less disparity of overall wealth.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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