A federal grand jury on Tuesday handed up new charges of money laundering against a California couple who were among 50 people accused earlier this month in a sweeping college admissions cheating scandal.
The indictment of Gregory Colburn, 61, a physician from Palo Alto, and his wife, Amy, 59, marks the first time money laundering charges have been brought against any of the parents accused of paying bribes to help their children gain admission to elite universities.
The Colburns are accused of paying a bribe to William “Rick” Singer, the admitted ringleader of the admissions scheme, to help their son cheat on his SAT exam last year. Their lawyers said Tuesday that they were innocent.
“They completely deny the allegations in today’s indictment,” David Schumacher and Patric Hooper said in a statement. “The Colburns’ son took his SAT test with no assistance, and the Colburns were unaware that his test was altered in any way. The government has cast its net too widely in this investigation. The Colburns’ life has been turned upside down by these charges, and they will insist on a speedy trial to clear their names.”
The indictment alleges that in December 2017 the Colburns transferred stock worth $24,443.50 and $547 in cash to the Key Worldwide Foundation, a charitable organization that Singer had established to launder bribes from parents.
In exchange for the alleged bribe, Singer arranged for an accomplice, Mark Riddell, to proctor the test taken by the Colburns’ son at a West Hollywood test center last March and correct the answers afterward, according to the indictment.
Singer told Riddell not to score too high “so that the child would not be alerted to the cheating on his behalf,” according to the indictment. After the Colburns’ son and another unnamed student took the test, Riddell allegedly reviewed and corrected their answers — giving the Colburns’ son a score of 1190 out of a possible 1600.
The Colburns’ son later submitted the test results to a number of colleges, including Texas Christian University, Indiana University, the University of Oregon, and the University of Arizona, according to the indictment.
The Colburns were among 32 parents charged in a complaint earlier this month with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. Another parent, Vancouver businessman David Sidoo, was indicted March 5 on one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud
On Tuesday, the grand jury returned a superseding indictment that added the Colburns to the case against Sidoo.
Sidoo is not charged with money laundering. The indictment alleges that Sidoo paid Singer $100,000 to have Riddell take the SAT test for his older son in 2011, then paid him another $100,000 the following year to take the SAT test for his younger son. One son was admitted to Chapman University in Orange, Calif., and the other son attended the University of California Berkeley, according to the indictment.