Three more wealthy parents in the nationwide college admissions cheating scandal pleaded guilty Wednesday to charges that they paid bribes to pad their children’s standardized test scores.
Gregory and Marcia Abbott of Manhattan and Aspen, Colo., and Peter Jan Sartorio of Menlo Park, Calif., each pleaded guilty in US District Court in Boston to a sole count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud, a felony that carries up to 20 years in prison, according to legal filings and US Attorney Andrew E. Lelling’s office.
The defendants are among 50 people entangled in the scheme, in which parents paid bribes to admitted ringleader William “Rick” Singer to facilitate cheating on their children’s SAT and ACT exams, or to have their kids falsely certified as athletic recruits at top schools.
Sartorio and the Abbotts were only charged with wrongdoing related to the tests.
Gregory Abbott, a 68-year-old food and beverage packaging titan, and Marcia Abbott, 59, paid a total of $125,000 last year to have Singer direct a corrupt proctor to correct their daughter’s answers on the SAT and ACT, significantly boosting her scores, records show.
Sartorio, a packaged food entrepreneur, paid $15,000 in June 2017 to have a proctor correct his daughter’s ACT answers, according to legal filings.
All three defendants had reached plea deals with the government. Sentencing will be held at a later date.
For both Abbotts, prosecutors are seeking a prison term of one year and a day, plus a $55,000 fine and restitution payment to be determined by the court, their plea agreements say. In Sartorio’s case, the government will recommend “incarceration within the Guidelines sentencing range,” as well as a $9,500 fine and a restitution payment to be determined, according to his deal.
Other parents nabbed in the scam include the Hollywood stars Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin.
Huffman, who turned in critically acclaimed performances in the film “Transamerica” and TV series “Desperate Housewives,” has pleaded guilty, while Loughlin, best known for her scene-stealing portrayal of Aunt Becky on the sitcom “Full House,” has pleaded not guilty.