Three more parents plead guilty in nationwide college admissions cheating scandal
Three more wealthy California parents pleaded guilty Friday afternoon in the nationwide college admissions cheating scandal that exploded into the headlines in March, outraged the public, and sparked heated debates about class privilege.
The defendants, Jane Buckingham, 50, of Beverly Hills, Robert Flaxman, 62, of Laguna Beach, and Marjorie Klapper, 50, of Menlo Park each pleaded guilty in US District Court in Boston to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud, according to records and US Attorney Andrew E. Lelling’s office.
They are among 50 people charged in the scam, in which parents paid bribes to admitted ringleader William “Rick” Singer to have their children falsely certified as athletic recruits at elite schools, or to facilitate cheating on their kids’ SAT and ACT exams.
Prosecutors say Buckingham paid $50,000 to Singer’s charity last year in order to have a test proctor take the ACT in a Houston hotel room for her son.
Buckingham, like Flaxman and Klapper, faces up to 20 years in prison, but federal prosecutors will recommend that Buckingham serve a term of “incarceration at the low end” of the sentencing range, her plea deal says. Guidelines vary for individual defendants based on the offense and other factors.
The government also wants Buckingham to pay a $40,000 fine and make a separate restitution payment in an amount to be determined by the court, records show.
In Flaxman’s case, prosecutors contend that he paid bribes totaling $325,000.
He had his son falsely classified as a sports recruit at the University of San Diego, and a corrupt proctor provided answers to his daughter when she took the ACT in Houston in October 2016, according to court papers.
Prosecutors are seeking a prison term for Flaxman at the low end of the guidelines, a $40,000 fine, and a restitution payment to be determined by the court, according to his plea agreement.
Klapper, records show, paid $15,000 to have a proctor correct her son’s ACT answers in 2017. Prosecutors are seeking incarceration for Klapper at the low end of the guidelines, a $20,000 fine, and a separate restitution payment to be determined by the court, her plea deal says.
Other parents nabbed in the scheme include Hollywood stars Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin.
Huffman, known for critically acclaimed performances in the film “Transamerica” and the TV series “Desperate Housewives,” has tearfully pleaded guilty, while Loughlin, lauded for her scene-stealing portrayal of Aunt Becky on the sitcom “Full House,” has pleaded not guilty.