News

Judge sends Atherton mom to prison for college admissions scandal

Elizabeth Henriquez must self-surrender by June 30

An Atherton woman who paid more than $500,000 to help her children get into college through a nationwide admissions scandal was sentenced on Tuesday to seven months in prison, according to prosecutors.

Elizabeth Henriquez, 57, must also serve two years of supervised release, pay a $200,000 fine and perform 300 hours of community service, according to prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Massachusetts. She has until June 30 to surrender herself to the Bureau of Prisons.

The sentence comes more than a year after the news of the admissions scandal emerged. Henriquez began participating in the scheme in 2015 when she began communicating with William "Rick" Singer, the Newport Beach man who helped dozens of other parents bribe admissions officers and athletic coaches at top colleges and universities into accepting their children in exchange for large sums of money. In many cases, the scandal involved correcting or providing answers to college entrance exams.

In June 2015, Henriquez paid Singer to coordinate with a proctor who corrected her older daughter's answers on SAT II subject tests, according to prosecutors. Then in October of that year, she agreed to have him bring in a third party to correct the answers on a SAT exam for the same daughter.

In 2016 and 2017, the Atherton resident also sought out Singer to help cheat on exams three times — once in Houston, Texas (where their younger daughter was provided answers to the ACT exam), and twice in Los Angeles, prosecutors said.

What's local journalism worth to you?

Support Almanac Online for as little as $5/month.

Learn more

Henriquez also paid $400,000 to have Singer orchestrate her daughter's admission to Georgetown University by claiming she was recruited to play tennis, a sport she didn't play competitively, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. Under the arrangement, Henriquez's money would be donated to Singer's phony nonprofit, The Key Worldwide Foundation, which would then pass the funds to the tennis program in exchange for the coach's agreement to recruit her based on fake athletic credentials.

Once the daughter was accepted into the university, Singer only gave away some of the $400,000 for the coach's personal expenses, prosecutors said.

Henriquez and her husband, Manuel Henriquez, changed their pleas to guilty last year. They pleaded to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and honest mail services and wire fraud; and a second count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.

Manuel Henriquez, former CEO of venture capital and private equity firm Hercules Capital in Palo Alto, is scheduled for a sentencing hearing on April 8. The U.S. Attorney's Office is seeking a sentence of 18 months (or one year and six months) in prison, two years of supervised release, a $150,000 fine and 250 hours of community service.

The sentence issued by U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Gorton starkly contrasts with what prosecutors had recommended for the Atherton woman: 26 months (or two years and two months) in prison, three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine. (The U.S. Attorney's Office also sought 300 hours of community service.)

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox.

Sign up

Elizabeth and Manuel Henriquez are among 10 local parents indicted in the case. Menlo Park residents Marjorie Klapper and Peter Jan Sartorio pleaded guilty last May and were sentenced in October.

Hillsborough residents Bruce and Davina Isackson, who have pleaded guilty, are scheduled for sentencing on May 21.

Palo Alto residents Amy and Greg Colburn; Hillsborough resident Marci Palatella; and William McGlashan, a Mill Valley resident formerly of Palo Alto, were named in a superseding indictment in January. They are set to stand trial on Jan. 11, 2021.

---

Follow the Palo Alto Weekly/Palo Alto Online on Twitter @PaloAltoWeekly and Facebook for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Follow AlmanacNews.com and The Almanac on Twitter @almanacnews, Facebook and on Instagram @almanacnews for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Judge sends Atherton mom to prison for college admissions scandal

Elizabeth Henriquez must self-surrender by June 30

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Tue, Mar 31, 2020, 5:14 pm

An Atherton woman who paid more than $500,000 to help her children get into college through a nationwide admissions scandal was sentenced on Tuesday to seven months in prison, according to prosecutors.

Elizabeth Henriquez, 57, must also serve two years of supervised release, pay a $200,000 fine and perform 300 hours of community service, according to prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Massachusetts. She has until June 30 to surrender herself to the Bureau of Prisons.

The sentence comes more than a year after the news of the admissions scandal emerged. Henriquez began participating in the scheme in 2015 when she began communicating with William "Rick" Singer, the Newport Beach man who helped dozens of other parents bribe admissions officers and athletic coaches at top colleges and universities into accepting their children in exchange for large sums of money. In many cases, the scandal involved correcting or providing answers to college entrance exams.

In June 2015, Henriquez paid Singer to coordinate with a proctor who corrected her older daughter's answers on SAT II subject tests, according to prosecutors. Then in October of that year, she agreed to have him bring in a third party to correct the answers on a SAT exam for the same daughter.

In 2016 and 2017, the Atherton resident also sought out Singer to help cheat on exams three times — once in Houston, Texas (where their younger daughter was provided answers to the ACT exam), and twice in Los Angeles, prosecutors said.

Henriquez also paid $400,000 to have Singer orchestrate her daughter's admission to Georgetown University by claiming she was recruited to play tennis, a sport she didn't play competitively, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. Under the arrangement, Henriquez's money would be donated to Singer's phony nonprofit, The Key Worldwide Foundation, which would then pass the funds to the tennis program in exchange for the coach's agreement to recruit her based on fake athletic credentials.

Once the daughter was accepted into the university, Singer only gave away some of the $400,000 for the coach's personal expenses, prosecutors said.

Henriquez and her husband, Manuel Henriquez, changed their pleas to guilty last year. They pleaded to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and honest mail services and wire fraud; and a second count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.

Manuel Henriquez, former CEO of venture capital and private equity firm Hercules Capital in Palo Alto, is scheduled for a sentencing hearing on April 8. The U.S. Attorney's Office is seeking a sentence of 18 months (or one year and six months) in prison, two years of supervised release, a $150,000 fine and 250 hours of community service.

The sentence issued by U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Gorton starkly contrasts with what prosecutors had recommended for the Atherton woman: 26 months (or two years and two months) in prison, three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine. (The U.S. Attorney's Office also sought 300 hours of community service.)

Elizabeth and Manuel Henriquez are among 10 local parents indicted in the case. Menlo Park residents Marjorie Klapper and Peter Jan Sartorio pleaded guilty last May and were sentenced in October.

Hillsborough residents Bruce and Davina Isackson, who have pleaded guilty, are scheduled for sentencing on May 21.

Palo Alto residents Amy and Greg Colburn; Hillsborough resident Marci Palatella; and William McGlashan, a Mill Valley resident formerly of Palo Alto, were named in a superseding indictment in January. They are set to stand trial on Jan. 11, 2021.

---

Follow the Palo Alto Weekly/Palo Alto Online on Twitter @PaloAltoWeekly and Facebook for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Comments

R
Atherton: West Atherton
on Mar 31, 2020 at 10:54 pm
R, Atherton: West Atherton
on Mar 31, 2020 at 10:54 pm
22 people like this

I am going to copy and paste a comment made by another user on another local news site which I thought was a great addition:

"Our system is too likely to jail when other options might work. They hurt the commons by cheating on it to place their daughter in a school, but they could fix that by, say, being made to fund say, 4 scholarships for needy students plus community service. Instead, they'll go to jail, possibly a death sentence in Pandemic times w/o doing the commons much good."

For a first-world country, and indeed the wealthiest in the world, the U.S. does a pretty poor job of making college affordable for its students. There are many who, despite having the intellectual capacity to go to college, can't make it work financially, so to speak. Even living in Atherton, there are plenty of low-income communities nearby, like some in Redwood City, that contain kids whose lives would be absolutely transformed by getting their educations financed by these people who tried to exploit the system, one which was arguably already rigged in their favor. I think forcing these parents to pay a poorer kid's college education a couple times would be a much better punishment.


Personal Responsibility
Atherton: other
on Apr 1, 2020 at 9:26 am
Personal Responsibility, Atherton: other
on Apr 1, 2020 at 9:26 am
29 people like this

> "Our system is too likely to jail when other options might work."

This is important because so many of our wealthy are sentenced to hard prison time? Yes, our wealthy need more ways to buy their way out of prison for unethical and illegal behavior.

Personal Responsibility?


new guy
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 1, 2020 at 10:23 am
new guy, Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 1, 2020 at 10:23 am
19 people like this

Hey R:

So, what you (of someone else you thought had a good idea) is that "get caught = pay a fine". Nice. Woman now wants to serve sentence AT HOME IN HER ATHER TON ESTATE!!!.

What law can I quickly break where I can do this? happy to pay a fine and get to spend the next 6-9 months in an acre plus compound with putting green and plenty of space for my kids to play ball, run around.

You know there is a legal way to buy your kids into college, sure it is a bit more expensive, but it is considered legal even at Harvard. But a building, provide a huge endowment/scholarship fund, etc.? But now, you had to buy your clearly not so bright kids multiple fraudulent tests (why the need for so many???) and a $400,000 tennis placement bribe.

I think she should immediately have to serve her sentence. She is a convicted fellon.


Equal Justice
Atherton: other
on Apr 1, 2020 at 11:39 am
Equal Justice, Atherton: other
on Apr 1, 2020 at 11:39 am
14 people like this

@R

The justice system should not be for the purpose of benefiting the commons. It's an attractive idea with a lot of downsides. Society would have a strong incentive to seek financial punishment, not justice. It leads to a conflict of interest. Prosecutors would be measured on how much revenue they bring into the office, not whether they meted out justice equally and fairly. The rich will get out of jail time and the less well-off can't buy their way out of jail.

It also eliminates the deterrence value of punishment. If the cost of getting caught is to pay for four scholarships, you would see many rich people who can afford that cost help their children lie on their applications.

The financial option is a non-starter when it comes to violent crimes.

With respect to college, community college is extremely affordable in this country. In fact, California provides the first two years free.

College is expensive at US research universities because they are in the business of major research and scholarship. Teaching is a side gig for them. I know this to be a fact because their best paid professors do not spend a lot of time teaching. The people that spend most of their time teaching and working with students are the junior professors, the adjuncts, and grad students, the lower paid among the faculty. Promotions are awarded to faculty that receive peer recognition, such as Nobel prizes. No faculty is ever given tenure because undergraduates love their class.

To make research universities affordable, separate the research part of their mission....just like community colleges.


mper
Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Apr 1, 2020 at 1:13 pm
mper, Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Apr 1, 2020 at 1:13 pm
17 people like this

Am I the only one who finds the use of the descriptor "the commons" offensive? Ugggghhh. Says it all.


awatkins
Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
on Apr 1, 2020 at 1:45 pm
awatkins, Woodside: Skywood/Skylonda
on Apr 1, 2020 at 1:45 pm
12 people like this

“ Am I the only one who finds the use of the descriptor "the commons" offensive?

I hope so.

Read this: Web Link


Huh?
Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Apr 2, 2020 at 9:10 pm
Huh?, Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Apr 2, 2020 at 9:10 pm
5 people like this


"With respect to college, community college is extremely affordable in this country. In fact, California provides the first two years free."

What? No, it doesn't.


OldGuyCA
Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Apr 3, 2020 at 3:35 am
OldGuyCA , Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Apr 3, 2020 at 3:35 am
53 people like this

Why was it so easy for all of these parents to cheat? Has our society decayed so much that the wealthiest have no sense of right and wrong? Is money, in vast quantities, as poisonous to the soul as Covid-19 is to the body? If so, then we need to highly tax those at the top. For their own good, as well as ours.


Steve_J
another community
on Apr 3, 2020 at 1:01 pm
Steve_J, another community
on Apr 3, 2020 at 1:01 pm
3 people like this

The amount of time spent in jail will provided solitude for reflection of what she did and one can not buy their kids an education.


Menlo Voter.
Menlo Park: other
on Apr 4, 2020 at 9:23 am
Menlo Voter., Menlo Park: other
on Apr 4, 2020 at 9:23 am
10 people like this

"Why was it so easy for all of these parents to cheat?"

Because they are wealthy.

"Has our society decayed so much that the wealthiest have no sense of right and wrong?"

Yes.


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Not sure?