Menlo Park mom pleads guilty in college admissions scam | June 5, 2019 | Almanac | Almanac Online |

Almanac

News - June 5, 2019

Menlo Park mom pleads guilty in college admissions scam

by Jamey Padojino

Menlo Park resident Marjorie Klapper pleaded guilty May 24 in the national college admissions scam, becoming the fourth parent with Midpeninsula ties to make such a move in federal court.

In admitting to a charge of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud, Klapper faces a sentence of 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000 or double the amount gained or lost. Federal prosecutors said Friday they're seeking a lower sentence of one year of supervised release, a $20,000 fine, restitution and forfeiture.

Federal court documents show Klapper was one of 50 people who participated in the scheme, which in total funneled more than $25 million through a fake nonprofit, The Key Worldwide Foundation, to help parents secure for their children a spot at some of the nation's elite universities through false test scores and fake athlete profiles.

The scandal's ringleader, William "Rick" Singer, who created the nonprofit, worked with 33 parents, many of whom come from wealthy backgrounds. He helped submit fake SAT and ACT answers through the help of test proctors and admissions and athletic staff at the universities.

Klapper spent $15,000 in the scheme in 2017, when she contacted Singer seeking extra time for her son to take the SAT and ACT exams, according to a federal complaint. Her son was granted 50% more time on the SAT from the College Board, which administers the entrance exam, though she sought 100% more time.

They instead had Klapper's son take the ACT at the Southern California center with extended time through the help of a test proctor that October, according to court documents. The boy came out with a score of 30 out of a possible 36, according to the complaint.

Klapper sent the funds to Singer's nonprofit that was written off as a charitable donation.

Klapper, 50, co-owner of M&M Bling jeweler in Palo Alto, appeared in a federal courtroom in Boston on May 24 before Judge Indira Talwani, who scheduled her sentencing hearing for Oct. 16.

Klapper is among 14 people, a group made up of 13 parents and a coach, who on April 8 entered plea agreements with federal prosecutors. On May 22, 53-year-old Peter Jan Sartorio, also of Menlo Park, entered his guilty plea in federal court in Boston.

Several local parents pleaded not guilty in the scam: Dr. Gregory Colburn and Amy Colburn, both of Palo Alto; Elizabeth Henriquez and Manuel Henriquez, former CEO of Palo Alto-based private equity firm Hercules Capital, both of Atherton; Mill Valley resident William McGlashan, a former Palo Altan who founded private equity firm TPG Growth; and Marci Palatella, a longtime donor to Sacred Heart Prep Schools in Atherton and CEO of liquor distribution company Preservation Distillery. The Colburns filed a motion in April to dismiss the case against them.

Two other parents, Hillsborough residents Bruce and Davina Isackson, each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud on May 1. In addition, Bruce Isackson pleaded guilty to one count each of conspiracy to commit money laundering and conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government. Their sentencing is set for July 31.

Singer faces up to 65 years in prison for racketeering conspiracy, money-laundering conspiracy, conspiracy to defraud the United States and obstruction of justice. He pleaded guilty in March soon after the scandal was made public and is set for sentencing on June 19.

Stanford's former sailing coach John Vandeomer, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit racketeering, is scheduled for sentencing on June 12. He worked with Singer by designating two student applicants as sailing recruits despite their little to no experience in the sport. The applicants ultimately didn't attend the university.

Jamey Padojino is the digital editor for the Palo Alto Weekly, The Almanac's sister paper.

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