Felicity Huffman, another parent agreed to plead guilty to the student admission scandal
Felicity Huffman and a dozen other wealthy parents who were dragged into the college admission scandal have agreed to plead guilty after being charged in the scheme, according to court records.
The actress and 12 other parents, including Los Angeles marketing teacher Jane Buckingham, will plead guilty to one charge of conspiracy to commit letter fraud and honest service fraud. Bay Area real estate developer Bruce Isackson will plead guilty to one charge of money laundering conspiracy and one charge of conspiracy to cheat the IRS. His wife, Davina Isackson, will plead guilty to one charge of conspiracy to commit fraud.
The Michael Center, a former male tennis coach at the University of Texas at Austin, will also plead guilty to one charge of conspiracy to commit letter fraud and honest letter fraud services. The center is accused of receiving $ 60,000 in cash and a donation of $ 40,000 for its tennis program to ensure a student is accepted as a recruited athlete.
The acceptance scheme centers on William “Rick” Singer, the owner of a college admission company in Newport Beach. Parents are accused of paying the company to help their children cheat during college entrance exams and falsify athletic records, allowing their children to get entry permits to elite schools – including UCLA, USC, Stanford, Yale and Georgetown – according to court records.
Thirty-three parents have been indicted in this case, and others are expected to follow up this week with plans to plead guilty.
Prosecutors said Huffman paid $ 15,000 for 36-year-old Harvard graduates to correct his daughter’s response to the SAT, giving the girl a score of 400 points from the previous score. Huffman then discussed pursuing the same scheme for his younger daughter, according to court records.
Her husband, actor William H. Macy, has not been charged by federal prosecutors.
Court documents say Macy is far less than Huffman, but they suggest Macy knows about many activities.
Manny Medrano, a defense lawyer and former federal prosecutor, said that based on the 2019 federal sentencing guidelines, Huffman would face a sentence of four to 10 months in prison as part of his petition.
Because he does not have a criminal history and his financial contribution to fraudulent small college admissions, the recommendation for his sentence is low, Medrano said. Prosecutors said they would ask for a relatively short sentence for the actress.
In a statement on Monday, Huffman acknowledged his guilty plea.
“I fully accept my mistakes, and with deep regret and shame for what I have done, I accept full responsibility for my actions and will accept the consequences that come from that action. I am ashamed of the pain that I caused to my daughter, my family, my friends, my colleagues and the education community, “he said.
“I want to apologize to them and, especially, I want to apologize to students who work hard every day to enter college, and to their parents who make extraordinary sacrifices to support their children and do them honestly. My daughter had no idea about my actions, and in my wrong and very wrong way, I betrayed her. ”
Buckingham, who once wrote a book called “A Modern Girl’s Guide to Sticky Situations,” really wanted her son to attend USC. So the Los Angeles marketing expert – formerly named Martha Stewart of the younger generation – turned to Singer to help his son achieve high marks on ACT’s standard tests, alleged prosecutors.
In a telephone call on July 12, 2018, Buckingham told Singer that his son had tonsillitis and his doctor advised him not to travel. The plan was for his son to take ACT at the test center in Houston, but he could not get there, federal authorities said.
Buckingham asked Singer if it was possible to get a copy of the exam for his son at home – so he was sure he had taken the test – while others took it on his behalf in Houston. Singer said he would make it happen.
In the end, Buckingham’s son received a score of 35 out of 36 on the ACT.
Under the federal penalty guidelines, he faces at least eight months in prison.
Isacksons was accused of paying Singer $ 600,000 to get one daughter to UCLA and the other to USC through bribery and other fraudulent steps, court records show.
The couple began conspiring with Singer in 2015 to ask his eldest daughter to enter college as an athletic athlete, according to court records. Their first choice was USC, but plans to smuggle teenagers to school were foiled when his application was accidentally sent to the normal admission process, leaving members of the athletic department suspected of working with Singer unable to complete the agreement, according to the FBI statement.
Singer then turned to UCLA, sending the fake athletic profile he had made in May 2016 to Ali Khosroshahin, former USC female soccer coach, who forwarded it to Jorge Salcedo, a former male head soccer coach at UCLA, prosecutors said. Khosroshahin and Salcedo have been charged with conspiracy to commit extortion.
The girl was treated at UCLA. Unlike other students who sneak into school as fake athletes and then just don’t join the team, Isacksons’ daughter finds herself above her head on the list of UCLA female soccer players.
To hand over their daughter as a recruited athlete, they transferred Facebook shares worth around $ 250,000 to a charity operated by Singer, said the FBI’s written statement.
Singer used the charity to pay Salcedo $ 100,000 and Khosroshahin $ 25,000 to secure Isackson’s acceptance, prosecutors said.
Isacksons then paid Singer an additional $ 350,000 for their daughter’s college entrance examination rig and to graduate as an experienced rower to take him to USC as a member of the crew team, according to court documents.
The Los Angeles Times has reviewed a copy of the defense agreement that outlines the terms of the cooperation agreement between prosecutors and Bruce Isackson. If, after hearing what Isackson knows, the prosecutor decides that he has given “great assistance,” they will ask the judge in his case to punish Isackson with a shorter prison sentence than requested by the guideline, the agreement shows.
The agreement did not specify what penalties the prosecutor might ask, but they could ask the judge to spend Isackson’s prison time fully.
As part of the agreement with prosecutors, Bruce Isackson had to pay the Internal Revenue Service almost $ 140,000 in compensation. Payments seem to be because Isackson deleted his payment to the Singer organization as a charitable donation.
A source familiar with Isacksons’ defense agreement said investigators wanted the couple to give them more information about other parents involved in the scheme and the role played by the trainers. Prosecutors want to confirm their existing cases and find potential new targets among parents and university officials.
The couple can be called to testify against Salcedo and other coaches. So far, Salcedo is the only coach at UCLA who was charged with fraud. He resigned after allegations of bribery. The source said Isacksons could also be used as a witness in the trial of other parents to explain the Singer method and the motives of the parents.
UCLA women’s soccer coach Amanda Cromwell, who oversees the Isacksons women’s team joins, has not replied to a call or email requesting comments.
Prosecutors said other parents who had agreed to plead guilty in a widespread scandal were:
– Augustin Huneeus
– Gordon Caplan
– Peter Jan Sartorio
– Stephen Semprevivo
– Devin Sloane
– Gregory and Marcia Abbott
– Robert Flaxman
– Marjorie Klapper
Huneeus, who owns a portfolio of vineyards in Napa and elsewhere, conspired to bribe a senior assistant athletic director and water polo coach at USC to include his daughter as a recruited athlete, according to the complaint. He was accused of paying $ 300,000 in fraudulent schemes.
Caplan, a former chairman with law firm Willkie Farr & Gallagher, made a payment of $ 75,000 under the guise of a charitable donation. The prosecutor said the money was paid to one of Singer’s accomplices to correct the girl’s response to the ACT.
Sartorio, a packaging food entrepreneur based in Menlo Park, was accused of paying $ 15,000 to Singer as a substitute for taking his college entrance examination for his daughter.
Sempervivo, chief strategist and growth officer at Agoura Hills based in Cydcor, a company that provides outsourcing sales services, agreed to pay Singer $ 400,000 as part of a bribe to Georgetown tennis coaches to facilitate acceptance for his son – who does not play tennis competitively – said the prosecutor.
Sloane, founder and general manager of the Los Angeles-based WaterTalent water company, paid $ 250,000 to Singer, who described his son as a water polo player in the Italian national team and cared for photos to support the fake story, court documents said.
Prosecutors said Gregory Abbott, chairman of a food and beverage packaging company, and his wife, Marcia Abbott, paid Singer $ 125,000 to inflate their daughter’s grades on college entrance exams. Alleged Singer accomplice, 36-year-old Harvard graduate Mark Riddell, corrected their daughter’s response to the SAT and then corrected the answer on two SAT subject tests.
Flaxman, Laguna Beach real estate developer, was accused of paying $ 75,000 to Singer so that Riddell corrected his daughter’s response to ACT, increasing his score by eight points.
Klapper, a resident of Menlo Park who participated in the jewelry business, allegedly paid Singer $ 15,000 to ask Riddell to correct his son’s response to the ACT. When he prints – with the help of Riddell – 30 out of 36, Klapper sends an email to Singer: “My God.”
Those who have signed a defense agreement face a recommended sentence of several months to one and a half years in prison, prosecutors said.