HILLSBOROUGH (CBS / AP) — Thirteen people, including five parents from the Bay Area, pleaded guilty Monday to paying thousands of dollars to help their kids cheat their way into a seat at top universities.
Bruce and Davina Isackson, of Hillsborough, were among about a dozen parents who agreed to plead guilty to participating in the scam, a federal court in Boston announced Monday. The Isacksons are cooperating with the investigation for the chance at a lighter sentence.
Other Bay Area parents who will plead guilty are Agustin Huneeus Jr., 53, of San Francisco, for paying $300,000 to participate in both exam cheating and the athletic recruitment scheme for his daughter; Marjorie Klapper, 50, of Menlo Park, for paying $15,000 for exam cheating for her son; and Peter Sartorio, 53, of Menlo Park, for paying $15,000 for exam cheating for his daughter.
The Isacksons were accused of paying an admissions consultant to get their two daughters into the University of California, Los Angeles and the University of Southern California for sports they didn’t play. Authorities said they also paid to boost one of the girl’s entrance exam scores.
According to the affidavit (.pdf), the couple also inquired about the scheme on behalf of their third child.
The Isacksons are both pleading guilty to a charge of mail fraud related to paying Singer and his associates $600,000, including $250,000 in Facebook stock, to have their daughters’ admitted to the schools. Meanwhile Bruce Isackson will additionally plead guilty to conspiring to launder money and conspiring to defraud the U.S. government by claiming tax deductions for the bribes paid through a supposed charity run by William “Rick” Singer, the alleged ringleader in the scheme.
The Isacksons said in an emailed statement that they are “profoundly sorry” and take full responsibility for their “bad judgment.” They say they have worked with investigators and will continue to do so.
“We have worked cooperatively with the prosecutors and will continue to do so as we take full responsibility for our bad judgment,” they said in a statement.
Also pleading guilty on Monday was actress Felicity Huffman, who is accused of paying $15,000 to a foundation in an effort to boost her eldest daughter’s ACT score.
Huffman released a statement, saying, “I am in full acceptance of my guilt, with deep regret and shame over what I have done. My daughter knew absolutely nothing about my actions”
Also on Monday, former tennis coach Michael Center of the University of Texas at Austin agreed to plead guilty to fraud conspiracy charges.
Prosecutors said in proposed plea agreements filed in court that they will recommend prison time on the “low end” of sentencing guidelines in exchange for the parents’ cooperation, but the actual sentence will be up to a judge.
A total of 33 parents were charged in federal indictments and complaints last month. Those who have not indicated plans to change their not guilty pleas thus far include actress Lori Loughlin and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Gianulli.
© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press and Bay City News Service contributed to this report.