SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Manuel Henriquez, the founder and former chief executive officer of Palo Alto-based Hercules Capital Inc., has agreed to plead guilty to fraud charges stemming from the college admission scandal, federal prosecutors announced Friday.
Henriquez and his wife, Elizabeth, were charged in the case with paying college counselor William “Rick” Singer to fraudulently boost their older daughter’s SAT test scores and younger daughter’s ACT and SAT subject test scores. They also were accused of attempting to gain one of their daughters admission into
Georgetown University as a tennis recruit.
Both initially pleaded innocent to the charges. It was not known of Elizabeth also intends to change her plea when she makes a court appearance on Oct. 29th. Manuel Henriquez told federal prosecutors he would plea guilty during a court appearance on Oct. 21.
Henriquez had voluntarily stepped aside as Hercules Capital’s chairman and CEO when the charges became public. His plea deal is just the latest legal action by a Bay Area parent involved in the scandal.
Also on Friday, Robert Flaxman, 63, of Los Angeles, was sentenced to a month in federal prison after pleading guilty to a single count of fraud and conspiracy. He was the 10th parent to be sentenced in a widespread college bribery scheme.
Authorities say Flaxman paid $75,000 to have a test proctor feed his daughter answers on her ACT exam in 2016. She scored a 28 out of 36 on the test, placing her in the 89th percentile and improving 4 points over her previous score on the exam.
Flaxman’s daughter used the score to apply to several schools and ultimately enrolled at one of them, prosecutors said.
In earlier court documents, the FBI also accused Flaxman of paying an admissions consultant $250,000 to fabricate application documents that were used to get his son into the University of San Diego. Those allegations were not pursued, however, and they weren’t included in Flaxman’s plea agreement with prosecutors.
Michelle Janavs, a former executive in her family’s food manufacturing business — Chef America Inc., agreed to plead guilty also on Friday.
According to the federal complaint, the Newport Beach woman paid $100,000 to help a daughter cheat on her ACT in 2017 and get into USC as a purported beach volleyball player.
On Wednesday, Menlo Park jewelry business owner Marjorie Klapper was sentenced to three weeks in federal prison for her role in the scandal.
Klapper pleaded guilty in May to a single count of fraud and conspiracy.
Authorities said the 51-year-old paid $15,000 to rig her son’s ACT exam in 2017. She’s also accused of falsely listing her son as African American and Hispanic on college applications to increase his chances of getting admitted. Authorities have not specified her son’s race.
Klapper said the scheme’s organizers listed her son as a minority without her knowledge. Her lawyers say she regrets her involvement in the scheme.
Prosecutors had recommended four months in prison. Klapper’s lawyers countered, saying she deserves home confinement and a $20,000 fine.
Klapper’s sentencing comes a day after actress Felicity Huffman reported to federal prison in Dublin to serve a two-week sentence for her role in the scandal.
Huffman was the first parent to be sentenced in the case. In the ensuing weeks, several other parents also received short prison terms.
Bay Area winemaker Agustin Huneeus was given a 5-month jail sentence, a $100,000 fine and 500 hours of community service. Gordon Caplan, a former high-powered attorney, was sentenced to one month in prison for paying $75,000 to falsely boost his daughter’s ACT score.
Stephen Semprevivo and Devin Sloane, who paid to get their children into prominent universities under the guise that they were recruited athletes, were each sentenced to four months in prison.
Only Menlo Park food entrepreneur Peter Jan Sartorio so far has escaped during time in jail, He was sentenced to one year of probation, complete 250 hours of community service and to pay a fine of $9,500 last week.
More than 50 people — parents, coaches, test administrators and conspirators — were charged in the scandal, in which prosecutors said Singer either facilitated cheating on standardized tests or bribed college coaches to give students an advantage in the admissions process.
Several other Bay Area families have entered guilty pleas and are awaiting sentencing including Bruce and Davina Isackson of Hillsborough.
Of those charged, more than 30 are parents, accused of conspiring with Singer. More than 10 of those parents have pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud.
Singer pleaded guilty in March to four charges related to cheating on standardized tests and bribing college coaches and administrators.
© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.