SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A federal grand jury has charged four Bay Area parents with bribing University of Southern California officials in an effort to gain admission for their children to the school, federal prosecutors announced Tuesday.
Ross residents Todd Blake and his wife, Diane; Hillsborough beverage distribution executive Marci Palatella and Mill Valley investor William McGlashan had already been charged with fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering in the college admissions scandal case.
These were new charges — conspiracy to commit federal programs bribery — leveled against parents who were involved with USC including actress Lori Loughlin and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli.
The new charges are punishable by up to five years in prison and defined as a bribe of anything valued of at least $5,000 at an organization that receives more than $10,000 in grant or subsidies from the federal government.
“In exchange for the bribes, employees of the university allegedly designated the defendants’ children as athletic recruits – with little or no regard for their athletic abilities – or as members of other favored admissions categories,” prosecutors said in a news release.
In a written statement, U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling said the latest charges stem from an ongoing investigation and will further his goal of holding the defendants “fully accountable for corrupting the college admissions process through cheating, bribery and fraud.”
McGlashan is accused of paying $50,000 to get a son admitted to USC.
The Blakes are accused of paying a total of $250,000 to get their daughter admitted to USC as a volleyball player and Palatalla is accused of paying nearly $600,000 to have her son’s SAT score boosted and to have him presented as a star football player.
The new charges were handed down a day after Manuel Henriquez, the founder and former chief executive officer of Palo Alto-based Hercules Capital Inc., and his wife, Elizabeth, pleaded guilty to fraud charges.
Henriquez and his wife 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.
Henriquez had voluntarily stepped aside as Hercules Capital’s chairman and CEO when the charges became public.
Meanwhile, Menlo Park jewelry business owner Marjorie Klapper was sentenced last week 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.