May 23 (UPI) — Three wealthy parents pleaded guilty Wednesday to paying bribes to boost their children’s standardized test scores as part of a nationwide college admissions scandal.
Gregory Abbott, founder and chairman of food and beverage packing company International Dispensing Corp., his wife, Marcia Abbott, and packaged food entrepreneur Peter Jan Sartorio each pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud in the U.S. District Court in Boston for their role in the scandal.
Court records show that the Abbotts paid $125,000 to William “Rick” Singer, the ringleader of the scheme, to have him direct a proctor to correct their daughter’s answers on her SAT and ACT tests, while Sartorio paid $15,000 to have a proctor do the same for his daughter’s ACT scores.
Each of the three parents faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, but prosecutors are seeking a prison term of one year and a day along with a $55,000 fine and restitution payments for the Abbots, and “incarceration within the Guidelines sentencing range” as well as a $9,500 and a restitution payment for Sartorio.
As of Wednesday, 16 defendants — including 10 parents — have pleaded guilty and four more parents have agreed to plead guilty in future court hearings as part of the Justice Department’s so-called Varsity Blues case.
Fifty people have been charged in the scandal in which parents paid bribes to inflate the scores of their children’s SAT and ACT scores by cheating or have their students falsely identified as athletic recruits.