A New York man and his wife were each sentenced Tuesday to a month behind bars for paying a college-admission fixer to boost their daughter’s SAT and ACT scores.
Gregory and Marcia Abbott will also have to complete a year of supervised release, pay a $45,000 fine and perform 250 hours of community service each, under sentences handed down in Boston by U.S. District Court Judge Indira Talwani.
The couple had already pleaded guilty in May to a single count each of fraud and conspiracy, paying $125,000 to ring leader Rick Singer for someone to correct answers on their daughter’s college board exams.
“My husband and I were both motivated by good intentions … but this does not excuse our actions,” Marcia Abbott told Talwani before the sentences were handed down.
“I stand before you today extremely contrite and remorseful,” she said.
Prosecutors had asked Talwani to sentence the Abbotts to eight months in prison each. Defense lawyers had sought probation for the pair.
The couple paid $50,000 to have a test proctor correct their daughter’s ACT exam answers in 2018, and then another $75,000 to fix her SAT.
“I knew my daughter was getting some help that was outside the rules,” Gregory Abbott told the judge before his sentencing.
The judge ordered the couple’s sentences to be staggered, in order to maximize the time at least one of them could be at home with their three children.
Gregory Abbott was ordered to report to federal prison Nov. 20, while Marcia Abbott won’t have to turn herself in until Jan. 3.
Gregory Abbott lives on Manhattan’s Upper East Side and took a leave of absence from his role as chairman and CEO of International Dispensing Corp. Marcia Abbott, a former fashion editor at Family Circle magazine, lives in Aspen, Colorado.
Gregory Abbott, a Princeton University alum, received some backing from his college classmate Andrew Napolitano, a retired New Jersey judge who now works as a legal analyst for Fox News.
The “Greg Abbott I know is among the more honest, decent, selfless persons I have ever known,” Napolitano wrote, on a FNC letterhead, in a letter to Talwani. “His honesty is so deep, I would entrust all that I own to his care with no qualm or hesitation.”
The Abbotts are among more than a dozen rich parents caught in the federal probe dubbed “Operation Varsity Blues.” Parents in the scam were accused of paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to have their children’s test scores boosted or to have them passed off as top athletes in order to gain special admission to elite universities.
TV actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlinwere the biggest names caught up in the wide-ranging scandal.
Huffman was sentenced to 14 days behind bars and the prosecutor overseeing the case said he wants Loughlin to get more time if she’s convicted or pleads guilty.
And last week, Greenwich, Connecticut, lawyer Gordon Caplan, 53, was sentenced to one month behind bars. He pleaded guilty in May to a single count of fraud and conspiracy, for paying $75,000 to Singer so a proctor could correct his daughter’s ACT answers last year.
Prosecutors requested a sentence of eight months in prison for Caplan, though defense lawyers said he deserved no more than 14 days in prison.