Jewelry business owner gets three weeks in prison for U.S. college scam

BOSTON (Reuters) - The owner of a California jewelry business was sentenced on Wednesday to three weeks in prison for her role in what prosecutors say is the largest college admissions scam uncovered in the United States.

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Marjorie Klapper received less than the four-month prison term that federal prosecutors in Boston sought after she admitted to paying $15,000 to have a corrupt test proctor secretly correct her son’s answers on the ACT college entrance exam.

U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani also ordered the 50-year-old to pay a $9,500 fine. She previously pleaded guilty in May to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud.

Lawyers for Klapper did not respond to requests for comment.

Klapper is among 52 people charged with participating in a vast scheme in which wealthy parents conspired with a California college admissions consultant to use bribery and other forms of fraud to secure the admission of their children to top schools.

William “Rick” Singer, the consultant, pleaded guilty in March to charges that he facilitated cheating on college entrance exams and helped bribe sports coaches at universities to present his clients’ children as fake athletic recruits.

The 35 parents charged in the investigation include executives and celebrities, such as “Desperate Housewives” star Felicity Huffman and “Full House” actress Lori Loughlin.

Huffman reported to prison on Tuesday after she admitted to engaging in the college exam cheating scheme and was sentenced to a 14-day term. Loughlin has pleaded not guilty.

Prosecutors said Klapper in 2017 arranged through Singer to have an associate pose as a proctor for her son’s ACT exam to correct his answers at a test center Singer controlled through bribery.

The proctor was Mark Riddell, a former counselor at a Florida private school who pleaded guilty in April to secretly taking SAT and ACT college entrance exams in place of Singer’s clients’ children or correcting their answers.

Prosecutors said that Klapper’s son used the fraudulent ACT score he received to apply to universities in Arizona, California, Colorado and elsewhere.

Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston; Editing by Cynthia Osterman