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Palo Alto couple to plead guilty in college admissions scandal

Gregory and Amy Colburn to accept prison deal

A Palo Alto couple charged with paying to cheat on their son's college entrance exam have agreed to plead guilty after a long-running saga that saw them facing a trial on Jan. 13, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Palo Alto residents Amy and Gregory Colburn, who faced charges related to the nationwide college admissions scam that became public in 2019, have reached a plea deal with federal prosecutors. Courtesy Photospin.

Dr. Gregory Colburn, 63, and Amy Colburn, 61, agreed to plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and honest services mail and wire fraud. Plea hearings have not yet been scheduled by the court.

Under a plea deal, the Colburns will plead guilty to their roles in a pay-to-play scheme where college admissions consultant William "Rick" Singer received $25,000 to bribe test administrator Igor Dvorskiy and test proctor Mark Riddell to secretly correct the Colburns' son's SAT exam answers. The goal was to obtain a fraudulently inflated score to increase his chances of admission to a top-level college or university, according to federal prosecutors.

Singer, Dvorskiy and Riddell have pleaded guilty for their respective roles in the nationwide scheme that implicated more than 50 people.

The Colburns each accepted plea agreements that include two-month prison sentences, one year of supervised release, 100 hours of community service and a fine of $12,500, subject to a federal judge's approval.

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The Colburns will be the 36th and 37th parents in the college admissions case to either plead guilty or be convicted by a jury following trial, the U.S. Attorney's Office said in a statement on Wednesday.

The Colburns had steadfastly pleaded not guilty until right before trial was set to begin. They faced a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater, if convicted.

The Colburns join a group of Bay Area residents who have or will be sentenced in the nationwide scam. Other residents, who have taken plea deals and were sentenced to punishments ranging from fines with no jail time to a few months in prison with hefty fines, include former Stanford University sailing coach John Vandemoer; Menlo Park residents Marjorie Klapper and Peter Jan Sartorio; Atherton residents Manuel Henriquez and Elizabeth Henriquez; Hillsborough residentMarci Palatella; [former TPG Capital senior executive William McGlashan Jr., previously of Palo Alto; and Napa vintner Agustin Huneeus Jr.

Hillsborough residents Bruce and Davina Isackson have pleaded guilty but have not yet been sentenced.

Editor's note: This article incorrectly reported the status of Marci Palatella's case. She has already pleaded guilty and been sentenced. Palo Alto Online regrets the error.

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Sue Dremann is a veteran journalist who joined the Palo Alto Weekly in 2001. She is a breaking news and general assignment reporter who also covers the regional environmental, health and crime beats. Read more >>

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Palo Alto couple to plead guilty in college admissions scandal

Gregory and Amy Colburn to accept prison deal

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Thu, Dec 2, 2021, 10:35 am
Updated: Thu, Dec 2, 2021, 3:22 pm

A Palo Alto couple charged with paying to cheat on their son's college entrance exam have agreed to plead guilty after a long-running saga that saw them facing a trial on Jan. 13, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Dr. Gregory Colburn, 63, and Amy Colburn, 61, agreed to plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and honest services mail and wire fraud. Plea hearings have not yet been scheduled by the court.

Under a plea deal, the Colburns will plead guilty to their roles in a pay-to-play scheme where college admissions consultant William "Rick" Singer received $25,000 to bribe test administrator Igor Dvorskiy and test proctor Mark Riddell to secretly correct the Colburns' son's SAT exam answers. The goal was to obtain a fraudulently inflated score to increase his chances of admission to a top-level college or university, according to federal prosecutors.

Singer, Dvorskiy and Riddell have pleaded guilty for their respective roles in the nationwide scheme that implicated more than 50 people.

The Colburns each accepted plea agreements that include two-month prison sentences, one year of supervised release, 100 hours of community service and a fine of $12,500, subject to a federal judge's approval.

The Colburns will be the 36th and 37th parents in the college admissions case to either plead guilty or be convicted by a jury following trial, the U.S. Attorney's Office said in a statement on Wednesday.

The Colburns had steadfastly pleaded not guilty until right before trial was set to begin. They faced a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater, if convicted.

The Colburns join a group of Bay Area residents who have or will be sentenced in the nationwide scam. Other residents, who have taken plea deals and were sentenced to punishments ranging from fines with no jail time to a few months in prison with hefty fines, include former Stanford University sailing coach John Vandemoer; Menlo Park residents Marjorie Klapper and Peter Jan Sartorio; Atherton residents Manuel Henriquez and Elizabeth Henriquez; Hillsborough residentMarci Palatella; [former TPG Capital senior executive William McGlashan Jr., previously of Palo Alto; and Napa vintner Agustin Huneeus Jr.

Hillsborough residents Bruce and Davina Isackson have pleaded guilty but have not yet been sentenced.

Editor's note: This article incorrectly reported the status of Marci Palatella's case. She has already pleaded guilty and been sentenced. Palo Alto Online regrets the error.

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