By Nate Raymond
BOSTON (Reuters) – A former college entrance exam administrator pleaded guilty to participating in a vast college admissions cheating and fraud scheme on Wednesday, the same day a wealthy parent was sentenced to six months in prison for his role in the scandal.
Federal prosecutors in Boston say Igor Dvorskiy accepted nearly $200,000 in bribes to allow corrupt test proctors to secretly alter the answers of SAT and ACT college entrance exams for 20 students at the behest of their parents.
His plea took place hours before real estate company executive Toby Macfarlane was sentenced to prison and a $150,000 fine for conspiring to bribe University of Southern California employees to secure the admission of his children as fake athletic recruits.
The two men are among 52 people charged with participating in a 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 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 since March include “Desperate Housewives” star Felicity Huffman, who was sentenced to a 14-day prison term after pleading guilty, and “Full House” actor Lori Loughlin, who is fighting the charges.
Dvorskiy, 53, who was the director of a private school in West Hollywood, California, served as a compensated test administrator for the companies that run the SAT and ACT college entrance exams.
He pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit racketeering as part of an agreement to cooperate with authorities in the investigation.
Macfarlane, 56, pleaded guilty in June to conspiring to commit mail fraud.
Prosecutors said Macfarlane paid $400,000 in sham consulting fees to Singer, some of which he passed on to USC coaches as bribes, and $50,000 to an account controlled by an official who participated in the scheme.
Those payments helped his daughter and his son gain admission as fake soccer and basketball recruits, prosecutors said.
In court, Macfarlane apologised for the “worst set of decisions” in his life, as a defence lawyer argued he deserved leniency. But U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Gorton said Macfarlane needed to pay a “substantial” price for his crimes.
“Your participation in this scheme is a shameful disgrace, and you need to be punished accordingly,” he said.
(Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Bill Berkrot)