Bay Area parents allegedly involved in college admissions scam worried about exposure by media

ByMelanie Woodrow KGO logo
Wednesday, March 13, 2019
Nearly a dozen Bay Area parents involved in college admissions scam
The Bay Area parents named in the college admissions bribery scheme were entrepreneurs, investors and even a vineyard owner.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The Bay Area parents named in the college admissions bribery scheme were entrepreneurs, investors and even a vineyard owner. They're all charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud.

According to the complaint, several parents were worried they'd be exposed in the news. Still, they allegedly paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to help their children cheat on college entrance exams. They also allegedly faked that their children were talented athletes to gain admission to top tier universities.

LIST: These Bay Area residents have been charged in alleged college admissions scam

The criminal complaint includes a photoshopped water polo photo that is supposed to be Napa Vineyard Owner Agustin Huneeus Jr's daughter, a "3 year Varsity Letter winner" and "Team MVP 2017," except it's not his daughter.

According to the criminal complaint, Hunneus even told a cooperating witness, "you understand my daughter is not worthy to be on that team."

Huneeus allegedly paid $50,000 to the non-profit "Key Worldwide Foundation" for a SAT test proctor to correct his daughter's answers on her college entrance exam, which she took in West Hollywood with a psychologist's note saying she needed extra time.

The money also went to have his daughter recruited to USC as a water polo player, which she is not.

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When his daughter scored 1380 out of 1600, Huneeus was concerned, telling cooperating witness 1, "I mean my daughter's score could have been 1550 right?"

Later he's worried about an "article" coming out, allegedly telling the cooperating witness, "is there any risk that this thing blows up in my face?"

"Hasn't in 24 years," says cooperating witness 1.

Bruce Isackson, the President of a Real Estate Development Firm in Woodside also worried about press coverage. He allegedly paid more than $600,000 for the college recruitment scheme and the college entrance exam cheating scheme for two of his children, in part by transferring shares of stock to KWF and took a tax write off for the contributions.

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Telling cooperating witness 1, "I can't imagine they'd go to the trouble of tapping my phone, but would they tap someone like your phones?"

When talking about if the IRS were to call, Isackson says, "Is this gonna be the front page story?"

"Oh my God, it would just be... yeah... ugh," he continues.

Sometimes parents would get confused about which sport was part of the bribe to gain admission.

Like entrepreneur and investor Todd Blake who allegedly paid to get his daughter into USC. His wife Diane is an executive at the San Francisco retail merchandising firm Winston Retail Solutions.

RELATED: College admission coaches, counselors discuss bribery scandal

Blake asks cooperating witness 1, "it was basketball, wasn't it." CW1 responds, "No, it was volleyball."

He later tweeted "So very excited that my daughter Charlotte will be attending USC next year! #FightOn #trojanfamily"

He has since deleted the tweet.

Often children didn't know, but Manuel and Elizabeth Henriquez' daughter did according to the complaint. Manuel Henriquez is the founder, chairman and CEO of Hercules Capital in Palo Alto.

According to the complaint, after confidential witness 2 provided his daughter with answers to her SAT exam while acting as a proctor, he quote, "gloated with Elizabeth Henriquez and her daughter about the fact that they had cheated and gotten away with it."

Bill McGlashan, Founder and Managing Partner of TPG Growth, a global private equity firm is on "indefinite administrative leave" for his alleged participation in the college entrance exam cheating scheme and the college recruitment scheme.

Other parents charged include Physician Gregory Colburn and his wife Amy, Menlo Park Jewelry Business Owner Marjorie Klapper and packaged food entrepreneur Peter Sartoria.

Marci Palatella, the CEO of a liquor distribution company told confidential witness 1 her and her spouse "laugh every day" about how grateful they were for the CW1's services; "we're like, it was worth every cent."

We reached out to the Bay Area parents named in the complaint for comment. We have not heard back.

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