What we know about 13 Bay Area parents charged in college admissions scandal

Bay Area

Federal prosecutors say 50 people took part in a scheme that involved either cheating on standardized tests or bribing college coaches and school officials to accept students as college athletes — even if the student had never played that sport.

Of those 50 people, 13 are Bay Area parents.

Here’s what we know so far about the parents involved, according to the affidavit: 

Todd and Diane Blake of San Francisco
Both charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud

Todd is an entrepreneur and investor while Diane is an executive at a retail merchandising firm. 

The Blakes had allegedly agreed to bribe USC senior associate athletic director Donna Heinel to help facilitate their daughter’s admission to USC as a volleyball recruit. 

According to the affidavit, an email sent by Diane indicated her daughter was interested in attending USC but she “assumed the school was ‘in the reach stretch category.'”

On Aug. 7, 2017, the Blakes emailed CW-1 (Cooperating Witness 1, an individual who participated in the scheme), saying they were “fully committed to the USC plan,” and proceeded to ask for an unofficial transcript and PDF of best test scores. 

The Blakes’ daughter was notified of her conditional admission to USC as a student athlete on Sept 14, 2017. 

Heinel had presented the daughter to the USC subcommittee for athletic admissions as a volleyball recruit, complete with falsified volleyball experience and honors, according to court documents. 

Two days later, Todd allegedly mailed a $50,000 check to USC Women’s Athletics and on Jan. 26, 2018, Todd wired another $200,000 to one of the KWF (Key Worldwide Foundation) charitable accounts. 

The Blakes’ daughter was formally admitted to USC on/around March 22, 2018.

She is currently enrolled there but is not listed on the roster for the women’s volleyball team. 

Gregory and Amy Colburn of Palo Alto
Charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud

Gregory Colburn is a physician. Amy’s employment was not listed. 

According to the affidavit, the Colburns participated in the scheme on behalf of their son who at the time attended a high school in Palo Alto. 

In/around Dec. 2017, Gregory initiated a transfer of stock to KWF valuing around $24,443.50

At the end of December, Gregory then issued another check to KWF, writing “charitable donation” in the memo line of the check. 

The Colburn’s son took the SAT on March 10, 2018 at the West Hollywood Test Center with CW-2 as the “proctor.” 

When informed that the IRS was auditing the “foundation” that reportedly “helped underserved children,” the Colburns were told: “Essentially, this payment was made to our foundation in lieu of, but we both know that, [CW-2] took the test for [your son].”

Manuel and Elizabeth Henriquez of Atherton
Charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud

Elizabeth and Manuel are married.

Manuel is the founder, chairman, and CEO of a publicly traded specialty finance company based in Palo Alto. No occupation is listed for Elizabeth. 

According to the affidavit, the Henriquezes participated in the cheating scheme on four separate occasions for their two daughters.

The affidavit also said the couple conspired to bribe the head tennis coach at Georgetown University to designate their older daughter as a tennis recruit in order to facilitate her admission to Georgetown. 

“The Henriquezes’ daughter took the SAT subject tests at the West Hollywood Test Center, with Proctor 2 purporting to proctor the exams…. Proctor 2 later told CW-1 that he provided her with answers to certain exam questions,” the affidavit states.

The daughter received a score of 33 out of a possible 36 on the ACT and scores of 720, 740, and 770 out of a possible 800 on the SAT subjects for math, Spanish, and history. 

A fabricated letter sent to Georgetown’s head coach Gordie Ernst read in part, “I have been really successful this summer playing tennis around the country. I am looking forward to having a chance to be part of the Georgetown tennis team and make a positive contribution to your team’s success.”

Davina and Bruce Isackson of Hillsborough
Charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud 

Davina and Bruce Isackson are married. 

Bruce is president of a real-estate development firm in Woodside. No occupated is listed for Davina.

According to the affidavit, the Isacksons took part in the bribery scheme to secure their older daughter’s admission to USC as a recruited athlete. 

That application with a falsified soccer profile, ACT score and transcripts was then forward to the head coach of UCLA men’s soccer. 

The Isacksons’ daughter was approved for provisional admission in the fall of 2016. 

Davina later emailed CW-1, “I know it has been a rough ride but I thank you from the bottom of my heart and soul for your persistence, creativity and commitment towards helping [our daughter.]”

When the couple was forwarded an invoice in the amount of $250,000, Bruce emailed CW-1 asking for 
“an email confirming that if [our daughter] is not admitted to UCLA as a freshman for the Fall 2016 class that The Key Worldwide Foundation will refund our $250,000 gift.” 

The Isacksons’ second daughter was also mentioned in the scheme, receiving falsified ACT scores and the subject of another fabricated crew profile and falsified crew honors.  

The Isacksons’ second daughter received her letter stating she had been conditionally admitted to USC as a student athlete on Dec. 15, 2017.

Later in a phone call between CW-1 and Bruce, the two discussed the potential repercussions if the IRS were to uncover the true purpose of the payments to the fake foundation. 

Bruce said, “It’s so hard for these kids to get into college… look what’s going on behind the schemes… you know, the embarrassment to everyone in the communities. Oh my God, it would just be — Yea. Ugh.”

Majorie Klapper of Menlo Park
Charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud

Klapper co-owns a jewelry business. 

According to the affidavit, Klapper made a purported charitable contribution of $15,000 to KWF around Nov. 17 to participate in the college entrance exam cheating scheme on behalf of her son.

Klapper’s son received a score of 30 out of a possible 36 on the ACT exam. 

Later in an emailed copy of the score report to CW-1, Klapper says, “Omg. I guess he’s not testing again.” 

CW-1 replied, “Yep he is brilliant.”

CW-1 later goes through the steps with Klapper on what to say if she gets a call from the IRS. 

“You’re gonna say that the — the $15,000 that you paid to our foundation was to help underserved kids… that’s what our foundation does.” 

“Okay. Got it…. So if somebody calls and said, ‘Why did you write this check? I’m gonna say ‘I wrote it to support the foundation, which serves underprivileged kids,” Klapper said.

CW-1 replied, “Absolutely — and it’s not for CW-2 talking the test for [your son].

William McGlashan of Mill Valley
Charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud

McGlashan is a senior executive at a global private equity firm.

According to the affidavit, McGlashan participated in both the college entrance exam cheating and college recruitment schemes, including by conspiring to bribe Heinel, the senior associate athletic director at USC, to facilitate his son’s admission to USC as a recruited athlete. 

McGlashan reportedly agreed to make a purported donation of $50,000 to KWF with the understanding that CW-1 would arrange for a “proctor” that would correct his son’s answers after the test was completed, in exchange for money. 

McGlashan’s son received a score of 34 out of a possible 36 on the ACT exam. 

On July 30, 2018, CW-1 and McGlashan discussed repeating the ACT cheating scheme for his two younger children. 

McGlashan’s son submitted the fraudulent score around Oct. 22 as part of his application to Northeastern University in Boston. 

In another phone call, CW-1 told McGlashan the scheme could help get his older son to receive a letter of admission to USC, where his son had hoped to attend the Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young Academy “before he even applies.”

“That would be great. I would do that in a heartbeat,” McGlashan replied.

McGlashan and CW-1 continued to discuss schemes relating to other schools, not just USC but also Stanford. 

CW-1 explained he would create a fake football profile using Photoshop, allowing McGlashan’s son to be admitted as a purported football recruit. 

“Maybe he’ll — maybe he’ll become a kicker. You never know. You could inspire him… you may actually turn him into something. I love it,” McGlashan said. 

Peter Jan “P.J” Sartorio of Menlo Park
Charged with Conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud

The affidavit refers to Sartorio as a “packaged food entrepreneur.” Sartorio founded specialty food company in the Bay Area, according to reports.

According to the court documents, Sartorio “agreed to participate in the college entrance exam
cheating scheme by paying CW-1 $15,000 in cash in or about June 2017 to have CW-2 purport
to proctor the ACT for Sartorio’s daughter, and correct her exam answers.”

After getting approved for extra time for the test, Sartorio’s daughter traveled to West Hollywood to take the test.

She received a score of 27 out of a possible 36 on the ACT, which placed her in the 86th percentile, according to the court documents.

Her score on the ACT was fairly inconsistent with her previously taken PSAT scores. On the PSAT, she earned a scores or 900 and 960 out of a possible 1600, which placed her in the 45nd and 51st percentile.

Marci Palatella of Hillsborough
Charged with Conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud

Marci is the CEO of a liquor distribution company in Burlingame — Preservation Distillery Bardstwon. She is also the wife of former 49er Lou Palatella.

Palatella is accused of taking part in both the college entrance exam cheating scheme and the athletic recruitment scheme.

The court documents allege Palatella bribed USC’s senior associate athletic director Donna Heinel to designate her son as a football recruit to help him get into the school.

Palatella allegedly wired $75,000 to one of KWF’s charitable accounts. Her son then took the SAT at the West Hollywood Test Center.

He scored 1410 out of a possible 1600.

After seeking advice on how to “position” her son for his college applications, she was asked, “Are you willing to make a contribution of several hundred thousand as a donation to get him in as a participant in someone’s program.” Palatella allegedly replied: “Money, for the right environment, Yes. But he can never know.”

The court document allege Laura Janke, an assistant coach at USC, created a football profile for Palatella’s son which described him as a member of the “defensive line” and a “long snapper” on his high school football team.

It also stated he was a member of several local and statement championship teams.

After receiving a conditional acceptance letter from USC for her son, Palatella allegedly mailed a check for $100,000 to Heinel payable to the USC Women’s Athletic Board with a note that said, “Our son … is beyond thrilled at the prospect of attending USC as a freshman this fall.”

After USC send Palatella’s son a formal acceptance letter, Palatella allegedly wired KWF $400,000.

>> Click here to read the full affidavit

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