California couple to plead guilty in US college admissions scandal

A California doctor and his wife have agreed to plead guilty to participating in a sprawling US college admissions fraud scheme by paying $25,000 to rig their son's SAT college entrance exam, federal prosecutors said on Wednesday.

Gregory Colburn, 63, and Amy Colburn, 61, had been set to face trial in Boston in January along with another parent charged in the college admissions scandal, which has ensnared celebrities and business executives.

The Colburns will instead each plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and honest services mail and wire fraud. Their plea deals call for each of them to be sentenced to eight weeks in prison and a $12,500 fine.

The couple reserved the right to appeal a judge's decision to not dismiss the indictment against them, according to their plea agreements filed in court. Their lawyer David Schumacher declined to comment.

Fifty-seven people have been charged in the "Operation Varsity Blues" investigation, which centers on a scheme in which parents conspired with California college admissions consultant William “Rick” Singer to secure their children's college admissions fraudulently.

Singer pleaded guilty in 2019 to facilitating college entrance exam cheating and using bribery to secure the admission of students as fake athletic recruits.

Fifty people have agreed to plead guilty, including actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman. Two parents were convicted in October in the first trial in the scandal.

Prosecutors said the Colburns in 2017 agreed with Singer to pay $25,000 to have an associate pose as a test proctor for their son's SAT exam and secretly correct his answers.

The associate, Florida private school counselor Mark Riddell, pleaded guilty to taking college entrance exams in place of Singer's clients' children or correcting their answers while acting as a proctor.

Prosecutors said Singer bribed a corrupt test administrator, Igor Dvorskiy, to allow Riddell's cheating. Dvorskiy has pleaded guilty.

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