Cou­ple sen­tenced in col­lege bribe scan­dal

Pawtucket Times - - FRONT PAGE - By COLLIN BINK­LEY AP Ed­u­ca­tion Writer

BOS­TON — A busi­ness ex­ec­u­tive and his wife, a for­mer jour­nal­ist, were each sen­tenced to a month in prison Tues­day for pay­ing $125,000 to rig their daugh­ter’s col­lege en­trance ex­ams in a scan­dal in­volv­ing dozens of wealthy and some­times fa­mous par­ents.

Gre­gory and Mar­cia Ab­bott, of New York and Col­orado, were sen­tenced in Bos­ton’s fed­eral court af­ter plead­ing guilty to a sin­gle count of fraud and con­spir­acy. They fol­low five other par­ents who have been sen­tenced so far, with prison sen­tences rang­ing from 14 days to five months.

The Ab­botts paid $50,000 to have a test proc­tor cor­rect their daugh­ter’s ACT exam an­swers in 2018, along with $75,000 to rig her SAT sub­ject tests in math and lit­er­a­ture, au­thor­i­ties said. They kept the scheme hid­den from their daugh­ter.

Pros­e­cu­tors had pushed for sen­tences of eight months in prison and a $40,000 fine for each par­ent. They said the cou­ple planned to use the test scores to get their daugh­ter into Duke Univer­sity, where Mar­cia Ab­bott had re­ceived an English de­gree.

In a Sept. 27 let­ter to the court, Gre­gory Ab­bott said that his ac­tions were “wrong and stupid” and that he feels “gen­uine re­morse.”

“I share the same sen­si­bil­i­ties as most peo­ple and, strange as it may sound, iden­tify with the pub­lic out­rage over my own ac­tions,” he wrote. “I ac­cept full shame and re­spon­si­bil­ity.”

Gre­gory Ab­bott, who lives in New York City, was chair­man and CEO of In­ter­na­tional Dis­pens­ing Corp., a food pack­ag­ing com­pany, in New York un­til he took a leave of ab­sence in March. Mar­cia Ab­bott, who lives in the cou­ple’s home in Aspen, is a for­mer mag­a­zine edi­tor and writer. A wed­ding an­nounce­ment in 1987 said she was a for­mer fash­ion edi­tor for Fam­ily Cir­cle.

Mean­while, the case’s lead prose­cu­tor said he plans to rec­om­mend longer prison sen­tences for “Full House” star Lori Lough­lin and other par­ents as­sert­ing their rights to chal­lenge the charges against them.

Mas­sachusetts U.S. At­tor­ney

An­drew Lelling said in a Sun­day

in­ter­view with Bos­ton’s WCVB-TV that the longer Lough­lin fights the charges, the more he’ll try to pun­ish her.

“Let’s say she goes through to trial: If it’s af­ter trial, I think cer­tainly we’d be ask­ing for some­thing sub­stan­tially higher. If she re­solved her case short of trial, some­thing a lit­tle lower than that,” Lelling said.

Lough­lin and her fash­ion de­signer hus­band, jos­simo Gian­nulli, are ac­cused of pay­ing $500,000 to get their two daugh­ters into the Univer­sity of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia as fake ath­letes. They have pleaded not guilty.

Lelling added that ac­tress Felic­ity Huff­man’s sen­tence of 14 days in prison was “rea­son­able.” The “aes­per­ate Housewives” star was sen­tenced Sept. 13 af­ter she ad­mit­ted to pay­ing $15,000 to rig her daugh­ter’s SAT score.

“Huff­man was prob­a­bly the least cul­pa­ble of the de­fen­dants who we’ve charged in that case,” Lelling said. “She took re­spon­si­bil­ity al­most im­me­di­ately. She was con­trite, did not try to min­i­mize her con­duct. I think she han­dled it in a very classy way,” Lelling said.

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