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California parent sentenced to 3 weeks in college admissions scandal

The owner of a California jewelry business was sentenced Wednesday to three weeks in prison after she was accused of paying $15,000 to rig her son's ACT exam and of falsely listing him as a racial minority on college applications.

Marjorie Klapper, 51, of Menlo Park, California, pleaded guilty in May to a single count of fraud and conspiracy in a deal with federal prosecutors. She is the ninth parent to be sentenced in a widespread college bribery scheme involving dozens of wealthy and famous parents.

Authorities say Klapper paid $15,000 to a sham charity operated by a college admissions consultant, who then bribed a test proctor to fix her son's ACT answers in 2017.

Klapper also was accused of falsely listing her son as African American and Hispanic on college applications to increase his chances of getting admitted, and of indicating he was the first in his family to attend college. Prosecutors said both Klapper and her husband graduated from college.

Klapper leaves the federal courthouse after being sentenced in Boston
Marjorie Klapper leaves the federal courthouse after being sentenced in the nationwide college admissions cheating scheme in Boston on October 16, 2019. Brian Snyder / REUTERS

In court documents, Klapper's lawyers said the scheme's ringleaders listed her son as a racial minority without her knowledge. They said she pursued the scheme because she wanted her son, who has a learning disability, to feel like a "regular" student.

"Mrs. Klapper's motives were maternal but her execution misguided and illegal," her lawyers wrote.

California business records list Klapper as a co-owner of M&M Bling, a jewelry business in Los Altos, California. Her lawyers said she has "made a modest income by selling jewelry."

Prosecutors asked for a sentence of four months in prison, arguing that by lying on her son's applications, Klapper "increased the likelihood that her fraud would come at the expense of an actual minority candidate."

Klapper follows eight other parents who have been sentenced in the scheme. Seven others were dealt prison terms ranging from 14 days to five months. Actress Felicity Huffman, who was sentenced to 14 days, reported to a federal prison in California on Wednesday to begin her sentence.

A total of 15 parents have pleaded guilty, while 19 are contesting the charges, including "Full House" actress Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, who are accused of paying $500,000 to get their two daughters into the University of Southern California as fake athletes. Trials are expected to begin in 2020.

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