Facing trial, California couple plead guilty in college scam

BOSTON (AP) — A California couple accused of paying $25,000 to cheat on their son’s college admissions test abruptly agreed to plead guilty on Wednesday, six weeks before they were set to go on trial in federal court.

Dr. Gregory Colburn, 63, and Amy Colburn, 61, of Palo Alto, agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy to money laundering and mail fraud conspiracy charges.

The Silicon Valley couple had been scheduled to be tried starting Jan. 13, 2022, in U.S. District Court in Boston. A formal plea hearing was not immediately scheduled.

Acting U.S. Attorney Nathaniel Mendell said in a statement that the Colburns agreed to plead guilty to their roles in a scheme to defraud The College Board by paying William “Rick” Singer $25,000 to bribe Igor Dvorskiy, a corrupt test administrator.

Dvorskiy, in turn, arranged for bogus test proctor Mark Riddell to fraudulently inflate the score on the SAT exam taken by the Colburns’ son, Mendell said.

Singer, Dvorskiy and Riddell all have pleaded guilty to federal charges related to their respective roles in the scheme.

As part of a plea agreement, the Colburns each have agreed — subject to federal court approval — to serve eight weeks in prison, along with a year of supervised release, 100 hours of community service and a $12,500 fine, Mendell’s office said.

The couple are among nearly 60 wealthy parents, athletic coaches and others charged since March 2019 in the case dubbed “Operation Varsity Blues.” The scheme led by Singer involved rigging test scores and paying off sports coaches to help students get into top universities across the country, prosecutors say.

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