A white California mom who took part in a massive college scandal has been sentenced to three weeks in prison for trying to scam her son’s way into college. Federal investigators found Marjorie Klapper had committed multiple types of fraud in order to gain entry for her two children, including claiming one was a black and Latino first-generation college student on his application. She also paid $15,000 to Rick Singer, who sat at the fulcrum of the college admissions scandal, to inflate her son’s test scores.
So far, nine people have been convicted in the scandal, which involved more than 50 individuals, many of whom are exceptionally privileged, like Klapper and actors Felicity Huffman and Lori Laughlin, who wanted to game the college admissions system in their favor.
As BuzzFeed News reports, Klapper’s sentence concerns her payment of $15,000 to Singer to inflate her son’s ACT scores in October 2017:
After he completed the exam, a conspiring proctor corrected his answers to improve his score to a 30 out of a possible 36, prosecutors said. Klapper then paid $15,000 to Singer’s bogus charity, Key Worldwide Foundation.
Klapper admitted to the payment; on top of her three-week prison term, she was also sentenced to one year of supervised release and ordered to pay a $9,500 fine and complete 250 hours of community service.
But as US Attorney Andrew E. Lelling pointed out in a statement following her sentencing, Klapper’s crimes weren’t exactly victimless. In falsifying her son’s background—claiming he was black and Latino and a first-generation college student when both his parents were white and attended college—she “specifically victimized the real minority applicants already fighting for admission to elite schools.”
“She purposefully sought to portray her son as a minority, and the child of parents who did not attend college, despite the fact that he was neither, because she thought that lie would further bolster his college prospects,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memo. “She thereby increased the likelihood that her fraud would come at the expense of an actual minority candidate, or an applicant who was actually the first in his or her family to attend college.”
To be fair, Klapper apparently had second thoughts about characterizing her son as a first-generation college student, but not because she was in any way conflicted about taking an underrepresented candidate’s seat.
“Klapper briefly hesitated to describe her son as a first-generation college student, not because she believed it was wrong, (assistant U.S. attorney Justin) O’Connell said, but because she wanted to be sure the advantage he would gain by pretending to be the first in his family to attend college would carry more weight than his legacy status at his father’s alma mater,” the Los Angeles Times reported.
According to SF Gate, the 50-year-old co-owner of the Palo Alto jewelry store M&M Bling claims she didn’t know her son’s race was altered on his application—that it was Singer and his assistant who changed it.
Klapper previously solicited Singer’s help in 2014 to help her older son on his college admission test. After he received a 2140 out of 2400 SAT score, exam administrators accused the boy of cheating. Not only had Klapper’s son’s score dramatically changed since taking the PSAT, but as prosecutors pointed out, there was “substantial agreement” between his test scores and another student’s. According to BuzzFeed, Klapper conspired with Singer to clean up the mess, with Singer submitting a fake invoice in an attempt to explain her son’s test score glow-up.
But the Educational Testing Service, which administers the SAT, didn’t buy it and canceled her son’s score.