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Press Release

Husband and Wife Sentenced to Prison in College Admissions Case

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Massachusetts

BOSTON –  A husband and wife were sentenced to prison today for paying $125,000 to participate in the college entrance exam cheating scheme for their daughter.

Gregory Abbott, 68, and Marcia Abbott, 59, of New York, N.Y., were each sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani to one month in prison, one year of supervised release, ordered to complete 250 hours of community service and to each pay a fine of $45,000. In May 2019, the Abbotts pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud.

The government recommended that the Abbotts each be sentenced to eight months in prison, one year of supervised release and a fine of $40,000.

Beginning in 2018, Gregory and Maria Abbott conspired with William “Rick” Singer and others to have their daughter’s ACT exam and SAT II subject tests corrected, thereby fraudulently inflating the scores. In April 2018, Gregory Abbott wired $50,000 to Singer’s sham charity, the Key Worldwide Foundation (KWF), to pay for the scheme. Later that month, the Abbotts’ daughter took the ACT exam at a test center in West Hollywood that Singer “controlled” through the center’s corrupt administrator. After the Abbotts’ daughter completed the exam, defendant Mark Riddell corrected her answers. As a result of the cheating scheme, the Abbotts’ daughter received a fraudulent score of 35 out of 36 on the exam.

In June 2018, the Abbotts arranged with Singer for someone to correct her daughter’s answers on the SAT subject tests to increase her score. The Abbotts then paid $75,000 to KWF. In October 2018, the Abbotts’ daughter took the exams, again at the West Hollywood test center, and again, Riddell corrected her answers. As a result of the scheme, the Abbotts’ daughter received a perfect score of 800 on the math subject test and 710 on the literature test.

The Abbotts are the 6th and 7th parents to be sentenced in the college admissions case. Case information, including the status of each defendant, charging documents and plea agreements are available here:     

United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; and Kristina O’Connell, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigations in Boston made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Eric S. Rosen, Justin D. O’Connell, Leslie A. Wright, and Kristen A. Kearney of Lelling’s Securities and Financial Fraud Unit are prosecuting the case.

Updated October 8, 2019