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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Massachusetts

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, December 16, 2021

Parent Sentenced in College Admissions Case

Defendant paid $75,000 to facilitate cheating on her son’s SAT exam and $500,000 to facilitate his admission to USC using admissions slot reserved for recruited athletes

BOSTON – The chief executive officer of a California liquor distribution company was sentenced today in federal court in Boston for her involvement in the college admissions case.

Marci Palatella, 66, of Hillsborough, Calif., was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton to six weeks in prison, a $250,000 fine, two years of supervised release with the first six months spent in home confinement and 500 hours of community service. On Aug. 26, 2021, Palatella pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit honest services mail fraud.

Palatella engaged in a scheme to defraud The College Board by paying William “Rick” Singer $75,000 to bribe Igor Dvorskiy, a corrupt test administrator, to allow Mark Riddell, a corrupt test “proctor,” to secretly correct her son’s SAT exam answers to obtain a fraudulently inflated score. In addition, Palatella agreed with Singer and others to pay $500,000 to facilitate her son’s admission to USC as a football recruit, even though he was not actually being recruited and would not play on the USC football team. 

Singer previously pleaded guilty and is pending sentencing.

Case information, including the status of each defendant, charging documents, and plea agreements are available here: https://www.justice.gov/usao-ma/investigations-college-admissions-and-testing-bribery-scheme.

Acting United States Attorney Nathaniel R. Mendell; Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division; Joleen D. Simpson, Special Agent in Charge of the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigations in Boston; and Mark Deckett, Resident Agent in Charge of the Department of Education, Office of Inspector General made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Leslie A. Wright, Kristen A. Kearney, Ian J. Stearns and Stephen E. Frank of Mendell’s Criminal Division prosecuted the case.

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Updated December 16, 2021