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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, October 21, 2019

Parents in College Admissions Case Plead Guilty

BOSTON – A California husband and wife charged in the college admissions scandal pleaded guilty today in federal court in Boston.

Manuel Henriquez, 55, the founder of Hercules Capital, and his wife, Elizabeth Henriquez, 56, both of Atherton, Calif. pleaded guilty today to an indictment charging one count of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and honest services mail and wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. U.S. District Court Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton scheduled sentencing for March 5 and Feb. 7, 2020, respectively.

Beginning in 2015, the Henriquezes conspired with Rick Singer, and others, to have their daughters’ college entrance exams corrected, thereby fraudulently inflating their scores; Elizabeth Henriquez agreed with Singer to facilitate the admission of her older daughter to Georgetown University as a purported athletic recruit.

In October 2015, co-conspirator Mark Riddell purported to proctor the SAT exam for the Henriquezes’ older daughter, but in actuality, Riddell provided her with the answers. Soon after, the Henriquezes wired $15,000 to Singer’s personal bank account and $10,000 to Singer’s for-profit college counseling business. Singer used some of that money to pay Riddell. Beginning in 2015, Elizabeth Henriquez agreed to pay Singer an amount, ultimately totaling $400,000, to facilitate their older daughter’s admission to Georgetown as a purported tennis recruit. After their daughter was admitted to Georgetown in the spring of 2016, the Henriquezes made a $400,000 donation to Singer’s sham charity, Key Worldwide Foundation, to pay for the fraud, and Singer, in turn, made payments to Ernst personally.  

In 2016 and 2017, the Henriquezes participated in the ACT and SAT cheating scheme on multiple occasions for their younger daughter in exchange for payments funneled through KWF.  

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.

The charge of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and honest services mail and wire fraud provides for a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000 or twice the gross gain or loss, whichever is greater. The charge of conspiracy to commit money laundering provides for a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $500,000 or twice the value of the property involved in the money laundering. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

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 cases.

The details contained in the court documents are allegations and the remaining defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Component(s): 
Updated October 21, 2019