An attorney for Dr. Gregory Colburn, 61, and Amy Colburn, 59, of Palo Alto, filed a motion to dismiss the indictment on the grounds that it "fails to state an offense." The couple had already pleaded not guilty on April 3 to the sames charges Palatella and McGlashan face.
The four locals are among 33 parents caught up in the nationwide $25-million scandal, which involved alleged bribes to coaches at top-tier universities and colleges to designate ordinary students as star athletic recruits and payments to ACT and SAT proctors and administrators to help students cheat on the exams. The alleged scam was orchestrated by college preparatory counselor William "Rick" Singer of Newport Beach and others, according to federal prosecutors.
On April 8, 14 of the 33 parents filed papers with the court agreeing to plead guilty to related charges in the case, including Menlo Park residents Marjorie Klapper, 50 and Peter Jan Sartorius, 55; Hillsborough residents Bruce Isackson, 61, and Davina Isackson, 55; and actress Felicity Huffman, 56, of Los Angeles.
The Colburns' attorney David Schumacher claimed that prosecutors erred in pursuing conspiracy prosecutions, relying on a statute that casts too wide a net, which case law and some Supreme Court decisions have reined in, according to the motion. The court should dismiss the indictment against the Colburns because it doesn't allege sufficient facts or legal grounds to treat the Colburns as members of a single conspiracy that includes all of the other alleged co-conspirators, according to Schumacher.
The government's claim that the 19 parents who didn't plead guilty are part of a single conspiracy doesn't hold up because the parents didn't know each other nor did they have any interest in children outside of their own, according to the motion. The parents live in various cities and allegedly engaged in different fraudulent schemes and their activities were separated by years.
"The only thing the defendant parents have in common is their common relationship with William 'Rick' Singer, who the government alleges was at the center of the conspiracy," wrote Schumacher, a partner at the Boston law firm Hooper, Lundy & Bookman PC.
Citing a 1946 Supreme Court decision, Schumacher noted the justices had referred to a Court of Appeals analogy that thieves using a single "fence" to dispose of their loot do not become "confederates" and lumping all of the defendants into a single trial went too far.
Palatella allegedly paid $75,000 to improve her son's SAT score and $500,000 to have her son misrepresented as a football recruit to the University of Southern California. McGlashan allegedly paid Singer $50,000 to improve his son's ACT score and $250,000 to facilitate his son's admission as a football recruit to USC, according to the grand jury indictment.
Each parent faces 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, for the conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and honest services mail and wire fraud. They each face 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 if convicted on the money laundering charge.
Two other parents, Elizabeth Henriquez, 56, and Manuel Henriquez, 56, of Atherton, did not enter pleas Monday.
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