Jane Buckingham, founder of brand strategy firm Trendera, is accused of making a $50,000 donation to the Key Worldwide Foundation, a nonprofit prosecutors say was a cover for bribes, to have someone proctor the ACT for her son, Jack, in Houston, Texas and then doctor his answers (the Buckinghams live in Los Angeles). Her son was granted extended time to take the exam over two days, but the person hired to fly into Texas to rig the exam would only be in town for one day. The test results were manipulated to make it look like the test was taken over two days.
Just before the exam, Jack was diagnosed with tonsillitis and told not to travel. Buckingham asked for a copy of the exam so he could “take it at home” and she could proctor it — meanwhile somebody in Texas actually took the exam for him. That way, Jack would still believe he had taken the test himself. Buckingham was sent an ACT practice test to use at home. She was also asked to submit a handwriting sample for the person taking the test to mimic. She emailed an image of a handwritten note from Jack that read, “To whom it may concern, this provides an example of my current writing style. Thank you for your attention.” Jack scored at 35 out of 36 on his ACT.
Jack made a statement to The Hollywood Reporter saying he felt the need to speak out even though he had been advised against doing so. “I am upset that I was unknowingly involved in a large scheme that helps give kids who may not work as hard as others an advantage over those who truly deserve those spots,” he said. It is unclear if he did not realize it is not normal to take standardized tests in your own home, administered by your own mother, or if he ever stopped and said, Uh, what’s with this weird handwriting sample mom’s asking me for?
Legal titan Gordan Caplan’s daughter’s ACT scores cost him $75,000. (Caplan is co-chairman of the large law firm Willkie Farr & Gallagher. He has been placed on leave since the news broke.) CW-1 explained in a number of phone calls that the girl would need a doctor’s note to get extra time on her exams, emphasizing that she’d need “to be stupid” during her evaluation to ensure that it would work (CW-1 supplied the psychologist). A psychologist denied the request twice before granting it. Her highest practice test score was a 22. Her father purchased a 32.
There is nothing in the documents to indicate the girl knew, but she may have had some questions about why she was flying to take the ACT in California when it’s also offered in her home state of Connecticut.
Gregory and Marcia Abbott, who live in Colorado and New York, paid $50,000 for their daughter to take an exam in April 2018 at the West Hollywood Test Center — where her results would be doctored after she finished. (Gregory is the founder and chairman of International Dispensing Corp., a food and beverage packaging company.) She received a 35 out of 36 (her actual score was a 23). Marcia later called and paid an additional $75,000 for the SAT II tests in Math and English Literature. The girl received an 800 and a 710 on those tests, respectively.
Marcia said her daughter thought she took the ACT in California because she was already there to visit potential colleges, indicating that Marcia wanted to keep her daughter in the dark. When she took the SAT subject tests on her own, in Colorado, Marcia said her daughter thought she did poorly. They then flew back to California to have her retake them in October, presumably without an explanation.
I-Hsin “Joey” Chen, who runs a warehousing business called Torrance, paid $75,000 to have his son’s exam proctored at the West Hollywood Test Center. (The Chens live in Newport Beach, California.) He scored a 33 out of 36 on his ACT.
Court documents do not indicate whether or not Chen’s son was aware of his father’s dealings.
William McGlashan Jr., a private equity executive, paid to have his son’s ACT answers corrected after the fact, and to have him designated as an athletic recruit to USC. The boy traveled from the family’s home in Marin County, California to the West Hollywood Test Center to take the ACT over two days, but phone records indicate he was hundreds of miles away from the test center on day two. During phone conversations, McGlashan asked if there was a way to get his son recruited to USC “in a way that he doesn’t know it happened.” CW-1 said yes, and to just tell the boy that “I’m going to take his stuff and I’m going to get him some help.” Images of the boy playing football — his high school didn’t have a team — were Photoshopped for his application.
It appears McGlashan tried to keep his son in the dark, but that his son knew his father had someone “lobbying for him.” CW-1 told McGlashan to tell his son, “You’re an athlete kind of guy, and my friends in athletics are going to help you. So I’m letting you know. They’re going to help get you in.” Another parent at McGlashan’s son’s high school, who was also talking with CW-1, said the son “had no idea.”
Marjorie Klapper, a jewelry designer from Menlo Park, California, paid $15,000 to cheat on her son’s ACT after she found out about another student CW-1 was helping in 2017. He scored a 30 out of 36 at — you guessed it — the West Hollywood Test Center.
Court documents give no information on whether or not Klapper told her son about the scheme.
Designer Mossimo Giannulli and actress Lori Loughlin paid half a million dollars to have their daughters falsely recruited to the USC crew team. They sent photos of both daughters on ergometers as part of their applications, despite the fact that neither had ever rowed competitively. A guidance counselor later asked Olivia, the younger daughter, about her sister getting recruited to row at USC. The counselor “was concerned their [Olivia and her sister’s] applications may have contained misleading information.”
Olivia was later cc’d on emails with her parents and CW-1 in which her mother asked for help with applications to other colleges — “I don’t want to call any attention to [Olivia] with our little friend [guidance counselor].” CW-1 “responded by directing an employee to submit the application on behalf of [Olivia Jade.]” So did she understand what was going on? She certainly would have known, at the very least, that she did not submit those other college applications herself.
Devin Sloane’s son was yet another so-called water polo recruit at USC. The son did not actually play water polo, so his father purchased water polo gear on Amazon to dress his son appropriately for a photo shoot. (Stone lives in Los Angeles and is the founder and CEO of a drinking water and wastewater systems company, waterTALENT.)
A high school counselor asked Sloane’s son directly about his admittance to USC to play water polo. (The high school did not have a team.) Documents do not indicate if Sloane’s son was looped in after this encounter.
In 2016, Marci Palatella paid to have her son take his SAT at the West Hollywood Test Center, where a proctor doctored his answers. (CW-1 ensured Palatella’s son was evaluated by a psychologist and granted extra test time.) Palatella, who lives in Hillsborough, California and is the CEO of a liquor distribution company, told her son’s high school he was taking the test elsewhere because they were looking at schools in the area.
“Money, for the right environment, yes. But he can never know,” Palatella said in an email plotting to bribe athletics officials at USC. Her son was eventually admitted. A neighbor later told her son that his parents “basically paid off to get in.”
Two of Douglas Hodge’s three kids got into USC as alleged athletic recruits. A third was admitted to Georgetown to play tennis, though she never actually joined the team. Hodge — former CEO of mutual fund giant PIMCO — talked to CW-1 about using a similar scheme to get his son into Loyola Marymount University in 2018. (Hodge lives in Newport Beach, California, and is the former CEO of an investment management company.)
Court documents give no indication of whether or not the kids were aware of the scheme.
Peter Sartorio’s daughter’s ACT score of 27 was a bargain at $15,000. Sartorio, a packaged food entrepreneur, lives in Menlo Park, California, but arranged to have his daughter take the test, with extra time, at the West Hollywood Test Center, where her answers were changed after she finished. Sartorio paid in cash.
There’s no indication in the court documents of whether or not Sartorio’s daughter were aware.
Oncologist Gregory Colburn and his wife Amy live in Palo Alto and paid $25,000 (in stocks and checks) to have their son’s SAT scores changed. Their son traveled from Palo Alto to take the test at the West Hollywood Test Center.
The court documents don’t indicate what their son may have known.
Los Angeles–based resort developer Robert Flaxman paid a bribe to help get his son admitted to the University of San Diego. Flaxman’s daughter — the Flaxmans live in Beverly Hills — took the ACT on her own at first and scored a 20. She retook the exam and got a 24. After her father paid to have her scores altered following a subsequent effort, she scored a 28. That time, she flew to Houston from her home in California to take the test.
Court documents do not indicate whether or not Flaxman’s two kids knew. His daughter, at the very least, would have known she was traveling across state lines to take a test she’d already taken twice in her home state.