college admissions scandal

The First Parent Will Plead Guilty in the College Cheating Scandal

College admission sign.
Photo: W. Steve Shepard Jr./Getty Images

A packaged-food entrepreneur from California is the first parent in the major college admissions scandal to own up to his involvement, CBS Boston reports.

On Wednesday, Peter Jan Sartorio said in a court filing that he intends to plead guilty for his participation in what the FBI dubbed “Operation Varsity Blues” — the largest college admissions scam the Justice Department has ever prosecuted, in which wealthy families are accused of scamming their children’s way into selective colleges through falsified SAT scores and applications. Sartorio, specifically, is accused of paying $15,000 to have someone correct his daughter’s answers on the ACT. The specifics of his plea, however, are yet unclear.

Sartorio is just one of 33 parents — a cohort that includes actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman — to face charges for their involvement in the admissions scandal. But, according to court documents, Sartorio likely won’t be the only parent to admit guilt. BuzzFeed News reports that at least two other parents, Jane Buckingham and Devin Sloane, are seriously considering plea deals. (Buckingham, a marketing guru, is accused of paying William “Rick” Singer, the head fraudster who has already pleaded guilty, $35,000 to improve her son’s ACT scores. According to prosecutors, Sloane, the founder and CEO of waterTALENT, conspired with Singer to bribe his son’s way into the University of Southern California as a water polo recruit; in total, he is accused of paying $250,000 to a senior administrator at USC and Singer.)

As of now, there’s no indication of whether Loughlin and Huffman are weighing plea deals.

First Parent to Plead Guilty in the College Cheating Scandal