Mother Convicted for Falsifying Son's Racial Identity on College Application

AA mother from California was sentenced to three weeks in prison for falsely claiming her white son was Black and Latino to help him get into college.

Marjorie Klapper, 50, from Menlo Park, California was sentenced by US District Court Judge Indira Talwani to serve three weeks in prison, one year of supervised release, and 250 hours of community service, in addition to paying a $9,500 fine, according to a press release from the US Attorney’s Office, District of Massachusetts.

Officials said Klapper, a jewelry business owner, conspired with college admissions consultant William “Rick” Singer and others to fix her son’s ACT exam score after he took the test in October 2017. Klapper “took steps to secure extended time for her son to take the ACT and to take the exam at a test center in West Hollywood that Singer ‘controlled’ through the center’s corrupt administrator, Igor Dvorskiy,” according to federal prosecutors.

Klapper’s son ended up receiving a 30 out of 36 on the exam. The next month, Klapper made a $15,000 donation to Key Worldwide Foundation, Singer’s fraud charity, paying for the fraudulent score.

Klapper also conspired with Singer to falsely claim on her son’s applications that he was African American and Hispanic/Latinx to “further improve his odds of admission by claiming minority status.” The boy’s mother also stated that neither she nor her husband had attended college in an attempt to increase her son’s college prospects.

“This defendant paid $15,000 to arrange for her son to cheat on the ACT and then falsely claimed on his college applications that he was Black or Latino,” said United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling in a statement. “Ms. Klapper thereby not only corrupted the standardized testing system, but also specifically victimized the real minority applicants already fighting for admission to elite schools. We respectfully disagree that a three-week sentence is a sufficient sanction for this misconduct.”

Klapper, who pleaded guilty in May to conspiracy to commit fraud, is the ninth parent to be sentenced in a larger admissions scandal case, according to the Los Angeles Times. Klapper’s attorneys reportedly asked Talwani to impose a sentence of four months of house arrest, community service, and a $20,000 fine, instead of prison time, according to the publication.

Klapper’s attorneys claim her and her family were confronted on March 12 at around 5 a.m. “by screaming agents banging on their front door shouting her name. … While her children watched in horror amid the chaos, she was handcuffed in her pajamas as agents shouted commands and questions at her,” a memo obtained by the LA Times read.

Her attorneys also said Klapper’s son has seizures and a learning disability. Klapper allegedly chose to fix his exams because she “wanted him to feel like a ‘regular’ student.” Her attorneys claimed her motives were “maternal.”

Klapper is just one of the parents involved in the largest ever college admissions scam. Singer — who was also accused of bribing college coaches and athletic officials to say prospective students, who were not competitive sports players, should be accepted and recruited for university sports teams — pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, conspiracy to defraud the US, and obstruction of justice, prosecutors previously said. "All of these things, and many more things, I did," Singer said, according to CNN. "I created a side door that would guarantee families would get in."

Actress Felicity Huffman was sentenced to 14 days in prison in September for paying Singer $15,000 to have her daughter's SAT exam answers corrected, USA Today previously reported. Another actress, Lori Loughlin, and her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, are also accused of paying $500,000 to Singer's fraudulent foundation for their two daughters’ admission into the University of Southern California.

So far, Talwani has given four-month prison sentences to parents Devin Sloane and Stephen Semprevivo, who paid $250,000 and $400,000, respectively, in their own dealings with Singer, according to USA Today. She also gave Agustin Huneeus Jr. a five-month prison sentence after he paid $300,000 in the scheme, according to the publication.

About the Author

Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in various venues, including Newsweek, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, City Limits, and local newspapers like The Wave and The Home Reporter.