(Bloomberg) -- A California man who even prosecutors said was among the least culpable of those charged in the college admissions scandal was sentenced to probation -- the first parent to avoid prison altogether.
U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani in Boston said Peter Jan Sartorio didn’t deserve prison because he quickly acknowledged his guilt and didn’t declare his cash bribes to the scam’s mastermind as a charitable contribution or tax deduction, as other parents had.
“He is the only one in front of me who didn’t try to convince himself -- let alone his tax accountant, let alone the U.S. government -- what he did was legitimate,” Talwani said in court on Friday. “A less severe sentence is appropriate in this case.”
Of the 35 parents charged and the 15 who’ve pleaded guilty, Sartorio, 54, is the eighth parent to face Talwani for sentencing. He apologized for his crimes.
”I offer no excuses,” Sartorio, a packaged food entrepreneur from Menlo Park, told the judge. “This had nothing to do with my daughter. It was 100% about me.“
Sartorio admitted in May that he paid Rick Singer $15,000 to have his daughter’s answers to the ACT college-entrance exam corrected by a corrupt proctor.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Kristen Kearney said Sartorio deserved at least a month in prison, saying he’d structured his payments to Singer to avoid triggering bank reporting requirements.
“Singer did not instruct him to do this,” she said. “The defendant came up with this on his own.”
Sartorio had asked for a year of probation, saying he wasn’t a “repeat player” who’d repeatedly engaged with Singer. He argued his $15,000 payment was comparable to the $15,000 bribe that actor Felicity Huffman paid. She was sentenced to serve 14 days in jail last month.
Along with a year of probation, Sartorio was also ordered to pay a $9,500 fine.
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