Woman Who Paid $500K to Make Her Kid a Fake Football Recruit Sentenced to 6 Weeks in Jail

Marci Palatella, who authorities say paid $500,000 to admit her son into college as a fake football recruit was sentenced to six weeks in jail Thursday.

Palatella, 66, of Hillsborough, California, is CEO of International Beverage, a liquor distribution company located in Burlingame, California, according to The Courier-Journal. She was sentenced in Boston federal court after pleading guilty to a charge of conspiracy to commit honest services mail fraud, becoming the 33rd person to admit to charges in what is called "Operation Varsity Blues," according to the Associated Press. In August, she agreed to a plea deal with prosecutors, less than a month before she was set to have her trial.

Palatella allegedly paid $500,000 in exchange for her son's admittance into the University of Southern California as a fake football recruit. She also paid $75,000 to cheat on her son's entrance exam for college.

The ringleader of the college admissions scam is admission consultant William "Rick" Singer, founder of the Edge College & Career Network of Newport Beach, California, according to The Mercury News.

Prosecutors said that parents, some affluent, would pay Singer from 2011 to February 2019 in exchange for their children's admittance to universities and colleges, according to the AP. The money would be used to bribe coaches and administrators to admit kids as fake athlete recruits, as well as hire ringers to take college exams for the kids and bribe insiders at testing centers to correct the students' answers.

Singer's sentencing has yet to be scheduled, The Mercury News reported.

Only one parent out of 39 who pleaded guilty to their charges and cooperated with prosecutors has avoided conviction, which is Miami investor Robert Zangrillo, The Mercury News reported. President Trump pardoned him on his last day in office in January.

"The parents never had a chance," said Neama Rahmani, a Los Angeles lawyer and former federal prosecutor who has been following the case, according to The Mercury News. "The case was bulletproof."

Marci Palatella, Sentencing, College Admissions Scandal
Along with the six weeks in jail, Marci Palatella will also have two years of supervised release, a $250,000 fine, and 500 hours of community service. In this photo, a large screen at the Los Angeles Coliseum displays a photo of the new USC football head coach Lincoln Riley before he is introduced by university president Carol L. Folt and athletic director Mike Bohn in the 1923 Club at the Los Angeles Coliseum on November 29, 2021, in Los Angeles, California. Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Prosecutors previously agreed to dismiss the other charge Palatella was facing—conspiracy to commit federal programs bribery—in exchange for her guilty plea.

Her sentence also includes two years of supervised release, a $250,000 fine, and 500 hours of community service.

Palatella was among 50 parents, athletic coaches, and others charged in the case in 2019 that embroiled elite universities across the country.

More than 30 other parents have pleaded guilty, including TV actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin and Loughlin's fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

William Rick Singer, College Admissions Scandal
Prosecutors said that parents, some affluent, would pay admissions consultant William "Rick" Singer from 2011 to February 2019 in exchange for their children’s admittance to universities and colleges. In this photo, Singer leaves Boston Federal Court after being charged with racketeering conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, conspiracy to defraud the United States, and obstruction of justice on March 12, 2019, in Boston, Massachusetts. Scott Eisen/Getty Images