Jane Buckingham, 51, was sentenced in Boston’s federal court after pleading guilty in May to a single count of fraud and conspiracy. She is the 11th parent to be sentenced in a college admissions bribery scheme that ensnared dozens of wealthy parents.
The Los Angeles resident admitted to paying $50,000 to a sham charity operated by admissions consultant William “Rick” Singer, who then bribed a test proctor to take the ACT exam on behalf of her son at a Houston, Texas, testing site in 2018. Singer has pleaded guilty to his role in the scheme.
Buckingham gave her son a practice test at home and led him to believe he was taking the real test on his own, authorities said. Her lawyers said the measure was intended to protect him from learning about the scheme.
It landed her son a 35 out of 36 on the ACT, placing him in the 99th percentile nationally. Buckingham aimed to get her son into the University of Southern California, prosecutors said. It’s unclear whether he enrolled at the school.
Prosecutors recommended six months in prison and a $40,000 fine, saying Buckingham was “more deeply engaged in the mechanics of the fraud than many of the other parents” in the case. By having a proctor take the test on her son’s behalf, they said, she deprived him “of even the opportunity to get any of the answers right on his own.”
Buckingham is CEO of the Los Angeles marketing firm Trendera and has authored several books, including “The Modern Girl’s Guide to Life.” She apologized in a letter to the court, saying she is ashamed and has “absolutely no excuse.”
“My family and my children have been lucky to have so many advantages that other families and children do not,” she wrote. “And yet I committed a crime so that my son could have another advantage, an unfair and illegal one. It was a terrible thing to do.”
More than 50 people have been charged in the admissions scheme, which involves wealthy and famous parents accused of paying bribes to rig their children’s test scores or to get them admitted to elite universities as recruited athletes.
A total of 19 parents have pleaded guilty, including four who reversed earlier pleas of not guilty this week. Another 15 are contesting the charges. Trials are expected to begin in 2020.