The founder of a venture capital firm in California was sentenced to six months in prison Wednesday for paying more than $ 400,000 in a college admissions cheating scheme to boost girls ’exams. of his daughters and to be falsely admitted to a university as a tennis recruit.
Manuel Henriquez, who founded Hercules Capital, said in a letter to the judge that he was able and acknowledged that what he did was “wrong, illegal, unfair, and harmful, especially to the many honest college students and honest parents. “
Henriquez and his wife, Elizabeth Henriquez, have been accused of paying money to have their daughters̵7; SAT tests corrected to boost their scores and to have one of the girls enrolled at Georgetown University as a recruit. tennis is supposed to though it was not competitive.
“There is no perfect way to express how broken I feel in my heart and soul,” Manuel Henriquez said during a videoconference hearing, according to The Associated Press.
In October, Henriquez pleaded guilty to a number of conspiracies to commit mail and wire fraud and honest mail and wire fraud services, and a number of conspiracies to commit money laundering, according to the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts.
His wife, who was also convicted, was sentenced to seven months in prison in March.
Prosecutors acknowledged in court documents that Henriquez “was a less active participant in the mechanics of fraud than his wife.”
They were among more than 50 people charged in the scheme led by Singer William “Rick,” authorities said.
The sweeping scandal uncovered in an FBI investigation called “Operation Varsity Blues” involved wealthy parents who pay to have their children’s exam scores fraudulently raised or after being admitted to universities as attached athletes.
In court documents, Henriquez’s lawyers said he was fully aware that there was fraud going on with his daughter’s entrance exams, but that he believed the $ 400,000 paid to Singer’s fictitious charity will be donated to the Georgetown tennis program and to disadvantaged youth.
U.S. Assistant Attorney Eric Rosen said he “enforces the credulity that Henriquez believed in and accused him of refusing to accept full responsibility for his actions and of trying to present a” sanitized version of the behavior. before the court. ”
After the couple’s daughter was admitted to Georgetown, Singer made payments to the school’s tennis coach, Gordon Ernst, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.
Ernst was charged and pleaded not guilty after being charged with pocketing $ 2.7 million in bribes. He had left Georgetown before the criminal charges were filed and after an internal school investigation questioned his recruits, the university said.
Singer pleaded guilty and wore a wire to the FBI. Plaintiff Felicity Huffman was charged, pleaded guilty and served 11 days of a 14-day sentence. Actor Lori Loughlin and the husband of her fashion designer, Mossimo Giannulli, pleaded guilty but were not convicted.
In his letter to the judge, Henriquez wrote, “I am ashamed of my actions to place myself and my family on all children and parents who have had the rules.” He asked other parents and their children to forgive him.
He presented his family as being destroyed by the actions of him and his wife: Their children’s lives were deceived, their mental health was affected and their mother went to prison. He said his marriage is on the verge of collapse.
Henriquez resigned as president and CEO of Hercules Capital in March 2019 after the accusations were announced. He wrote in the letter that the loss of the company “was like losing my third child, and I lost that along with my professional reputation and integrity.”
The Associated Press contributed.