Sartorio pleaded guilty in May in Boston to one count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud. Others who pleaded guilty to the same crime have received prison terms from two weeks to five months.
But U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani imposed a lighter sentence on Sartorio. In addition to a year of probation, she imposed a $9,500 fine and required him to complete 250 hours of community service, the office of the U.S. attorney for Massachusetts announced.
There were two parts to the scam orchestrated by admission consultant William “Rick” Singer. In one, parents paid for their children to pose as recruited athletes to improve their chances of admission to prominent universities. In the other, parents paid for cheating on college admission exams at testing centers Singer controlled in Houston and West Hollywood.
Sartorio took part in the test cheating.
Court records show that Sartorio paid Singer $15,000 in cash to obtain an inflated ACT score in 2017 for his older daughter. Actress Felicity Huffman, who paid the same amount in the test-cheating scam, was sentenced last month to 14 days behind bars.
Singer has pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy and other crimes.
Sartorio’s daughter received a 27 out of a possible 36 on the ACT, court records show, with help from two corrupt test proctors who were paid to alter some of her answers. The daughter has not been charged with any crime, and Sartorio’s attorney said she was unaware of the scheme.
“Mr. Sartorio genuinely and unequivocally accepts responsibility for his crime and recognizes that the victims of his offense are the students who took the test without seeking unfair advantage,” his attorney, Peter K. Levitt, wrote to the judge on Oct. 4. Levitt asked the judge to consider giving Sartorio a sentence of probation and community service.
The attorney described Sartorio as a “small-scale entrepreneur” in the specialty food business. “He is neither rich nor famous — and he has no aspirations to achieve either status,” the attorney wrote.
Prosecutors recommended a one-month prison term, arguing that Sartorio took steps to conceal his crime by withdrawing cash in multiple stages for the Singer payment, to avoid bank reporting requirements.
“Crimes like this one — committed in secret and paid for in cash — are difficult to detect, and still more difficult to prosecute,” the prosecutors wrote. “When discovered, they must have meaningful consequences.”
In all, 52 people have been charged in the scandal, including 35 parents. So far, 19 of the accused parents have pleaded not guilty. One was recently arrested in Spain and faces extradition.