They are the ultimate helicopter parents — and now they’re charged in a sprawling $25 million cheating scheme to get their coddled kids into the nation’s most exclusive universities.
Like so many doting moms and dads, New Yorkers Marcia and Gregory Abbott wanted the best for their daughter, who dreamed of attending Duke University.
But unlike most, authorities say, they were caught on wiretap allegedly talking about $125,000 payments to people who the feds say cheated on the ACT and SAT tests for her.
“Can your people can cover the math and lit?” Marcia Abbott was recorded saying on one wiretapped exchange. “She’s convinced that she bombed the lit because she was too tired, so … And [Duke University] told us they didn’t want anything below a 750.”
The couple, who have homes in Manhattan and Aspen, Colo., was among the roughly 32 parents charged Tuesday in a massive bribery and cheating scheme.
Abbott, 68, CEO of International Dispensing Corp., a food and beverage packaging company, declined to comment in Manhattan federal court.
But he wasn’t as tight-lipped after posting $500,000 bond and exiting near a waiting Daily News photographer.
“Get out of my f—–g face, ok?” he said. “You don’t know what you’re doing.”
Gordon Caplan, co-chairman of Wilkie Farr, a powerhouse New York-based law firm with clients around the world, was also one of the celebrities and titans of industry accused of paying beaucoup bucks to ensure their children maintain a toehold among society’s elite.
He paid $75,000 to fraudulently inflate his daughter’s SAT scores, according to the feds. As part of the scheme, Caplan agreed to take his daughter to a psychologist to test for a learning disability so she’d be given extra time for the entrance exam. After his daughter finished, her grades were doctored by a corrupt proctor to improve her score, according to the criminal complaint.
Caplan at times questioned whether the scheme would be successful — but never worried about whether it was ethical, the criminal complaint said, citing wiretapped conversations between him and the scam’s central organizer.
“To be honest, I’m not worried about the moral issue here,” Caplan said in one tapped phone call. “I’m worried about the, if she’s caught doing that, you know, she’s finished.”
Caplan, 52, who sported a quarter-zip long sleeve athletic shirt over a dark blue suit, also had nothing to say as he left Manhattan court after posting his $500,000 bond.
Another couple, Elizabeth and Manuel Henriquez, both from California, also appeared in New York court after being arrested around noon. They were released after posting $500,000 bond each.
Henriquez is the CEO of Hercules Technology Growth Capital. Its stock price fell over 9% after the charges were announced. The company has poured more than $4 billion into over 290 companies, according to Bloomberg.
The couple are accused of doling out well over $100,000 in bribes and payments as part of the cheating scheme for their two daughters — and conspired to bribe a coach at Georgetown University to say their oldest girl was a tennis recruit, the complaint said.