BARDSTOWN, Ky. (LEX 18) – A sweeping federal indictment in relation to a massive college admissions scam has a Kentucky connection.
Prosecutors say parents paid an admissions consultant $25 million from 2011 through February 2019 to bribe coaches and administrators to label their children as recruited athletes to boost their chances of getting into schools. Among those indicted were several college coaches, actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, and the CEO of a liquor distribution company with a distillery located in Bardstown, Kentucky.
Marci Palatella was named in the 200-plus page federal indictment that was handed down Tuesday morning. Palatella is the founder of the Preservation Distillery in Bardstown.
According to federal investigators, Palatella made multiple payments to William Singer’s false organization to both cheat on her son’s ACT and SAT exams in addition to paying the University of Southern California’s football coach to recruit her son onto the team.
Text messages show an exchange between Palatella and a cooperating witness that reads as follows:
CW: “Are you willing to make a contribution of several hundred thousand as a donation to get him in as a participant in someone’s program?”
Palatella: “Money, for the right environment, Yes. But he can never know.”
Documented conversations appear to show the cooperating witness explaining to Palatella that her son “couldn’t hide” amongst the teams at Notre Dame and Vanderbilt because their GPAs averaged around 3.4.
Once her son received an acceptance letter to USC, the indictment says that the sham foundation created by William Singer sent an invoice to Palatella in the amount of $400,000.
Preservation Distillery Bardstown told LEX 18 that they had no comment on the allegations.