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Ringleader of college admissions scam pleads guilty

by Kiley Crossland
Posted 3/13/19, 12:28 pm

The central figure in a widespread college admissions scandal pleaded guilty Tuesday to federal charges that included conspiracy to commit racketeering, money laundering, and obstruction of justice. William “Rick” Singer, founder of the Edge College & Career Network in Newport Beach, Calif., said he intends to cooperate with prosecutors. His lawyer, Donald Heller, said Singer is “remorseful and contrite and wants to move on with his life.”

Authorities charged at least nine college athletic coaches and 33 parents, described by U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling as “a catalog of wealth and privilege.” Prosecutors said parents paid Singer hundreds of thousands of dollars, some as much as $6.5 million, to guarantee their children’s admission into eight top schools. The court documents claim Singer bribed coaches and administrators to make students look like star athletes in sports such as soccer, sailing, tennis, water polo, and volleyball. Once the students were accepted, many of them didn’t play the sports in which they supposedly excelled. Singer reportedly hired others to take college entrance exams for students, paid insiders at testing centers to correct students’ answers, and instructed parents to claim their children had learning disabilities so they could take the tests by themselves and get extra time, making the tampering easier to pull off.

Dozens of parents, including actress Felicity Huffman, who starred in ABC’s Desperate Housewives, were arrested by midday on Tuesday. Huffman posted a $250,000 bond after an appearance in federal court in Los Angeles. Actress Lori Loughlin, known for her role in ABC’s Full House and the Hallmark Channel’s When Calls the Heart, planned to turn herself in on Wednesday, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said. Loughlin’s husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, was released in Los Angeles after posting a $1 million bond.

The coaches indicted worked at schools such as Georgetown, Stanford, the University of Texas, the University of Southern California, UCLA, Wake Forest, and Yale. Since Tuesday, a number of schools have suspended or fired coaches and athletic directors who were involved.

No students were charged—authorities said that in many cases the teenagers were unaware of what was going on.

“For every student admitted through fraud, an honest and genuinely talented student was rejected,” Lelling said, adding that the investigation is continuing and authorities believe other parents were involved. The IRS is also investigating because some parents allegedly disguised bribes as charitable donations.

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Kiley Crossland

Kiley reports on marriage, family, and sexuality for WORLD Digital. Follow Kiley on Twitter @KileyCrossland.

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  • OldMike
    Posted: Wed, 03/13/2019 03:15 pm

    I have to be honest, I am laughing about this.  Yes, I understand there were deserving young people who didn’t get accepted at colleges because others fraudulently got the spots 

    Still, the nerve of this whole scheme, or set of schemes actually. The entitlement of those parents. The very obvious lack of interest in an education, as displayed by at least one of the “students.” (so far) 

    In addition to others hurt by this, some of these kids of wealthy jerks are going to be victims of huge amounts of ridicule.  All because Mom and/or Dad thought they/their kids deserved special treatment. 

  • My Two Cents
    Posted: Wed, 03/13/2019 04:57 pm

    Elite schools are elite because of the acceptance rate of the elite. Why they resorted to cheating and bribery, when their name and notoriety should automatically grant admission is beyond me. God forbid the little darlings should lower themselves to attend a small state college west of the Mississippi. And, I don't believe for an instance that the students were "unaware" of what was going on. How are you unaware that you have been labeled special needs, or that you are granted a sailing scholarship when you don't sail? 

    As the parent of one college graduate, and the parent of a current college student, I am NOT surprised, however.  We followed admission procedures, and my children were involved in the entire process. We are not elite, my children are not entitled to anything except what they work for. Nobody will give them a job either, since they will have to earn that too. 

  • JerryM
    Posted: Wed, 03/13/2019 05:03 pm

    "...contrite and wants to move on with his life.”

    Hopefully he understands this means there are consequences to his actions.  It sure does not sound that way!

  • Midwest preacher
    Posted: Thu, 03/14/2019 05:50 am

    Remember the role society played in elevating these people to the position where they thought they could/should get away with this.  Sure it's their fault and the punishment must fall on them (We won't hold our breath) but we all play a role if we have had a part in placing them on a pedestal.  Maybe it's old fashioned but I try to watch movies where most if not all of the actors are deceased.  Seriously though celebrity worship is not good for us and very damaging to them.  

  • RC
    Posted: Thu, 03/14/2019 03:09 pm

    They should (1) boot the “stars” rich kids out of the schools, then (2) have their parents pay a full ride for the students who should have been accepted, then (3) have the “star” parents take some classes on morals and ethics.