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 is a WORLD Digital assistant editor and reports on marriage, family, and sexuality.