FBI Takes Down National College Admissions Scheme

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has announced the arrests of dozens of individuals involved in a “nationwide conspiracy that facilitated cheating on college entrance exams and the admission of students to elite universities.” Athletic coaches, parents, and exam administrators have been charged.

According to an FBI release, William “Rick” Singer was charged with racketeering conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, and obstruction of justice. Singer owned and operated the Edge College & Career Network LLC (“The Key”) – a for-profit college counseling and preparation business. Singer also served as the CEO of the Key Worldwide Foundation (KWF) – a non-profit corporation that he established as a purported charity.

Between 2011 and 2019, Singer is alleged to have conspired with dozens of parents, athletic coaches, a university athletics administrator, and others, to use bribery and fraud to assist students in gaining admission to universities such as Yale, Stanford, USC, Wake Forest, and Georgetown, among others.

The conspiracy is believed to have involved three parts:

  1. “Bribing SAT and ACT exam administrators to allow a test taker… to secretly take college entrance exams in place of students or to correct the students’ answers after they had taken the exam.
  2. Bribing university athletic coaches and administrators—including coaches at Yale, Stanford, Georgetown, the University of Southern California, and the University of Texas—to facilitate the admission of students to elite universities under the guise of being recruited as athletes
  3. Using the façade of Singer’s charitable organization to conceal the nature and source of the bribes.”

According to New York Times reports, one parent paid $1.2 million for her daughter, who did not play soccer, to become a “star soccer recruit” to Yale. Another parent paid at least $50,000 for their son to be deemed to have a learning disability in order to receive more time with a complicit proctor on his standardized test.

The case has garnered national attention as several high profile parents were indicted.

These include the television star Lori Loughlin and her husband, the fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, the actress Felicity Huffman, and William E. McGlashan Jr., a partner at the private equity firm TPG, officials said.

This investigation was the Justice Department’s largest-ever college admissions case, involving 200 agents and resulting in the charging of 50 individuals in six states.

Investigators believe parents paid Singer about $25 million in total from 2011 to February 2019.

Singer has pleaded guilty to the charges against him. 33 parents and 13 university coaches or associates of Singer have been charged.

The FBI worked in coordination with the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigations Division on the investigation.

Posted in The Takedown


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