Parents of college-bound students have been accused of being involved in a college admission scheme worth millions, including two prominent actresses, Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin. This scheme was set into place in the hopes of helping ensure their children had a better chance of getting into prominent universities by fabricating their credentials and arranging brides for athletic directors and test administrators.
While parents were responsible for paying for these fraudulent actions, the person running the scam was an individual named William Rick Singer. Singer is a California resident who owned and operated Edge College of Career Network LLC, as well as stood as acting CEO of the non-profit charity corporation Key Worldwide Foundation. With these two organizations under his control, he was able to act on the parent’s wishes to improve their child’s chances of entrance into desirable universities while using KWF as a way to move shady funds around as charitable donations. Clients of Singer, including the two well-known actresses, would pay anywhere from $200,000 to $6.5 million for his services.
“These parents are a catalog of wealth and privilege,”, Andrew Lelling, U.S. attorney for the District of Massachusetts, stated. “They include, for example, CEOs of private and public companies, successful securities and real estate investors, two well-known actresses, a famous fashion designer, and the co-chairman of a global law firm.”
The layers of this immense scheme ran deep as Singer would fake anything from tests scores to photographs on top of bribing officials who have influence within the college. These falsified records would help practically ensure clients of Singer would reach universities as prestigious as Yale and Stanford.
When it came to test scores, Singer would use bribery in order to assure his clients received the best scores on the ACT and SAT tests. These bribes would go to test officials at around $10,000 per test while clients paid Singer anywhere from $15,000 to $75,000 per test through his purported charity. Singer would allegedly arrange for more testing time, or have the tests be overseen by a third party who would take the test for the student or give the student correct answers to ensure quality scores. Test administrators Niki Williams in Houston and Igor Dvorsky in California are two examples of those who took bribes in exchange for testing advantages at their facilities.
Another way Singer increased the chances of his client’s admission would be to have them falsely recorded as recruited athletes by bribing athletic directors at the desired schools. Two such examples of this include Ruby Meredith, a soccer coach at Yale, and Jovan Vavic, a water polo coach at USC.
Meredith took a bribe of $400,000 for his involvement in agreeing to let students he knew had no past athletic sports-based activity be recorded as potential recruits for the team. This was proven when Meredith was secretly recorded by the FBI while having a meeting with the father of a prospective student, in which they discussed recruitment in exchange for $450,000. Vavic was also allegedly doing the same with his polo team as a payment totaling $250,00 was placed into a bank account at USC that funded the team, as well as a complaint that states Singer contributed to the private school tuition of Vavic’s own children.
Other services Singer apparently provided included falsifying information and photos in order to make the prospective students more appealing to universities. Singer would Photoshop pictures of these students doing activities desired by such including universities using stock photos. This included pasting students’ faces onto photos of athletes.
This scheme ran from 2011 all the way through February of 2019. This alleged scheme was uncovered after the office of Andrew Lelling received a lead from a person involved in an entirely separate investigation. Documents involving this case were revealed Tuesday, March 12, 2019, as Singer pleaded guilty to a number of these federal crimes including attempted racketeering, money laundering, and obstruction of justice.
At the moment 50 people have been charged for their involvement in this admission scheme, and the DOJ states that dozens of people in multiple states have been arrested. Universities recorded to have been involved in this admission scheme include Yale University, the University of Southern California, Georgetown University, UCLA, Wake Forest University, Stanford University, the University of San Diego and the University of Texas, Austin.
Those who are interested in gaining more information about cases like this, or who want to keep up-to-date on the latest legal proceedings, can find more details at Jeffrey Newman Law!