Liberal Democrats, too lazy and stupid to compete
scholastically. This is the result of the present day inferior
California school system, once the envy of the entire free
world, after 40 years of Democrat control and parasitic
socialist union infestation.
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A teenage girl who did not play soccer magically became a star
soccer recruit at Yale. Cost to her parents: $1.2 million.
A high school boy eager to enroll at the University of Southern
California was falsely deemed to have a learning disability so
he could take his standardized test with a complicit proctor who
would make sure he got the right score. Cost to his parents: at
A student with no experience rowing won a spot on the U.S.C.
crew team after a photograph of another person in a boat was
submitted as evidence of her prowess. Her parents wired $200,000
into a special account.
In a major college admissions scandal that laid bare the
elaborate lengths some wealthy parents will go to get their
children into competitive American universities, federal
prosecutors charged 50 people on Tuesday in a brazen scheme to
buy spots in the freshman classes at Yale, Stanford and other
Thirty-three well-heeled parents were charged in the case,
including Hollywood celebrities and prominent business leaders,
and prosecutors said there could be additional indictments to
Read the Racketeering Indictment
Federal authorities say dozens of individuals were involved in a
nationwide bribery and fraud scheme to help students gain
admission to elite colleges and universities. Racketeering
charges against 12 of the defendants are detailed in this
indictment, one of a number of charging documents in the case.
23 pages, 1.06 MB
Also implicated were top college athletic coaches, who were
accused of accepting millions of dollars to help admit
undeserving students to a wide variety of colleges, from the
University of Texas at Austin to Wake Forest and Georgetown, by
suggesting they were top athletes.
The parents included 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.
The scheme unveiled Tuesday was stunning in its breadth and
audacity. It was the Justice Department’s largest-ever college
admissions prosecution, a sprawling investigation that involved
200 agents nationwide and resulted in charges against 50 people
in six states.
The charges also underscored how college admissions have become
so cutthroat and competitive that some have sought to break the
rules. The authorities say the parents of some of the nation’s
wealthiest and most privileged students sought to buy spots for
their children at top universities, not only cheating the
system, but potentially cheating other hard-working students out
of a chance at a college education.
In many of the cases, prosecutors said, the students were not
aware that their parents were doctoring their test scores and
lying to get them into school. Federal prosecutors did not
charge any students or universities with wrongdoing.
“The parents are the prime movers of this fraud,” Andrew E.
Lelling, the United States attorney for the District of
Massachusetts, said Tuesday during a news conference. Mr.
Lelling said that those parents used their wealth to create a
separate and unfair admissions process for their children.
“The real victims in this case are the hardworking students” who
were displaced in the admissions process by “far less qualified
students and their families who simply bought their way in,” Mr.
At the center of the sweeping financial crime and fraud case was
William Singer, the founder of a college preparatory business
called the Edge College & Career Network, also known as The Key.
The authorities said Mr. Singer used The Key and its nonprofit
arm, Key Worldwide Foundation, which is based in Newport Beach,
Calif., to help students cheat on their standardized tests, and
to pay bribes to the coaches who could get them into college
with fake athletic credentials.
Mr. Singer used The Key as a front, allowing parents to funnel
money into an account without having to pay any federal taxes.
Parents paid Mr. Singer about $25 million from 2011 until
February 2019 to bribe coaches and university administrators to
designate their children as recruited athletes, which
effectively ensured their admission, according to the indictment.
An excerpt from a criminal complaint showing an image that was
manipulated for a college admission entry.
An excerpt from a criminal complaint showing an image that was
manipulated for a college admission entry.
Mr. Singer appeared in federal court in Boston on Tuesday
afternoon and pleaded guilty to counts of racketeering
conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, conspiracy to defraud
the United States, and obstruction of justice.
Sitting very still and wearing a dark suit, he described how he
arranged for students’ SAT and ACT results to be falsified by
sending them to take the exams in Houston or Los Angeles, where
he had bribed test administrators. He described the students as
believing they were taking the tests legitimately, but said that
his test proctor would correct their answers afterward. Mr.
Singer said he would tell the proctor the score he wanted the
student to get, and he would achieve that score exactly.
In his testimony, he referred to his bribery and money
laundering schemes as “a side door” method of admission.
“If I can make the comparison, there is a front door of getting
in where a student just does it on their own, and then there’s a
back door where people go to institutional advancement and make
large donations, but they’re not guaranteed in,” Mr. Singer
said. “And then I created a side door that guaranteed families
to get in. So that was what made it very attractive to so many
families, is I created a guarantee.”
One of the prosecutors, Eric S. Rosen, said that Mr. Singer had
in some cases falsified students’ ethnicities and other
biographical details to take advantage of affirmative action.
Mr. Singer also described how, after he became a cooperating
witness and was told by the prosecutors and the F.B.I. that he
could not talk to anyone about the case, he tipped off several
families that he was wired and warned them not to incriminate
themselves in conversations with him.
The judge set sentencing for June 19, and Mr. Singer was
released on a $500,000 bond.
Most elite universities recruit student athletes and use
different criteria to admit them, often with lower grades and
standardized test scores than other students.
Mr. Singer helped parents go to great lengths to falsely present
their children as the sort of top-flight athletes that coaches
would want to recruit.
Mr. Singer fabricated athletic “profiles” of students to submit
with their applications, which contained teams the students had
not played on and honors they had not won. Some parents supplied
“staged photographs of their children engaged in athletic
activity,” according to the authorities; Mr. Singer’s associates
also photoshopped the faces of the applicants onto images of
athletes found on the internet.
“This is an extreme, unsubtle and illegal example of the
increasingly common practice of using money to get an edge in
the race for a place in an elite university,” said Christopher
Hunt, who runs College Essay Mentor, a consulting service for
In one example detailed in an indictment, the parents of a
student applying to Yale paid Mr. Singer $1.2 million to help
her get admitted. The student, who did not play soccer, was
described as the co-captain of a prominent club soccer team in
Southern California in order to be recruited for the Yale
women’s soccer team. The head coach of the Yale team, Rudolph
Meredith, was bribed at least $400,000 to recruit the student.
After the profile was created, Mr. Singer sent the fake profile
to Mr. Meredith, who then designated her as a recruit, even
though he knew the student did not play competitive soccer,
according to the complaint.
In its investigation, known internally as Operation Varsity
Blues, the government focused on the 33 indicted parents. Those
parents were willing to pay between $15,000 and $75,000 per
test, which went to college entrance exam administrators who
helped their children cheat on them by giving them answers,
correcting their work or even letting third parties falsely pose
as their children and take the tests in their stead, according
to the indictment.
Mr. Singer instructed at least one parent, Mr. McGlashan, to
claim that his son had learning disabilities in order to gain
extended time for him to take his college entrance exam alone,
over two days instead of one, according to court documents.
The government said that Mr. McGlashan’s son was told to take
the exam at one of two test centers where Mr. Singer worked with
test administrators who had been bribed to allow students to
cheat. And Mr. Singer told Mr. McGlashan to fabricate a reason,
such as a wedding, for why their children would need to take the
test in one of those locations.
Mr. McGlashan’s son was unaware of the scheme, according to
Mr. McGlashan did not respond to an email seeking comment. TPG
said that it had placed Mr. McGlashan on indefinite
administrative leave effective immediately as a result of the
When Mr. Singer explained the scheme last June to Gordon R.
Caplan, co-chairman of the global law firm Willkie Farr &
Gallagher, Mr. Caplan laughed and said, “And it works?”
according to a transcript of a recorded phone conversation
between the two men captured in a court-authorized wiretap.
Mr. Singer told Mr. Caplan that his daughter would not know that
her standardized test scores had been faked.
“Nobody knows what happens,” Mr. Singer said, according to the
transcript of the call. “She feels great about herself. She got
a test score, and now you’re actually capable for help getting
into a school. Because the test score’s no longer an issue. Does
that make sense?”
“That does,” Mr. Caplan said. According to prosecutors, Mr.
Caplan paid $75,000 for the service.
A spokeswoman for Mr. Caplan and Willkie Farr did not respond to
an email seeking comment.
Universities were quick to respond to the charges on Tuesday.
According to the indictment, Stanford University’s head sailing
coach, John Vandemoer, took financial contributions to the
sailing program from an intermediary in exchange for agreeing to
recommend two prospective students for admission.
Stanford said Tuesday that Mr. Vandemoer had been fired. The
University of Texas at Austin released a statement Tuesday
saying that its men’s tennis coach, Michael Center, has been
placed on leave. And at U.S.C., Donna Heinel, a top athletic
director, and Jovan Vavic, the men’s and women’s water polo
coach, were terminated. Ms. Heinel received more than $1.3
million in bribes and Mr. Vavic about $250,000 according to
In a letter to the college community, Wanda M. Austin, the
interim president of the University of Southern California,
said, “It is immensely disappointing that individuals would
abuse their position at the university this way.”
Like other college administrators, Dr. Austin said she did not
believe that admissions officers were aware of the scheme or
took part in it, and she described the university as a victim.
Correction: March 12, 2019
An earlier version of this article erroneously included three
schools among the colleges and universities where coaches were
ensnared in a test and admissions scandal. Coaches at Boston
College, Boston University and Northeastern University were not
among those included in the indictment.