The mastermind behind the college admissions bribery scheme faked students’ ethnicity to get them an affirmative action advantage, reports show.
Rick Singer, 58, pleaded guilty in Boston federal court on Tuesday to running the largest college admissions fraud scam in U.S. history through his small college preparation company in Newport Beach.
Over the course of seven years, Singer is estimated to have taken a whopping $25million from wealthy parents to get their kids into elite schools by cheating and bribery.
And it has since been revealed the ‘slick talker’ could also fake their children’s race.
Assistant US Attorney Eric S. Rosen told Judge Rya Zobel he was guilty of ‘lying about students’ ethnicities and other biographical information in an attempt to take advantage of perceived benefits from affirmative action and other programs’.
William ‘Rick’ Singer is facing 65 years in prison for taking $25million in bribes to get wealthy families’ children into top schools
He is said to have faked students’ ethnicity to get them an affirmative action advantage
Some 50 people including prominent executives, Hollywood actors and college coaches have been charged for roles in the scheme which saw phony test-takers secure clients’ children spots at elite universities including Yale, Georgetown and Stanford.
Hollywood actress Lori Loughlin was dropped by the company that owns the Hallmark cable channel and LVMH’s Sephora beauty chain ended a sponsorship deal with her daughter, Olivia, as a result of the charge. Loughlin’s husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, has also been charged.
Desperate Housewives actor Felicity Huffman was also charged in the scheme. The 56-year-old Desperate Housewives actress deleted her social media accounts on Friday, and pulled down her parenting website, What The Flicka.
Both mastermind Singer and the parents alleged to have paid into the scheme could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
‘He was a slick talker and people believed him,’ said Jill Newman, who has worked as a high school counselor in Sacramento schools for decades and had several well-to-do students who hired Singer. ‘But every high school counselor in the area knew about him. He was sneaky from the get-go.’
It comes as photographs of alleged admissions cheat Olivia Jade Giannulli’s college dorm room kitted out in Amazon products following a lucrative partnership with the tech giant have emerged.
Loughlin and Giannulli ‘agreed to pay bribes totaling $500,000 in exchange for having their two daughters designated as recruits to the USC crew team – despite the fact that they did not participate in crew – thereby facilitating their admission to USC,’ according to documents.
The couple emailed Rick Singer in 2016 about their daughters’ college prospects, stating that they wanted to do the necessary work to see that the girls got into USC as opposed to ASU.
Loughlin and her husband are accused of making two $50,000 payments to USC’s athletic director and coach to get their daughters into USC as crew recruits. Loughlin with daughter Olivia Jade Giannulli, who is enrolled at USC, above
Huffman allegedly paid a $15,000 ‘charitable contribution’ ‘to participate in the college entrance exam cheating scheme on behalf of her eldest daughter’ (Huffman and Macy with their daughters Georgia and Sofia at the Golden Globes)
Singer, who is the founder of the Edge College & Career Network and Key Worldwide Foundation, bragged about his ‘side door’ scheme and boasted of getting almost 800 children into colleges, according to court documents related to the case
At least nine athletic coaches at elite universities and 33 parents, many of them prominent in law, finance, fashion, the food and beverage industry and other fields, have been charged.
Canadian businessman David Sidoo pleaded not guilty to paying $200,000 to have someone take a college entrance exam in place of his two sons, and his attorneys said he looks forward to contesting the charges in court.
Huffman has been charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud. A magistrate judge ordered the actress to restrict her travel to the continental US and she surrendered her passport to the court.
Loughlin was also charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud for allegedly paying $500,000 to get their daughters Olivia Jade, 19, and Isabella, 20, into the University of Southern California.