The outrageous measures taken by parents to bring their children to elite universities


Others are accused of having staged photos of their children participating in sports in order to include them in fake sports profiles for their academic applications.

An affidavit says that one of the fathers paid someone for him to take classes on behalf of his daughter to improve his grades.

"This case concerns the growing corruption of admissions to elite colleges through the regular application of wealth, associated with fraud," said Lelling.

The charges expose the incredible efforts that parents are suspected of going for the sole purpose of placing their children in the school of their choice. As one parent stated, according to an affidavit: "It's so hard for these kids to go to university."
The CEO behind the misleading scam of university admissions
William Rick Singer, the brain accused of conspiracy, has boasted to his potential "clients" that he has created a "side door" to help wealthy families bring their children to the best American colleges .

According to federal prosecutors, Singer's side door was a sprawling criminal enterprise posing as a charity claiming to benefit "disadvantaged youth". But instead of going to children in need, according to prosecutors, Singer used his parents' "gifts" to bribe administrators, coaches and school officials.

Prosecutors allege that the project has resulted in millions of dollars in the pockets of university employees and sports programs, while depriving deserving students of places in competitive schools. In total, 50 people face charges, including two SAT / ACT directors, a review supervisor, nine elite school coaches, and a university administrator, said Lelling. .

The scandal of college admissions also concerns inequality

On Tuesday, the singer pled guilty to racketeering conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, fraud plot in the United States and obstruction of justice, prosecutors said. Several defendants appeared for the first time in court on Tuesday.

The fallout has been quick and humiliating for many defendants – as one father predicted during a ploy discussion with Singer, according to one affidavit.

"The discomfort felt by all members of the community …", said the man, according to an excerpt from a phone tapping conversation.

"Oh my God, that would be right – Yeah, Ugh."

Yale, Wake Forest, UCLA, the University of Southern California, the University of Texas, and Georgetown responded to the news by making victim statements and, in some cases, announcements of internal investigations and layoffs.

The scandal of cheating tests

The allegations date back to 2011 and involved defendants from six US states belonging to a group of high net worth families, test administrators, sports coaches and other staff members. 39; school.

The project often started when one parent referred another to the non-profit organization Singer, the Key Worldwide Foundation or KWF. Some parents have sought to protect their children from the alleged activity, according to prosecutors; others have directly involved them.
What we know so far in the cheating scandal of college admissions

Once the family would have accepted the program, Singer would ask them to ask for more time for the exam by claiming a learning disability for their child.

Receiving extra time would allow a student to choose to take the test elsewhere than in their high school, according to prosecutors, such as two test centers where Singer had relationships with administrators who had accepted bribes: the defendants Niki Williams at the Houston Test Center and Igor Dvorskiy at the West Hollywood Test Center. CNN contacted Williams and Dvorskiy to comment on the allegations.

But for students to have more time, they needed to get medical documentation about learning disabilities. Singer also offered advice on this.

Opinion: The scandal of academic fraud is the visible part of the iceberg

He reportedly told a father that his daughter had to be "stupid" when a psychologist evaluated him. Singer also suggested Gordon Caplan hire a Singer staff member to take classes so that his daughter improves his grades. CNN asked Caplan to comment on the allegations.

Caplan, a lawyer who lives in Connecticut, told Singer that he had no "moral problem" about the scheme, according to an affidavit. Caplan is accused of having donated $ 75,000 to KWF for Singer to help set up a "controlled" ACT exam for his daughter with a supervisor who corrected his responses after the interview. to have completed.

Caplan said his concern was that his daughter would be "over" if she got caught, according to an excerpt from a wiretap transcript.

Caplan and her daughter went to Los Angeles in July to meet with a psychologist to collect the necessary medical documents to be able to spend more time on the ACT exam. When she received the extension, Caplan took Singer's advice to return to California in December so that her daughter could take the test in West Hollywood.

Nevertheless, Caplan said he was still worried that a Connecticut student passing a California test might arouse suspicion. Singer suggested that they might say that they were going to a bat mitzvah or a wedding, which he gave to several clients, according to the affidavit.

It is not clear if Caplan followed Singer's advice to take classes on behalf of his daughter. But the affidavit alleges that other parents have done so using one of Singer's employees.

The recruitment scandal of athletes

Singer's clients were often repeat customers, prosecutors say, who bribed coaches and test administrators.

In exchange for bribes, the coaches designated the children as sports recruits, regardless of their sporting abilities, even in cases where the children had no intention of participating. Coaches and staff members also face conspiracy charges because of their alleged role in submitting applications and protecting families from the consequences when students are not playing as a team.

Favorite television moms involved in an alleged scandal of admission to the university

In some cases, parents would have helped Singer and the coaches create elaborate sports profiles by providing staged photos of their children engaged in sports activities. In other cases, they signed embellished or falsified summaries of the achievements of their children created by Singer and his associates, including those who used pictures of other children.

The actress Lori Loughlin and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, are accused of having paid bribes totaling US $ 500,000 for their two daughters to be nominated as recruits in the United States. the USC team, although they did not participate in the crew. For each application, the couple presented to Singer photos of their daughters on an indoor rower. They both attend the USC and are not part of the crew team. CNN solicited the couple's comments. Their daughters – like the children of other accused parents – are not named in the court documents and they have not been indicted.

CNN also contacted Iconix Brand Group, owner of Giannulli's namesake fashion company, Mossimo.

Another family who wanted to get their son in the USC as a football rookie in 2015 sent pictures of his brother, noting that "boys look alike". After receiving several emails to put the profile of the boy in shape, USC sent him a letter of official acceptance. The son postponed his admission and finally enrolled in the program in 2017. He did not join the football team.

Her father sent a check for $ 75,000 to the USC "Womens Athletic Board" to Donna Heinel, assistant director of sports, director of sports, who helped her to establish His profile. She is charged with conspiracy to commit racketeering. A week later, the father paid $ 125,000 to The Key, Singer's company, and $ 125,000 to KWF. Singer, in turn, sent a $ 50,000 payment from the KWF to a bank account controlled in part by Laura Janke, a former USC coach accused of the scandal. CNN reached out to both defendants.

USC has declared that it has terminated its duties at Heinel following the charges.

"We understand that the government believes that the illegal activities were perpetrated by individuals who did their best to conceal their actions at the university," said USC.

Elizabeth and Manuel Henriquez from Atherton, California, are accused of having participated in the cheating ploy on four different occasions for their two daughters. CNN asked them to comment.

In August 2015, the affidavit states that Singer helped Gordon Ernst, the head coach of tennis at Georgetown University, bribe the Henriqueszes to nominate their eldest daughter as a tennis rookie in order to facilitate admission to Georgetown.

CNN contacted Ernst, who is now a coach at the University of Rhode Island. The school put him on administrative leave and said in a statement that he had not been involved in recruiting current players or signing new players.

With the knowledge of Elizabeth Henriquez, Singer modified her daughter's trial to include misrepresentations about her tennis aspirations for Georgetown, according to an affidavit. Her nomination indicated that she had played at the "Tennis Club" throughout high school, ranking among the US Tennis Association's "Top 50" in Junior Women's Tennis for her second year in high school, among other honors. But records from the USTA do not show that she participated in USTA tournaments in high school.

Then, in the fall of 2015, prosecutors allege that Henriquezes paid the singer $ 25,000 for a supervisor to correct the SAT test of their eldest daughter after she went to school, according to the prosecutor.

Stanford is one of the elite schools where the rich have tried to enter.

The supervisor, who cooperates with the government, told investigators that he had sat "side by side" with her during the examination and had given him answers.

After review, according to the affidavit, "he was glad" Elizabeth Henriquez and her daughter about the fact that they had cheated on it and were in it. drawn. According to prosecutors, she scored 1,900 out of 2,400, an improvement of 320 points from the highest mark she had previously obtained.

The Henriquezes would then have an agreement with Singer to hold the ACT exam for their youngest daughter at the Houston Test Center in October 2016.

Elizabeth Henriquez e-mailed her daughter's high school counselor to tell her that she was to be in Houston the day her daughter wanted to take the ACT.

"Through connections there, we were able to secure a site and a supervisor to test [my daughter] for two days, "said his email The advisor replied," No worries – thank you for letting me know. "

The same supervisor who had supervised the examination of the eldest daughter had flown on October 22 to travel to Houston, according to the affidavit.

The overseer told the police that he had discussed the answers during the examination with Henriquez's daughter and another student, "but asked them to answer incorrectly different questions. to conceal their fraud ", according to the affidavit.

Manuel Henriquez has voluntarily retired as chairman and CEO of Hercules Capital, according to a company statement. He will remain a member of the board of directors of the company and adviser to the firm, he said.

And then, what happened?

Parents often stated that their greatest concern was to ensure that their children would not discover the alleged fraud, although it appears that in many cases children may have been involved in the alleged activities.

Singer assured them that they would never know, but the affidavit suggests that threats have sometimes surfaced.

In one case, a mother told Singer that her son's counselor at the USC had asked him if he was a track athlete. His son said that he was not, because he did not know what his parents had done, "the way we want to keep him," said the woman, according to an excerpt from 39, a transcript of wiretap.

Singer told him not to worry. If the counselor – or anyone else – started asking questions, he would end up talking to "the person who is responsible for all this," he said.

He was referring to Donna Heinel, assistant director of sports at the USC, accused of helping to heal the profile of the woman's son, and many others.

"She will simply say that he has decided not to compete," he said.

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