Big time elite universities admissions scandal

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ASPartOfMe
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12 Mar 2019, 3:52 pm

U.S. Accuses Actresses, Others Of Fraud In Massive College Admissions Scandal

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Federal officials have charged dozens of well-heeled parents, including actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, in what the Justice Department says was a multimillion-dollar scheme to cheat college admissions standards. The parents allegedly paid a consultant who then fabricated academic and athletic credentials and arranged bribes to help get their children into prestigious universities.

"We're talking about deception and fraud — fake test scores, fake credentials, fake photographs, bribed college officials," Andrew Lelling, U.S. attorney for the District of Massachusetts, said at a news conference Tuesday in Boston.

Lelling said 33 parents "paid enormous sums" to ensure their children got into schools such as Stanford and Yale, sending money to entities controlled by a California man named William Rick Singer in return for falsifying records and obtaining false scores on important tests such as the SAT and ACT.

Singer also presented his clients' children as elite athletes, Lelling said. "In many instances, Singer helped parents take staged photographs of their children engaged in particular sports," he said. "Other times, Singer and his associates used stock photos that they pulled off the Internet — sometimes Photoshopping the face of the child onto the picture of the athlete" and submitting them to desirable schools.

"Singer's clients paid him anywhere between $200,000 and $6.5 million for this service," Lelling said. The alleged scheme, he noted, was uncovered after his office got a lead from someone who "was a target of an entirely separate investigation, who gave us a tip that this activity might be going on."

The scope of the case is massive — a total of 50 people have been charged in the admissions scheme. The Justice Department said in a statement that dozens of people in multiple states have been arrested but gave no further details.

The scheme operated from 2011 through February 2019, Lelling said, adding that in most cases, parents paid Singer between $250,000 and $450,000 per student.

"These parents are a catalog of wealth and privilege," Lelling said. "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 parents were already able to give their children "every legitimate advantage," but that instead they "chose to corrupt and illegally manipulate the system for their benefit," Lelling said.

The parents were charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud. Other defendants in the case include university athletic coaches and college exam administrators — some of whom are accused of accepting bribes.

The charges are part of a complex case that has been kept under seal. Documents related to the case were revealed Tuesday, as Singer pleaded guilty to a number of federal crimes from conspiracy to commit racketeering and money laundering to obstruction of justice, according to Lelling.

Singer "owned and operated the Edge College & Career Network LLC ('The Key') – a for-profit college counseling and preparation business – and served as the CEO of the Key Worldwide Foundation (KWF) – a non-profit corporation that he established as a purported charity," the Justice Department said in a statement.

On its website, The Key promises to "unlock the door to academic, social, personal and career success." The foundation says it "has touched the lives of hundreds of students that would never have been exposed to what higher education could do for them."

Court documents state that the following schools were targeted as part of a "student-athlete recruitment scam": 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.

Parents allegedly paid Singer a total of about $25 million that was then funneled into bribes for coaches and a university athletic administrator, according to court documents. In return, the students were allegedly designated as "recruited athletes," which could increase their chances at gaining admission.

For example, the indictment states that "Singer and his co-conspirators made payments totaling $250,000 to a bank account at USC that funded [USC head water polo coach Jovan Vavic's] water polo team." Vavic then allegedly designated two students as water polo recruits. The complaint also says Singer contributed to the private school tuition for Vavic's children, in exchange for his "commitment to designate Singer's clients as recruits for the USC water polo team in the future."

USC said in a statement that it is carrying out an internal investigation into Vavic and other current and former employees who have been charged "and will take employment actions as appropriate."

In another example of the scam, Lelling said former Yale women's soccer coach Rudy Meredith took $400,000 to designate a potential student as a recruit for the team — boosting the student's admission prospects — despite knowing that the student didn't play the sport competitively.

Once the student was accepted to Yale, her relatives paid Singer approximately $1.2 million, including $900,000 to one of KWF's charitable accounts, according to court documents.

Last April, Meredith allegedly met with the father of a second prospective student in a hotel room in Boston — a meeting that was secretly recorded by the FBI. In it, Meredith offered to designate the man's daughter as a soccer recruit in exchange for $450,000, court documents state.

Meredith resigned his long-held post in November. In a statement to NPR, a Yale representative said:

"As the indictment makes clear, the Department of Justice believes that Yale has been the victim of a crime perpetrated by its former women's soccer coach. The university has cooperated fully in the investigation and will continue to cooperate as the case moves forward."

The court documents also detail numerous examples of how the test score scheme worked.

The Justice Department statement listed each of the 50 defendants along with some basic facts about them and the charges they face:

William Rick Singer, 58, of Newport Beach, Calif., owner of the Edge College & Career Network and CEO of the Key Worldwide Foundation, was charged in an Information with racketeering conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, conspiracy to defraud the United States, and obstruction of justice. ...
Mark Riddell, 36, of Palmetto, Fla., was charged in an Information with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud as well as conspiracy to commit money laundering;
Rudolph "Rudy" Meredith, 51, of Madison, Conn., the former head women's soccer coach at Yale University, was charged in an Information with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and honest services wire fraud as well as honest services wire fraud;
John Vandemoer, 41, of Stanford, Calif., the former sailing coach at Stanford University, was charged in an Information with racketeering conspiracy and is expected to plead guilty in Boston before U.S. District Court Judge Rya W. Zobel on March 12, 2019, at 3:00 p.m.;
David Sidoo, 59, of Vancouver, Canada, was charged in an indictment with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. Sidoo was arrested on Friday, March 8th in San Jose, Calif., and appeared in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California yesterday. A date for his initial appearance in federal court in Boston has not yet been scheduled.
The following defendants were charged in an indictment with racketeering conspiracy:

Igor Dvorskiy, 52, of Sherman Oaks, Calif., director of a private elementary and high school in Los Angeles and a test administrator for the College Board and ACT;
Gordon Ernst, 52, of Chevy Chase, Md., former head coach of men and women's tennis at Georgetown University;
William Ferguson, 48, of Winston-Salem, N.C., former women's volleyball coach at Wake Forest University;
Martin Fox, 62, of Houston, Texas, president of a private tennis academy in Houston;
Donna Heinel, 57, of Long Beach, Calif., the senior associate athletic director at the University of Southern California;
Laura Janke, 36, of North Hollywood, Calif., former assistant coach of women's soccer at the University of Southern California;
Ali Khoroshahin, 49, of Fountain Valley, Calif., former head coach of women's soccer at the University of Southern California;
Steven Masera, 69, of Folsom, Calif., accountant and financial officer for the Edge College & Career Network and the Key Worldwide Foundation;
Jorge Salcedo, 46, of Los Angeles, Calif., former head coach of men's soccer at the University of California at Los Angeles;
Mikaela Sanford, 32, of Folsom, Calif., employee of the Edge College & Career Network and the Key Worldwide Foundation;
Jovan Vavic, 57, of Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., former water polo coach at the University of Southern California; and
Niki Williams, 44, of Houston, Texas, assistant teacher at a Houston high school and test administrator for the College Board and ACT.
The following defendant was charged in a criminal complaint with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud:

Michael Center, 54, of Austin Texas, head coach of men's tennis at the University of Texas at Austin
The following defendants were charged in a criminal complaint with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud:

Gregory Abbott, 68, of New York, N.Y., the founder and chairman of a food and beverage packaging company;
Marcia Abbott, 59, of New York, N.Y.;
Gamal Abdelaziz, 62, of Las Vegas, Nev., the former senior executive of a resort and casino operator in Macau, China;
Diane Blake, 55, of San Francisco, Calif., an executive at a retail merchandising firm;
Todd Blake, 53, of San Francisco, Calif., an entrepreneur and investor;
Jane Buckingham, 50, of Beverly Hills, Calif., the CEO of a boutique marketing company;
Gordon Caplan, 52, of Greenwich, Conn., co-chairman of an international law firm based in New York City;
I-Hin "Joey" Chen, 64, of Newport Beach, Calif., operates a provider of warehousing and related services for the shipping industry;
Amy Colburn, 59, of Palo Alto, Calif.;
Gregory Colburn, 61, of Palo Alto, Calif.;
Robert Flaxman, 62, of Laguna Beach, Calif., founder and CEO of real estate development firm;
Mossimo Giannulli, 55, of Los Angeles, Calif., fashion designer;
Elizabeth Henriquez, 56, of Atherton, Calif.;
Manuel Henriquez, 55, of Atherton, Calif., founder, chairman and CEO of a publicly traded specialty finance company;
Douglas Hodge, 61, of Laguna Beach, Calif., former CEO of investment management company;
Felicity Huffman, 56, of Los Angeles, Calif., an actress;
Agustin Huneeus Jr., 53, of San Francisco, Calif., owner of wine vineyards;
Bruce Isackson, 61, of Hillsborough, Calif., president of a real estate development firm;
Davina Isackson, 55, of Hillsborough, Calif.;
Michelle Janavs, 48, of Newport Coast, Calif., former executive of a large food manufacturer;
Elisabeth Kimmel, 54, of Las Vegas, Nev., owner and president of a media company;
Marjorie Klapper, 50, of Menlo Park, Calif., co-owner of jewelry business;
Lori Loughlin, 54, of Los Angeles, Calif., an actress;
Toby MacFarlane, 56, of Del Mar, Calif., former senior executive at a title insurance company;
William McGlashan Jr., 55, of Mill Valley, Calif., senior executive at a global equity firm;
Marci Palatella, 63, of Healdsburg, Calif., CEO of a liquor distribution company;
Peter Jan Sartorio, 53, of Menlo Park, Calif., packaged food entrepreneur;
Stephen Semprevivo, 53, of Los Angeles, Calif., executive at privately held provider of outsourced sales teams;
Devin Sloane, 53, of Los Angeles, Calif., founder and CEO of provider of drinking and wastewater systems;
John Wilson, 59, of Hyannis Port, Mass., founder and CEO of private equity and real estate development firm;
Homayoun Zadeh, 57, of Calabasas, Calif., an associate professor of dentistry; and
Robert Zangrillo, 52, of Miami, Fla., founder and CEO of private investment firm.


Jared Kushner Shows There’s a Shady-Yet-Legal Way to Get Rich Kids Into College
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Today’s news of a massive college admissions scam that has ensnared at least 40 people, including actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, has a lot of people asking the same question: Why didn’t these rich parents just make a fat donation to the schools to get their kids admitted?

It’s an age-old tradition that has resulted in many underperforming and undeserving rich kids winning admission to universities they couldn’t have gotten into on their own. And one beneficiary is currently working in the White House.

As Daniel Golden reported in his 2006 book, Jared Kushner — son-in-law of Donald Trump, husband of Ivanka Trump, and son of Charles Kushner — was accepted into Harvard shortly after his father pledged $2.5 million to the school. Writing for ProPublica in 2016, Golden noted that Kushner’s high-school teachers didn’t think he was Harvard material:

‘There was no way anybody in the administrative office of the school thought he would on the merits get into Harvard,” a former official at The Frisch School in Paramus, New Jersey, told me. “His GPA did not warrant it, his SAT scores did not warrant it. We thought for sure, there was no way this was going to happen. Then, lo and behold, Jared was accepted. It was a little bit disappointing because there were at the time other kids we thought should really get in on the merits, and they did not.”

Golden goes on to detail how he uncovered a scheme in which “the rich buy their under-achieving children’s way into elite universities with massive, tax-deductible donations.” He started with a list of the more than 400 members of Harvard’s Committee on University Resources, a group of wealthy donors who were regularly treated like royalty in Cambridge. After poring over records to determine if the children of these donors had eventually gone to Harvard, Golden found that of “the 400-plus tycoons on Harvard’s list — which included people who were childless or too young to have college-age offspring — more than half had sent at least one child to the university.”


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Darmok
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12 Mar 2019, 4:14 pm

"Singer and his co-conspirators made payments totaling $250,000 to a bank account at USC that funded [USC head water polo coach Jovan Vavic's] water polo team." Vavic then allegedly designated two students as water polo recruits. The complaint also says Singer contributed to the private school tuition for Vavic's children, in exchange for his "commitment to designate Singer's clients as recruits for the USC water polo team in the future."

OMG, even the water polo team is corrupt!! 8O Isn't anything honest anymore? :lol:

(But more seriously, it's not surprising at all that sports was the channel for much of this fraud. College sports is corrupt through and through and has been for a very long time.)


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12 Mar 2019, 11:46 pm

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13 Mar 2019, 12:17 am

Darmok wrote:
"Singer and his co-conspirators made payments totaling $250,000 to a bank account at USC that funded [USC head water polo coach Jovan Vavic's] water polo team." Vavic then allegedly designated two students as water polo recruits. The complaint also says Singer contributed to the private school tuition for Vavic's children, in exchange for his "commitment to designate Singer's clients as recruits for the USC water polo team in the future."

OMG, even the water polo team is corrupt!! 8O Isn't anything honest anymore? :lol:

(But more seriously, it's not surprising at all that sports was the channel for much of this fraud. College sports is corrupt through and through and has been for a very long time.)


Seems the English Department is above-board. (whew) . . .



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13 Mar 2019, 12:29 am

more proof yet that amuuurican higher edumacation is just one big racket. just like everything else here.



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13 Mar 2019, 10:34 am

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14 Mar 2019, 5:57 pm

This is going to be fun to watch.

USC, Yale University among colleges sued by Stanford students amid college admissions scandal

The University of Southern California, Yale University and several other elite colleges are being sued by two Stanford University students who claim they were denied a fair opportunity for admission and have had their degrees devalued due to the college cheating scheme revealed by federal officials Tuesday.

Erica Olson and Kalea Woods filed a class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on Wednesday, a day after federal authorities said they uncovered one of the largest college admissions scams to hit the U.S. The lawsuit seeks $5,000,001 on behalf of what the lawyers estimate will be thousands of plaintiffs who fit the criteria to seek class status.

The University of San Diego, the University of Texas at Austin, Wake Forest, Georgetown, Stanford, Yale and USC -- along with William “Rick” Singer, who was called the ringleader of the admissions scheme -- were also named as defendants in the lawsuit.

The students said they weren’t given a fair opportunity to be accepted into the elite colleges where they applied because some people were allegedly admitted based on fake athletic profiles and distorted SAT and ACT scores obtained through bribes.


https://www.foxnews.com/us/usc-yale-uni ... dal-report


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14 Mar 2019, 7:21 pm

Helluva way to learn your parents thought you were too stupid to get into college yourself.


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14 Mar 2019, 7:25 pm

^^and a few of 'em were dumb enough/arrogant enough to show their dumb asses in public posts on social media, showing their upper class privilege for all the world to see.



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14 Mar 2019, 7:28 pm

Darmok wrote:
This is going to be fun to watch.

USC, Yale University among colleges sued by Stanford students amid college admissions scandal

The University of Southern California, Yale University and several other elite colleges are being sued by two Stanford University students who claim they were denied a fair opportunity for admission and have had their degrees devalued due to the college cheating scheme revealed by federal officials Tuesday.

Erica Olson and Kalea Woods filed a class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on Wednesday, a day after federal authorities said they uncovered one of the largest college admissions scams to hit the U.S. The lawsuit seeks $5,000,001 on behalf of what the lawyers estimate will be thousands of plaintiffs who fit the criteria to seek class status.

The University of San Diego, the University of Texas at Austin, Wake Forest, Georgetown, Stanford, Yale and USC -- along with William “Rick” Singer, who was called the ringleader of the admissions scheme -- were also named as defendants in the lawsuit.

The students said they weren’t given a fair opportunity to be accepted into the elite colleges where they applied because some people were allegedly admitted based on fake athletic profiles and distorted SAT and ACT scores obtained through bribes.


https://www.foxnews.com/us/usc-yale-uni ... dal-report


Brilliant. I can't wait. You go, girls! :heart:



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14 Mar 2019, 7:59 pm

Lots of interesting legal/ethical issues in this case. There were lots of people involved, and I saw some reports that said some of the kids didn't know that their parents had bribed people. So, suppose little Olivia is admitted and successfully graduates, even though she was admitted via a bribe (which she did or didn't know about). What if anything should be done to her? Degree revoked? Asterisk added to her transcript? Is her academic work at the school now invalid? Hmm.


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14 Mar 2019, 8:09 pm

Darmok wrote:
Lots of interesting legal/ethical issues in this case. There were lots of people involved, and I saw some reports that said some of the kids didn't know that their parents had bribed people. So, suppose little Olivia is admitted and successfully graduates, even though she was admitted via a bribe (which she did or didn't know about). What if anything should be done to her? Degree revoked? Asterisk added to her transcript? Is her academic work at the school now invalid? Hmm.


There's been talk of expelling those students from the colleges their parents cheated to get them into.


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auntblabby
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14 Mar 2019, 8:19 pm

it's a big legal mess. lawsuits in multiple directions. only in amuuurica, the most litigious society in modern times.



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14 Mar 2019, 8:46 pm

Kraichgauer wrote:
Darmok wrote:
Lots of interesting legal/ethical issues in this case. There were lots of people involved, and I saw some reports that said some of the kids didn't know that their parents had bribed people. So, suppose little Olivia is admitted and successfully graduates, even though she was admitted via a bribe (which she did or didn't know about). What if anything should be done to her? Degree revoked? Asterisk added to her transcript? Is her academic work at the school now invalid? Hmm.


There's been talk of expelling those students from the colleges their parents cheated to get them into.


They should expel every one and give offers to everyone who was wait-listed or rejected unfairly, as well as seats in the student parliament.

Seriously though.

Who the heck does these things thinking they won't get caught? Are they that far above the law?



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14 Mar 2019, 8:49 pm

IsabellaLinton wrote:
Kraichgauer wrote:
Darmok wrote:
Lots of interesting legal/ethical issues in this case. There were lots of people involved, and I saw some reports that said some of the kids didn't know that their parents had bribed people. So, suppose little Olivia is admitted and successfully graduates, even though she was admitted via a bribe (which she did or didn't know about). What if anything should be done to her? Degree revoked? Asterisk added to her transcript? Is her academic work at the school now invalid? Hmm.


There's been talk of expelling those students from the colleges their parents cheated to get them into.


They should expel every one and give offers to everyone who was wait-listed or rejected unfairly, as well as seats in the student parliament.

Seriously though.

Who the heck does these things thinking they won't get caught? Are they that far above the law?


The rich get their kids into colleges by donating a sh*t load of money to said colleges all the time, and so I imagine the perps in this case didn't see it as anything all that wrong.


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