Ringleader In College Admissions Scandal Sentenced To 3.5 Years In Prison


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BOSTON (WBZNewsRadio) - The mastermind of the nationwide 'College Admissions Scheme', also known as "Operation Varsity Blues," has been sentenced to 42 months in federal prison and three years supervised release.

William "Rick" Singer was sentenced on Wednesday in Boston's federal court. He was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $10,668,841 to the IRS and "forfeit specific assets with a value in excess of $5.3 million and approximately $3.4 million in the form of a forfeiture money judgment."

The admissions scandal rocked higher education in the nation, as wealthy parents paid to get their children into elite universities, by cheating on standardized testing, bribery of school coaches and athletic officials, as well as administrators who had influence over admissions.

Singer pleaded guilty to a slew of charges in 2019, including racketeering conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, conspiracy to defraud the United States and obstruction of justice.

“Rick Singer was the architect of a sprawling criminal enterprise that corrupted the admissions process at several of the nation’s most elite universities. His decade-long scheme resembled something out of a Hollywood movie. He courted the entitled, rich and famous, who were so desperate for their children to secure college admission, that they lied, cheated and bribed to get them in,” said United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins. “While this historic case generated headlines around the globe with privilege, celebrity and entitlement at its core, it also exposed the profound failings in the college admissions process. There should not be a separate college admissions process for the rich, powerful and entitled. This case exposed that there is. But it also resulted in meaningful changes in the college admissions process and I am incredibly proud of that.”

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Singer served as the CEO of the Key Worldwide Foundation, a non-profit that he founded as "a purported charity to provide educational and self-enrichment programs for disadvantaged youth". He also owned an operated the Edge College & Career Network LLC, which is a described as a for-profit college counseling and preparation business. Singer used the Key Worldwide Foundation to hide payments as "charitable donations," which also allowed his clients to deduct bribery payments from their federal income taxes.

Over the course of nearly a decade, Singer worked alongside dozens of parents, university athletic coaches, and administrations to either bribe or falsely secure the admission of students to a number of schools including Georgetown, Stanford, UCLA, USC, the University of Texas, Wake Forest and Yale. Along with cheating on SATS and other college entry exams, Singer also accepted payments from parents to bribe coaches and athletic administrators who would then identify their children as athletic recruits, regardless of their physical abilities. In total, Singer accepted more than $25 million in the scandal.

In many of the instances, students taking exams or receiving acceptance letters were completely unaware that their parents had, had a hand in the outcome.

Over the course of the last few years, 55 defendants were charged for their involvement in "Operation Varsity Blues." In total, 53 were convicted, either by entering a guilty plea or jury conviction.

“Rick Singer was the mastermind of a massive criminal enterprise that undermined the college admissions process at universities all across the country. Fueled by pure and simple greed, Mr. Singer raked in millions of dollars in his corrupt scheme in which he rigged the system, making it much easier for far less qualified students and their families to buy their way into some of this country’s most elite universities. With every bribe he paid, he sold out hardworking students a little more. There is no question the damage he has done is profound and today’s sentence shows that there are significant consequences for his criminal conduct,” said Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division. “Operation Varsity Blues uncovered a bold and shameless decade-long scheme that undercut hard-working students trying to get into these prestigious universities the right way. Everyone we’ve arrested, charged, and convicted to date were integral to the scheme’s success, but without Rick Singer, they never would have succeeded.”

WBZ's Carl Stevens (@CarlWBZ) reports:

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