In all, 50 people – 33 wealthy and influential parents, two SAT and ACT administrators, a test proctor, nine college sports coaches, and a college administrator – were indicted in “Operation Varsity Blues,” the college admissions scandal. 2019. The fraud, which ran for years and was the largest college admissions scandal ever prosecuted, made high-profile headlines, notably due to the arrests and convictions of actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman. But the new Netflix documentary The Plot Varsity Blues: A Scandal at the US University, from the director of GuysChris Smith turns the spotlight back on William “Rick” Singer, the college admissions counselor and self-confessed criminal mastermind behind the entire plot. While many of the parents and university employees charged in the scandal have been charged and convicted, Singer, who pleaded guilty to all the charges against him, has yet to be convicted.
In 2011, Rick Singer created a for-profit college counseling company called The Key. His business – which he called the “side door” of admission to elite universities – was twofold. One part was facilitating cheating on the ACT and SAT entrance exams by having students fake the need for overtime and then take the tests with a proctor he hired. Singer’s exam proctor would correct his clients’ responses without their knowledge, to adjust the scores they needed. The other part of his criminal enterprise consisted of bribing university sports directors and coaches with donations to their programs as well as personal payments to recruit his clients as athletes. As the Netflix documentary explains, the athlete recruiting process is largely left to the athletic staff of a university, who simply submit their recruits to the school for approval each year. With a bit of photoshop on Singer’s part, all his client had to do was never show up for workouts once in college (something they wouldn’t have been able to do anyway, since the youngsters were mostly unaware of what his parents had orchestrated with Singer backstage). Parents paid between $ 200,000 and $ 6.5 million to secure their children’s admission to elite universities, including the University of Southern California, Yale, Stanford, and Georgetown, by donating to Singer’s bogus charity, Key. Worldwide Foundation, which then donated to university sports programs or sent directly to coaches.
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From 2011 to 2019, Singer’s “side door” was open for very profitable deals, in which Singer himself collected $ 25 million. According to the documentary, the “back door” is a much larger donation than Singer collected, made directly to the university, such as Jared Kushner’s parents the year before he was accepted to Harvard. Not only is this method more expensive than Singer’s, it also cannot offer guaranteed acceptance. But the scheme began to falter when a financial executive named Morrie Tobin, who was being investigated in a different case of financial fraud, offered investigators a clue about a Yale football coach taking bribes in exchange for admission to a Attempt to make a profit with the FBI. The tip ended up leading them to Rick Singer, who was captured in September 2018.
But to save himself as much as possible, Singer agreed to collaborate with investigators to bring down his entire Ponzi scheme with him. Wearing a microphone, Singer made phone calls and in-person visits to his past and present clientele to discuss a fabricated audit of his foundation, so that they would get involved by confirming knowledge of the bogus donations. Some were warned or alerted that he was wearing a microphone, which he confessed in court. Ultimately, however, the government’s case was built on this series of recordings Singer made, and Singer himself pleaded guilty to all charges brought against him – racketeering conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, conspiracy to defrauding the United States and obstruction of justice – also on March 12, 2019. Your cooperation and conviction will result in a lesser sentence for him when his sentencing date arrives. Trials and sentencing procedures in this extensive case are ongoing, and the status of Singer’s case simply says that “there is no sentencing hearing scheduled at this time.” According to CNN, faces a maximum sentence of 65 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a $ 1.25 million fine.
The FBI began making arrests in March 2019, starting with actress Felicity Huffman. She and Lori Loughlin, along with other powerful and influential parents, were charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. Mark Riddell, the exam proctor who facilitated cheating on college entrance exams, was charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud, honest services mail fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Coaches and athletic directors at America’s leading universities were charged with conspiracy to commit blackmail, and some of them also with mail fraud and wire fraud. The full list of charges and sentences in the case can be found here.
Felicity Huffman, who was accused of paying $ 15,000 to the Key Worldwide Foundation to enable her daughter to cheat on a college entrance exam, pleaded guilty on May 13, 2019. She was sentenced to two weeks in prison, a year of supervised release, 250 hours of community service, and a $ 30,000 fine. Lori Loughlin and her husband Mossimo Giannullo were accused of ‘donating’ $ 500,000 for their daughters Olivia Jade and Isabella Rose to be recruited into the USC rowing team. Loughlin initially pleaded not guilty, but changed his statement in May 2020. She pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud, and was sentenced to two months in prison, two years of supervised release, a $ 150,000 fine and 100 hours of community service. Olivia Jade, who was a popular YouTuber before the case broke out, took to Jada Pinkett-Smith’s Red Table Talk show in December 2020 to address the scandal for the first time.
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Many of the defendants in the largest college admissions scandal case ever prosecuted are still awaiting their sentences. As the Netflix documentary shows,
Rick Singer It is one of them. Apparently, he enrolled at Grand Canyon University in November 2019 to work on a doctorate in psychology in an “effort to change his life for the future.” Although his attorney said he had waited until nearly finished with the degree when he was sentenced in 2021 or 2022, Singer dropped out in July 2020 after completing a total of five courses.
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