The Craziest Stories of the FBI Investigation into Admissions Fraud in Universities • Good Non profit


The college admissions scandal, which began with a massive survey of wealthy parents who were paying to bring their children to colleges, led to charges against actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman, among others, who provoked an uproar, which is understandable.

Like I wrote on Tuesday:

The conspiracy would have consisted of cheating on standardized exams like ACT and falsely designating children of wealthy parents as athletes. Even hundreds of thousands of dollars paid for coaches to claim that children were recruited to play sports in their school.

But the documentation provided by the government to provide legal support for its investigation goes even further by showing how confusing this so-called scheme was at almost every level – and, supposedly, how effective it was to get children in. from rich parents in the best schools.

In this case, FBI special agent Laura Smith drafted an affidavit in support of the government's complaint against the accused, including Loughlin and Huffman. The document is about 200 pages long and contains numerous transcripts of conversations between the accused and Rick Singer, the man at the center of the scandal that ran a for-profit academic consulting firm called Edge College & Career Network and a charity called Key Worldwide. Foundation. The foundation would have been used to launder money and transfer it from wealthy parents to college coaches, administrators and others, including Singer himself.

If we lived in a world that I created, I would have shared screenshots of entire pages of the document, which you can read yourself. right here. But here are the most telling (and absurd) passages explaining how a huge scam aimed at attracting wealthy kids to the best colleges worked and how often the people supposed to benefit from it – the kids themselves – did it. no idea.

"And it works?" "Every time."

In the paper, Smith presents transcripts of conversations between "CW-1" – "Cooperating Witness -1", referring to Rick Singer – and the defendants who would eventually be charged with fraud and other charges in the case.

(It is interesting to note that many conversations between Singer and his clients, included in this affidavit, took place after Singer pleaded guilty to obstructing justice and racketeering charges for money laundering and began cooperating with the government.To get a less severe sentence, Singer He then gave a lot of documents and recorded phone calls with his clients.A word for the wisest: if someone with whom you have committed crimes calls you Unexpectedly, may not answer.)

Smith's services included falsifying their children's SAT or ACT scores, creating fake athlete profiles, and bribing college coaches to recruit them into their schools (and in some cases both). The statement of affidavits explained to Singer's parents that it had always worked.

Take this conversation between Singer and the defendant Gordon Caplan. In the transcript attached to the affidavit, Singer explains to Caplan that his plans to submit fraudulent test results on behalf of the children of wealthy parents – sometimes by asking another person to take the test for the child sometimes by "correcting" the answers by a supervisor Singer had paid – works "every time".

Government Affidavit in Support of a Criminal Complaint, March 12, 2019.

On numerous occasions in the affidavit, transcripts and recordings show that Singer sells his services boasting about the number of times he has worked before. Some parents are even referred to Singer by other parents who have managed to get their children into the universities because of his fraud.

Government Affidavit in Support of a Criminal Complaint, March 12, 2019.

During this conversation with the accused Agustin Huneeus, owner of a California vineyard who wanted to bring his daughter to the University of Southern California, Singer and Huneeus discuss Singer's alleged plan to to falsely portray Huneeus' daughter as a water polo player so that she can attend the USC as a recruited athlete.

When Huneeus explained that his daughter was not talented enough to play water polo at USC, Singer said his coach – Jovan Vavic, winner of 16 national titles in the sport – already knows it. And when Huneeus asks me if there is a chance that "it jumps in my face," Singer replies that in 24 years, he has never encountered a problem.

Government Affidavit in Support of a Criminal Complaint, March 12, 2019.

One of the reasons why Singer's so-called ploy has been so successful over and over again is that he has tried to obtain fraudulent test results and at least credible profiles of fake athletes.

Take another excerpt from his conversation with Huneeus: the parent complains if the simulated SAT score of his daughter (1380 out of 1600 possible) could have been higher. Singer replied that no, it would not have worked, adding, "I would have been the subject of an investigation based on his notes," hinting at the questions that might have been asked to an average student getting an almost perfect score at the SAT. .

Government Affidavit in Support of a Criminal Complaint, March 12, 2019.

In exchange for more than $ 50,000, Singer then simulated the sporting profile of the Huneeus girl who described her as a great water polo player, even with a photo that was not her.

Government Affidavit in Support of a Criminal Complaint, March 12, 2019.

When Singer's foundation, which would have been used to transfer money from parents to people whom he corrupted so that children go to schools, was audited, he went to Huneeus and asked him to make sure not to talk to anyone about the extremely illegal situation. fraud they are now accused of. Huneeus replied, "Dude, man, what do you think, I'm a jerk?" Before adding that he would tell the IRS that his donations were intended (ironically) to bring disadvantaged children to the college.

Government Affidavit in Support of a Criminal Complaint, March 12, 2019.

The scam was by far

The administrators and coaches of many schools involved in the alleged scheme were deeply involved. Take Donna Heinel, Senior Assistant Director of Sports at USC until she is fired Tuesday. In exchange for more than $ 1.3 million in bribes over several years, Heinel would have helped channel children from Singer's clients to USC.

Once Singer's team created fake sports profiles for the students, he then sent them to Heinel, who presented them to the sports admissions subcommittee as actual recruited athletes.

Many of the transcripts included in the detailed discussion of the affidavit between Singer and his clients while they were trying to decide the sport in which they could simulate that their child would be a high-level athlete, such as this conversation between Singer and defendant William "Bill" McGlashan on the verge of whether his son be a credible football kicker.

Government Affidavit in Support of a Criminal Complaint, March 12, 2019.

But of course, none of the students presented as recruits to be admitted to the USC has been able to perform as an athlete. In the case of Elizabeth's daughter and Manuel Henriquez, the affidavit indicates that her claim asserted that she was an excellent tennis player at the club in high school while in reality she She was definitely not a high level tennis player.

Government Affidavit in Support of a Criminal Complaint, March 12, 2019.

Government Affidavit in Support of a Criminal Complaint, March 12, 2019.

But Singer had planned that and asked Heinel and others for help.

Take this conversation, for example, in which Singer talks to Gamal Abdelaziz, a casino executive and resident of Las Vegas, who paid Singer hundreds of thousands of girls for his daughter to move to USC as as a basketball player. Singer explains that, while the USC's admissions department was beginning to wonder why his daughter did not show up for basketball, Heinel had told them that his daughter had been hurt and could not play. All Singer needed was Abdelaziz to keep their stories straight.

Government Affidavit in Support of a Criminal Complaint, March 12, 2019.

The "side door"

The concept alleged by Singer was to create a "side door" for admissions to colleges. In his conversations with Gordon Caplan, Singer explained that the "gateway" to entering the university was to successfully complete his studies and obtain high scores on standardized tests. The "back door" consisted of staffing a building or making a massive donation. He presented his clients with the "side door" – a way for wealthy but not constructive parents to make sure their underachieving children would go to the school of their choice.

Government Affidavit in Support of a Criminal Complaint, March 12, 2019.

But something else needs to be noted, says Singer: only he and the "side door" can do what neither the "back door" nor the "main door" can do and guarantee the admission of students into specific universities. As he says himself: "Everyone has a friend of a friend who knows someone who knows someone, but there is no guarantee, they will just watch you again. My families want a guarantee. "

According to the authorities, Singer promised parents that their children would enter the school of their choice and that he alone could confirm this promise: corruption, fraud, money laundering, false test results and sports profiles.

"He wants it like that"

Throughout the affidavit, transcripts of Singer's conversations seem to show that, in some cases, students were helping their parents to ask someone to pass their SAT or ACT exam or to create fake photographs of themselves practicing a sport in order to be able to submit them. athletic profiles at colleges.

Take, for example, the accused Devin Sloane, who allegedly worked with his son to create the right photo of him "playing" water polo with accessories purchased from Amazon so that Singer could create a fake athlete profile to send to Heinel at USC.

Government Affidavit in Support of a Criminal Complaint, March 12, 2019.

But in other cases, the students in question apparently had no idea that the scores they would ultimately receive on ACT or SAT were not theirs. In his conversation with Caplan, for example, Singer says that his daughter "does not even know it happened" and adds that this system is ideal for children: "That's what you want. skin. "

Government Affidavit in Support of a Criminal Complaint, March 12, 2019.

When Caplan says that he feels a little strange about the so-called plan – which implied misusing the adaptations reserved for students with learning disabilities to give Singer's client children extra time on the SAT and ACT, thus facilitating the fact that someone else passes the test – The singer tells him that "all rich families" do it. It may sound strange and immoral, he says, but it will not matter once Caplan's daughter gets the highest score.

Government Affidavit in Support of a Criminal Complaint, March 12, 2019.

But Caplan's daughter did not seem to know about this so-called plan. As the affidavit shows, she took the ACT. In a conversation with Caplan, Singer describes the plan as follows: "So she's going to take the test herself, she'll do her best, all of that, and then we'll do our magic at the back. "In other words, Caplan's daughter was supposed to accept the ACT, convinced that the score she had received was hers – but that was not the case.

Government Affidavit in Support of a Criminal Complaint, March 12, 2019.

In another conversation with Huneeus, the client who got angry with Singer for his daughter's (fake) SAT score, Huneeus refers to another Singer client, Bill McGlashan, and asks if McGlashan's son knows his ACT score was fraudulent.

Singer tells Huneeus that no, his son does not know it – at the request of his father. "[McGlashan] has not been so forthright with you and with his own child, that is, he wants it that way.

Government Affidavit in Support of a Criminal Complaint, March 12, 2019.

So what did we learn from this criminal complaint?

The parents who took part in this alleged scheme seemed to be well aware of this – a fraud was committed on a large scale to bring their children to schools of their choice (or, in the case of Lori Loughlin and the daughter of Mossimo Giannulli , outraged University of the State of Arizona). That at least one university administrator and several coaches be accused of accepting bribes to channel the children to their school. Although some parents appeared to have worked with their children to create fake photographs of fake sports profiles that would be submitted to universities where welded coaches would use them to get their children admitted, other parents seemed to keep their children in the dark about simulate their ACT or SAT scores.

And we learned that college admissions world is often dark and confusingin this case, it was simply confusing.