A $25 million racketeering and money laundering conspiracy that was at the center of the "largest college admission scam ever" saw its ringleader unmasked thanks to the Wall Street Journal. The man at the center of the scheme is 58-year-old William Rick Singer. We reported on the scandal at length yesterday.
Singer is called a "self described serial entrepreneur" who appeared to have found his niche in helping young people get into college. He was the founder of the Edge College & Career Network, the institution that helped broker bribes between the uber-wealthy and prestigious colleges. According to the company’s website, his goal was to "help alleviate the anxiety of getting into college" because he “has seen first hand the stress that the college admissions and athletics recruiting process can put on a family."
Following yesterday's charges, Singer pled guilty to racketeering, money laundering, conspiracy to defraud the United States and obstruction of justice. He is looking at between 15 and 19 1/2 years in prison for his crimes. During his court appearance, after a federal prosecutor ran through a number of alleged offenses committed by Singer, he confessed, saying: "Your honor, everything that [the prosecutor] said is true."
He also admitted to the judge that he knew he was breaking the law and that he had done "many more" things. He detailed, at length, his entire test taking scheme, saying that he would often claim students had learning disabilities in order to help control testing sites.
Singer said: "If we could ensure that, we would secure a score that would be strong enough so they could get into the schools they wanted to go to."
“The only way the scheme could work was if I could control the proctor and the site coordinator,” he continued.
He also admitted to bribing test administrators and bringing his own proctors for tests.
Singer told the court that the kids always thought they were taking the test, but that the proctor and the administrator knew it was fixed. “The kids thought they really took the test but the proctor and administrator knew. I’m absolutely responsible,” he said.
He explained that he arranged for students to write the answers on a separate sheet and then the proctor would bubble in the correct answers before the test was submitted. He also admitted to creating false sports profiles of students, simply stating he would "take a picture of the students face and put it on somebody else".
Singer described an example of how he would operate: if a family wanted his services, he would arrange a scheme wherein they would, for example, make a $500,000 donation to a college's athletics program and then a separate $200,000 donation to Singer's charity, which was supposed to be for underdeserved kids. Singer's company website says that he’s helped guide thousands of high school students on the college admission process.
His website states: "We partner with your son or daughter to identify their strengths, unlock their potential, choose the right college, position themselves for admission, and outline a course of study and extracurricular experiences to lead to a life of success."
One of his clients, Greg Abbott, CEO of International Dispensing Corp, claimed that he heard of Singer's services through a network of New York City mothers. Abbott had spoken to the FBI and called the entire situation "insane".
“Literally, we were involved with this guy for our daughter to help out with college counseling and he gets f— arrested. We didn’t know he was doing this s—,” he told the Wall Street Journal.
Singer is set to be sentenced in June.