A Closer Look at William Rick Singer, Accused Ringleader of Admissions Scandal

Dozens have been charged in connection with a college admissions scheme, according to court documents

What to Know

  • Fifty people, including two actresses, have been indicted in a nationwide college entrance exam cheating scandal, according to court docs.
  • The accused allegedly tried to get students into high-profile colleges as recruited athletes, regardless of athletic ability.
  • Some indicted include college coaches; however, there's no indication the schools were involved.

According to federal investigators, the man behind the multimillion-dollar scheme allowing some of America's wealthiest families to pay their way into college said it was a way for students to get into college through the "side door."

Over the course of at least eight years, investigators said William Rick Singer created a growing network of willing participants by telling parents it was a "tried and true method."

Parents would then allegedly refer other parents to Singer's scheme.

"We believe all of them parents, coaches, and facilitators lied, cheated, and covered up their crimes at the expense of hardworking students and taxpayers everywhere," said Joseph Bonavolonta, the special agent in charge of the FBI's Boston Field Office.

Among the parents charged are actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin.

Prosecutors said Singer would advise parents to claim their child had "learning disabilities" so they could take the SAT or ACT alone.

He would then steer them to go to Houston, Texas, or West Hollywood, California, where someone would be paid to take the test for them or correct their answers.

Parents allegedly paid anywhere between $15,000 and $75,000 per test.

"Beyond the SAT and ACT scam, parents also paid money that he then used to bribe (collegiate) coaches and administrators to designate their children as recruited athletes for various schools," said Andrew Lelling, U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts.

Investigators said Singer used a non-profit based in California as a cover. Parents would allegedly donate to the charity, then money would be funneled to the coaches and university administrators to pay them off.

"This enabled parents to not only mask the true nature of the payment, but also take the tax write-off at the end of the year," said Lelling.

From 2011 to 2019, court documents reveal parents paid Singer approximately $25 million.

Singer faces up to 65 years in prison.

He has pleaded guilty in court, which may help him when he is sentenced.

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