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May 23, 2019

Mastermind behind college admission scheme says he facilitated more than 750 acceptances in pay-to-play plot

March 13, 2019
William “Rick” Singer founder of the Edge College & Career Network, departs federal court in Boston on Tuesday, March 12, 2019, after he pleaded guilty to charges in a nationwide college admissions bribery scandal. (AP Photo/Steven Senne) (Steven Senne / AP)

The architect of a $25 million college admissions scam, which implicated actresses Lori Loughlin, Felicity Huffman and dozens of others, touted a high rate of success in facilitating college acceptances for children of the rich and famous.

William Rick Singer, who pleaded guilty Tuesday in a Boston Federal Court to racketeering, money laundering, conspiracy and obstruction of justice charges, claimed to have orchestrated 761 “side door” admission deals for the children of the “wealthiest families in the U.S.” in a phone conversation recorded by the FBI.

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“They don’t want to be messing around with this thing. And so they want in at certain schools. So I did 761 what I would call ‘side doors.’ There is a front door, which means you get in on your own. The back door is through institutional advancement, which is ten times more money,” he explained.

“And I’ve created this side door in. because the back door, when you go through institutional advancement, as you know, everybody’s got a friend of friend, who know somebody who knows somebody but there’s no guarantee, they’re just gonna give you a second look. My families want a guarantee.”

According to investigators, Singer established an elaborate test-taking scheme that involved him paying people to take tests for the children of his wealthy clients and bribing the test proctors and administrators to look the other way. Prosecutors said he additionally used a phony charity for underprivileged children to funnel hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to college coaches to pretend incoming students had been top athletes.

This combination photo shows actress Lori Loughlin, left, and actress Felicity Huffman
This combination photo shows actress Lori Loughlin, left, and actress Felicity Huffman (/ AP)

Parents paid between $200,000 and $6.5 million to ensure their children would get into certain schools, including Yale, Stanford, Georgetown, Wake Forest and the the University of Southern California. According to court documents released by the Department of Justice on Tuesday, the 58-year-old Sacramento man said the price varied depending on the student’s skills and what schools they wanted to attend.

The scandal has implicated celebrity actors including Loughlin and Huffman as well as wealthy CEOs, prominent lawyers, athletic coaches and exam administrators.

Huffman, well-known for playing Lynette Scavo on “Desperate Housewives,” was indicted on charges stemming from the $15,000 she paid to have someone take an admission exam for her daughter, which she also allegedly disguised as a charitable donation. Her actor husband, William H. Macy, was not indicted in the case, though the couple were caught discussing the scam in a recorded conversation with a corroborating witness.

Loughlin, who was out of the country when her husband, Mossimo Giannulli was arrested in the nation-wide bust, was slated to turn herself into federal authorities on Wednesday. They’re both facing charges of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud.

The “Full House” actress and her husband allegedly agreed to pay $500,000 to have their two daughters listed as potential recruits for the USC crew team — despite the fact that they do not participate in the sport — to boost the likelihood of their admittance.

Singer, dubbed the “ringleader” behind the one of the largest college admissions scams ever, is facing a maximum sentence of 65 years behind bars.

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