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March 26, 2019

Repercussions reverberate in professional and private lives of accused college-admissions schemers

March 14, 2019
Gordon Caplan leaves Federal Court in Manhattan, New York on Tuesday, March 12, 2019. (Gardiner Anderson for New York Daily News)

Fallout has seeped into the lives of the parents accused of rigging the college admissions system to get their children into elite schools.

Aside from being indicted, those who allegedly participated are finding themselves fired or suspended from jobs, their careers and futures in jeopardy.

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Most of those facing professional repercussions are those who accepted bribes. But in at least one case, a parent who paid a bribe is also feeling censure.

Gordon Caplan, co-chair of the law firm Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP, was placed on leave and taken off all management responsibilities, the international New York City law firm said in a statement, according to Law360.

“As widely reported, one of our partners, Gordon Caplan, was among the persons charged in the college admissions matter. This is a personal matter and does not involve Willkie or any of its clients,” the firm said in a statement quoted by Law360. “The firm will continue to be managed by its chairmen, Steven Gartner and Thomas Cerabino, and its executive committee. Our focus remains on our responsibilities to our clients, partners and employees.”

The head of Hercules Capital, a hedge fund based in Palo Alto, California, was replaced after being arrested along with his wife for allegedly scheming to get their two daughters into elite schools. Manuel Henriquez was released on $500,000 bail after his arrest in New York City, the Associated Press reported. He kept his board seat and will serve as an adviser, the hedge fund told AP.

Henriquez and his wife, Elizabeth, both of Atherton, California,were also charged with conspiring to bribe former Georgetown University tennis coach Gordon Ernst to pretend their older daughter was a tennis whiz, the AP said, and with padding that with a $400,000 charitable contribution to help seal the deal.

Caplan and Henriquez were two of the 33 parents indicted, along with 13 coaches and associates of Singer’s businesses, plus two SAT and ACT test administrators, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a media release on Tuesday. They were charged with everything from paying bribes, to hiring people to take entrance exams, to staging athletic prowess that did not exist. Payments ranged from tens of thousands of dollars to $6.5 million, the Justice Department said.

Colleges quickly moved to fire or suspend the offending personnel, with Stanford jettisoning sailing coach John Vandemoer for allegedly accepting $270,000 in contributions to try and get two students into the university, neither of whom ended up attending. USC associate athletic director Donna Heinel and water polo coach Jovan Vavic were fired as well, the Los Angeles Times reported, for allegedly taking bribes of more than $1.3 million and $250,000, respectively to help non-athlete students get into the school with athletic advantages.

The eight institutions involved – Georgetown University, the University of Southern California, Stanford University, the University of Texas at Austin, Yale University, Wake Forest University, and the University of California, Los Angeles – were not aware of the cooked admissions books, and neither were most of the students whose parents were indicted.

“Integrity in admissions is vital to the academic and ethical standards of our university,” said the University of Texas at Austin in a statement.

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