Rich parents participated in a wide variety of frauds to scam their kids’ way into elite colleges, the feds alleged Tuesday after unveiling charging documents for a massive college admission scheme.
At the center of the admission scandal is cooperating witness No. 1, Rick Singer, the founder of the Key, an organization that purported to help students get into the college of their choice. He and his associates allegedly aided the students through a series of scams ― and the complicity of wealthy parents.
Under the scheme, the parents allegedly went along with the lie that their massive donations to Singer’s Key Worldwide Foundation were to help underprivileged kids. But the funds were payoffs to help get their own children into elite colleges, federal prosecutors say, often through side-door schemes that involved passing their kids off as amazing athletes.
Here are some highlights of the things rich parents allegedly did to get their children into elite schools.
Jane Buckingham, the CEO of a boutique marketing company, Trendera, sent a sample of her son’s poor handwriting to Singer so that someone could take a test on his behalf.
“He has not great writing,” she allegedly wrote.
Gordon Caplan, a co-chairman of an international law firm, allegedly told Singer he was “sort of rules oriented” and worried about someone taking a test on his daughter’s behalf.
“You’ve never had an issue with this? No one has ever gotten in trouble with this?” he asked Singer, who was by this point cooperating with the government.
William McGlashan, a senior executive at the global equity firm TPG Capital, allegedly conspired with Singer to turn his son into a football kicker, even though his son’s high school didn’t have a team.
“I’m gonna make him a kicker,” Singer said. “He does have really strong legs,” McGlashan allegedly said, laughing.
Actress Felicity Huffman emailed Singer, “Ruh Ro!” when her daughter’s school wanted to provide a proctor for an SAT exam when her daughter was supposed to take the test with extended time.
Actress Lori Loughlin and her husband were allegedly involved in a scheme to pretend their daughters rowed crew, including sending a photo of their daughter on an ergometer indoor rowing machine.
Agustin Huneeus, the owner of vineyards in California’s Napa Valley, allegedly conspired with Singer to pretend his daughter played water polo, using a picture of another person. “I think you said this but I just want to confirm. She actually won’t really be part of the water polo team, right?” Huneeus asked Singer. “No, no.” Singer replied. “She doesn’t have to do anything.”
Later, when Singer (at the direction of the government) told Huneeus he was being audited and wanted to make sure they had their stories straight, Huneeus asked if he thought he was “a moron.”
John Wilson, the founder and CEO of a private equity and real estate development firm, allegedly schemed with Singer to bribe Stanford’s sailing coach, John Vandeloer.
Devin Sloane, the founder and CEO of the drinking and wastewater system company AquaTecture, bought water polo gear on Amazon and had his son pose with the gear. His son was apparently standing on the bottom of a pool instead of swimming.
Elisabeth Kimmel, the owner and president of the media company Midwest Television, was allegedly involved in a scheme that involved pretending her son was an elite pole vaulter. He was described as a “3 year Varsity Letterman” and “one of the top pole vaulters in the state of California.” He was admitted to USC.