13 Mar 2019

Unethical Certainly, but a Federal Crime?

, , , , , , , ,

The Hartford Courant pays special attention to the Yale angle.

The former women’s soccer coach at Yale University and a Greenwich lawyer are among 50 people who have been indicted in a vast college admissions scam the government says was carried out by unscrupulous college officials, a crooked admissions consultant and wealthy parents willing to pay bribes to get their children into some of the nation’s top universities.

In a conspiracy engineered by California businessman William “Rick” Singer that extends from elite schools to celebrities and wealthy executives, parents spent anywhere from $200,000 to $6.5 million to guarantee their children’s admissions to elite schools, said Andrew E. Lelling, the U.S. Attorney in Boston.

The college admissions system was rigged against students who worked hard, got good grades and engaged in community service who sought admission to elite colleges and universities, Lelling said Tuesday in announcing the indictments. The FBI called the investigation “Operation Varsity Blues” and said about 300 FBI and IRS agents arrested 46 people on Tuesday.

In addition to Yale soccer coach Rudy Meredith, 33 parents were indicted for their role in the scheme, Lelling said. They include the actors Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, CEOs, and others, such as Gordon R. Caplan of Greenwich, co-chairman of the global law firm Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP in New York. Caplan has not responded to a request for comment.

“All of them knowingly conspired with Singer and others to help their children either cheat on the ACT or Sat and or buy their children’s admission to elite schools through fraud,” Lelling said.

“There will not be a separate admissions system for the wealthy,” Lelling said. “And there will not be a separate criminal justice system either…“

Bribes were paid and frauds committed to gain admission for students to colleges such as Boston University, Yale University, Boston College, Northeastern University, Georgetown University, the University of Southern California, the University of California San Diego, the University of California Los Angeles, Wake Forest University, Stanford University and the University of Texas at Austin.

Lelling said it would be up to the colleges and universities who were the victims of the alleged frauds to determine what, if anything, to do with the students admitted under what the government says were fraudulent circumstances.

The government called Singer, 58, of Newport Beach, Calif., the mastermind of the scheme. He ran a college counseling and preparation business called The Edge College and Career Network LLC, which was known as The Key, and the nonprofit Key Worldwide Foundation, which the government says was nothing more than a sham organization that laundered the millions Singer’s company took in. Singer, who cooperated with federal agents during the investigation, was expected to plead guilty Tuesday to racketeering conspiracy, money laundering and other crimes.

In once instance, according to the court documents, Singer accepted a $1.2 million payment from a parent to secure a students’ admission to Yale.

More parents could be indicted as the investigation continues. …

“As the indictment makes clear, the Department of Justice believes that Yale has been the victim of a crime perpetrated by its former women’s soccer coach,” Yale spokesman Thomas Conroy said Tuesday. “The university has cooperated fully in the investigation and will continue to cooperate as the case moves forward.”

The government said it was tipped to the scheme while in the midst of an unrelated investigation.

There were three elements to the scheme: bribing SAT or ACT exam administrators to allow a person to secretly take the test in the place of a student, or to correct the student’s answers; pay bribes to university athletic coaches and administrators to have students admitted under the guise of being recruited as athletes, and using the facade of Singer’s charitable foundation to launder money and pay bribes. Some would then deduct on their taxes payments made to the phony foundation.

Longtime Yale coach Rudy Meredith, who resigned in November, is accused of accepting a $400,000 check from the family of a Yale applicant he ensured would be admitted to the university as part of the women’s soccer team, according to court documents. Meredith, who is accused of working in concert with Singer, has agreed to plead guilty to wire fraud, honest services wire fraud, and conspiracy and has been cooperating with the government’s investigation since April 2018 with the hope of receiving leniency when he is sentenced, according to the government.

“Beginning in or about 2015, Meredith agreed with Singer and others known and unknown to the United States Attorney to accept bribes in exchange for designating applicants to Yale as recruits for the Yale women’s soccer team, and thereby facilitating their admission to the university, in violation of the duty of honest services he owed to Yale as his employer,” according to court documents.

The applicant’s family paid Singer and his associated businesses about $1.2 million as part of the scheme, according to court documents.

That applicant did not play competitive soccer and Singer is accused of preparing a phony athletic profile to be used during the admissions process that made the student appear to be a co-captain of a prominent club soccer team in southern California.

Meredith agreed to secure a spot at Yale for another applicant in exchange for $450,000 from the applicant’s father, according to court documents.

The two men are charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud.

“The corrupt behavior alleged by the Department of Justice is an affront to our university’s deeply held values of inclusion and fairness,” Yale President Peter Salovey wrote in a letter to the university community Tuesday. “I am committed to making certain the integrity of the admissions and athletic recruitment processes is not undermined again.”

“As the investigation unfolds, the university may take further actions. I will work closely with our athletics director and dean of undergraduate admissions to make any necessary changes to protect the university from the kind of criminal behavior the Department of Justice described today,” Salovey said.

Meredith, who lived in Madison, resigned from Yale in November and said he was leaving to after 24 years “to explore new possibilities and begin a different chapter in my life.”

Caplan, the Greenwich resident and lawyer in New York, is accused of paying Singer to help his daughter achieve a top score on the ACT, a college entrance exam, by having her purport to have a learning disability.

Caplan paid $75,000 last December to ensure that his daughter would get the desired score on the ACT, according to the indictment.

RTWT

$1.2 million to get into Yale? All I can say is: Wow!

Apparently, earlier this morning, in one of those disgraceful and utterly unnecessary dawn raids, Felicity Huffman was arrested by FBI agents with drawn guns!

Donald Trump really ought to put a stop to unnecessary dawn arrests and unnecessary displays of federal force. This kind of thing is patently an abuse of authority.

Reading about this scandal for the first time yesterday afternoon, I was, like most of America, I expect, basically amused. Parental desperation and excessive ambition is really a theme for comedy. Everybody knows perfectly well, after all, that representatives of the Kennedy and other dynasties, however lacking in intellectual orientation and however delinquent, get automatic entrée into Harvard.

Everybody knows that standards for representatives of minority victim groups are dramatically lowered, while standards for model minority Asians are dramatically raised. Everybody knows that there will be a large thumb on the scale in favor of the scion of plutocrat alumnus that paid for the University’s new science laboratory.

Life is not entirely fair.

Of course, bribing soccer coaches and cheating on tests is obviously wrong, and a number of schools and national testing services ought to be embarrassed, but I have trouble myself seeing just where the FBI and the IRS come into this.

Have we really reached the state of affairs in which every piece of chicanery, every payoff, every case of cheating is a FEDERAL CRIME?

Felicity Huffman was arrested for “conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud.” Singer and Meredith are accused of “wire fraud, honest services wire fraud, and conspiracy.” Are wire fraud and mail fraud different or exactly the same thing? Who knows? Where did the mail or the telephone or telegraph come into any of this anyway?

Are we supposed to assume that because Felicity Huffman’s daughter’s college application was mailed, or emailed, in, and Felicity paid for some cheating on her daughter’s tests, that made it mail or wire fraud and brought the whole affair under federal jurisdiction?

This sounds to me exactly like the cases of federal authority brought under the principle of federal jurisdiction over Navigable Waterways and applied to some guy’s backyard that has seasonal rain puddles.

StumbleUpon.com
8 Feedbacks on "Unethical Certainly, but a Federal Crime?"

Seattle Sam

This is one of the lesser corruptions of the Yale admissions system.



Scullman

“Donald Trump really ought to put a stop to unnecessary dawn arrests and unnecessary displays of federal force.”

Ya’ mean like the dawn raids the FBI pulled, with more firepower than the Bin Laden OP, on that dangerous international criminal Roger Stone?



Scullman

And don’t forget that dawn roust, guns drawn, on well known desperado in her nightgown, Mrs. Manafort.

Brave Federal Agents.



CM

One article I read indicated that Singer’s nonprofit “charity” was of course tax exempt … so perhaps that is where the Feds decided to draw the line?



Anon

They committed fraud, they conspired to commit a crime, they committed tax fraud, wire fraud, postal fraud and bribery. And that is just the beginning of their list of crimes. But what is most important is for everyone of these fraudulently enrolled students someone, some better qualified student who didn’t commit crimes to get into the school was deprived of their opportunity to attend that school. I can imagine some law suits as a result of this.

I might add that rather ironically the parent’s crimes almost mirror Manafort’s crimes. So perhaps 90 months in jail would be appropriate.

Another irony; these same people who bribed their children into college are the very type who probably felt that Manafort didn’t get a long enough jail sentence. Sweet karma is a bitch isn’t it?



Seattle Sam

How do you suppose the parents who desperately want to win one of the Charter School lotteries feel about this?



Neminem

What this is, is a move to solidify the credentialing “meritocracy” system. It is in danger of being mocked by the hoi-polloi for their incompetence. They need to shore up their bona fides, lest the peasants think they are not the demigods they pretend to be.

Prosecuting a bunch of notables for essentially obtaining credentials fraudulently allows them to blame their systemic incompetence on the “undiscovered fraudsters” corrupting their “pure” and worthy “meritocratic” system.

As an added bonus, now they can also use this example to enforce the boundaries against the ideological defaulters within the credentialing fence, with the implicit threat of wiping out those credentials.



Robert Merriman

Yes, those are federal crimes. Methinks you protest too much.



Comments

Please Leave a Comment!




Please note: Comments may be moderated. It may take a while for them to show on the page.













Feeds
Entries (RSS)
Comments (RSS)
Feed Shark