The former womenâ€™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 nationâ€™s top universities.
In a conspiracy engineered by California businessman William â€œRickâ€ Singer that extends from elite schools to celebrities and wealthy executives, parents spent anywhere from $200,000 to $6.5 million to guarantee their childrenâ€™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 â€œOperation Varsity Bluesâ€ 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.
â€œAll of them knowingly conspired with Singer and others to help their children either cheat on the ACT or Sat and or buy their childrenâ€™s admission to elite schools through fraud,â€ Lelling said.
â€œThere will not be a separate admissions system for the wealthy,” Lelling said. “And there will not be a separate criminal justice system either…â€œ
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 Singerâ€™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 studentsâ€™ admission to Yale.
More parents could be indicted as the investigation continues. …
â€œAs the indictment makes clear, the Department of Justice believes that Yale has been the victim of a crime perpetrated by its former womenâ€™s soccer coach,â€ Yale spokesman Thomas Conroy said Tuesday. â€œThe university has cooperated fully in the investigation and will continue to cooperate as the case moves forward.â€
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 studentâ€™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 Singerâ€™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 womenâ€™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 governmentâ€™s investigation since April 2018 with the hope of receiving leniency when he is sentenced, according to the government.
â€œBeginning 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 womenâ€™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 applicantâ€™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 applicantâ€™s father, according to court documents.
The two men are charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud.
â€œThe corrupt behavior alleged by the Department of Justice is an affront to our universityâ€™s deeply held values of inclusion and fairness,â€ Yale President Peter Salovey wrote in a letter to the university community Tuesday. â€œI am committed to making certain the integrity of the admissions and athletic recruitment processes is not undermined again.â€
“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 â€œto explore new possibilities and begin a different chapter in my life.â€
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.
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.
Long-time Federal and State Prosecutor George Parry has some comments on the pre-dawn FBI paramilitary operation mounted last Friday to arrest 66-year-old, wealthy, advisor-to-presidents Roger Stone.
Long ago, as a Special Attorney with the Justice Departmentâ€™s Organized Crime and Racketeering Section, I participated in planning and â€” in a handful of instances â€” executing arrests of members of La Cosa Nostra and their associates. From personal observation, I early on concluded that, in apprehending mobsters, one of the primary threats to agent safety was the risk of fratricide, i.e., one amped-up, anxious and heavily armed agent accidentally shooting some other amped-up, anxious and heavily armed agent. The FBI, ATF, and other federal agents with whom I was privileged to work shared that concern. For that reason, they planned operations meticulously and kept the number of arresting agents to the absolute minimum in order to reduce the risk of injury or error.
To that end, I opted whenever possible to avoid arrests altogether by having defense counsel surrender their clients at the marshalâ€™s lock up during regular business hours. From the mediaâ€™s standpoint, the visuals must have been underwhelming. But then, we didnâ€™t much care about meeting the needs of the news media. Having targets surrender was simple, held down down costs, and reduced the risk of harm to one and all.
This is not to say that we never made arrests. Sometimes, we had no choice.
I recall one early morning arrest of a violence-prone mobster. The assigned agents were aware that the target was at a bar with his girlfriend. Since we wanted to take him at his home so that the premises could be searched incident to arrest, the agents parked outside his residence and waited for him to show up.
Around 6:00 A.M., the target arrived and went inside with his girlfriend. Two FBI agents (the total number needed to take down this dangerous felon and conduct the search) knocked on the door. A split second later, the target stepped outside, slammed the door behind him, and announced, â€œOkay, letâ€™s go.â€
By this tactic, he had cleverly defeated our plan to search his residence.
Despite the targetâ€™s extensive criminal record, one of the agents said to him, â€œVinnie [not his real name], if you promise to behave, I wonâ€™t put you in cuffs.â€ The violent felon smiled and said, â€œDeal.â€ Thus, he was transported without handcuffs or incident to the federal building where he was processed.
Thatâ€™s how the old Hoover era FBI rolled.
But today, with the example of Special Counsel Robert Mueller and the FBIâ€™s recent daring dawn raid and arrest of serial false declarant Roger Stone, it is apparent that my ancient generation of federal law enforcement had it all wrong. Team Muellerâ€™s use of 29 agents plus CNN video support elements were confronted with a challenging tactical problem. Despite the fact that Stone has no prior criminal record, he is nevertheless 66 years old. This is an age when people are sometimes cranky and disagreeable. Obviously, those 29 agents were necessary to establish tactical dominance and to quickly subdue this lawless false declarant. Hopefully, the overwhelming show of force prevented Stone from making any further false declarations during the course of his arrest.
And, equally important, the visuals of the assault broadcast by the CNN tactical elements undoubtedly will serve as a deterrent to others who may harbor thoughts of uttering untruths sworn or otherwise.
All of which leads me to shake my wooly gray head and wonder aloud if any of these two-fisted crime fighters who took down the cunning and dangerous Roger Stone are in any way embarrassed by their participation in this vaudeville act.
I mean, come on! 29 agents? Seriously? Once upon a time, you could have invaded a small country with that much firepower much less arrest a white haired gadfly who allegedly lied to the authorities. Is the wimp quotient really that high in todayâ€™s FBI?
Or was there some other reason for this televised silliness? Could it be that Mueller and his team of Hillary Clinton acolytes are trying to fool us with their comedy act? Is this ridiculous armed raid supposed to distract us from the humiliating fact that the Team Mueller elephant has once again given birth to a mouse? Is this an act of misdirection calculated to obscure the fact that Muellerâ€™s Hillary Clinton fan club seems incapable of bringing nothing but process crime indictments devoid of any evidence of Trump-Russia collusion?
There was obviously no justification whatsoever for that pre-dawn raid, which was clearly a flagrant abuse of power and authority intended to cow and humiliate the arrested ally of a political adversary.
Donald Trump is President of the United States, and he should tolerate neither this kind of official misconduct nor a Special Counsel and a Federal Police Agency waging war against himself and his Administration under color of the Law.
Trump should pardon Roger Stone, Michael Flynn, Paul Mannafort, and everybody else on Mueller’s list of indictments, fire Mueller, announce that he is firing everyone currently employed by the FBI and CIA, abolishing those two current agencies, and creating a new replacement of the latter Intelligence Service. There never should have been a Federal United States Secret Police in the first place. Trump should then announce a new investigation aimed at prosecuting people misusing offices and laws of the United States to attack an elected president for treason.
[W]e know that the chain of events associated with the case of Trump’s “criminal collusion with Putin” looks like this:
Trump’s political opponents during the primaries hired the firm Fusion GPS, which specializes in opposition research, to dig up some dirt on Trump
After Trump won the primaries, Fusion GPS lost the customer, but just for a short while
The new customers of the dirt on Trump become the Hillary Clinton campaign and the DNC
The new customers requested dirt on Trump from Fusion GPS, not only in the American domain but also in the international arena
To add international dimension, Fusion GPS hired a subcontractor â€“ former resident of British intelligence in Moscow Christopher Steele, known for his open anti-Trump beliefs
Christopher Steele hired some former agents of the Russian intelligence services (against whom he once fought during the Cold War)
The agents of Russian intelligence services concoct a dirty file on Trump (linguistic analysis confirmed that this dossier was written in “Russian English” with minimal editing by native English speakers)
It is still unclear as to what extent these Russian agents were the “former” agents of the Russian intelligence services (that is, to what extent this dossier is fiction, and to what extent is it the deliberate work of the KGB/FSB disinformation effort)
Trump’s dossier, compiled by the Russians, gets to the FBI through the Assistant Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr, who received it from his wife. At that time, she was working for Fusion GPS and was a part of the anti-Trump research team
The FBI used this dossier as one of the key arguments in the secret intelligence court FISC to obtain a warrant to wiretap the Trump campaign
In other words, the Obama administration used a dossier concocted by Russian agents to legitimize its surveillance of their political opposition.
According to the memo, FBI leaders knew precisely where the dossier came from, but in the application to the FISC, they presented the dossier as a proven fact, and not as opposition research. It was not just a mere bureaucratic mistake — the FBI used the dossier in such a way not once, but at least four times.
As a result, the Trump campaign was under surveillance by the FBI before the elections, after the elections, and even after the inauguration of President Trump.
WASHINGTONâ€”Stressing that such an action would be highly reckless, FBI Director Christopher Wray warned Thursday that releasing the â€œNunes Memoâ€ could potentially undermine faith in the massive, unaccountable government secret agencies of the United States. â€œMaking this memo public will almost certainly impede our ability to conduct clandestine activities operating outside any legal or judicial system on an international scale,â€ said Wray, noting that it was essential that mutual trust exist between the American people and the vast, mysterious cabal given free rein to use any tactics necessary to conduct surveillance on U.S. citizens or subvert religious and political groups. â€œIf we take away the peopleâ€™s faith in this shadowy monolith exempt from any consequences, all thatâ€™s left is an extensive network of rogue, unelected intelligence officers carrying out extrajudicial missions for a variety of subjective, and occasionally personal, reasons.â€ At press time, Wray confirmed the massive, unaccountable government secret agencies were unaware of any wrongdoing for violating constitutional rights.
Billy, the celebrated Rat Killing Dog, London, circa 1823
Peter Ferrara, at the America Spectator, says don’t fire Robert Mueller. Instead, fire and replace his boss with just the right personality.
Now there is one master stroke left for Trump to play to drive the stake through the heart of this attempted fascist coup against America, led today by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, the only barely still functioning corporal in the fascist army.
Muellerâ€™s boss, who originally recommended him for appointment, is Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who seems to be at the center of the fascist coup today. Trumpâ€™s essential master stroke would be to fire Rosenstein and appoint Rudy Giuliani as Deputy Attorney General in his place.
Giuliani would then be Muellerâ€™s boss, with first-hand knowledge of whatever Mueller is doing, right or wrong. Giuliani would effectively be a Super Special Counsel, but operating within the Justice Department, in accordance with Americaâ€™s Constitutional framework.
Giuliani knows what laws apply to professionals at the FBI and at Justice. After many years as the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, which covers Manhattan, Wall Street, and New York City, he knows how to proceed with preservation and collection of evidence, and prosecution of crimes. Expect an immediate exodus of all the Fascist coup co-conspirators, like cockroaches all scurrying about when the light is turned on in the dark basement downstairs.
Giuliani could also fire and replace Obama/Hillary co-conspirator Christopher Wray, current head of the FBI. Bring in former FBI Assistant Director James Kallstrom to replace him, a true patriot committed to restoring the integrity of the FBI.
Giuliani would know how to cooperate professionally with Trumpâ€™s appointed AG Jeff Sessions. He would actually be a great aid to AG Sessions, helping him to keep on top of the entire Department. Giuliani would know what materials can and should be released to the public, and how to do it legally.
History would record this one move as the beginning of the end of the fascist coup against America, and of the Trump resistance. The only question left would be what did Obama know, and when did he know it. Giuliani has the background to know how to uncover that as well.