Reelz releases the documentary fresh on the heels of retired Pacific Investment Management Company (PIMCO) CEO Douglass Hodge being sentenced to two years in jail for bribing colleges into accepting his children. Of the 35 parents charged, prosecutors considered him the “most culpable.” College Admissions Scandal airs Saturday, February 8, 2020 on Reelz at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.
The documentary is about the actresses Felicity Huffman, who went to prison for paying a proctor to correct her daughter’s SAT scores, and Lori Loughlin, who is being charged with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, honest services fraud, money laundering and federal programs bribery.
Huffman paid $15,000 in bribes to increase her daughter Sofia’s SAT scores by 400 point to 1420 out of 1600 perfect score. Laughlin paid $500,000 in bribes to get her daughters into the University of Southern California as a crew recruit.
At the center of the college admissions scandal is William “Rick” Singer. Here’s what we know about him:
William “Rick” Singer Helped Wealthy Parents Get Their Kids Into Elite Colleges
Singer owned a business called “The Key” that helped teenagers develop a personal brand so they could stand out in the crowd of people trying to gain admissions into the top colleges in the country. This company helped wealthy students get better scores on the ACTs or SATs by helping them cheat on the exams.
He also owned a firm called Edge College & Career Network that operated the scam, earning him $25 million between 2011 and 2018. Here he helped parents bribe athletic officials to say a prospective student should be accepted because the student was a recruit for their sports team. But Singer and the coaches knew that the student was not a competitive player, and that his or her athletic profile was fake, an indictment said.
During his hearing at a Boston federal court on Tuesday, Singer pleaded guilty to four charges and admitted the allegations were true. “All of these things, and many more things, I did,” Singer said. “I created a side door that would guarantee families would get in.”
Singer Ran the Largest College Admissions Scam Prosecuted by the Department of Justice
In 2019, CNN reported that Singer’s now deleted website for “The Key” said he was the “CEO and Master Coach of the world’s largest private Life Coaching and College Counseling Company.” The website continued “In 2000, Rick and three other educators created the first online high school, the University of Miami Online High School in which Rick and his team created a student population of over 18,000 students annually paying over $15,000 per year to attend until Kaplan College Preparatory purchased the rights.”
Prior to entering a life of crime, he worked in call centers at The Money Store/First Union Bank and West Corporation, and one of India’s largest call center companies that he sold to ICICI Bank. He also authored the 2014 book, “Getting In” which his now deleted website said was about gaining admission to the college of your choice.
Singer, who is cooperating with authorities, could spend the rest of his life in prison. Singer pleaded guilty to four charges that included racketeering conspiracy, money laundering, tax conspiracy and obstruction of justice. The 58-year-old could face up to 65 years in prison, three years of supervised release, a $1.25 million fine and a $400 special assessment. Sentencing is scheduled for June 19, 2020.
Since first reported, The Key’s website has been changed to an online sports gambling platform. Guidestar, a non profit evaluator that rates non profits on transparency and accountability has not removed the listing for Singer’s fake online profile for his fraudulent business, which claims to help disadvantaged students achieve an education they otherwise would not be able to access. The colleges involved are handling the matter privately and have not been charged with any wrongdoing.