THE ADMISSIONS SCANDAL – SHOULD WE BE SHOCKED OR IS IT THE SAME OLD STORY, TOLD DIFFERENTLY?

By Robert J. Brass, Esq.
Partner, Criminal Litigation
            Anyone, who has applied to be admitted to a college or a graduate school or has children who have applied to an institution of higher learning, has experienced the trepidation of submitting the application and, waiting to see if you (or your child) is considered “good enough” to meet the standards of that college or university.
          How devastated the applicant is, who receives a rejection letter from the institution, when you “knew” that you were highly qualified based upon your SAT, LSAT, etc. scores, transcripts and other submissions,
          How much more devastated one feels, now that we found out the system is rigged, at some institutions; and, admission is based upon how much you are prepared to bribe the admissions office, the coach, the SAT or ACT administrator, etc. to be admitted; or, to have your child admitted.
          Dozens of individuals involved in a nationwide conspiracy that facilitated cheating on college entrance exams and the admission of students to elite universities as purported athletic recruits were arrested by federal agents in multiple states and charged in documents unsealed on March 12, 2019, in federal court in Boston.
          The defendants, among them some prominent individuals, included the parents of applicants, who are alleged to have bribed college officials to get their unqualified offspring into one of the affected universities.  Some of the charges include: racketeering conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, conspiracy to defraud the US, obstruction of justice, conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and honest services wire fraud, honest services wire fraud, and more, between 2011 and February 2019.
          According to the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts, “William “Rick” Singer, 58, of Newport Beach, Calif., was charged with racketeering conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy and obstruction of justice. Singer owned and operated the Edge College & Career Network LLC (“The Key”) – a for-profit college counseling and preparation business – and served as the CEO of the Key Worldwide Foundation (KWF) – a non-profit corporation that he established as a purported charity”

           The U.S. Attorney’s Office further stated that “Singer allegedly conspired with dozens of parents, athletic coaches, a university athletics administrator, and others, to use bribery and other forms of fraud to secure the admission of students to colleges and universities including Yale University, Georgetown University, Stanford University, the University of Southern California, and Wake Forest University, among others. Also charged for their involvement in the scheme are 33 parents and 13 coaches and associates of Singer’s businesses, including two SAT and ACT test administrators”.  

             All are facing very serious time in federal prison, according to the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.

WE ARE SHOCKED!!!! …………..  BUT, SHOULD WE BE??????

Did you think that the admissions process was fair?  Think again!!!

             Have you ever heard of preferences being given to the children or grandchildren of very rich contributors to university or an alumni association?  How about the father/mother or grandfather/grandmother or uncle/aunt, who has his/her name on the university library building or the university gym?  Are we so naïve to think their offspring were not given an unfair “leg up” in the admissions process? The CNN, FOX, MSNBC talk news shows, featuring attorneys and other “talking heads” have pondered the question of whether these types of “donations” in return for special treatment could rise to the level of the current indictments.

             Will the federal prosecutors be handing down more indictments, charging these big contributors and the university administrators, who accept their “contributions”; and, then, give a seat in the freshman class to the “contributors” son/daughter/grandson/ granddaughter?  Or, will the Justice Department turn a blind eye, when the bribe or payoff is disguised as a “contribution” to the school?
On March 13, 2019, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said that he will introduce a bill stripping tax benefits for donations made to universities and colleges before or during the enrollment of children of the donor’s family.

Stay tuned!!!!!!

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