- William “Rick” Singer was the alleged ringleader of a massive college admissions scandal unveiled Tuesday.
- He allegedly paid off college coaches, administrators, and standardized test proctors to get kids into elite universities.
- Singer appears to have a long history in the college admissions business.
- He pleaded guilty to charges in Boston on Tuesday afternoon.
William “Rick” Singer, 58, was the founder of Edge College & Career Network, LLC and CEO of the Key Worldwide Foundation — the companies at the center of the 2019 college admissions scandal that resulted in the prosecution of 33 parents, including celebrity Felicity Huffman, and 13 college coaches and other business associates.
Singer was the alleged mastermind of a scheme that brought in millions of dollars by allegedly creating fraudulent college applications for potential college students by fudging test scores, creating fake identities, and literally photoshopping kids’ faces onto athletes body’s to portray them as having athletic abilities they may not actually have.
Here’s what we know about Singer and his businesses.
In 1992, Singer reportedly started his first counseling business Future Stars College & Career Counseling.
Following his experience with coaching, Singer reportedly started his first college counseling business, Future Stars College & Career Counseling, in Sacramento, California in 1992.
Singer reportedly sold the business to Scott Hamilton, who still runs it according to its website, and left to work for The Money Store, where he worked in recruitment and training.
In 2004, Singer reportedly started The CollegeSource with private investment money, and board backing from an impressive higher education network, including “the president emeritus of Stanford and the director of the Carnegie Foundation.”
Ted Mitchell, the president of Occidental College at the time, told The Sacramento Business Journal that “Rick has an encyclopedic knowledge of colleges and universities in America.”
Singer started “The Key,” three years late in 2007, according tocourt filings.
Singer owned “The Key,” a college counseling and preparation business and a non-profit.
Singer owned and ran two organizations related to the alleged college admissions scheme.
The Edge College & Career Network, LLC was Singer’s for-profit college advising and preparation business, which was primarily known as “The Key Worldwide.”
On its face, the business provided typical college admissions counseling and services beginning in 9th grade, according to thebrochureon its website, including test preparation, developing “a student’s Personal Brand, admissions essay coaching, college selection advice, and application preparation.”
The Key also offered a “special talent program,” the prepared applications based on specific academic, athletic, or other scholarships.
He also ran a non-profit, The Key Worldwide Foundation, which was allegedly designed to disguised payments made for Singer’s illicit services.
Singer’s non-profit, The Key Worldwide Foundation, was created in 2012, according tocourt documents, and was approved to be tax exempt.
On paper, the foundation was set up “to provide guidance, encouragement, and opportunity to disadvantaged students around the world,”according to its website. The foundation said it donated to other non-profits and ran its own scholarship programs.
But according to the Department of Justice, the non-profit was used by Singer to take payments for his illicit services that looked like donations, and issue payments to coaches and other parties.
Singer allegedly facilitated cheating on standardized tests and helped parents and applicants create fraudulent application materials.
According to thecriminal complaint filed by the Justice Department against Singer, he allegedly facilitated arrangements for applicants to have third parties take standardized tests for them and encouraged parents to fraudulently claim their child had a disability to secure extra time on tests.
Singer also allegedly bribed multiple proctors of standardized tests with payments of up to $10,000 per student. In exchange, proctors would assist in replacing students’ answers or allow others to take the test in students’ place.
Singer was allegedly paid up to $75,000 for one test arrangement.
He also allegedly bribed university sports coaches and administrators to designate students as recruited athletes regardless of their athletic ability.
Singer allegedly paid university sports coaches and administrators millions of dollars to designate students as recruited athletes, regardless of their actual athletic ability.
Singer allegedly paid coaches at at least eight universities millions of dollars in the scheme.
The money allegedly went to the coaches themselves, the university’s athletic programs, and private businesses run by the coaches.
It appears that aspects of Singer’s business were legitimate.
According to a 2005 Sacramento Business Journal story, aspects of Singer’s work appeared to be legitimate, at least at the time.
For his counseling services, he would reportedly charge “$1,500 a year for high school freshmen; $2,000 for sophomores and $2,500 a year for juniors or seniors.” The costs are far less than $100,000 average listed by the Justice Department.
In the piece, clients described coaching calls in which Singer would instruct students on how to study for standardized tests.
At the time of the article, Singer reportedly had 724 clients and created $1 million in revenue.
Singer also wrote a book and created videos about college admissions.
In his 2014 self-published book, “Getting In Personal Brands: A Personal Brand is Essential to Gain Admission to the College of Your Choice,” Singer wrote about how college students can create “brands” to get into college, according to the book’sAmazon page.
In videos posted to YouTube and Facebook, Singer discussed the idea, telling the story of a student who supposedly created a climate change oriented group that she carried into her Ivy League university.
Singer operated his businesses out his California mansion which is now valued at $2.6 million.
According to Singer’s own website, his businesses were operated out of his California mansion.
His Newport Beach home is now worth $2.6 million and has 17 rooms, a hot tub, a courtyard, and a four-car garage.
The house was put back on the market on February 20, just weeks before criminal charges werefiled against himby the Justice Department.
Singer claimed to have numerous degrees and was reportedly a seasoned athlete.
Singer told theSacramento Business Journalin 2005 that he had bachelors degrees in English and Physical Education from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas.
He says he would go on to receive a master’s degree in counseling and a doctorate in business and organizational management.
He reportedly got into academic coaching through athletic coaching, claiming to have coached softball, basketball, and tennis at numerous high schools and colleges.
Singer pleaded guilty to racketeering, money laundering, and obstruction of justice in Boston on Tuesday.
In a Boston courtroom, Tuesday, Singer reportedly told the judge, “I am responsible. I put all the people in place,” according toMassLive.com.
Singer was released on $500,000 bond and will be sentenced on June 19. He faces up to 65 years in prison and a fine of up to $1.25 million.
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