- William “Rick” Singer is the alleged ringleader of the massive college-admissions scandal unveiled Tuesday.
- The US Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts accused Singer of paying off college coaches, administrators, and standardised-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, is 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 has resulted in the prosecution of 33 parents, including celebrity Felicity Huffman, and 13 college coaches and other business associates.
Singer is the alleged mastermind of the scheme that brought in millions of dollars by creating fraudulent college applications for prospective college students by fudging test scores, creating fake identities, and editing photos by putting kids’ faces onto athletes bodies to portray them as having athletic abilities they do not 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 to court filings.
Singer owned The Key, a college-counseling and -preparation business and nonprofit.
Singer owned and ran two organisations 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 the brochure on 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 nonprofit, The Key Worldwide Foundation, designed to disguised payments made for Singer’s illicit services, according to authorities.
Singer’s nonprofit, The Key Worldwide Foundation, was created in 2012, according to court 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 site. The foundation said it donated to other nonprofits and ran its own scholarship programs.
But according to the Department of Justice, the nonprofit was used by Singer to take payments for his illicit services that looked like donations and issue payments to coaches and other parties.
Singer is charged with facilitating cheating on standardised tests and helping parents and applicants create fraudulent application materials.
According to the criminal complaint filed by the Justice Department against Singer, he facilitated arrangements for applicants to have third parties take standardised tests for them and encouraged parents to fraudulently claim their child had a disability to secure extra time on tests.
Singer is also accused of bribing multiple proctors of standardised tests with payments of up to $US10,000 a student. In exchange, proctors would assist in replacing students’ answers or allow others to take the test in a student’s place.
Singer was said to have been paid up to $US75,000 for one test arrangement.
Singer has also been charged with bribing university sports coaches and administrators to designate students as recruited athletes regardless of their athletic ability.
Singer is accused of paying university sports coaches and administrators millions of dollars to designate students as recruited athletes, regardless of ability.
Singer is accused of paying coaches at at least eight universities millions of dollars in the scheme.
The money is said to have gone to the coaches, the university’s athletic programs, and private businesses run by the coaches.
It appears that aspects of Singer’s business were legitimate.
According to a 2005 Sacramento Business Journal story, aspects of Singer’s work appeared to be legitimate, at least at the time.
For his counseling services, he would reportedly charge “$US1,500 a year for high school freshmen; $US2,000 for sophomores and $US2,500 a year for juniors or seniors.” The costs are far less than $US100,000 average listed by the Justice Department.
In the piece, clients described coaching calls in which Singer would instruct students on how to study for standardised tests. At the time of the article, Singer reportedly had 724 clients and created $US1 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’s Amazon page.
In videos posted on YouTube and Facebook, Singer discussed the idea, telling the story of a student who created a climate-change-oriented group that she carried into her Ivy League university.
Singer operated his businesses out his California mansion, valued at $US2.6 million.
According to Singer’s website, his businesses were operated out of his California mansion.
His Newport Beach home is worth $US2.6 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 were filed against him by the Justice Department.
Singer claimed to have numerous degrees and was reportedly a seasoned athlete.
Singer told the Sacramento Business Journal in 2005 that he had bachelor’s 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 on Tuesday, Singer reportedly told the judge: “I am responsible. I put all the people in place,”MassLive.com reported.
Singer was released on $US500,000 bond and will be sentenced on June 19. He faces up to 65 years in prison and a fine of up to $US1.25 million.
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