Actresses charged in college admissions cheating scheme
The University of Southern California said it has fired its senior associate athletic director and water polo coach following today's charges in the college admissions scheme.
Donna Heinel, USC’s senior associate athletic director, and water polo coach Jovan Vavic were charged in connection with the cheating scandal.
In a statement, USC said it is also conducting an internal investigation.
Read USC's full statement:
We are aware of the ongoing wide-ranging criminal investigation involving universities nationwide, including USC. USC has not been accused of any wrongdoing and will continue to cooperate fully with the government’s investigation.
We understand that the government believes that illegal activity was carried out by individuals who went to great lengths to conceal their actions from the university. USC is conducting an internal investigation. Donna Heinel and Jovan Vavic have been terminated and the university will take additional employment actions as appropriate.
USC is in the process of identifying any funds received by the university in connection with this alleged scheme. Additionally, the university is reviewing its admissions processes broadly to ensure that such actions do not occur going forward.
Former Stanford University head sailing coach John Vandemoer pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy in Boston federal court today related to an alleged conspiracy to get students into top colleges.
Vandemoer said in court that he didn’t pocket money that he was given. Instead, he said he used the money to buy new materials for the Stanford sailing team.
The judge recommended half of the sentencing guidelines and a sentencing hearing has been set for June.
Vandemoer was released on his own recognizance and didn’t make any remarks to reporters when he left court.
Stanford announced earlier today that they fired Vandemoer.
The College Board — the non-profit group that administers the SAT — just sent out a statement on the college admissions charges.
“Today’s arrests resulting from an investigation conducted by the US Attorney’s Office in Massachusetts send a clear message that those who facilitate cheating on the SAT — regardless of their income or status — will be held accountable," Jerome White, the board's director of media relations and external communications, said in the statement emailed to CNN.
"The College Board has a comprehensive, robust approach to combat cheating, and we work closely with law enforcement as part of those efforts. We will always take all necessary steps to ensure a level playing field for the overwhelming majority of test takers who are honest and play by the rules."
William Rick Singer’s attorney Donald H. Heller told reporters his client is "very remorseful" about the scheme and plans to cooperate with the government.
“He is excited to cooperate because he wanted to get this matter behind him," Heller said. “Information is very detailed and I’m sure there are more things coming out."
Heller went on to say that Singer "feels relieved that this part is over.”
William Rick Singer appeared in court today after he agreed to plead guilty in a college admission scheme that he operated.
After Assistant US Attorney Eric Rosen outlined the charges against Singer, he admitted, “Everything Mr. Rosen said is 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.”
He went on to say that he bribed coaches, an act he said occurred "very frequently."
Singer's charity account, which contains $5.2 million, was seized, according to prosecutors in court. His brother was expected to post his $500,000 bond.
Singer was later seen walking out of federal court.
His sentencing is scheduled for June 19.
William Rick Singer, the man who owned and operated Edge College and Career Network LLC (“The Key”) at the center of the collegiate scheme, has pleaded guilty to four charges:
- Racketeering conspiracy
- Money laundering
- Tax conspiracy
- Obstruction of Justice
- A maximum of 65 years in prison
- Three years of supervised release
- $1.25m dollar fine
- $400 special assessment
He is appearing before Judge Rya Zobel in a Massachusetts federal court.
Actress Lori Loughlin, best known for her role as Aunt Becky on "Full House," is on a flight to Los Angeles, where she is expected to surrender at the Central District Court later this afternoon, according to a law enforcement source.
Loughlin is facing a felony charge – conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud – for her alleged involvement in the college admissions scheme known as “Operation Varsity Blues."
Cooperating witness number one referenced throughout the criminal complaint is William Rick Singer, according to a law enforcement source.
William “Rick” Singer – the man who owned and operated Edge College and Career Network LLC (“The Key”) at the center of the collegiate scheme – will appear in Federal court in Boston today where he is expected to plead guilty.
A bio that appears on his website states Singer and team have coached, counseled and mentored over 90,000 adults.
He also wrote a book called “Getting In: Gaining Admission to your College of Choice." In a description on Amazon, that book promises "easy to understand and simple to follow steps to improve the odds of getting in to the college of your choosing."
One Amazon reviewer writes, "This book is a must -- allow Rick Singer to wave his magic pixy dust all over your life. You will be changed for the better."