Three Texas residents charged in nationwide college scheme
Three Texas residents have been indicted in a college testing scheme that helped arrange bribes, facilitated cheating on major college entrance exams, and coordinated under-the-table recruitment in order to get students into elite universities around the country.
Houston resident Lisa “Niki” Williams, who administered the exams at a test center a local public high school, was indicted on charges of conspiracy to commit racketeering for “facilitating cheating on ACT and SAT exams in exchange for bribes,” and allowing a third party to take tests for students and provide or correct students’ responses on exams, according to court documents.
Martin Fox, a Houston resident described as a president of a private tennis camp, was indicted on a conspiracy to commit racketeering charge. According to court documents, Fox arranged and organized several bribes, including bribes to Williams and to University of Texas at Austin tennis coach Michael Center.
Center, charged with “conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud,” accepted roughly $100,000 in bribes in exchange for recruiting a student to the tennis team despite the applicant not playing competitive tennis, the indictment says.
Almost 50 people across the country involved with the case have been charged and more than a dozen arrests have been made, according to a release from the Department of Justice.
For-profit college counseling and preparation program Edge College and Career Network, also known as “The Key,” was behind the nationwide scheme, for which parents paid anywhere between $15,000 and $75,000 per test, according to documents.
Its director, William “Rick” Singer, 58, of Newport Beach, Calif., served as CEO of nonprofit corporation Key Worldwide Foundation, a purported charity which funneled payments and disguised bribes as charitable payments between 2011 and February 2019, court documents stated.
Singer worked with parents and coached them on forms of fraud and bribery to get children into colleges. He was charged with racketeering conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy and obstruction of justice.