High-Priced Lawyer Caught Up in College Admissions Scheme

Although famous celebrities may have gotten the most press attention in the college admissions cheating scandal, one high-priced lawyer is also caught up in the fray. Authorities say that attorney Gordon Caplan also took part in the scheme. He’s a co-chairman at the law firm of Willkie Farr & Gallagher in New York. Desperate Housewives star Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin of Hallmark Channel and Full House fame are also charged in the scandal.

Willkie Farr & Gallagher placed Caplan on a leave of absence. They say that others have taken over management responsibilities for the firm. The charges against Caplan include honest services mail fraud and generic mail fraud. Authorities allege that he paid $75,000 for someone to cheat on an ACT exam for his daughter. The FBI built their case using wiretapped phone calls with Caplan and a cooperating witness.

Authorities say Caplan isn’t the only one involved. They say that dozens of parents cheated in a variety of ways including bribing test proctors to change test answers or negotiating to have children recruited as student-athletes even if they never played the sport. They say that the cheating scandal resulted in admissions to some of the most elite universities throughout the United States including Yale, the University of Texas, as the University of Southern California. Some students went as far as to stage or photoshop photos that showed them playing a sport even though they have no experience with the sport.

In a report by the Washington Post, representatives from the universities say that they had no part in the cheating schemes. They say that they were duped by coaches. Some schools have taken steps to remove participating coaches. Other schools say that they are considering rescinding offers of admission even if students have already started at the school.

William Rick Singer is the alleged center point of the scandal. They say that he ran a college entry preparatory business called the Edge College & Career Network. They say from there he collected bribes through a nonprofit called Key Worldwide Foundation. Sometimes, parents paying bribes deducted their bribes from tax liabilities by calling them charitable contributions.

Singer advised students to take the exam at specified test centers. He arranged for the students to claim they had disabilities that required more time to complete the exams. From there he worked with proctors to change test results.

Authorities say that they have a recorded phone call between a cooperating witness and Caplan. In the recording, Singer assures Caplan that the students involved don’t even know about the scheme. They say the children are just pleasantly surprised when they see their test results. In the phone call, Caplan says that he’s interested in having his daughter fly to Los Angeles for testing with a proctor from the company. Caplan also considered having someone take online courses as Caplan’s daughter in order to boost her GPA.

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