Green­wich lawyer placed on leave after cheat­ing-scan­dal ac­cu­sa­tion

Greenwich Time - - FRONT PAGE - By Robert Marchant

GREEN­WICH — A lawyer from Green­wich ac­cused of tak­ing part in a col­lege-ad­mis­sions cheat­ing scan­dal is now fac­ing pro­fes­sional sanc­tions as well as fed­eral crim­i­nal charges.

Gor­don Ca­plan was named as a par­tic­i­pant in an il­le­gal scheme to boost his daugh­ter’s test scores, and now his in­ter­na­tional law firm has placed him on leave.

“As widely re­ported, one of our part­ners, Gor­don Ca­plan, was among the per­sons charged in the col­lege ad­mis­sions mat­ter. This is a per­sonal mat­ter and does not in­volve Wil­lkie or any of

its clients. In light of the se­ri­ous­ness of the mat­ter, Mr. Ca­plan has been placed on a leave of ab­sence from the Firm and will have no fur­ther Firm man­age­ment re­spon­si­bil­i­ties,” ac­cord­ing to a state­ment from Wil­lkie Farr & Gal­lagher re­leased Wed­nes­day.

Ca­plan did not re­turn re­quests for com­ment this week. Wilkie Farr is a top law firm with of­fices in New York City and around the world.

He was among more than 40 par­ents named in the scheme Tues­day who were charged with con­spir­acy to com­mit mail fraud and mail fraud. Ca­plan ap­peared Tues­day in U.S. Dis­trict Court in New York and was re­leased on $500,000 bond.

Ac­cord­ing to the De­part­ment of Jus­tice, the charges of con­spir­acy to com­mit mail fraud and hon­est ser­vices mail fraud carry a max­i­mum sen­tence of 20 years in prison. A fine of $250,000 can also be levied.

Fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors say Ca­plan was caught on a wire­tap dis­cussing a $75,000 pay­ment to have his daugh­ter’s an­swers cor­rected on her ACT test.

The cheat­ing scan­dal cen­tered on Wil­liam “Rick” Singer, the now-in­dicted founder of The Key, a col­lege prep com­pany.

“I can guar­an­tee her a score. If it’s ACT, I can guar­an­tee her a score in the, in the 30s. And if it’s the SAT, I can guar­an­tee her a score in the 1400s,” Singer told Ca­plan on a wire-tapped phone call re­leased in the crim­i­nal com­plaint.

The two al­legedly agreed to a $75,000 pay­ment, ac­cord­ing to the fed­eral al­le­ga­tions, which was wired to a fraud­u­lent non­profit run by Singer on the West Coast.

In all, 50 peo­ple were charged Tues­day with bribery and fraud, for­mer women’s soc­cer coach at Yale and ac­tresses Felic­ity Huff­man and Lori Lough­lin, ac­cord­ing to doc­u­ments un­sealed in fed­eral court in Bos­ton. Pros­e­cu­tors said Singer made mil­lions help­ing rich par­ents get their kids into elite col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties by cheat­ing on col­lege en­trance ex­ams or get­ting re­cruited as ath­letes for sports they don’t play.

Singer guided Ca­plan through a process that al­lowed his daugh­ter, who was at­tend­ing an on­line high school, to gain spe­cial per­mis­sion to take an ACT exam with an ex­tended time limit. The exam was sched­uled to be ad­min­is­tered in West Hol­ly­wood, Calif., where an al­leged con­spir­a­tor, a for­mer ten­nis player at Har­vard, Mark Rid­dell, was en­listed to “proc­tor” the exam and change wrong an­swers to give the daugh­ter a high score, fed­eral au­thor­i­ties al­lege.

Ca­plan was ner­vous about the scheme, the court fil­ings state. “To be hon­est, it feels a lit­tle weird,” he said on one wire­tapped call re­leased by the FBI.

Ca­plan men­tioned the pos­si­bil­ity of get­ting his child into Cor­nell, where he went as an un­der­grad­u­ate. The plan was for the ACT score to come in at 32 to 34 points, the com­plaint states. The max­i­mum score is a 36, and the daugh­ter’s high­est score on a prac­tice test so far had been 22, the com­plaint states. The crim­i­nal com­plaint did not spec­ify her fi­nal score or where she went to col­lege.

Ca­plan re­ceived a pub­lic ser­vice award from Ford­ham Law School in 2016 and was named a “Deal­maker of the Year” by Amer­i­can Lawyer for his role in guid­ing Hud­son’s Bay Com­pany through a se­ries of strate­gic trans­ac­tions. In 2014, Ca­plan was named one of North Amer­ica’s Top 50 merg­ers and ac­qui­si­tions lawyers by the Global M&A Net­work.

Julie Ja­cob­son / As­so­ci­ated Press

Gor­don Ca­plan, of Green­wich walks out of fed­eral court in New York on Tues­day.

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