Coaches, par­ents in col­lege scheme find jobs in dan­ger

The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By Michael Melia and An­drew Dal­ton As­so­ci­ated Press

LOS AN­GE­LES >> Col­leges and com­pa­nies moved swiftly to dis­tance them­selves from em­ploy­ees swept up in a na­tion­wide col­lege ad­mis­sions scheme, many of them coaches ac­cused of tak­ing bribes and oth­ers promi­nent par­ents ac­cused of an­gling to get their chil­dren into top schools by por­tray­ing them as re­cruited ath­letes.

That celebri­ties were among the ac­cused par­ents — ac­tresses Lori Lough­lin and Felic­ity Huff­man head­line the list — cre­ated much buzz, but other par­ents charged in­cluded peo­ple promi­nent in law, fi­nance, fash­ion, man­u­fac­tur­ing and other fields — peo­ple who could af­ford the steep price.

At least nine ath­letic coaches and 33 par­ents were among those charged. Some par­ents spent hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars, as much as $6.5 mil­lion, to guar­an­tee their chil­dren’s ad­mis­sion, of­fi­cials said.

“This story is the proof that there will al­ways be a mar­ket for par­ents who have the re­sources and are des­per­ate to get their kid one more suc­cess,” said Mark Sk­larow, CEO of the In­de­pen­dent Ed­u­ca­tional Con­sul­tants As­so­ci­a­tion. “This was shop­ping for name-brand prod­uct and be­ing will­ing to spend what­ever it took.”

Among the par­ents charged was Gor­don Ca­plan, of Green­wich, Con­necti­cut, co-chair­man of the in­ter­na­tional law firm Wil­lkie Farr & Gal­lagher, based in New York. The firm said in a state­ment Wed­nes­day that Ca­plan “will have no fur­ther firm man­age­ment re­spon­si­bil­i­ties.”

Tele­phone mes­sages seek­ing com­ment have been left with Ca­plan, who is ac­cused of pay­ing $75,000 to get a test su­per­vi­sor to cor­rect the an­swers on his daugh­ter’s ACT exam after she took it.

“Every stu­dent de­serves to be con­sid­ered on their in­di­vid­ual mer­its when ap­ply­ing to col­lege, and it’s dis­grace­ful to see any­one break­ing the law to give their chil­dren an ad­van­tage over oth­ers,” U.S. Ed­u­ca­tion Sec­re­tary Betsy DeVos said in a state­ment. “The de­part­ment is look­ing closely

at this is­sue and work­ing to de­ter­mine if any of our reg­u­la­tions have been vi­o­lated.”

Her­cules Cap­i­tal, a Palo Alto, Cal­i­for­nia, hedge fund, an­nounced Wed­nes­day it was re­plac­ing its leader, Manuel Hen­riquez, who has been ar­rested in New York City and re­leased on $500,000 bail. Hen­riquez will still hold a seat on the board and serve as an ad­viser, Her­cules said.

Hen­riquez and his wife, El­iz­a­beth, of Ather­ton, Cal­i­for­nia, were charged with par­tic­i­pat­ing in the scheme on four oc­ca­sions for their two daugh­ters. They were also charged with con­spir­ing to bribe Gor­don Ernst, for­mer head ten­nis coach at Ge­orge­town Univer­sity, to des­ig­nate their older daugh­ter as a ten­nis re­cruit to fa­cil­i­tate her ad­mis­sion and with mak­ing a $400,000 con­tri­bu­tion to a char­ity to help her get ad­mit­ted to the school.

Ge­orge­town said he hadn’t coached there since De­cem­ber 2017 after an in­ves­ti­ga­tion found he vi­o­lated univer­sity ad­mis­sions rules. The Univer­sity of Rhode Is­land says Ernst, who was hired as head women’s ten­nis coach in Au­gust, was placed on ad­min­is­tra­tive leave.

At a court hear­ing Tues­day in Mary­land, a fed­eral mag­is­trate freed Ernst on $200,000 bond.

Also among the charged par­ents Ho­may­oun Zadeh, an as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor of den­tistry at the Univer­sity of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia. His sta­tus at USC was un­clear; his fac­ulty pro­file has been re­moved from a web­site, and phone mes­sages seek­ing com­ment were not re­turned.

Mark Rid­dell — an ad­min­is­tra­tor for Braden­ton, Florida’s IMG Academy, which was founded by renowned ten­nis coach Nick Bol­let­tieri and bills it­self as the world’s largest sports academy — was sus­pended late Tues­day after he was ac­cused of tak­ing col­lege ad­mis­sions tests. Rid­dell didn’t re­turn phone calls seek­ing com­ment.

Many of the coaches ac­cused of in­volve­ment were quickly fired or sus­pended by the col­leges. Pros­e­cu­tors said the col­leges them­selves are not tar­gets of the con­tin­u­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Stan­ford fired sail­ing coach John Van­de­moer after he was charged with ac­cept­ing $270,000 in con­tri­bu­tions to the pro­gram for agree­ing to rec­om­mend two prospec­tive stu­dents for ad­mis­sion. The school said nei­ther stu­dent came to Stan­ford.

USC fired se­nior as­so­ciate ath­letic di­rec­tor Donna Heinel and wa­ter polo coach Jo­van Vavic. Court doc­u­ments say Vavic was paid $250,000 and des­ig­nated two stu­dents as re­cruits for his wa­ter polo team to fa­cil­i­tate their ad­mis­sion to the univer­sity. He has been re­leased on bond. A mes­sage was left with Vavic’s lawyer seek­ing com­ment.

At Wake For­est, Pres­i­dent Nathan Hatch said vol­ley­ball coach Bill Fer­gu­son, who was ac­cused of tak­ing a bribe, has been sus­pended. The univer­sity’s out­side coun­sel is con­duct­ing an in­ter­nal re­view, Hatch said.

His lawyer, Michael Ci­taraMa­nis, said his client isn’t a flight risk. He said Ernst had planned to at­tend a job in­ter­view in Toronto soon, “although I don’t know the im­pact from these pro­ceed­ings.”

Fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors said par­ents in­volved in the scheme paid ad­mis­sions con­sul­tant Wil­liam “Rick” Singer mil­lions of dol­lars to bribe their chil­dren’s way into col­lege.

Some of the pay­outs went to coaches and ad­min­is­tra­tors to falsely make their chil­dren look like star ath­letes, and Singer also hired ringers to take col­lege en­trance ex­ams for stu­dents and paid off in­sid­ers at test­ing cen­ters to cor­rect stu­dents’ an­swers, au­thor­i­ties said.

Singer, founder of the Edge Col­lege & Ca­reer Net­work of New­port Beach, Cal­i­for­nia, pleaded guilty Tues­day.

BEBETO MATTHEWS

Gre­gory Ab­bott, founder and chair­man of In­ter­na­tional Dis­pens­ing Cor­po­ra­tion, leaves after ap­pear­ing in fed­eral court in New York on bribery charges, Tues­day, March 12, 2019. Ab­bott is among dozens of peo­ple who were charged Tues­day in a scheme in which wealthy par­ents al­legedly bribed col­lege coaches and other in­sid­ers to get their chil­dren into some of the na­tion’s most elite schools.

RICK TABER

In this still im­age taken from video, ac­tress Felic­ity Huff­man walks to­wards the door in the lobby of a Los An­ge­les court after she is re­leased on a $250,000 bond, Tues­day, March 12, 2019. Huff­man is among 50 peo­ple charged in a scheme in which wealthy par­ents al­legedly bribed col­lege coaches and other in­sid­ers to get their chil­dren into some of the na­tion’s most se­lec­tive schools.

RICHARD SHOTWELL

The FBI says ac­tress Lori Lough­lin has been taken into cus­tody in con­nec­tion with a scheme in which wealthy par­ents paid bribes to get their chil­dren into top col­leges. FBI spokes­woman Laura Eimiller says Lough­lin was in cus­tody Wed­nes­day morn­ing in Los An­ge­les.

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