The mastermind of a college admissions cheating scandal that involved scores of wealthy parents admitted full responsibility in federal court Tuesday and pleaded guilty to charges that could send him to prison for up to 65 years. William Rick Singer, who pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy, money laundering, tax conspiracy, and obstruction of justice, described how he created a "side door" to get the offspring of the rich into elite colleges, USA Today reports. Singer, 58, said he had been a cooperating witness for the FBI and had helped bring down his own enterprise by wearing a wire. He will be sentenced in June.
In recorded conversations with parents played in court, Singer described how getting into college on your own was the "front door," making large donations to institutions was the expensive "back door," and his way, which included bribing coaches and cheating on exams, was a reliable "side door." Prosecutors say Singer and his company, The Key, received at least $25 million from parents. "He is very remorseful for getting into this mess," lawyer Donald Heller told NBC after the court appearance. He said Singer had been in the college prep business for 25 years, and "the sad thing is he didn't prep Trump kids because he probably would have gotten a pardon." The New York Times has a list of the dozens of parents and coaches charged so far, including stars Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin. (At least two of the colleges involved have started firing people connected to the case.)