College Cheating Ringleader Allegedly Taped Co-Conspirators' Phone Calls for FBI
After years of gaining the trust of his alleged co-conspirators, the man at the center of the cheating scandal surreptitiously recorded them on behalf of the FBI
Over the past decade, Rick Singer has become well-known in the intimidating world of college admissions. A charismatic fast-talker, he counseled hundreds of families as they navigated the arduous process of getting their kids into Ivy League universities.
By 2016, Singer’s client list included wealthy families of Los Angeles, Silicon Valley, and New York. That’s when, prosecutors say, he devised the college admission cheating scandal that implicated dozens of people earlier this month. Singer controlled the two firms involved in the alleged scheme: Key Worldwide Foundation and The Edge College & Career Network.
There were different manners of cheating, according to authorities. In the case of Desperate Housewives star Felicity Huffman, Singer’s firm allegedly received money to ensure that their older daughter’s SAT scores were fixed by a proctor. Fuller House star Lori Loughlin and husband J. Mossimo Giannulli allegedly paid exorbitant bribes to designate their daughters as recruits on the crew team — even though they don’t even row.
As things closed in on Singer, he pleaded guilty to multiple federal charges, including racketeering conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy and obstruction of justice. As part of his guilty plea, he agreed to cooperate with the FBI to gather incriminating evidence against his alleged co-conspirators.
According to the 204-page affidavit in support of a criminal complaint unsealed in federal court in Boston last Tuesday, authorities allege that Rick Singer recorded phone calls and sent incriminating emails at the direction of the FBI.
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In the phone calls, Singer allegedly seemed to spell out the wrongdoing in frank terms. “I want to make sure we’re on the same page,” he allegedly told one father. “What I’m going to tell them is that you made a $50,000 donation to my foundation for underserved kids, and not that we took the test for [your daughter].”
“Dude, dude, what do you think, that I’m a moron?” the father allegedly responded.
In the case of Loughlin, Singer allegedly said that the IRS was auditing him, so that the actress would talk about the alleged scheme. “We just have to say we made a donation to your foundation and that’s it, end of story,” Loughlin allegedly said.
Loughlin, Giannulli and Huffman have not entered pleas. Huffman’s rep and Loughlin’s attorney have not returned PEOPLE’s requests for comment.