Wiretaps of alleged ringleader in college admissions scandal played in court


BOSTON (NewsNation Now) — Closing arguments in the first trial of the so-called “Operation Varsity Blues” case took place Wednesday in a Boston federal courtroom.

It’s been more than two years since the FBI arrested 50 parents, athletic coaches and others in a scheme targeting elite universities across the country. 

One of the biggest parts of the prosecution’s case were the words of the alleged admissions consultant at the center of the scheme — William “Rick “Singer. His words were secretly recorded by the FBI and played in court Wednesday.

“To be honest, it feels a little weird,” said Gordon Caplan, the former co-chairman of Willkie Farr & Gallagher, who admitted to paying a bribe to doctor up his daughter’s ACT score.

Singer replied: “I know it does. I know it does. But when she gets the score and we have choices, you’re going to be saying, “OK — I’ll take all my kids.” 

One of the voices played came from one of Singer’s well-known clients, former Staples and Gap Inc. executive John Wilson, who now heads a Massachusetts private equity firm.

Wilson is charged with paying $220,000 to have his son designated as a USC water polo recruit and an additional $1 million to buy his twin daughters’ ways into Harvard and Stanford. 

Wilson’s lawyers said he was tricked by Singer and he believed he was making legitimate donations. Prosecutors say the parents were well aware their payments were designed to get their kids into school as athletic recruits with fake or embellished credentials as part of Singer’s so-called, side-door scheme.

So far, 33 parents have pleaded guilty in the college admissions scandal, including actors Felicity Huffman, who served 11 days in prison, and Lori Loughlin, who served two months. 

A new Netflix documentary called, “Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admissions Scandal,” is based on the same FBI recordings from Singer. Prosecutors say the tapes remove any doubt about what Singer was up to. 

In one recording, Singer said, “I can send him your $500,000.00 that you wired to my account to secure a spot for one of your girls.”

Wilson laughed, then added, “So, Stanford actually got to have some sailors, huh?” 

Singer replied, “Yeah, so that Stanford doesn’t catch on to what he’s doing.” 

At least 47 people have either pleaded guilty in the college admissions scandal or agreed to do so. An additional six trials are scheduled for later this year and they are expected to continue into 2022.

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